Today I’ll be breaking down my thoughts and observations of the new Nerf Rival Apollo XV-700. (Come on, Hasbro. That’s no name for a blaster, that’s a name for a rocket.) I picked this one up at my local Target.
The box design for the Rival line is unique. Gone are the child models. In fact, the front of the box simply showcases the blaster itself and the new ammo (aka High Impact Rounds). We are told that the blaster is spring powered, boasts a velocity of 100fps (feet-per-second), and is accurate.
The back of the box has the same information as the front, with the addition of the standard blaster feature diagram, and a bit on the red vs blue marketing campaign. Notice the Rival logo. “Rival” is printed much larger than “Nerf”. Hasbro seems to want a clear distinction between Rival and their other Nerf lines.
The blaster’s name seems to adhere to Hasbro’s usual naming conventions. We have the common name of the blaster, “Apollo,” followed by a couple of letters that hint at some feature of the blaster, “XV,” (my theory is that XV stands for eXtreme Velocity) and finally we have a number indicating ammo capacity, in this case “700” denotes an ammo capacity of 7. I think calling it the Apollo XV7 would have sounded cooler, and made more sense, but I digress.
As an aside, the back of the box seems to depict a pre-production/prototype version of the Rival Zeus MXV-1200. Notice the differently shaped fore grip and muzzle. Personally, I think the production model looks much better.
Over all, I dig the simplified, professional, “more grown up” feel of the box design. Hasbro’s marketing team nailed this one, but I didn’t buy this blaster for the packaging. Let’s take a look inside the box.
Inside the box we find the blaster, magazine, 7 foam rounds, and the instructions.
Similar to the box, the instruction booklet has a professional look to it. No comics or cartoon zombies here. (I kinda like comics and zombies.)
Particularly of note is the loading method that the instructions depict. Using the magazine to pluck rounds up from the ground is quite efficient.
There is a brief note about compatibility on the back page.
As you can see above, while the 12 round magazines are compatible with both the Apollo and the Zeus, the 7 round magazines can only be used in the Apollo.
Here is the blaster, fully loaded. My first impression? This thing is big! How big?
Bigger than a Mega Cycloneshock. This blaster is 16 inches long! The grip is massive, with a circumference of over 6 inches. That said, the grip isn’t uncomfortable for an average adult hand, but those with smaller hands may have issues.
While the Apollo is quite large, it does not seem to be any larger than it needs to be. The massive grip is built to accommodate the magazine, and the large rear portion of the shell houses the sizable plunger tube needed to reach 100fps velocities.
Aesthetically, the Apollo is a mixed bag. It has a clean look to it, if you get what I mean. In contrast to the Zombistrike line’s improvised, cobbled together aesthetic, the Apollo looks precision engineered. Factory made vs thrown together in a basement. The priming mechanism reminds me of a charging handle on a MAC 10 or a FAMAS rifle. However, the butt of the blaster just goes on and on, and just where you might expect to find a shoulder stock… nothing. It just ends abruptly.
As for ergonomics, I was pleasantly surprised. As I said, the grip is large, but comfortable. The trigger pull has a good feel to it. The priming mechanism takes a bit of getting used to, but it isn’t bad. The safety does it’s job. It is located where it is easily reached, but not in the way. The magazine well and magazine release are very well designed. Mag changes on this blaster are about as smooth as I’ve seen on a stock blaster.
Interestingly enough, aside from the trigger lock safety, the blaster doesn’t have a ton of unnecessary locks. It has a trigger lock to keep you from firing with the bolt back and a bolt lock to protect against double feeding, but no ammo sensor or magazine lock junk.
There is no jam door on the Apollo. I have not yet encountered a jam, but I have heard that other nerfers have. Blasterlabs has reported that Hasbro intends to include some sort of jam release mechanism in future iterations of the Apollo.
Now for the big question. How does it perform? Ranges seem to be slightly better than Elite. Muzzle velocity seems to be right around what Hasbro promised. However, accuracy is where this blaster really shines, although I suspect it has more to do with the ammo than the blaster itself. I was able to get a 12-18 inch grouping (7 rounds) over a distance of 30 feet. That is unheard of in stock Nerf! Unfortunately, due to the location of the priming mechanism, there is no good way to sight this blaster.
With a retail price of $25 US, I think that you get a lot of blaster for your buck. That said, extra ammo is a bit more expensive than standard Elite darts, not to mention harder to find.
As impressive and polished as this blaster is, I can’t help thinking that it is a bit unfinished. Its really too bulky to be a sidearm. Personally, I think it needs a carry handle, so that optics could be mounted over the charging handle, and a shoulder stock. The addition of those two features would take this blaster from impressive novelty to devastating primary. That said, I am a fan of this blaster, and I’m eager to see what Hasbro has in store for the future of the Rival line.
I intend to unpack my thoughts on the Rival line as a whole in a later post. Until then, thanks for reading.