While I'm not quite convinced the Vortex line has been as successful as Nerf would have liked it to be, I myself am still a fan, mainly because of the futuristic styling of the blasters themselves. Since the original green lineup of Vortex blasters, it had been pretty quiet till out of the blue last year the Pyragon just showed up out of nowhere and very quickly became a real fan favourite (the Pyragon is my personal blaster of choice now).
Nerf may be trying to replicate this in 2013- again out of the blue a new Vortex blaster shows up and screams to be heard. This time, while sporting the popular white, red and black colour scheme of it's older brother, the new Vortex Diatron is something completely new and brings some quirky new things to the table. More after the jump.
The Diatron comes in a compact box with very minimal packaging inside. Standard grim looking older teen in a black long sleeve on the front. I picked up mine from Amazon.uk and the box it came in said Amazon.fr so there are a lot of languages to be displayed on the box:)
The Diatron's big feature is, along with the N-Strike Elite Rough Cut 2x4 is the ability to fire two rounds simultaneously. On the American packaging, we saw this referred to as "Multishot Madness" complete with branding, but on the European boxes, there is no mention of this (Nor on the Rough Cut box either)
The first thing I thought was odd, is the Diatron's capacity is 10 rounds for its internal clip, but the kit only comes with 8 XLR discs. The discs are the red and white colouring as per the Pyragon.
The Diatron is an all new mould and design, although it does seem to have some design cues from the Pyragon but probably also the 6 round Vigilon- mainly in the fact it features an internal 'magazine'. It's a solid piece of kit and out of the box looks like a chunky side arm of sorts. It's not bad to hold and actually feels pretty good in hand.
It does have the ability to attach a stock to the blaster which is a nice feature. It doesn't fit seamlessly though like with a Pyragon- it's like there's not enough plastic around it, so while you can fit the stock, it seems a little wobbly.
The grip sort of reminds me of the new Lazer Tag Augmented Reality blasters with that piece in front of your fingers.
Lots of interesting lil' detail bits in this new mould, just for aesthetics but add to the general character of the Diatron.
As with all Vortex blasters, the Diatron features the jam switch that allows for discs to drop out where required.
The Diatron has a tactical rail for adding your scope/sight attachments.
Although the Diatron has this big chunky bit underneath the muzzle of the blaster, it doesn't serve any purpose; initially we speculated a disc would come out of this area (sort of a double barrel thing going on) but actually both of the discs both come out from the top/main barrel. The bit at the bottom- pretty much just to rest in your other hand's palm:)
Loading the Diatron is similar to the Vigilon- flipping the switch with your thumb (one on each side for both left and right handers) will eject the round door on the left hand side of the blaster to expose the internal magazine. It's a springy mechanism and allows you to load 10 rounds.
Now, here's the thing. The interesting thing about the Diatron is that the fact that it shoots two discs simultaneously means you HAVE to have an even number of discs in the clip for the blaster to work. You cannot shoot one disc at a time and having an odd number of rounds in your clip will cause it to lock up. For example, if you have, say 5, or 7, or 9 discs in the clip, you can effectively fire two rounds at a time till you get to the last disc... and then it won't allow you to fire anymore.
Basically, the Diatron is unable to fire with just one round in it unless you load another disc in the clip to even it up. Given it's main feature is it's ability to shoot two rounds at a time, I guess this isn't really a big deal, but I think there is a part of me that things it should still be able to pop that last round anyway.
Hence, the ol' Vigilon trick of putting one disc in the chamber doesn't apply with the Diatron.
Second quirky thing about the Diatron- while the Vigilon used a traditional cocking slider at the back of the blaster, this new blaster uses a priming mechanism I've never seen before. On the left side of the Diatron is this thin lever of sorts that just sits there. To prime the Diatron, you have to lift it and push it all the way forward, and then pull it back again.
I've taken the liberty to show it to you from various angles to give you an idea of what is happening. It actually feels weird, like if you push it forward too hard you'll snap the thing off, so you are prone to causing jamming issues from being over cautious. It takes time to get used to.
On to performances- I can however happily tell you that this blaster is a LOT of fun because of its ability to fire two rounds simultaneously. Whereas the Rough Cut 2x4's simultaneous firing tended to create a large spread but poor accuracy, the Diatron somehow manages to keep both XLR discs on target. In a weird sort of way they almost come together and result in hitting targets with double the impact. I was therefore pretty impressed with its accuracy, and as a Vortex blaster it's naturally got quite a bit of power and range on it.
If the price is right, I'd suggest picking one up just for funsies. It will probably not be a whole lot of use for anyone who actually wants to battle with it as you're essentially looking at a blaster that's fiddly to load and will still give you only 5 shots; the priming arm is also a little too left field for anyone to really find it useful. But for someone like me who likes the quirky and the different, it's a winner. I think props modders will also like it's design and can imagine what the likes of Johnson Arms or Nerfenstein could do with it.
It's accurate, it has impressive ranges and it looks great. It just might be a lil' too clever and quirky for most, but it's still one we enjoyed playing with.
They are currently available on Amazon.com and Amazon.uk if you want to pick one up. No word of a domestic Australian release just yet though.