The Shadow Hawk is the bees knees of the Max Force line up, boasting impressive 100 feet distances in a very schmick looking package. They've become quite readily available in Australian toy stores nationwide- we take one out for some testing and I can safely say you've never seen a spit wad go so far..
That is one thing we noticed with the Max Force line- every blaster is quite different (other than perhaps the maximizer and the crossbow from the photos we've seen) - rather than with Nerf where much of the differences in blasters are aesthetic- with the Max Force range performances and firing mechanisms all differ, depending on the type of blaster it is. The Shadow Hawk is definitely marketed as a long distance 'sniper' style rifle- and it has the distances to back it up.
Load your "Splat Ammo" pellets into the 8 round cartridge, soak for 10 seconds and then insert into the side slot of the blaster and you're ready to fire. So long as the pellets are soaked sufficiently, there shouldn't be any jams.
The Max Force line have been designed to only fire the pellets if they are wet and soft- failure to soak them will result in..well misfires. The ammo is pretty much disposable and not reusable, so stock up where you can.You can go through ammo pretty fast, and while I have managed to fire home made paper pellets with moderate success, you really need the real splat ammo real deal, so I really hope these blasters stay around because we need the refills for them to keep on a firing!
The Shadow Hawk also works with the belts from the Terrornator which is a nice plus, increasing your firing capacity to..well as many rounds as your belt accommodates:)
The Shadow Hawk is bolt loading which is a very cool mechanism that makes it just that little bit more realistic. Once you've loaded your cartridge or belt, the bolt primes the round ready to fire.
Now, here's the part that causes us a bit of an issue. Max Force blasters do not use a trigger mechanism to fire; by having a trigger, it would reduce the power, and therefore distance the blasters can make. The Shadow Hawk uses a spring loaded grip that sits on the under carriage of the blaster- it's a matter of pulling it back and releasing to fire the round. On release, you'll fire your round with considerable power and your target will definitely know they've been hit.
The down side is the motion tends to sacrifice a bit of accuracy, which in a way detracts from the Shadow Hawk being used for sniper purposes. There's a foldable bipod that definitely could help with the steadying of the blaster and improve accuracy, except it's pretty flimsy and is essentially just two lengths of thin plastic and we popped ours off several times while trying to fire our shots, resulting in us just removing it and using a stack of books instead:)
The spring load is quite stiff (It sort of needs to be to get those distances) so it can slip out of your finger tips if you haven't gripped it correctly. I found this took a bit of time to get used to before I was getting the motion best suited for firing.
How good is the Shadow Hawk? It definitely fires the humble spitwad further than ever possible before, and it looks fantastic to boot. We love the way it feels in hand, and it's an impressive bit of kit, both in design and aesthetics.
The Shadow Hawk has a firing mechanism that does really feel like a sniper rifle, and for ours, is not really the best for fast and furious battles with friends. We found the Terrornator easily outclassed the Shadow Hawk in crazy kitchen skirmishes, although the Shadow Hawk is much better suited from the top balcony and scaring off pigeons, as we very quickly discovered with glee:) It's really a case of "fit for purpose"- if it's a long distance sniper rifle you want, the Shadow Hawk owns it hands down. With patience and practice, you'll probably get the accuracy you need- although for mine- I'm all about the rapid fire craziness of the Terrornator:)
*note- more pics were taken at the time, but seem to have gone missing in the blogger image library- I'm looking for them now as I write this!