Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Precision RBS: Rubber Band Shooter Rundown - Part 1!


Super Impulse’s Precision RBS – Rubber band launching system

EDIT: updated with firing video playlist - 

The fine folks at Super Impulse provided samples of their latest offering, a rubber band shooting system called the Precision RBS. All opinions remain my own.

I first ran into Precision RBS at New York Toy Fair in February 2016. It was a new type of rubber band launcher, not to be confused with a previous brand the year before. Precision RBS offered something different from that previous toy in a variety of differences. It used normal rubber bands you could find at any major retailer, didn’t need a magazine, and most importantly HAD A FUNCTIONING TRIGGER. I saw 3 different models, each offering a little twist on rubber band launching. Aesthetically, I found the Precision RBS models elegant, with the smooth lines and round shape of the each shooter very different from many of the angular toys on the market today, adopting an alien/futuristic look, and the colors really stood out as well.


The Basics:




TALOS
"The lightweight Talos holds up to 20 rubber bands in two sizes, launches up to 30 feet and includes a built-in extender for even more power when you need it. It’s perfect for quick, smooth action.
MSRP: $14.99
Age: 8+"


CHIRON
"The Chiron has storage for up to 100 rubber bands, so you’ll never run out of ammo! Other features include the quick-loading design and a release option to separate into 2 completely different RBS Shooters, including a hand launcher. You’ll dominate your opponent with tons of ammo power!
MSRP: $19.99
Age: 8+"




HYPERION
"Nothing surpasses the Hyperion: with pinpoint accuracy and extended range! Capacity to hold three different band sizes, with extra side storage. Plus Hyperion has an unbelievable BURST feature and can launch 14 bands at once!
MSRP: $24.99
Ages: 8+"

Right away, the entire line is a relatively low cost offering, and with easily available rubber band ammo in large packs (and a secondary use as a tool around the house), there are a few perks before even talking about the toys themselves.

I mentioned my favorite parts of the aesthetics of the Precision RBS shooters. Besides the looks, the Talos has a very comfortable grip, and each toy makes uses of the body of the launcher, removing the necessity for attachments and accessories. The ammo holders are built INTO the body of the launcher, but by no means do they take away from the structure or the solid feel of the toys. Depending on the model, the ammo storage ranges from “adequate” on the Hyperion to “overwhelming” on the Chiron. But it’s these differences that really make for a compelling case at buying either model past the Talos.



The Talos acts as the “base” model of the line, while the Chiron and Hyperion are attachments onto the Talos that add another dimension to how you play with the launcher. The Chiron adds a humongous amount of ammo storage, along with the ability to shoot larger ammo and split into the Talos and a manually fired frame to shoot rubber bands from. For parents, this could easily be considered a two-player pack where one can use the pistol form and the other the hand launcher. The manual frame of the Chiron is easy to reload with practice, and can fire any size rubber band without an attachment, unlike the other models that can only fit one of the three standard sizes at any time. Here are the features among each launcher:

  • The Talos has an “extender arm” which allows it to shoot two different sized bands.
  • The Chiron adds an additional ammo holder and essentially a second manual shooter to go with the included Talos. Larger rubber bands may be shot on the Chiron as well when connected or separate from the Talos
  • The Hyperion can use small, medium, and large rubber bands, has an ammo holder for each type, and an undermounted shooter that sprays rubber bands or can shoot a massive clump of them at once.

The Talos pack is comprises of the Talos and two different sizes of rubber bands. The Chiron includes the Talos and the Chiron attachment/frame to shoot rubber bands by hand (and it protects your hand from being spiked by the rubber band upon launch). The Hyperion comes with all three different sizes of rubber bands as well as a Talos and the attachment for the Hyperion.

The rubber band ammo is pretty cool! Here’s how you load a Precision RBS launcher.

Why rubber bands? I’ll post an interview in part 2, but here’s a quote from the inventor, Ben Stack:

“What's really awesome with rubber bands is the size of the band really makes a performance difference. Size 117 bands reduce the number you can load at one time down to 6, but increase range out to 50 feet with high accuracy. The size 33 is the sweet spot for indoor play in the middle, giving medium range, about 35 feet, and around 8-10 in loading capacity. Size 16s are for quantity over quality, giving you up to 12 shots with around 30 feet of range and close-in accuracy.



The rubber bands aren’t a perfect solution, though. The smaller sizes are particularly hard to see and find again, even at close range. I’d be hesitant to use them in a park area with wildlife. I am not sure I would use the line at all outside in a park, given how difficult it might be to gather the rubber bands up again. Maybe a concrete outside structure, but I’m too worried about the local woodland creatures. Also, the rubber bands in windy weather lose a lot of “oomph” and are very hard to aim, if they even reach their target. Not unlike other similar toys shot in the wind, but rubber bands are especially vulnerable to the elements. These toys excel indoors, and given the amount of cover in a home and/or office, Precision RBS would definitely offer a very intense play experience. And if you’re worried about pain, it’s minute and extremely temporary. The worst I ever felt was shooting my palm point blank with the Talos, and taking a hit 10’ away from the Hyperion. Otherwise, most of the energy is dispersed seconds after launching the rubber bands, and contact doesn’t hurt a lot, if at all. Considering the “pain scale” nurses might use, it goes from a 6 to a 1 in a matter of seconds of flight. My biggest recommendation is eye protection, because accidents do happen.

Edit: I wanted to capture a few more thoughts I had on this toy after the initial review - 5/4/16

One really neat trick about the rubber bands is the ability to "shotgun" them on a single nock, or in the case of the Hyperion one big clump of rubberbands instead of a stream of them. You can also shotgun load them onto the ammo holders, which makes restocking your reserve ammo elementary in practice. While shotgunning is possible with other toys, it's not quite like this, and it's pretty cool!

I found the launchers in Precision RBS very comfortable to hold, it didn't feel built for small hands as some toys in the 8+ range are. And even if something like the Talos is oversized, there's always the Chiron, probably the most versatile toy in the bunch because of the manual firing option. I almost wish the Hyperion had a stock, but it's unnecessary. Its omission also probably helped keep costs low on the line, and again I find the prices a winner. Even moreso because of the lack of inherent costs in restocking a proprietary ammo, since the rubber bands are available everywhere.

Ammo holders on the Hyperion


And don’t let the various types of ammo dissuade you! I’ve found that with practice you can load multiple types of rubber band ammo onto the RBS, and as I mentioned with the Chiron frame it doesn’t matter.

It’s ingenious how the Precision RBS launchers are designed. The shooters barely have any moving components, outside of the nock wheel, the extender arm, and the slide on the Hyperion. The rubber band ammo is a self-contained propulsion projectile. I see those factors eliminating needs for maintenance to the toys, leaving not as many chances for a launcher to fail or misfire during a game. No fiddling with gears or wondering if your plunger is damaged, no spring tension or air bladders to worry about. Everything about the launcher is right there in front of you. It’s that simplicity of the Precision RBS that I really like, combined with the cost and ease of use this is a good buy for anyone looking to add something new to their arsenal or activities. 

Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow, where I release exclusive F2A Q&A I had with Ben, the inventor of the RBS launchers. I'll also update with videos on these launchers tomorrow as well. Thanks!

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