First of all; the name itself 'Rebelle' I'm 50/50 on. I feel it is an obvious name choice for Nerf / Hasbro's attempt to market blasters towards a girl focused audience. Rather than being just a nice simple 'Rebel' tag name, they've made it more feminine by adding the 'le' on the end... fancy (French origin?).
But I have got to admit; it is a catchy name. It certainly is different to the tag lines we've been used to in recent times, and I think if Rebelle not only kicks off *well* but also keeps it going with new blasters, accessories (and maybe changing their marketing strategy a bit...) it could become a popular line of blasters. I still personally like 'Vortex' as my favourite name for a range of blasters though :P
The design of the Rebelle blasters are interesting to say the least. For once I'm not going to bash the "Eww its pink!" button - because I think it's a GOOD pink! It is bright, bold, almost fluorescent, and coupled with the purple and black details on a white base, it is eye catching. Even though pink is often stereotyped as girly colour, pink *can* look great in the right situations.
Sure the designs of wings, streamers, leaf-like shapes and so on increase the 'girly' levels higher, beyond most boys/males tastes and if (or when) I were to buy any of these blasters for myself, I would likely repaint them to suit me.
But it also brings a new depth to 'right-out-of-the-box' blaster art design that we haven't seen in a long time. Even the Elite series consist of just a blue base with a white stripe on it, light and dark grey sections for trigger grips and so on. I do get tired of seeing very flat paint jobs when buying blasters out of the box, yet very excited when I see someone do a sweet custom paint job mod to spice it up and make them more personalised and unique.
(As a side-note, Nerf Vortex blasters are getting a refresh to make them fall in line with the Pyragon and Diatron White-Orange-Dark Grey colour scheme, but are also now sporting hotrod flames and tattoo-like designs as well. We'll cover our thoughts on the Vortex updates later though :P)
Next, onto the physical design of the blasters. They are sleek, smooth, and (from what I can see in this video I'll link below) the bow and crossbow are larger than I was expecting, yet the pistols are smaller than I thought they would be. Of course, these would have been designed for young girl's hands in mind, but they seem like they have accommodated for larger hands as well, as seen in this vid:
The rounded shapes remind me of the Swarmfire, Snapfire and Speedswarm Dart Tag blasters. But even then, the Rebelle shells look more organic and flowing, thinner sections appearing more delicate that the blocky, chunky blasters we're normally accustomed to. There is much less physical detailing like embossed grooves, digital camo or other shapes texture effects, bevelled edges and lines, or faux screw ports. The exteriors appear very minimal in physical detailing, but this is where the paint work and the overall structure of the blaster does the eye-candy work, but it is interesting to see where the design changes occur depending on the theme.
Now... onto the blasters themselves (+1 Cookie to those of you who actually read this far without skipping ahead :P).
The big headliner of the Rebelle range is the oddly named 'Heartbreaker' bow. Now... while I'm not a fan of the name, I'm in love with everything else about this bow. It functions similar to how you would expect a real bow 'to act'! Just load the dart, pull back on the handle and release with a satisfying 'twang!' (as per the video reference above) and it looks like the darts have fair amount of force behind them.
The Big Bad Bow is a great blaster from the N-Strike (and earlier) range, but it still operated on a catch system like most other spring powered blasters do. You would load a big fat foam arrow onto the front, pull back on the priming handle -- and then it locks into place. It kind of made sense that you could have it primed and ready without having to hold it back all the time, and to fire simply pull the trigger...but in doing so kind of 'killed the mood' of trying to feel like an epic archer in battle. Many modders tend to remove the decorative bow arms in favour of making it more functional, and it tends to look more the part of a gun-esque blaster too.
This is where I give a big plus for Nerf to finally address this. I've bought other brand 'bow-type' blasters, but honestly I have been disappointed at their overall performance. Not only does this Heartbreaker bow address the WAY it operates, but claims to still have as much 'out of the box' grunt as the Elite blasters!
A bit of a sidestep here - the also recently displayed N-Strike Blazin' Bow blaster appears to essentially be the 'boys' competitor model. Orange and black flaming paint job, it uses the larger foam arrow ammunition, has a more modernised compound-bow aesthetic... but to be honest, I'll be buying the Heartbreaker over the Blazin' Bow.
"Lul wut?" you may be thinking. Well, to me the Heartbreaker is closer to being a more conventional, iconic bow design, plus even though it has a smaller priming handle loop for pulling back to draw, it looks more like simulating holding an arrow with two fingers, rather than a whole fist-like hand grip on the Blazin' Bow, which begins to remind me more of using a Big Bad Bow rather than an 'actual bow' style.
Also, the Heartbreaker shoots normal streamline style darts, which usually get more range and travel faster in flight... whereas the Blazin' bow goes back to the massive foam arrows which, although some people like them and they do offer good accuracy, they frustrate me trying to carry enough of them around or get any decent range and travel speed out of them. An extra little 'high-five' for the Heartbreaker having a tactical rail and attachment for dart holders :P
I'm not saying I think the Blazin' Bow is bad or ugly, I'm just *more* of a fan of the Heartbreaker instead :P besides in my current position it wouldn't make much sense to buy *both* bows, and furthermore this is all pure speculation since I haven't put my hands on any of these yet xD
As far as the other blasters go, I don't think any of the other blasters have designated names yet, only the Heartbreaker. But from what we've been shown, Nerf Rebelle have two pistol design blasters coming out too; one is practically a smoothed out Firestrike, but with little mini-crossbow 'wings' which act as dart holders. My only criticism/suspicion to this blaster is it appears the darts being held on the insides of the wings closest to the tactical rail, might get in the way of attached accessories (like another dart holder). It sure does look small...but is it just me, or does that pull-ring look a little prickly? :S
But the other pistol style blaster is very interesting; it functions as a front loading revolver to compete with the Elite Strongarm. But this one has a unique function; it primes not by pump action or a sliding handle... it primes with a legit 'cocking the hammer' action like a real pistol does! D:
Other than that, it simply looks like a nice, slender revolver style blaster, which I'm excited to try out! The only thing I worry about is how *easy* it will be to prime; that's a small little lever, and if it boasts Elite-like ranges, it may have a beefy spring in there. The physical size of the blaster is quite small from the pictures and video I've seen, I wonder if it's going to be another Snapfire-8 incident with the awkward trigger pull system and a small plunger tube... time will tell.
This one I've been saving for last... the Rebelle Crossbow! This is definitely at the top of my 'WANT' Nerf Blaster list when it comes out (followed by the Vortex Revonix 360 ... but more on that at a later date :P). There may not be any new groundbreaking features on this one; pump action priming handle, front loading rotating turret, in the shape of a crossbow... but its just the fact that this IS a crossbow blaster! Crossbows are cool :P
Of course it may not be in the same category as the legendary, original vintage 'Nerf Crossbow', but nevertheless I'm stoked; it just looks AWESOME! It even simulates the flexing bow arms and the string being pulled back upon priming :D Coupled with the fact that it uses a front revolver-style turret and shotgun pump-action style, a comfortable, ergonomic-looking shoulder stock, it seems very practical for Nerf War situations and gives it a unique twist on the usual 'single dart front loading' situation most other bow/crossbow designs tend to follow (and in some cases, suffer from).
Now, the Rebelle line talks about extra accessories, including collectable darts. This... I think is a bit gimmicky. I know there are Nerfers out there who may like this concept, but for me it would be... frustrating. If I were to collect different variety darts simply because they are different coloured or patterned (etc)... if I lost them during a Nerf War, I'd be grumpy. If I were too afraid to use them even around the house for fear of losing or damaging them, I'd feel like I had wasted my money. I'm just funny like that, it's just not my cup of tea. Just keep giving me darts that work well, and cheap enough that if I lose them it doesn't matter too much, and I'll be a happy sponge :3
Other accessories in the Nerf Rebelle line will include dart pouches, eye protection, a whole line of clothing and 'lifestyle' wear (for girls, of course :P) and in particular the "Mission Kit" with what appears to be something like a 'virtual reality app' kind of like the (AR Drone helicopters), and ...
...but not only have I rambled on FAR TOO MUCH already, but it's also a little over my head on what it all FULLY entails, so we'll no doubt cover this in more depth in the future. (again; sorry for the wall of text, but another +1 Cookie if you have not skipped any of this :D you're an awesome Squaddie!)
Overall, I am looking forward to giving the Nerf Rebelle blasters a go and see how well they perform, and what the future holds for this line. Thanks again for tuning in for this S.O.F.T response to the announcement of the upcoming Rebelle line, this is Alex signing off for now!
(Please note all photos and videos have been sourced through Google and YouTube, but all images belong to their respective owners)
[A hiss of steam erupts from Alex's fingers as his keyboard has a meltdown...]