(Note: I realized after the fact that I posted this before it was completed, hence the lack of photos. this was the day I got the concussion, so cut me some slack. ;) The written part of the review is done, so I'll leave it up since it's already posted, and photos will be added soon.)
I've slacked off a great deal on buying action figures the past few years-- a combination of decreasing space in my home and rising costs of toys to often ridiculous levels led to this-- so, despite my love of the Halo franchise, I didn't pounce on Mattel's new line of Halo toys right off the bat. I planned to pick up a Master Chief figure, at the very least, but I figured I could stand to wait for a better deal than the $20 retail price. Thanks to Amazon.com, I finally picked up a couple! Today, we'll be looking at the Master Chief and the Ghost vehicle, which comes packaged with an Elite Officer.
The Master Chief and Elite Officer are sculpted quite well, with some nice detailing on the armor. The EO has a suitably angry expression on his face. The detail isn't on the same level as you'll find on many other adult-oriented lines, however, including the offerings from former Halo license holder McFarlane Toys. These are still very good looking figures, though. The MC stands about six inches tall, as Mattel has chosen to eschew the five inch scale McFarlane went with. This is a big positive, in my opinion. That said, MC may seem a bit on the small side next to your superhero figures, considering he's supposed to be a big dude wearing armor that makes him even larger. The EO is bigger, and actually looks pretty good next to other lines in this scale. If anything, I think he may be a bit too large in relation to the MC.
The plastic quality is also good; this has been an issue for many Mattel lines in the past, but I had no problems here. All of the armor pieces apart from the MC's helmet are removable, and can be put on and removed without too much trouble. A few of the pieces move around a bit when you're posing the figure, but it's not much of a hassle to put them back in place, and they stay put as long as you're not messing with it. That applies to the MC, anyway. Several pieces of the EO's armor is much more prone to falling off if you try to move the figure. Or breath near it. Or look at it. Or think about it too hard! (More on that later.)
Other accessories for the MC include an assault rifle, plasma sword, and an alternate hand designed to hold the plasma sword. A build-a-figure piece for an alpha crawler is also included. The weapons have sculpts that are good, but not great, and they have a couple of issues. The rifle includes a pin to attach it to MC's back when he's not holding it, which is a nice move. The hole to attach it to the pin goes all the way through the gun, however, which is not. It's also pretty difficult for the figure to hold the rifle in a manner that looks right, owing both to the gun's design and the clunky armor limiting the range of motion in the arms somewhat. As for the plasma sword, it's made of a softer plastic which is prone to bending, and there are a couple of bits of plastic along its length designed to hold the blades in alignment. It's a bit of an eyesore, but I'm sure safety regulations meant that Mattel couldn't just use a very stiff plastic for the sword to avoid this issue. (This is an issue that amply displays the differences between a collector-focused lines and one mass-produced and designed to be kid-friendly.) The EO includes a carbine rifle, which also has the pinhole all the way through it.
The MC's articulation is excellent, with a total of thirty points of articulation, as boasted on the packaging. The EO gets slightly less, but is still amply articulated. As I mentioned previously, MC's range of motion is hampered a bit when he's fully armored up, but not too bad. The EO fares slightly better here, but again, the armor is likely to give you a good deal more trouble during posing. (Seriously, more on that later. Promise.)
The figures don't fare so well in the paint department. Mattel has seriously cut back on paint apps in the past few years, to the detriment of many of their products. (See last year's Batman v Superman line for clear evidence of good sculpts ruined by terrible paint apps.) They've done the same here, but thankfully, the designs of these figures means that they don't suffer much because of it. A decrease in the quality of paint apps affects faces most of all, and MC's face isn't visible, and the EO looks fine with just the two dabs of paint for his eyes. I plan to do some drybrushing over both figures to bring out the sculpted details, but they actually look pretty decent from a paint standpoint right out of the box.
This brings us to the elephant in the room: the Ghost. It's quite large, and sculpted quite well. The MC can be sat on it pretty easily, and the scale is good. The EO, on the other hand, doesn't fit on it well at all. the biggest issue is that he's just too damn big. (As I mentioned earlier, he's a bit to large in relation to the MC, and this is another sign that the Elites in this line are larger than they should be. Or that everyone and everything else is smaller than they should be; take your pick.) Once you remove his butt armor and finagle him around on the seat, trying to get him to fit, you'll notice several things:
1. His legs are far too long for his feet to rest on the footrests.
2. His arms are far too long for him to grasp the controls in any way that looks remotely natural.
3. His goddamn arm and leg armor will pop off any time you make the slightest adjustment!
This last point is what has me planning to apply some gorilla glue to this bastard as soon as I'm done typing this review. The tiny forearm pieces, in particular, fell off constantly, prompting me to finally just remove them altogether until I had the figure in a reasonably stable position on the ghost. The thigh armor was also a big problem, but nowhere near on the same level. I'm sure that removable pieces of armor sounded like a fun feature, but in practice, it's mostly a source of frustration. I pity any child who gets this toy and is actually interested in keeping the armor in place while they play with it. (Hopefully this hypothetical kid has some super glue!) Once you get the EO on it in a somewhat decent looking pose, you'll probably want to just leave him on there to avoid having to go through the whole hassle again. After I spent hours (actually just a few minutes, but very long minutes) wrestling the EO around on the seat like he was riding a mechanical bull, flinging armor aside as it was shed like so much dead skin, and muttering prayers to Cthulhu to aid me in my predicament, that is most certainly my plan.
Once you get the bastard on the ghost and attach it to the included base-- which is design to look like the energy trails the vehicle emits while it's flying, a very nice touch-- it looks pretty great. Despite the relatively minor frustration, it was well worth the fourteen bucks I paid for it, and I hope Mattel makes a Warthog in this scale soon! (They already have one for those twelve inch figures, so it has to be just a matter of time, surely?) Even with a few shortcomings, these are some good looking and very fun figures, and I highly recommend them to Halo fans, especially if you can find them for less than the retail price! (Here's a hint: go check Amazon.com now! They're $15 each right now!)