2017 Fireworks Buyers Guide Get the Most Bang for Your Buck

By David Dickstein

It’s almost time to enjoy a slice of our country’s birthday cake, and as Sacramento collectively blows out 241 candles by day, many citizens will keep the flame alive at night by celebrating the Fourth of July with fireworks.
Sacramento’s patriotic and philanthropic will buy theirs from non-profit organizations hoping to raise money for myriad good causes. Volunteers at hundreds of fireworks stands throughout the region will show up for duty as early as noon June 28. The week-long fundraiser ends on the federal holiday, and despite it falling midweek this year, a Tuesday fourth is expected to help fundraising efforts, according to the state’s largest fireworks resellers.
“Fireworks sales on a Tuesday are generally good because over 50 percent of people have Monday off from work, so it turns into an extra-long weekend celebration,” said William Weimer, vice president and general counsel of Phantom Fireworks.
Also believing that more green is made with a red, white and blue Tuesday is TNT Fireworks, which corners roughly 75 percent of the Northern California market.
“With the Fourth of July falling on a Tuesday, many people will spend the holiday in town,” said John Castilone, regional sales manager at TNT’s Sacramento office. “With the rise in the economy we feel that people will be out spending more to celebrate our nation’s independence and support local community non-profits.”
When they do, folks will be asking those five big questions: What’s new? What’s loud? What’s colorful? How long does it last? What gives me the most bang for my buck?
Valley Community Newspapers has the answers. This year’s fireworks buyers guide includes reviews of every new state-approved firework from market-dominating TNT and Phantom along with returning favorites that scored at least four of five stars on a scale based on performance, duration, distinctiveness and comparative value.
This season, TNT takes “Best New Firework” honors while unveiling perhaps the strongest rookie lineup the state has ever seen. Meanwhile, Phantom has a California-record 13 buy-one-get-one items, including the “Deal of the Season.”
Judges this year included firefighters of Metro Fire Station 65 in Rancho Cordova, where the test was conducted. Fireworks are listed by price, highest to lowest. Let the sparks fly!

New for 2017

Allegiance Fountain (TNT), $79.99 – Most expensive and largest fountain in California history is also the season’s only new firework packing the legal maximum of 500 grams of powder. Sparks flirt with unlawful height and spread to an audience’s delight. If you care about keeping up with the Joneses, here’s your pyro-style mic drop. 122 seconds. 4 Stars
Miss Liberty Fountain (TNT), $39.99 – Beautiful multi-color stars with silver rain and crackles so intense that at times they sound like a violent storm of static electricity. 100 seconds. 4 Stars
Phantom Duo Fountain (Phantom), $29.99 – “Beauty & the Beast” was the intended name for this set of identically shaped, distinctively labeled fountains, but jitters over being sued by Disney is why a nameless mythical blonde hottie and anonymous underworld big cat adorn a cellophaned combo pack. Wide-spreading crackling silver sparks highlight an otherwise undynamic duo. 73 seconds (“Beauty”), 78 seconds (“Beast”). 3 Stars
Power On Fountain (TNT), $19.99 – “Best New Firework” winner also gets a rare perfect score. Before lighting, get a charge out of its electrifying power plant shape and high-voltage label. Then get excited by shockingly good and super-high crackling sparks, plus fusing that moves from one end to the other. 85 seconds. 5 Stars
Magic Beans Fountain (TNT), $14.99 – Outstanding green sparks, crackles, whistle and labeling combine for a magical debut. 61 seconds. 4 Stars
Lady Liberty Fountain (Phantom), $12.99 – Gorgeous red pearls – the prettiest ever seen in a fountain – lead to a fervent finale of silver crackle. 58 seconds. 3 1/2 Stars
Everglow Fountain (TNT), $9.99 – Rookie sensation scores with a quiet fish effect opening, titanium sparkle middle and boisterous crackle finale. Striking reds and greens. 61 seconds. 4 1/2 Stars
Phantom Tank with Sparks (Phantom), $7.99 for four – As a “new” item, this one tanks. Only thing new is they come in a box of four for the first time in California. Snore. So is the performance of this unexplainably popular novelty. 10 seconds. 1 Star
Cool Breeze Fountain (TNT), $3.99 – Talk about your cheap thrills. Sustained crackle, color and a price that – I can’t believe I’m saying this – is actually too low compared to fountains of similar performance. 55 seconds. 4 Stars
TNT Poker Chip (TNT), $2.99 for two – Packaging is better than the performance with this subpar ground spinner. For the same price, get the TNT Crazy Eyeballs 3-pack. 15 seconds. 1 Star

Best of the Rest

Opening Show (TNT), $69.99 – “Best New Finale” winner of 2012 was dropped from the list last year due to a $10 price hike, but the 500-gram budget buster is back for the sole reason that it’s memorable. What happens at the 1:40 mark is jaw-dropping and unique. No spoiler here. 130 seconds.
Wicked Strong Fountain (TNT), $59.99 – Five-hundred-gram rookie sensation from last season is a fan-finale hybrid. Surge of sparks at the 90-second mark puts muscle in its name. 105 seconds.
Apache Firedance Premier Fountain (Phantom), $49.99 – Former “Best New Firework” honoree has 500 grams worth of crackles, strobes and height. 140 seconds.
Coral Reef Fountain (Phantom), $49.99 – Phantom’s longest-lasting fan fountain is a 500-gram crowd pleaser with radiant colors and clamorous whistles and crackles. Tested nearly identically to TNT’s best-selling Delirium (see review). 105 seconds.
Delirium Fountain (TNT), $49.99 – Still the benchmark of all state-approved fan fountains after 12 years, this 500-gram showstopper packs intensity and stunning beauty. 105 seconds.
New York Harbor Fountain (Phantom), $49.99 — Grucci of New York, hailed as “the first family of fireworks,” partnered with Phantom on this 500-gram fountain distinguished by its stellar burn time and best-of-breed chrysanthemums. 252 seconds.
Magnetic Heat Fountain (TNT), $39.99 – Year-old fountain amazes with gorgeous smokeless globs, pretty palms and intense colorful crackles. 112 seconds.
Peacock Tail Fan Fountain (Phantom), $35.99 – Despite its fleeting burn time, former “Best New Firework” builds excitement with each dazzling stage. Works out to 67 cents per second, but priceless will be the audience’s “oohs” and “ahhs.” 54 seconds.
Sea Serpent Fountain (Phantom), $35.99 – Outstanding crackles, whistles, darting silver sparks and height made this an instant classic last year. 100 seconds.
Core Reactor Fountain (Phantom), $25.99 – Rewarding tradeoff of height over duration, and love the raucous silver crackles from start to finish. 73 seconds.
Funky Monkey Fountain (Phantom), $24.99 – Pyrotechnic primate produces pretty prismatic pearls plus pleasing performance. 90 seconds.
Moondance Premier Fountain (Phantom), $24.99 for two – “Deal of the Season” right here. A $5 price drop plus a second one thrown in for free is unprecedented, and how awesome that it’s on the highly rated super-sized version of Phantom’s little Moondance Fountain. 100 seconds.
Zombie Apocalypse Fountain (TNT), $21.99 – Lots of life in these zombies, who prove you can add a quality-grade fan to your show for under $25. 62 seconds.
O-Blivion Fountain (TNT), $19.99 – Lord of the ring-shaped fountains emits multi-colored chrysanthemums with pine and impressive titanium crackles. Sweet burn time. 125 seconds.
Sparknado Fountain (TNT), $19.99 – Year-old crackle-happy fountain is now $5 less, making this an even stronger buy. Unique effect has geysers of sparks breathing in and out before going into a frenzy. 85 seconds.
Luminescence Fountain (Phantom), $17.99 for two – Starts out as a run-of-the-mill multi-effect fountain, then surprises with an eruption of wide-spreading sparks. Bright idea making this a buy-one-get-one deal for $3 more. 73 seconds.
Serenity Fountain (Phantom), $17.99 for two – Noiseless fountain opens with lovely lava lamp-like lumps and peacefully pleases with seven colors and white chrysanthemums. Two bucks more gets you twice the Serenity, so a great deal this season. 59 seconds.
Sundance Fountain (Phantom), $17.99 for two – Downgraded as an assortment-only item for a decade, this oldie but goodie is not only back out of the box, but a buy-one-get-one. Great height, color, whistles and crackles. 95 seconds.
King of Bling Fountain (Phantom), $16.99 – Crackles heard during the final third sound just like popping popcorn. Chrysanthemum and whistle effects are majestic. 90 seconds.
Raise Your Flag Fountain (TNT), $14.99 – Price drop of nearly $3, spreading crackling sparks and piercing whistle will make you pledge allegiance. 65 seconds.
Firecracker Fountain (Phantom), $10.99 – Lives up to its name with awesome crackling barrage alongside multi-colored pearls. 76 seconds.
Crystal Skies Fountain (TNT), $9.99 – Former “Best New Fountain” honoree has better height, gold glitters, white pines and crackles than many fountains sold at double the price. 68 seconds.
Phantom Dragon Slayer Fountain (Phantom), $9.99 for two – Solid pick with white, blue and lemon chrysanthemums, rowdy crackles and red stars. 66 seconds.
Luck of the Irish Fountain (TNT), $9.99 – Celebrating its sweet 16, fan favorite features gold and silver spray, red and green balls, crackles and four super-loud whistles. 75 seconds.
Neon Force Fountain (TNT), $6.99 – Some of the best height, crackles and color at this price point. 55 seconds.
Purple Rain Fountain (TNT), $5.99 for two – Little dynamo emits loud crackles, purple pearls and glittering gold and white sparks. Identical to Phantom’s Moondance Fountain ($3.49). 45 seconds.
Rainbow Rays Fountain (TNT), $5.99 – Fourth of July’s version of a stocking stuffer delivers on burn time, height and crackle. 56 seconds.

Assortments Review

Perfect Show (TNT), $99.99 – When a single fountain can cost $80, the value of even so-so assortments goes up. This mid-priced collection with 23 legitimate fountains is fine for families with young children. Still, just four fountains barely cross the 1-minute mark: Pyrofire, Starfire, Outbox and Combustion Chamber. 3 Stars
Backyard Barrage (Phantom), $159.99 – Consists of 17 fountains, five that last over a minute: Hasta La Vista Baby, Firecracker, New Age and the two Rockin’ in the USA fountains. Got some single-tube imposters in there, bearing the same name as fountains that were multi-tube in the past. 2 Stars
The Big Deluxe (TNT), $199.99 – Contains 23 valid fountains, a generous 11 of which burn for over a minute. Bringing the most joy are Fire Destroyers, Devil’s Delight, Combustion Chamber and Mad Dog. Sure hope the throwaway 42 tiny Flashing Fountains and 36 Lightning Flashes aren’t there to artificially inflate the total number of items and advertised value. 3 Stars
Fireblast Assortment (Phantom), $199.99 – Inside the fountains-only box of 24 are a mere three that burn longer than a minute: the always-impressive Firecracker Fountain, year-old Uproar and classic Moondance fountain. 2 Stars

For stand locations and additional product information, visit TNT’s website at www.tntfireworks.com and Phantom’s at www.fireworks.com. Due to providing us with erroneous information last season regarding product availability and stand openings, Discount Fireworks Superstore (dfsfireworks.com) is not included in this year’s buyers guide.

4 Responses to 2017 Fireworks Buyers Guide Get the Most Bang for Your Buck

  1. David Dickstein says:

    Thanks Ronald and Royce! So glad the review helped you get the most bang for your buck! Until next year ….!

  2. Ronald Warren says:

    Thank you for this review. I find it very helpful.

  3. royce mendonca says:

    David dickstein always comes out with the best fireworks reviews. For those of us who want to make sure our hard earned money is spent on quality fireworks, his articles are a must have. I’ve been following him for many years. Keep up the great work David!

  4. GigiB says:

    I used this to purchase my fireworks this year. I liked how you listed the price and seconds the firework lasted. Very informative. Thank you!

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