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Halo Elite Guard

 

It's summer - that means Sean has gone from college bum to semi-professional bum, but he's still collecting toys!  He's got a great Halo guest review tonight - it's all yours, Sean!

I grew up on computer games. My father was an electrical engineer; therefore I canít remember a time when there wasnít a computer in the house as I was growing up. Thus, I cut my teeth on the classics, like Dig Dug, numerous text adventure games, and Pong. When Id software came out with side-scrollers like Commander Keen and Duke Nukem, I was in heaven. But nothing prepared me for the day I picked up a shareware version of Idís Wolfenstein in 3D. I was blown away by the 3D mazes, first-person view, and the chance to gun down Nazis. Later there was Doom, and it was awesome. After that 3D Realms gave us Duke Nukem in 3D and Id gave us Quake. It was safe to say that the genre of first-person shooters was a rocketing facet of the gaming industry. There are tons of them out there nowadays, but very few have made the impact of the classics. Duke Nukem Forever still languishes in development hell at 3D Realms, the Quake franchise appears to be stalled, and FPSís seem to be a dime a dozen these days (Red Neck Rampage anyone?). 




Out of the lull came Bungie with Halo. Needless to say, Halo took the gaming world by storm with itís decent story line, excellent character graphics, and interactive game-play. It didnít hurt X-Box sales either, being exclusive to Microsoftís game console and the PC world.

Toys based on video games donít always sell well or look great. For example, the K.B. bargain bins have been home to Mortal Kombat, and Resident Evil figures for years. The best sculpted of these figures probably came from the now defunct Resaurus, who gave us a handful of cool Duke Nukem characters as well as a nice Quake 2 set. They were working on a classic Quake set when they went under, so now Iíll never get my damn Death Knight.

Joyride did a few Nintendo sets over the years, mainly with Mario Brothers and The Legend of Zelda. These days theyíve become a Halo-producing machine. Not only do they have five series of regular figures in production, but they also make a series of miniature figures, and have a line in the works for Halo 2 due out later this year.

Tonight I look at a figure from the second series, the Elite guard. 

Packaging - **1/2
Itís sturdy and the graphics are indicative of the game, but this blister card just seems kind of plain in the end. Iíve just been spoiled by clamshells this past year, and Iím being lazy about reviewing blister cards these days. I admit it.

Sculpting - ***
I almost gave the guy another half-star in this category, but I couldnít overlook one of the biggest flaws of this figure: pose. The data sheet on the back clearly states that these things are supposed to be eight feet tall and tower over humans. Okay, cool. This guy is in proportion, and may very well tower if he could stand up straight. Joyride has him sculpted in a permanent hunch. The torso joint only helps so much, and the Elite will never be able to stand at full height. A less extreme lean would have helped. His hands are also sculpted out of soft plastic just like the Master Chief figures. While this helps a little for weapons holding, the material really weakens the durability of the wrist joints.

On the good side, the Elite has some really smooth-looking body armor, and I really love the finned helmet on his head. His quad-jawed mouth is open in a permanent roar and his squinty little eyes cast the perfect look of anger. The skin detailing is also nicely done.

Paint - ***1/2
Except for a spot of bleeding on the teeth, I canít find a single flaw on him. The blue-pebble wash to his skin is great, as is the black-trimmed blue armor. The orange and black detailing found on his armor panels is really smooth.
Yes he is almost solid blue, but the colors are clean and close to the source material. The red version is also available for purchase, and the gold version will be out later this year.

Articulation - **1/2
Joyride went with aesthetics on this dude and the articulation suffered. It was easier to incorporate joints on the Master Chief design; here they are lacking. The Elite comes with eight points of articulation: limited ball-joint head, shoulders, torso, and wrist and elbow cuts. Because of the backward knee design, he is completely immobile below the waist. At least heís solidly balanced; he wonít fall over too much.

The cut joints are all really loose, and the ball joints are extremely limited in their range of motion. With his sculpt he can only strike a few good-looking poses, which isnít the best thing to be found in a troop-building figure.

I also would have loved to see some sort of hinged jaws on this hombre.

Accessories - **1/2
The Elite comes with two weapons: a plasma rifle and the Needler. They both look close to their video game versions. The plasma rifle seems to have a larger fin on the butt and the Needler has thick, oversized spikes.

The rifle fits fine in the Eliteís right hand, and can be used with any of the Master Chief figures as well. The Needler is a little more awkward, and can kind of be held in the left hand. The plasma rifle is the Eliteís main weapon in the game, so it had to be included. The Needler is an extra, but there still seems to be a little empty space in that bubble when compared to the three weapons the Master Chief assortment comes with.

Durability/Quality - **1/2
For a guy his size, he sure has some weak arm joints. While Iím sure his main body is going to stay intact for a long time, I worry about the strength of his puny wrists and whether or not theyíll snap off in the future.

Value - **
Halo figures arenít as easy to find as some of the other lines out there, especially the first two series. $14 bucks is the lowest Iíve seen him for and that just seems to be a bit much for what you get. I would have preferred a ten to twelve dollar price tag in todayís rising market price. 

Overall - ***
He looks great pummeling on a Master Chief figure and in the end thatís all that really matters. If it werenít for the high prices and weak, limited joints, this figure could easily garner another half-star. I was impressed by the Master Chief figure when it first came out. He was a well-designed, good-looking gunner. Joyride has made him the cornerstone of their Halo series, putting out two green, a red, a blue, a white, a black, and an exclusive stealth version of the figure. The overall look of the Elite is good, but the design just isnít as solid as the Chief.  

Of course that doesnít stop production. The Elite will be seen at least three times by the end of this year. No word on whether the gold version will have a different design to go with his plasma blade weapon.

I would have liked more versatility on this figure pose-wise, but in the end I like the way he looks on display. Iím just not sure about spending the money to pick up another one.

Where to Buy - 
There's a number of on-line options for the series:

- Southern Island has both the small scale and larger scale figures available, including series 3 for $50.

- Killer Toys has lots of series 3 and 4 figures at $13 each, and pre-orders up for series 5.

- CornerStoreComics has series 3 as well, along with preorders up for other series at $13 each.  They also have the mini's available.


Figure from the collection of Sean Teeter.

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