#1349: Kat & Carter

KAT & CARTER

HALO MINIMATES

I own an amusingly small quantity of Halo Minimates.  How amusingly small?  Well, this will be my third and final Halo Minimates review.  More amusing?  I don’t actually like either of the characters in this set.  Why do I have them?  Read on to find out.  Onto the review!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

This pair was released in the second Toys R Us exclusive series of Halo Minimates, as the resident Halo: Reach pairing in the assortment.

KAT

“As second in command of Noble Team, Lieutenant Commander Kat was considered an exemplary soldier and brilliant cryptanalyst. Even during times of limited intel, her ability to read a situation and react accordingly was considered supernatural, making her invaluable to the team.”

Of the two figures in this set, Kat’s the one I loathe the most.  God does Kat suck.  Especially when she’s driving. She’s like the worst driving AI ever implemented in a video game.  But none of that has anything to do with the figure, I guess.  The figure stands about 2 1/4 inches tall and has 11 points of articulation (she loses one wrist joint and both ankle joints).  She uses the standard ‘mate body, with add-ons for her helmet, chest plate, left shoulder armor and glove, belt, and boots, as well as a unique right arm, which replicates her robotic replacement from the game.  The pieces are on par with the other Halo ‘mates I’ve looked at; not bad overall, but slightly soft around the edges, when it comes to the finer details.  Still, it’s pretty solid.  In terms of paint, Kat’s okay.  The colors seem to match up pretty well with her in-game counterpart, albeit much cleaner than her armor in the game.  Under the armor, there’s a fully detailed face, with hair and everything detailed.  For some reason, the hair has no actual color, but other than that, the detail work is pretty solid.  Kat comes packed with a Magnum handgun.

CARTER

“During the Fall of Reach, Carter was the Commander of an elite team of Spartans referred to as the Noble Team. Charismatic, reassuring, and also known to be cool under pressure, Carter was considered a born leader. He inspired confidence in all of those under his command.”

Okay, so, admittedly, I don’t dislike Carter quite as much as Kat.  Mostly, I just find him sort of “meh,” which isn’t so great when you’re leading a team of fun, colorful characters. I guess not everyone can be Jorge and Emile.  Like Kat, he’s built on the standard body, though he’s got movement on both wrists.  He has add-ons for his helmet, chest armor, gloves, and boots, as well as unique pieces for his upper arms and legs.  He’s a little on the chunky side, but the pieces are generally pretty  nicely sculpted. The paint on Carter is okay; a little on the drab side, and the blue and grey run together, but it’s decent enough.  As with Kat, there’s a fully detailed head under the helmet.  He actually gets hair color, so that’s a nice step up.  Carter includes a DRM battle rifle, which he can only hold with one hand.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Okay, Ethan, you don’t like these two, so why do you own them?  Two reasons: 1) I hadn’t yet played the game when I got them, so I didn’t really know the characters, and 2) my local Toys R Us was closing down, and everything was 75% off.  I’m not crazy about the characters, but the figures are actually pretty cool.

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#0749: Jetpack ODST

JETPACK ODST

HALO: REACH

ODSTJet1

In addition to making it pretty clear that I’ve gotten quite into the Halo series, I’ve also mentioned once or twice before how the Orbital Drop Shock Troopers, aka the ODSTs, are one of my favorite parts of the series. Since Halo 2, these guys have shown up with a fair bit of regularity, including in the pretty awesome Halo: Reach campaign, where they assist Noble Team for a few levels, which seems to have been enough to warrant one of them getting an action figure in the accompanying toy line. I’ll be looking at that figure today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

ODSTJet3The Jetpack ODST was released in Series 3 of McFarlane Toys’ Halo: Reach line. His design is based on the working design (though not quite the final design) of the “Bullfrog” ODSTs from Reach, which is really just a merging of the original ODST design with that of the more basic USNC Trooper. The figure stands 4 ¾ inches tall (a little bigger than the other ODSTs) and has 24 points of articulation. He’s missing a few articulation points present on just about every other Halo figure; most notably, he has no bicep movement, which severely hinders his ability to hold stuff. Given that there’s a strap on his bicep that could have easily hidden a cut joint, I can’t imagine why McFarlane opted to leave this joint out. There actually aren’t a whole lot of new parts to this figure. His base body is repurposed from the Reach USNC Medic, with the shoulder pads from the USNC Radio Operator, the head from ODST Mickey, and the basic Reach jetpack. He’s got a few extra pouches glued on in a few spots, and an extra collar piece, which appears to be new. Regardless of whether their new or not, all of the parts used here are pretty nicely sculpted. The details and texturing are superbly handled, and help make this guy look like a real person. The collar piece renders the neck movement almost inert, but it’s easily removed, should you so choose. The hip joints are a bit awkward looking, and there’s the previously mentioned issue with ODSTJet2the arm movement, but the overall look of the figure is pretty cool. Like all of the other Reach figures, the Jetpack ODST’s hands aren’t molded to properly hold a weapon, but they do alright. The paintwork on the Jetpack ODST is overall pretty great, but there’s one major issue: the visor. In Reach, the ODST’s visor gave off a faint glow, which somewhat illuminated the surrounding areas of the helmet. On this figure, McFarlane just painted the visor and all its surrounding areas a straight metallic blue. You can still clearly make out the outline of the visor on the sculpt, but the paint just goes straight over it, which just ends up looking really sloppy. Aside from that, the paint is actually really nicely handled. There are lots of nice smaller details and insignias on the armor, and plenty of washes and dry brushing to help bring out the sculpts details. In addition to the titular jetpack piece (which is removable), the ODST includes a basic Magnum handgun.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After picking up Mickey and thoroughly the figure, I decided to take advantage of his seller’s rather substantial selection of well-priced loose Halo figures, which included this guy here. I will admit to being a little letdown by this guy when he first arrived, mostly due to the movement issues and him just not being quite as good a figure as Mickey, but he’s grown on me over time. He’s not my favorite Halo figure, but he’s really not bad.

ODSTJet4

#0713: Air Assault Spartan

AIR ASSAULT SPARTAN

HALO: REACH (MCFARLANE)

NobleArmor1

Hey look! More Halo! A certain writer seems to have gone on a bit of a buying spree…

So, one of the coolest things about Halo: Reach was just how much say the player had in what Noble 6 looked like. You could customize your character to have any combination of several dozen armor sets, and your character would appear that way in the main game, even during cutscenes. Because of that, 6 looked different for every player. Cool in-game, but how do you translate that to merchandising. Well, most merchandise had the basic Mark V armor in a basic dark grey (a look dubbed Blandy McBlanderpants by Tim), which isn’t the most exciting thing. McFarlane Toys decided to offer the best of both worlds, with both the basic Mark V Noble 6 in the main line (seen here), as well as a series of deluxe figures with multiple armor sets, allowing the collector to build their own Spartan, just like in the game! I’ll be looking at one of those sets today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

NobleArmor2The Air Assault Spartan was released alongside the fourth series of McFarlane’s Halo: Reach line. It’s titled “Air Assault” due to that being the armor set it’s wearing in the package, but it also features pieces to the ODST, EVA, and CQC armors. No points for guessing which armor set I bought this for. The figure stands about 5 inches tall and has 34 points of articulation. The AA Spartan uses the same articulation scheme as Spartan Jorge. This is definitely the best set-up McFarlane’s used on the Halo figures. God only knows why they abandoned it, but the figure definitely benefits from having it. Sculpturally, the figure uses the basic Mark V Spartan body used by most of the line, which features an assortment of ports and such to allow for various armor pieces to be attached. The figure looks a little goofy without the chest piece, but it’s not meant to be viewed that way. The underlying body is pretty nicely proportioned and has a fair bit of texture and detail work, which is pulled right from the game models. The one real drawback of the sculpt is the hands; they’re just a simple grip, with no trigger finger separation or anything, which means they’re a real pain to use for holding, say, a gun. Which is a bit frustrating for a figure from a franchise where the main characters are pretty much always carrying guns. So, that’s the basic body, what about the armor? Well, the basic armor set is the Air Assault armor. This is the sleekest of the armors available here, which makes sense, given the name, and it’s probably my second favorite of those included. Next, there’s the ODST armor, which is my personal favorite. It’s modelled after the armor worn by the Orbital Drop Shock Troopers (like Mickey), but, amazingly enough, none of these parts are re-used from prior ODST figures. The helmet is more angular than past versions, especially on the visor. I do with the head was just a little bit bigger, but it’s not terrible as is. Next is the EVA armor, one of the more consistently available Halo armors. The helmet is definitely this armor’s strongest trait. The shoulders are weird, and don’t sit as well as I might like on the figure. The last full armor set is the CQC (Not to be confused with the CQB armor from the same game). I’m not much of a fan of the helmet on this one, but the torso with the pouches is definitely cool, and very well sculpted to boot. The figure also included an extra helmet, the MP helmet, which is easily my least favorite in the set. Of course, I don’t like the design in the game, so it’s at the very least accurate. The paintwork on the figure and various armor parts is top notch. The figure was available in both Blue and Steel color schemes. I went with Steel. It has a nice brushed effect to it, which makes it look nice and weathered, and all the armor sets have great work on the insignias and such. Apart from the armor sets, the figure includes no accessories, but McFarlane was kind enough to offer a weapons pack around the same time.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

So, after being sufficiently pulled into Mcfarlane’s Halo stuff, I figured I might as well have fun with it. This set had a few of the parts I used on my in-game Noble 6, so I went ahead and ordered it from Amazon. It’s certainly a fun set, and it even allowed me to salvage the “junk” Carter and 6 I got with my Jorge figure, effectively giving me three new figures in one purchase!

NobleArmor3

#0705: Spartan Jorge

SPARTAN JORGE

HALO: REACH(MCFARLANE)

Jorge1

You know what goes well with Halo? More Halo. So, how ‘bout some more of that? Of all the Halo games, I think Halo: Reach may be my favorite play-through experience. I really liked the customizability, and I liked Noble Team (well, most of Noble Team, anyway). The coolest member of the team was definitely Jorge, the team’s heavy weapons guy. So, let’s have a look at one of his figures, shall we?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Jorge2Spartan Jorge was released as part of the first series of McFarlane Toys’ Halo: Reach line of figures. The figure stands a whopping 6 inches tall and has 34 points of articulation. Like Mickey, his size is a bit divergent from Spartan Thorne, though in the opposite direction. It is once again accurate to the source material, as Jorge’s listed height is 8 feet on the dot, so he’s a pretty tall dude. His joint layout is more in line with Thorne than Mickey, but the hip joints are still different. It’s for the better, as Jorge’s hips allow for a much better range and a stronger set of joints than Thorne’s. Jorge got his own unique sculpt (which would later be re-used for an unmasked Jorge.) It’s a great translation of the game design. The armor has a nice amount of texturing and weathering, which adds a nice touch of realism to the figure. He’s also got a suitable amount of bulk to him, which is definitely true to the character. If there’s one drawback, it’s his backpack; it’s a separate piece, and it doesn’t stay in place very well, which is super annoying. However, it’s nothing a spot of glue can’t fix. Jorge’s paint is a good match for the sculpt, with plenty of variety to the colors and nice bit of weathering, which brings out the sculpted details nicely. He’s even got some very nicely handled insignias on his torso, which are a great touch. Jorge’s one accessory is his signature mini-gun, which is exquisitely detailed, even if it is a little difficult for him to hold.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After picking up Mickey and Thorne, I knew my next purchase would have to be Jorge, my favorite member of Noble Team by far. I was fortunate enough to come across an eBay auction with him, Carter and Noble Six. The other two were missing most of their parts, but Jorge was totally complete, which I was very happy about. Jorge is a very nicely handled figure, with only a few minor issues that don’t hold him back.

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Guest Review # 0033: Emile & Mongoose

EMILE & MONGOOSE

HALO MEGA BLOKS

Emil&Mongoose1

The following is a guest review by Tim Marron. For more from Tim, check out Timsical Thoughts and Tim’s Blarg.

Is Mega Bloks one word or two? I can never remember. It’s never been a big interest of mine, being the devout Lego purist I am. However, the one thing Mega Blocks does have over Lego is the Halo license and that is something I can get behind. If you saw my review of the Noble Team Minimates, you most likely caught on to my attitude toward Spartan Emile from Halo: Reach. If you didn’t, no worries, I’ll catch you up. “DUUUUUUUUUDE, EMILE IS GETTING THIS DONE!” Got all of that? Good. Anyway, today I’ll be looking at the MegaBlox incarnation of the true hero of the Haloverse, Emile himself, and he even comes with a sweet Mongoose ATV. Let’s get into it.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

EMILE

Emil&Mongoose3Skull face. That’s how you know this guy is serious. He’s got a skull face on his helmet face to protect his face face. Being his only appearance, this figure is based on Emile’s look from Halo Reach. He stands about 2 inches tall and features 16 points of articulation. He’s built on the “new(er) super posable” mini-figure body with a unique head and addons for his armor parts. The sculpt work is decent and pretty close to the in game assets though some of the smaller details are a little soft. Also, while the armor on Emile’s right shoulder is technically correct, it is missing the sheath for his trademark big knife which is a bit of a shame. The head does seem a little small on close inspection but if it were any bigger it would really limit the movement in his neck, so it’s forgivable. Plus, it makes him look super jacked-up and imposing… for a Mega Brix figure. There isn’t much to speak of in terms of paint. Most of Emile is cast in the appropriately colored plastic. His helmet is really the only substantial painted area with his visor done in a nice metallic gold. The aforementioned skull-face-over-his-face-face is painted in silver but is a little hard to see without actually holding the figure in-hand. Despite the lack of sheath, Emile does come with his big knife and a shotgun. I would have been happy with just that, but no, Emile doesn’t stop there.

THE MONGOOSE

Emil&Mongoose2He comes with a Mongoose ATV so he can get into a fight faster, blowing stuff up and stabbing what’s left. As you can probably guess given this is a Super Cubez review, the Mongoose is built of small bricks and plates and whatnot. All assembled, it is about 4 3/4 inches long, 2 inches wide, and 1 1/2 inches tall. When you consider that this is a building toy, it does actually look pretty good and as close to the source material as can be expected, especially at this scale. In addition to different colors of bricks, some pieces feature painted UNSC logos and other markings that you would expect. Emile can sit pretty securely on it and in a way that looks natural. The Mongoose doesn’t have any accessories of it’s own since it’s already kind of an accessory, but it does have a platform and handle on the back end if another Spartan happened to show up.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I don’t even remember when I got this set. That’s how long ago it was. My best guess was around the time Ethan reviewed his UNSC Soldier ODST figure. I just know at the time I wasn’t really into Ultra Chunx, but the set featured Emile so how could I say no? Since then I seem to have amassed a small army of various Halo mini-figures so I’d say it left a good impression on me.

Guest Review #0005: Ranger Elite

RANGER ELITE (SANGHEILI)

HALO REACH

IMG_0645

Today’s review is written by Tim Marron.  Check out more from Tim over at Tim’s Blarg and Timsical Thoughts.  Take it away Tim!

When it comes to video games, two of the traits I tend to look for are the presence of shootbangs, and a high level of polish. I don’t mean that in the sense of the game being thoroughly tested and fine-tuned, although that is also desirable. No, I mean it’s got lots of shiny things. As many of you probably know, the Halo franchise meets both of these criteria consistently across titles and it is from this series that today’s figure comes. I’ll be taking a look at the Ranger Elite from Halo Reach, the origin story of the Halo universe.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

For those of you not familiar with the Halo games or lore, Elites, or Sangheili if you really want to show off, are a species of alien that are part of a military coalition known as the Covenant. This specific figure is part of McFarlane Toys’ fifth series of Halo Reach action figures and depicts an Elite in the Ranger armor. He features 25 points of articulation and stands about 6″ tall, when you can get him to stand, that is. The sculpt is pretty accurate to the look from the game and is mostly original apart from the feet, hands, and lower torso which are reused from all previous Halo Reach Elites. There are some seam lines and kibble, but anyone handy with an X-acto knife should be able to remedy these easily enough. I do appreciate how the Elite’s face can be partially seen underneath the transparent visor of his helmet instead of, say, having the visor be painted on opaque… and the wrong color. I’m looking at you, DC Direct (see my review of their Tali’Zorah figure). The sculpting does start to be an issue when it runs into certain areas of articulation on the figure. Places like the knees and elbows are sculpted to match as closely as possible to the shape of the character model in the game. However, the simple hinge joint they used on the figure aren’t entirely compatible which results in the knee caps and elbows peeling away from the rest of the arm or leg when you bend the joint. This forms weird little spikes that aren’t meant to be there and can be a little pinchy if you aren’t paying attention. The paint is decent although hardcore collectors will notice some serious areas of slop and bleed over. That being said, the average casual collector such as myself will be totally fine with the paint which has a nice variety of textures like metallic and even pearlescent in some areas. The Ranger Elite comes with a Focus Rifle, Plasma Grenade, and back plate that can be removed to attach a jetpack from one of the other figures in this line. I would have liked a stand of some kind because he is a touch on the wobbly side, but it’s not that big of a deal given that this is probably the most toy-ish action figure I have. This guy isn’t meant to be stood up on a shelf, he’s meant to be played with, and I kinda like that.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This figure was maybe one of my most impulsive impulse buys. I got him from Toys-R-Us, where I had gone initially to browse the Nerf aisle (ask me about my Nerf collection, I dare you) in search of an early release. I only saw it as I was wandering back through the store. The combination of my favorite Halo armor design along with one of my favorite weapon designs both in one box caused an involuntary reflex in which I took the figure to the checkout, purchased it, and walked back to the car. Ok, maybe it wasn’t involuntary but I am glad to have the figure. It does have its issues as a figure, but as a toy, I give it a resounding BLARG of triumph.