Let me first start off by saying that in no way do I think the Adventure Force Nexus Pro is the best blaster ever. Not even close. However, I do think that it has been the most pivotal blaster since the Stryfe. What made the Stryfe popular was its affordability and versatility, with different performance and body kit mods to suit many different playstyles. What made the Nexus Pro popular was the convenience of being able to walk into a Walmart, buy a 150 FPS blaster and a pack of 100 short darts, and easily have a competitive loadout for under $100.
When Dart Zone first released the Nexus Pro in Florida in the summer of 2020, I remember community members driving to every Walmart they could to look for one; the demand for them was there. All the YouTube reviews praised it for what it was and what it could bring to the hobby. Having the Nexus Pro in Walmart lowered the barrier of entry to get a competitive blaster, appealing to both community and non-community members. It expanded the hobby, and its success led to many more changes in the years since.
• • •
One of the changes in the hobby that the Nexus Pro caused isn’t the blaster itself but the darts that came with it. The darts we use are what drive this community forward. First, it was Streamlines, Elites, Koosh darts, Accustrike, and Waffles. And now we have easy access to high-performing short darts. The release of the Adventure Force (AF) Pro Dart allowed anyone to buy into the ammo type and for the community to create better blasters. They were amazing.
The three most important factors for a dart to be good are its performance, durability, and cost. The AF Pro Darts are pretty accurate out of high-performing blasters and perform even better with rifling attachments. The dart heads had great glue allowing them to be used numerous times, which solved a big problem with previously available short darts. Depending on the power of the blaster you were using, it was fairly common for the dart heads to blow off the foam due to weak glue. A consistent supply of durable short darts has allowed the hobby to create and use higher-FPS blasters without the fear that the blaster will destroy the dart. Lastly, these darts came in packs of 100 for $10 (making each dart $0.10), and being sold at Walmart, people could stock up on as many AF Pro darts as they wanted. Having the AF Pro Dart refills released alongside the Nexus Pro instantly widened the range of blasters that can use them and perform consistently.
• • •
In the two and half years since the release of the Nexus Pro, we have had many more releases of “Pro”-level blasters: The Aeon Pro would soon follow with a top prime instead of pump action at Walmart for $25 and we would quickly have the community favorite that is the Dart Zone Pro Mk-2 -- a compact 130 FPS short dart-exclusive pistol, available on Target’s website.
Dart Zone expanded their relationship with Target, with the Dart Zone Pro line available on their website and their Dart Zone Max line on store shelves; The DZP Mk-3 was their first 150 FPS Flywheel blaster, and The Dart Zone Max Stryker and Max Darts became Target’s version of the Nexus Pro and AF Pro Darts. Later, we would get more blasters in the form of DZP Mk-2.1 and Mk-1.2, a blaster with a magwell in the stock, and a blaster with a 50-round short dart drum. If not for the community’s reception and its resulting sales, I don’t think we would have gotten all these high-performing short dart exclusive blasters. More short dart blasters on shelves mean more people can access them, exposing them to our hobby.
The release of the Nexus Pro introduced and gave a lot of exposure to high-performing blasters. It has allowed the larger community to see that higher-performing blasters can also be for casual nerfers, making people a lot more comfortable around them. Having a blaster that already performs well, many people have become interested in pushing the Nexus Pro even more. The Nexus Pro has proven to be a great modding platform for many newcomers with simple barrel swaps, springer spacers, or stronger springs. There are even some metal internal kits from Worker that make the Nexus Pro more durable and perform better.
Additionally, because the community is now accepting higher-performing blasters, many community creators are building blasters and creating mod parts to meet the demands of those who want blasters that hit those higher numbers. Shops like Out of Darts and SilverFoxIndustries have listed many community designs like the Caliburn and Lynx for those who want to play at a more competitive level. Both the retailers mentioned earlier have a collection of springs to allow these blasters to perform between 150 FPS and 300 FPS.
Similarly, in the flywheeler space, Kuryaka’s Daybreak and Pulsar flywheel geometries have made it super easy to achieve 150 FPS, and Banned Blasters joined the fray with one of their single-stage cages approaching 200 FPS, pushing the boundaries of brushed flywheel performance like no one else has. With these advancements, the community has developed more effective ways to achieve 150+ FPS with their blasters, making it easier for new community members to design around them as a result.
• • •
The successive sales of all “Pro-Max” blasters have shown other companies that there is a market of people who will buy high-performing blasters out of the box. Worker has already been ahead of the game with their kit blaster builds like the Swordfish and Prophecy, but they still need to be assembled and modified to push their performance.
But recently, they have started selling completed blasters like the Phoenix 2.0 and Nightingale -- flywheel blasters that only require a LiPo to be plugged-in to work. And for springers, the Worker Swift and Harrier come equipped with massive plunger tubes and a variety of upgrade parts already available to get up to (and perhaps over) 300 FPS.
Other companies, like ZhenWeiQi (ZWQ), started selling their S100 War Saint Sniper, and their S200-series Fire Rat and Viper. Of course, these blasters need to be assembled, but their presence alone gives nerfers a greater variety of blasters to chase those higher numbers.
The community has a significant influence on what kind of blasters we can get. The recent release of the Game Face Trion directly results from community interest in buying out-of-the-box competitive blasters. Like the Nexus Pro, the Trion is a short dart springer but has some community-requested features. Thanks to the late Liam Mattingly, the Trion has features like a short dart-exclusive magwell with talon compatibility, slam-fire, adjustable FPS with a toolless end cap and spring spacers for 130 FPS, 160 FPS, and 200 FPS, and a Vanguard-style skinny pusher that allows for closed bolt magazine swaps. The community has never had more options than we do now, and it’ll save some people the headache of building an entire blaster from scratch.
• • •
Maybe it's a stretch to say that the Nexus Pro has done all of this, and there are plenty of other options better than the Nexus Pro, but you have to recognize the Nexus Pro’s impact on the hobby since its release. Everyone can now buy competitive blasters and short darts from their local Target or Walmart, and even Amazon. This off-the-shelf accessibility has brought in tons of new players that can come to our events and feel like they’re playing on a balanced level, and it's been really awesome to see all the new players at our games who are ready to jump in with the new blaster that they bought.
To get a blaster to 150+ FPS before the Nexus, you needed to build one yourself from a retaliator- or longshot-style blaster. If you wanted to get higher, you would need a community-designed blaster. But, at least with the first category, “pro-level” blasters now come pre-built with performance in mind, and it allows the hobby to take their designs even further.
The initial release of the Nexus Pro in 2020 was the epicenter of where it all started, and the events that followed its release since then have shaped and grown our hobby profoundly. If the Nexus Pro isn’t the most pivotal blaster in recent years, what is? – OnlyFoamDarts (Formerly Known As "FoamShepherd")