Welcome, Spring, 2013!
Update: See also: Best New Water Gun / Water Blaster for Summer, 2014
Summer's but a season away! Here at iSoaker.com, we've completed our testing of the new notable water blaster products of 2013 and are summarizing our findings for you. While the specific review pages (see also: the listing of Water Gun / Water Blaster Product Analyses) go into more statistics and details about particular water blaster models, this article is meant to provide a good overview of what to expect from the blasters tested here.
If you just want to know our choice for the best, scroll down to The Verdict. Otherwise, read-on to learn more about all the contenders and understand better why one ended up rising to the top of the field for summer, 2013.
So, with no further ado, here are the newest water weaponry offerings from the two major manufacturers, Hasbro Inc. and Buzz Bee Toys Inc.:
The Nerf Super Soaker Flash Blast is the smallest of the new models for the Nerf Super Soaker brand by Hasbro Inc. Akin to some Nerf Gun models, the idea behind the Flash Blast is being a blaster with a top-mounted, pull-back pump with an internal, spring-loaded mechanism that locks to the trigger. Pulling the top pump back fills the firing chamber and extends the internal spring; pulling the trigger allows the spring to push water out of the nozzle. While nice in theory, the spring used might be adequate for 1g Nerf darts, but is severely lacking in power for pushing out the ~6mL (0.2 oz.) of water its chamber holds (roughly equivalent to the weight of 6 darts). As such, the stream not only lacks "oomph" and has poor range, but a significant amount of water does not even make the full distance as the spring's power tapers over during the shot. To make matters worse, the pump sometimes fails to fill the firing chamber properly even if the reservoir is still mostly full, resulting in a mist-shot. The build, styling, and feel of the Nerf Super Soaker Flash Blast are great, but its capacity and performance leave so much more to be desired.
(MSRP: $14.99 USD)
The Nerf Super Soaker Shotwave is the second smallest of the new releases for the Nerf Super Soaker line in 2013. It is a pump-action water blaster that uses the Nerf Super Soaker clip/magazine system that was introduced back in 2011. Being pump-action, streams are smooth and have decent force, but this is heavily dependent on the user. Furthermore, continuous streams are not possible. Unfortunately, while the clip/magazine system has its advantages, the choice to position the magazine at the base of the trigger/grip region results in the need for a significant amount of tubing in order to get water from the reservoir to the pump. This leads to notable pump lag as water flow is slowed due to the internal distance it needs to travel, making even rapid pumping not possible. While styling, build, and comfort of the Nerf Super Soaker Shotwave are again top-notch, performance of this water blaster leaves much to be desired. Though more useful than the Nerf Super Soaker Flash Blast, the Nerf Super Soaker Shotwave would find it hard to keep up with even similarly-sized better-design pump-action water blasters that do not exhibit as much pump lag as this model does.
(MSRP: $19.99 USD)
Not to be confused with the Super Soaker Arctic Shock (2005), the Nerf Super Soaker Arctic Shock is a pump-action water blaster akin to the Nerf Super Soaker Shotwave. Using the clip/magazine system and also featuring a single stream nozzle, the Nerf Super Soaker Arctic Shock unforunately also suffers from the same pump lag as seen in the Nerf Super Soaker Shotwave. The Nerf Super Soaker Arctic Shock apparently gets its name from its larger clip/magazine-compatible reservoir that features an enlarged cap and opening to allow ice cubes to be more easily inserted. Other than the wider opening and increased capacity, the reservoir is no different than the standard clip/magazine reservoirs and does not insulate the water within. While amusing for some at first, ice cold water use in water fights loses its novelty fairly quickly. As a water blaster, though, the Nerf Super Soaker Arctic Shock also fails to impress due to the notable pump-lag issue that prevents quicker pumping. Of course, it would have been better had this model been a pressurized water blaster like the original Super Soaker Arctic Shock was, but this is not the case. In the end, the Nerf Super Soaker Arctic Shock can provide some power on the water warfare field, but its shortcomings will end up shining through when facing any opponent using any truly pressurized water blaster system.
(MSRP: $29.99 USD)
The Nerf Super Soaker Switch Shot is the largest of the Nerf Super Soaker models released in 2013. Unlike the original Nerf Switchshot blasters that could use either Nerf Darts or water, the Nerf Super Soaker Switch Shot derives its name from the fact that it has a nozzle selector, allowing one to switch the type of shot one makes. Like the Nerf Super Soaker Shotwave and Arctic Shock, the Nerf Super Soaker Switch Shot is also a pump-action water blaster and, unfortunately, also suffers from notable pump lag as the pump tries to draw water from its larger banana-clip-style magazine. The lag, though, appears due to the whole clip/magazine system set-up since swapping the banana-clip for the smaller magazine does not reduce the pump lag to any significant degree.
As noted earlier, the Nerf Super Soaker Switch Shot features a nozzle selector. The selector has four settings: Jet Stream (a.k.a. normal stream), Triple Shot (three spreading streams), Scatter Shot (five spreading streams arranged in a "+" configuration), and Atomizer (a fan-like setting). The different settings do offer some flexibility in the field, but the fact that they are powered by pump-action means continuous firing is not possible.
The stock-accessory provided adds to the Nerf Super Soaker Switch Shot's size, but does not provide any significant benefit. In the end, the Nerf Super Soaker Switch Shot is a large pump-action water blaster that is built well, comfortable to hold, but still has limited capacity and lacks in performance compared to older pump-action Super Soaker models. Outclassed by pressurized water blasters smaller in size, the Nerf Super Soaker Switch Shot is perhaps better suited for roleplay than for water wars.
While not a water blaster, the Nerf Super Soaker X-Treme Hydro Pack is an accessory that is compatible with all Nerf Super Soakers that make use of their clip/magazine system. This includes the Nerf Super Soaker Shotwave, Arctic Shock, and Switch Shot discussed above as well as the Thunderstorm, Lightningstorm, and Tornadostrike. This backpack reservoir allows these blasters to tap into 3L (~100oz.) of water for giving someone a serious soaking. The backpack, itself, is soft and naturally compresses as water is drawn out of it. Unfortunately, none of the water blasters that make use of this backpack have the output that could truly make use of the additional payload. Moreover, for the pump-action models, the additional tubing from the backpack to the blaster seems to make the pump lag even worse. A good idea in theory, the Nerf Super Soaker X-Treme Hydro Pack really needs a better water blaster to be paired with.
(MSRP: $6.99 USD)
The Water Warriors Gargoyle isn't quite the smallest (in terms of size) of the new 2013 Water Warriors water blasters by Buzz Bee Toys Inc., but it is the lightest. Apparently using a similar pump-action mechanism to the older Water Warriors Hydro-Blast (2008), the Water Warriors Gargoyle has a much chunkier look with significantly increased reservoir capacity, improved ergonomics, and even an increase pump volume. The resulting blaster is a nice, not-too-heavy water blaster that younger Players can operate and use easily, able to offer a decent soaking capability. Older Players may find the output on the low side, but even still, they would appreciate the simplicity of this light calibre water blaster. Pump stroke length does feel a touch short for older users, but then again, this is not the target audience for this blaster. While not quite as solid and sturdy as blasters in Nerf Super Soaker line, the Water Warriors Gargoyle excels at its capacity and performance for its class, holding more that double the water capacity than a standard Nerf Super Soaker clip/magazine and not suffering from any notable pump lag. All-in-all, this is a fun, light water blaster to use.
(MSRP: $12.99 USD)
The Water Warriors Hydro Current is far from the first motorized water blaster by Buzz Bee Toys Inc. (the first with a motor was the revolutionary Water Warriors Scorpion, a motorized/elastic hybrid system, while the first that used a motor directly to produce a stream was the Water Warriors Tarantula). It is, however, the first water blaster in the Water Warriors brand to make use of 4 AA batteries to power its motor; the smaller Water Warriors Jet only uses 3 AA batteries. The additional battery versus the Water Warriors Jet allows the Water Warriors Hydro Current to push out water nearly twice as fast with an output of ~17mL/s (~0.6oz./s) while the comparable Nerf Super Soaker Lightningstorm which also uses 4 AA batteries is only capable of pushing out 9.0mL/s (~0.3oz./s). Moreover, while the range reached by the streams from the Water Warriors Hydro Current fall short of its air-pressure-based brethren, it still manages to push streams further than the motorized water blasters in the Nerf Super Soaker line. The fact that the air-pressure-based water blasters typically perform better than these motorized blasters explains how the original air-pressure Super Soaker ended the reign of motorized water blasters back in the early 1990s. However, there are those who still enjoy the manual-pump-free nature of using a motorized water blaster and the Water Warriors Hydro Current appears to offer the best performance in its class. It also sports a good-sized reservoir, offerings 700mL (~23oz.) of capacity. While additional magazines cannot be swapped in the field, its capacity offers plenty of field life. The primary shortcoming to this blaster's design is the position of the intake hole in the reservoir. Though the intake is properly positioned at the base of the reservoir, it is more forward, thus if one is aiming the blaster upwards, as the water level decreases, the intake can end up above the water line though there's still a decent amount of water remaining in the tank. While not a deal-breaker, it would have been better had the intake been moved closer to the back of the reservoir. The only other thing to note is that the motor and battery chamber are in the forward portion of the blaster, making the Water Warriors Hydro Current feel rather front-heavy, particularly when the reservoir is low on water. This will likely mean two-handed use for younger Players while older Players may find it a little more tiring to keep the nozzle level. Otherwise, the Water Warriors Hydro Current offers decent manual-pumping-free soaking and is a fun water blaster to use in casual soakfest-type games.
(MSRP: $14.99 USD)
The Water Warriors Python 2 is the smallest of the new air-pressure-based designs for the Water Warriors brand in 2013. Being an evolutionary blaster based on the 2012 Water Warriors Python, the Water Warriors Python 2 improves upon its older brother is almost every aspect. With more technical styling and improved balance and ergonomics, the Water Warriors Python 2 manages to also hold more water and offer increased output and range compared to the Water Warriors Python. Being a pressurized-reservoir-based system, the reservoir should not be filled completely and the cap must be securely fastened in order to build proper pressure. Its three nozzle settings offer a good mix of water conservation versus increased output and range for heavier drenching needs. The Water Warriors Python 2 also features a new Angle Gauge which uses a weighted arrow and coloured regions to let the user know when one is aiming the water blaster at optimal angles to achieve the best range. While referencing the Angle Gauge in mid-combat is something one would likely not do, the gauge still serves as a good training device as well as a means of getting consistent shots a particular distance when one has a little more time to aim (i.e. when doing sneak attacks). Combined with its very balanced nature, the Water Warriors Python 2 is extremely comfortable to hold and use and offers the power to keep up with all, but the largest of pressurized water blasters.
(MSRP: $19.99 USD)
The Water Warriors Colossus 2 is the second largest air pressure blaster released in 2013 under the Water Warriors brand. Like the Water Warriors Python 2, the Water Warriors Colossus 2 is a new version of the 2012 Water Warriors Colossus featuring more angular styling and an Angle Gauge. However, unlike the Water Warriors Python 2, the Water Warriors Colossus 2 is not an improvement in all respects over its predecessor.
Sharing the same colouring, name number of nozzle selections (3), and pressurization technology, the most notable difference between the Water Warriors Colossus 2 and the original version is the size of the pressure chamber. The Water Warriors Colossus featured one of the largest single pressure chambers available while the Water Warriors Colossus 2 offers just a little over half the volume in the pressure chamber. Because of this different, stream performance and power are affected with the Water Warriors Colossus 2 having lower maximum output than the original. While the two stream settings perform well and achieve the same distances, maximum output from the burst nozzle on the Water Warriors Colossus 2 is 85mL/s (~2.8oz./s) while the original could push nearly 100mL/sec (~3.3oz./s). Moreover, since the original pressure chamber has larger capacity, it also enjoyed longer shot times. Granted, this does not mean that the Water Warriors Colossus 2 is a bad blaster, but it does mean that the original offers more power. Looking at it another way, the Water Warriors Python 2 performs also equally to the Water Warriors Colossus 2, though the Python 2 cannot carry as much water overall.
Where the Water Warriors Colossus 2 excels at is its ergonomics. While the original was not bad, the newer model centers the trigger/grip region better, offers an open grip so that even those with larger hands won't feel restricted, and feels generally more balanced and comfortable to use. The addition of the Angle Gauge, as mentioned in the Water Warriors Python 2 review, may not as useful during heavy combat, but does serve to help with training as well as making more precise sneak attack shots.
All-in-all, the Water Warriors Colossus 2 is a respectable water blaster which is definitely more potent than anything offered in the Nerf Super Soaker line for 2013. However, since the original Water Warriors Colossus offered more "oomph", some may feel slightly let down at the dampened performance of the Water Warriors Colossus 2. Still able to hold its ground against any similar-sized water blaster, Water Warriors Colossus 2 users need only to be wary of much larger water blasters.
The Water Warriors Drench 'n Blast is the largest of the pressurized water blasters released for 2013 under the Water Warriors brand. Featuring intimidating styling, dual nozzles, dual triggers, a top-side carry handle, and an Angle Gauge, this water blaster looks like it means business. However, the forward bulb on the blaster turns out to be strictly ornamental due to space needed for some of the internal mechanisms to work. As such, the Water Warriors Drench 'n Blast is really the largest pressurized reservoir blaster ever built. While pressurized reservoir technology does work well, it is best suited for smaller water blaster since smaller reservoir volumes require less pumps to pressurize properly. The Water Warriors Drench 'n Blast's 2L reservoir, if filled to the proper 2/3-3/4 full level, requires over 100 full pumps to build up proper pressure. Pumping less or overfilling the reservoir will result in inadequate pressure and significantly worse stream performance. For testing purposes, we were careful to fill the blaster optimally and do plenty of pumping before and in-between shots, but those in a rush to blast may find their blaster's not performing as well as it could. Pumping is smooth, but due to the size of the reservoir, this blaster would have benefited from a larger pump. The choice of pressurization technology puts a notable dampener on an otherwise great water blaster concept. While some may think of the Super Soaker Flash Flood, the Water Warriors Drench 'n Blast's dual-trigger-arrangement makes it much easier to toggle between which nozzle is used or, if the situation calls for it, use both nozzle simultaneously. The "Heavy Drench" nozzle pushes out roughly 50% more water than the primary nozzle and both streams are capable of getting very respectable ranges. Using both nozzles simultaneously reduces functional range by 20% or so, but increases water output more significantly. The top-handle makes it quite easy to hold when refilling and the Angle Gauge has its uses as already noted for the Water Warriors Python 2 and Water Warriors Colossus 2.
Overall, the Water Warriors Drench 'n Blast is a solid blaster that many will just find requires more pumping than most are used to. This water blaster really would benefit had it had a separate pressure chamber. In its current incarnation, the Water Warriors Drench 'n Blast can perform well, but it does take some care and a lot of pumps to make it work its best.
There were two other water blasters released by Buzz Bee Toys Inc. in 2013, the Water Warriors Outlaw and Water Warriors Renegade (2013). However, I consider these re-releases of the older Water Warriors Equalizer and Water Warriors Renegade, respectively. As such, these two re-releases are not being considered for the best new water blaster of 2013 competition.
It was a little trickier to pick a winner this year. While, unfortunately, the entire Nerf Super Soaker line might be considered a write-off, the two largest water blasters in the Water Warriors line each had a notable limitation that significantly affected how well they would perform for the typical user. As such, though the Water Warriors Drench 'n Blast actually yielded the highest power and range measure for the water blasters reviewed above, we have decided to name the Water Warriors Python 2 as the Best New Water Gun / Water Blaster for 2013.
While the Water Warriors Python 2 is a pressurized-reservoir-based blaster, it offers good power, good capacity, and solid performance in a perfectly balanced package. Clean styling and a functional Angle Gauge to boot, the Water Warriors Python 2 is a great choice for the avid water warrior.
The runner-up water blaster would be the Water Warriors Colossus 2. This blaster would have been #1 had its separate pressure chamber been larger and its largest nozzle offering more oomph. In its current form, it behaves more-or-less on par with the Water Warriors Python 2, but is larger. Thus, the Water Warriors Python 2 wins since it can perform equally well, but in a overall smaller form factor.
That wraps up our testing of the major brands for now. While there are a number of other new water blaster models from other makers on the market, none so far appear to be of any significant competition to the market leaders. Of course, time will tell if any new brands become worthy of serious consideration and we remain open to assessing new makes and models whenever possible.
Agree with the choice made? Post your thoughts in the comment section below!
Soak on! Leave NO one dry!