Halo Grunt

Sean Teeter is back with a review of one of the new Halo figures - Grunt!  The floor is yours, Sean!

What can I say? I freely admit Iím gearing up for the release of Halo 2. Part of that entails my taking advantage of numerous sales to be found on the action figures produced by Joyride. While I personally think theyíve released more Master Chief figures than necessary (two greens, blue, red, white, black, and a handful of exclusive variations) theyíre finally getting around to the other guys. The Halo Elite guard has seen the light of day three times over since the second series, but weíve had a shortage of bad guys since. Finally in the fourth series, Joyride released the Covenant Grunt with orange armor. 

The fifth series is loaded with baddies: a resculpted Elite with gold armor and energy sword, the Flood Carrier, and a Grunt in red armor. Tonight I look at the little guy of this series. 

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 - ***1/2
The Grunt is certainly an improvement in design over the hunching Elite. Youíre not going to have any balance issues with this little guy.

The pebbled skin looks excellent, as does the texture on the claws and elbow/knee horns. The real highlight of this figure has to be the unique design of the armor. The huge thorn-like back plating was one of my chief worries, especially in regards to balance issues. Joyride simply made the back hollow Ėproblem solved. The segmented lines along the back, the shoulder plating, and chest insignia are all dead on, as is the three cylinder breathing mask. The eye sculpting is highly detailed and strays from the computer game. Instead of the large, glassy bulbs they had in Halo, these figures have small, squinty, evil little eyeballs. They work and look great, but might not go over as well with game purists.

Paint - ***
I almost gave him a higher score than this Ėin truth he probably deserves a half star more. The blue wash on the skin is flawless and looks great, as do the dirty gray horns and claws. The silver detail on his armor has a nice weathered look to it as well.

The real problems here are found on the breathing mask and red armor sections. Joyride tried to make the red section look weathered as well, with less than stellar results in some areas. Around the waist there are some nice worn spots, as well as on the back curved section, but everywhere else is a complete mess. In some places it just looks like errant brush strokes and patching. 

They also tried to weather the straps on the breath mask. Instead it looks like someone ran a different paintbrush across before it was done drying. 

Articulation - ***
The Grunt has three things in common with the Elite guard: aesthetically designed joints, no movement below the waist, and eight points of articulation (ball-jointed shoulders, and cuts at the neck, biceps, wrists, and waist). 
However, I feel justified with a higher score than the Elite because the articulation works a lot better here. The figure is well balanced and really doesnít need any leg joints to help keep him upright. He also stands up straight on his own, as opposed to his hunched-over bigger brother. The only joints that stand out for the wrong reasons are his wrists. Due to the sculpt design, the wrists donít match up with the rest of the arm unless resting in the pre-sculpted positions.
The waist joint seems to have a little play in it, allowing for some slight leaning back and forth, but I canít tell if thatís on purpose, or just loose.

Accessories - **1/2
The Grunt comes with two weapons: a plasma pistol and the Needler. They both look close to their video game versions, especially the pistol. I would have liked the dial on back to be painted brightly like the game version, but we canít have everything. This weapon is also packaged with the black Master Chief figure and orange Grunt.

The Needler is a little more awkward sculpt-wise, but is a much better fit in the Gruntís hands than in the Eliteís. This is the same sculpt found with the Elite previous red and blue Elite guards as well as the orange Grunt. 

I would have liked to have seen some plasma grenades as well, since I canít go anywhere without a handful of these little buggers chucking them at me in the game.

Durability/Quality - ** Ĺ 
That waist joint kind of has me worried, but weíll have to wait and see. Heís not overly heavy in comparison to the other figures in this series either. 

Value - **
Halo figures arenít as easy to find as some of the other lines out there, especially the first two series. Iíve seen them from $13 to $20. You might be able catch a few figures on sale for $9.99 depending on where you look. I certainly would feel better paying ten as opposed to fourteen, and if you can find any of these figures for that price bump the value up to three stars.

EBGames has this guy, as well as several others Ėincluding an exclusive cobalt Master Chiefóin for $14.99 a pop.

These guys arenít as easy to find as some other figures out there, so Ebay might be a good bet.

Overall - ***1/2
The Grunt seems to be everyoneís favorite enemy in Halo. This foul-mouthed little coward makes for great entertainment while being blown up. In fact, Joyride missed a golden opportunity on this guy: a voice chip.

The prices are still too high on this series, but there ainít much I can do about that. My major criticism of Joyride is their constant re-release of figures. Theyíve focused much more on the Master Chief than anyone else, to the tune of almost a dozen different repaints, repacks, and exclusives. Iíd like to see more troop builders to help fill out the ranks, like the Covenant Jackal and some more of the flood creatures.

As a troop builder, the Grunt is excellent, even if you have to pay close to $30 for two of them. Letís just stop at the two different repaints and call it a day though, okay? 

Figure from the collection of Sean Teeter.

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