Ready... aim... BUILD!
A couple of months ago we built and then reviewed the K'NEX K-Force Flashfire Blaster; a Nerf-like foam dart shooter than you build yourself from conventional K'NEX parts. We loved the experience, and the shooting battles that followed, but the kit itself was pretty involved and produced a weighty blaster. So we're glad to see that there is more to the K-Force range, especially in the form of the small, light, and easy to build K-5 Phantom.
Whereas the Flashfire was a motorised, battery-powered, flywheel blaster, the Phantom features a spring-powered plunger to shoot one dart at a time. This means there is no complicated motor section, and no need for batteries. It also means that the blaster is small and can be wielded with one hand (or indeed two, if the shooter is wee).
The whole package contains just 53 K'NEX pieces, with most of the bulk being taken up by the grip (which is the same, albeit in a different colour, as the one in the Flashfire set) and the firing mechanism itself. The build took us just five minutes, and instead of a book of instructions as with most K'NEX sets, this requires only a small sheet. You also get two of the blue K-Force darts which, incidentally, are fully compatible with Nerf and vice versa.
The main construction uses standard parts to build up a framework, and if you already have some experience of K'NEX there is nothing new or surprising here. Once assembled the K-5 Phantom Blaster is sturdy, firm in the hand, and could definitely survive quite a few rough play sessions.
To prime the blaster you simple yank back on the finger-pull at the rear of the plunger section. You then pop in a dart, take aim, and pull the trigger. K'NEX boast ranges of up to 75 feet, and after letting off a few rounds indoors we can confirm that to be essentially true. Take the gun outside however, and any slight breeze will effect distance and accuracy, as it does with all foam dart shooter from any manufacturer.
And, just as we pointed out with the Flashfire, once you get bored of the K-5 Phantom Blaster, you just take it apart and build another. The wonderful thing about the Phantom is that it is so cheap, costing less than £10 in all the places we searched for it. This means that you can easily source the plunger part to be integrated into a much larger gun, if you already own lots of other K'NEX parts. Because the back of the plunger is just a standard connection, it doesn't have to use the included finger-pull part, so can be hooked up to a larger mechanism to make a bigger and more intimidating blaster. And, as this set also includes the grip and some darts, it really is all you need.
If you already own K'NEX parts, get this - we urge you. It has everything you need to explore the world of the K-Force blasters without having to fork out for one of the larger spring-powered sets. If, however, you are new to K'NEX, and not sure how the system works, get it as well; the small build and fun resulting model will offer an insight into a fun and engaging construction range.
Basically, get it. This is perfect Christmas stocking filler fodder!