However, while out and about in Massachusetts, I visited a Toys R Us and found the two front runners of the Nerf Elite Line, the Retaliator and the Rampage. With space being somewhat limited, I only picked up the Retaliator:
The Retaliator is nothing more than an upgraded Recon with different attachments, which I expected. I was hoping that the differences would be worth it, but most of what the Retaliator had to offer was disappointment.
To start, the attachments were one of the most interesting parts of the Retaliator, or so I thought. Every attachment is different from the Recon in some way, with the exception of the useless scope. While the Recon stock was far too wobbly to be useful, the Retaliator stock looked much more promising. If only it was 3-4" longer, it might have been great, but it's just too short to be comfortable.
The foregrip looked cool before I actually held it. The only thing I have to say about it is that the only way it's better than the Stampede bipod is that it doesn't have the bipod. Otherwise it's too thin and has a less comfortable curvature.
The clip is interesting and great for anyone who doesn't have many blasters, but as someone who owns multiple 18 round clips I have to say that the 12 round clips provide no real benefits. When the clip is loaded into the blaster, the clear half is facing outward, but since the majority of the population is right handed, it's only really good for letting your opponent know how many shots you have left.
The elite darts looked like they were going to be a big improvement, but after firing them I can honestly say they are only slightly better than streamlines. Even out of the stock Retaliator they like to swerve around. Annoyingly, the miniature hole in the head is still present.
The Elite line promised ranges of 75' out of the box, but it's mostly exaggeration. A more reasonable estimate would be somewhere around 45-50' flat, which maybe translates to 70' at an angle with a good shot. The range is definitely an improvement, but since the darts swerve, it's going to be hard to hit anything at those ranges.
With all that being said, the Retaliator is still a good choice over the Recon for a $5 markup. It's just not the amazing stock blaster that we were all hoping for. I'd guess that the Elite line will see plenty of use in stock and lightly modified games, but anyone hoping to use Elite blasters for the NIC will be sadly disappointed.