Swimways has had shelf space in the toy section for several years now, particularly in Target and ToysRUs. Their blaster debut at Target had a rough start, however; not only had Target chosen them over Buzz Bee Toys' Water Warriors for the water blaster section, but they had also proceeded to use blaster shells virtually identical to BBT's past products.
Fast forward two years, and Swimways has made some progress in product design. By far the most interesting is a brand new blaster at Target called the Power Core. For $20, it offers a large spring-powered firing chamber and claims up to 30' ranges. Sadly, the blaster is flawed, and not nearly as exciting as it might appear to be.
Out of the box, the Power Core has a balanced, minimalist appearance. You fill the bottom reservoir, pump the water into the pressure chamber, and pull the trigger. In setup, it's not unlike the Super Soaker Arctic Blast.
The spring inside the chamber is rather beefy. The chamber itself is 2.5" OD and roughly 2 5/16" ID. Because of the large cross-section, all that force is spread over a large area. In addition, as the chamber fills, the piston rod extends from the rear of the blaster. The position of the green plate on the back is the "gauge" referred to on the package.
Upon pumping, we come across several major problems: the pump itself is tiny in volume, and there is severe pump lag in the system. Pushing the pump handle forward creates a vacuum in the pump tube, but it takes several seconds before water actually flows into the pump through the check valve assembly. As an experiment, I'll have to replace all of the tubing to see if that makes any sort of difference. If not, the problem may lie in the check valve assembly itself.
Even more alarming is the leakage that occurs in this blaster. Below, you can see where water drips behind the piston head in the pressure chamber. Since the rear of the compartment isn't sealed, you can at least hold your blaster up to drain it out. In addition, it's a slow drip. But it's still unacceptable.
Here are the internals. You can see the ball valve and the single, tiny nozzle at the front. You can also see the tubing that seems to kink regardless of whether it has springs around it to prevent that from occurring.
Here is the piston, and the main issue for leakage. The piston head simply snaps onto the end of the piston rod. There's a gasket meant to seal against it, but it doesn't do its job.
As a first experiment, I took the head off, then added a beefy spring I bought at Menards to the system. I also threw in two machine bushings, one on either end, to help spread the force from the new spring evenly and keep the plastic from being damaged.
In testing at home, the stock blaster sent a small stream 25' to 28' when at full power. After the first few seconds, there was considerable dropoff. In addition, the piston stopped 1/4" short of the end of the cylinder. With the extra spring, distances were identical. The difference was the lack of a cohesive stream - a heavy but directed mist was the result. Needless to say, it wasn't a very useful result. The tiny nozzle simply isn't made to direct water under extra pressure.
I had high hopes for this blaster; it's hard to not get excited when you see a large, spring-loaded pressure chamber. But with so many fundamental flaws, it seems to hold nothing but disappointment, Perhaps with modification it can be fixed, or it could be the base of a semiauto Nerf blaster. But as it stands, it's horrible.