A few months ago we got our hands on a small Nerf blaster after years of never touching a toy from the company, and we were rather impressed by the quality and the amount of engineering that went into it.
That previous blaster – the Rival Kronos XVIII-500 – was a relatively small handgun type blaster that required manual cocking after every shot, but we still gave it a recommendation as a fun toy for just about everyone.
What we didn’t expect after that toy, however, was how impressed we’d be with the AR-L, a motorised blaster based on a weapon from Fortnite. Pop some batteries into this blaster and it will shoot off darts semi-automatically, avoiding the manual cocking that a lot of the other Nerf toys require.
But with a higher price (R979 at the time of writing) can it also get a recommendation?
Inside the rather large box for the AR-L, you get the blaster itself, a separate magazine and 20 Nerf darts. The four AA batteries required here are not included.
At 76 centimetres long the AR-L is impressively big, but is not unwieldy due to the fact that it’s made almost entirely out of plastic with just a bit of circuitry inside for the motorised shooting system. That’s not to say it feels cheap or flimsy, because it’s actually very sturdy and endlessly satisfying to mess around with as pieces click into place.
Also satisfying is the shooting experience. Like many videogame weapons this real toy requires you to spool the mechanism up before shooting. Below the main trigger there is a small button which will rev up the electric motor, at which point the main trigger can be activated to actually shoot.
The magazine holds ten darts which fly out in a bit of a random pattern. We’ve shot this blaster maybe a thousand times and have only ever had a single misfire where a dart folded a bit in on itself, but this was an easy fix thanks to a small access panel built specifically to clear out such jams.
Overall the AR-L is very fun to use, from unboxing to shooting and even reloading.
While the construction of this toy may be great, we can see some people having an issue with the finish. This blaster is painted bright yellow with an equally loud orange barrel. The Fortnite and Nerf logos are also moulded into the body, and it features a few other toy-specific touches like a loot llama detail on the magazine.
Those wanting to pick this blaster up for cosplay will need to spend some time making it look accurate to the game, with a lot of cutting and painting in order before it can pass for how it is supposed to look.
Those who just want a fun toy gun to mess around with, however, will be pleased, if they can afford it.
Nerf has a lot in common with LEGO when it comes to price. Yes, there are many clone brands offering similar products for less money, but none of them have the build quality of the official licencing.
Thankfully Nerf makes two other blasters based on Fortnite weapons that are much cheaper. The SP-L is a pistol going for R395, and the TS-R is a R319 shotgun which shoots water instead of darts (under the Super Soaker brand).
The AR-L does get a recommendation from us despite its high price, but we suggest finding one of the Nerf kiosks at various toy stores to see if you like these motorised blasters first.