Review: NERF Delivers A Budget-Friendly ALIENS Pulse Rifle

Photo Credit: Mike Phalin

Over the years, several companies have created various versions of this prop. Some shot pellets, some were just for show, and some were so crappy that they had a sticker in place of an illuminated ammo counter. Regardless of quality, none of these official replicas were easy on the wallet. Last year Hasbro Pulse announced that NERF would be creating a replica of the Colonial Marines M41-A Pulse Rifle, which was only $94.99. The drawback was the choice of decor based on the Power Loader’s color scheme.

This week, after a year of waiting and a delay, the NERF Pulse Rifle finally arrived. Does it deliver on the experience of being a xenomorph blasting marine? Let’s find out.

The presentation Hasbro/NERF went with for the rifle’s box is perfect. This is a limited edition collectible, so everything included should live up to that name. While the shades of green are a bit brighter than what we see the Colonial Marines wear in ALIENS, the box does feel like it is from that universe. “Acid damage” is present on the case, giving us a tiny view of what’s inside.

Photo Credit: Mike Phalin
Photo Credit: Mike Phalin
Photo Credit: Mike Phalin
Photo Credit: Mike Phalin
Photo Credit: Mike Phalin

Opening the box does not immediately give us a full view of the M41-A. The U.S. Colonial Marines’ insignia protects a large part of the rifle’s frame. Whether this is for show or serves some other purpose is not clear. A schematic of the Pulse Rifle appears on the underside of the box’s lid, complete with wear, patches, and the ARMAT and Weyland-Yutani Corporation branding. My biggest gripe is that the NERF logo keeps showing up.

Photo Credit: Mike Phalin

Photo Credit: Mike Phalin

Once the M41-A is revealed, we can see that it certainly cannot be mistaken for any real weapon. Bright yellow and white make up most of the frame, while the business end and triggers are the traditional NERF orange. However, the size of this thing is impressive, measuring 28″ long. The stock is not extendable, sadly. Although I’m not a big fan of the Power Loader colors on the weapon, it’s a better alternative than going with the blue, pink, and red palettes we see on other NERF items.

Photo Credit: Mike Phalin
Photo Credit: Mike Phalin
Photo Credit: Mike Phalin
Photo Credit: Mike Phalin
Photo Credit: Mike Phalin

If you’ve loaded up the required (4) “C” batteries, you’ll take full advantage of all the M41-A’s gimmicks. A great feature NERF managed to implement is a functional clip. It may only hold ten “Elite” darts, but it adds to the immersion. Once the clip is loaded into the M41-A, the ammo counter defaults to ’10.’ This can be changed on the fly thanks to the two gray buttons immediately next to the illuminated counter.

Photo Credit: Mike Phalin
Photo Credit: Mike Phalin
Photo Credit: Mike Phalin
Photo Credit: Mike Phalin

First, you must squeeze the motor ignition button below the trigger to fire the darts. This will start the internal motor, which is surprisingly loud. While the motor is spinning, pulling the trigger will allow you to fire one round, but if you keep it pulled back, you’ll dump the entire clip. As a result, the ammo counter will keep going down even if there are no darts left in the clip.

I first didn’t notice the sound effects due to the motor’s volume. The speaker is hidden by a bolt near the rear of the M41-A. As a result, it isn’t precisely movie accurate to my ears, but that is probably due to the small speaker trying to compete with the much louder motor noise. However, there is a grenade-launching sound effect when you squeeze the secondary trigger in front of the clip housing.

Photo Credit: Mike Phalin
Photo Credit: Mike Phalin

That brings us to the “Mega” dart launcher. Like the film, you’ll need to engage the pump-action feature to fire this dart. Unlike the film version, this action won’t reveal the loading chamber for the grenades. However, the action is satisfying to do. The sound effect that follows the trigger pull is kind of like two metal trashcan lids being smashed together but is not followed by any explosion sound effects.

For less than $100, it’s hard to find faults with the NERF Pulse Rifle. I’ve seen a few videos of owners easily disassembling the toy and painting it to be more screen-accurate. Once the cosmetic issues are solved, you’ll end up with one of the least expensive replicas on the market outside of printing your own with ABS or resin.

Now, if you’re looking for something much closer to the original prop, check out Matrix’s limited edition airsoft Pulse Rifle. It has all the features you’re looking for, including a working ammo counter, extending stock, and a pump-action grenade launcher (just for show). The Matrix models are around $400, but from the reviews I’ve seen, they’re well worth the money.

Did you pre-order a NERF Pulse Rifle? Let us know your experience with the ALIENS toy in the comments section below.

 

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Mike Phalin

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