Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Buzz of Rapid Warfare

Not to be outdone by Hasbro's Nerf Rapid Fire 20, Buzz Bee Toys has a new 20-round Tommy Gun. But rather than make your typical blaster, Buzz Bee got innovative, and their answer: the Tommy Mech 20 Blaster.

The term "Tommy Gun" comes from the Thompson sub-machine gun designed by General John T. Thompson in 1921. Though popularized in the 1920s and 30s by gangsters, it saw significant use during World War II (horizontal foregrip, stick magazine.

At the time of this writing, I have not yet seen the Tommy Mech 20 Blaster in stores. My guess is that it will be out around summer 2006.

As opposed to the Rapid Fire 20, the Mech Tommy 20 is motorized and requires three "AA" batteries. In fact, some of their other previous (and gloopy-looking) offerings such as the topside cardtridge-fed Mech 6 were also battery operated. (As a matter of observation, any of their products with the word "Mech" may indicate that it is mechanized and is aided by electricity.) Buzz Bee's website boasts, "This motorized foam dart blaster has a rapid fire action and automatic, rotating dart cylinder to deliver 20 blasts as fast as you can pull the trigger! No cocking, high accuracy and total victory!" No word on the range.

The Tommy Mech 20 features an extendible shoulder stock, and box art claims "Rapid Fire Action". The dart cylinder (a better term is "drum magazine") rotates, presumably automatically.

This is a big step for Buzz Bee. Whether or not it was done intentionally, it challenges Nerf's biggest and baddest in terms of raw firepower.

There is something lacking in the design that makes it a little too "kiddie" and I would have liked a more sophisticated look (why can't foam blasters look more like the N-Strike systems, which have a sci-fi "Manly-man" look to them?) However, the Rapid Fire 20 doesn't sport the best aesthetics here; I believe the Rapid Fire 20 is a re-released blaster designed originally a while back, hence sporting a dated look.

The Nerf Rapid Fire 20, by comparison (and why wouldn't we compare? Don't we all do comparison shopping?) has some challenges to it. It has two modes of firing: select and auto. Select fire, however, sometimes shoots more than one dart, and sometimes after priming the pump and firing full-auto, there are still a few darts that never leave their chambers due to insufficient pressure. However, it's fun seeing your friends spanked by this horrific automatic fire when they're being blasted the first time after trying to pick a fight with you with their pea-shooter.

The only downside I can spot is where your other hand would grip. The classic "gangster" configuration of the Tommy Gun provided a vertical foregrip in front of the cylinder. Here, you'd have to grip the orange "flash suppressor" instead.

Nothing indicates a select-fire vs. automatic mode. However, you don't have to hold the trigger down.

No word on the weight and balance, but I can almost envision someone having two -- one in either hand. And given that there is no need to pump the blaster, this makes such a notion all the more attractive.


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