While we're yet to get our hands on Halo 4, I did this weekend get my hands all over small plastic representations of some of the game's principal cast, including John 117 himself, Master Chief.
To coincide with the release of Microsoft's biggest game of the year, McFarlane is releasing three separate lines of toys based on the title. Alongside the standard action figures will be "micro scale" playsets and randomised, collectible figures based on the series' Xbox Live avatar outfits.
McFarlane has held the Halo action figure licence for a while now, and perhaps because of the popularity of it, has opted against the "nice but expensive" route most other companies take with video game pieces and opted for a more mainstream approach.
This results in figures that, while smaller and often more affordable than what you get from companies like Square Enix, aren't quite as attractive or even well-built.
The four main figures I looked at were Master Chief, a red Spartan, a Covenant Grunt and a Covenant Elite. All four suffered from several joint problems (hard to move or not allowing enough movement for basic poses like kneeling) and most had difficulty standing, in particular the red Spartan. It was also tough getting them to keep hold of their weapons. Once in place though they look pretty good, especially Master Chief and the Grunt. A nice touch is the inclusion of a weapon "peg", which means you can attach their guns to their hips or backs, just like you see in the game.
I thought the micro-scale vehicles were going to be my favourite, but instead they were my biggest disappointment. While looking just fine in these images, they're made out of extremely flimsy plastic, which in the Falcon's case split apart at the nose joint like a Kinder Surprise toy when I tried popping the pilot into his seat.
Which would be fine if all you were ever going to do was look at them, but even then, the included soldiers are poorly sculpted and detailed, looking more like cheap green army men than what you'd expect from a licensed toy in the 21st century.
Perhaps McFarlane were shooting again for affordability with these, I'm not sure, but with pieces like these a little extra money for die-cast construction and/or accessories would have gone a long way.
While it was a surprise to find the vehicles so poor, it was just as big a surprise to find that I loved these little guys. There's not much to them - crack open the container and you'll find the figure disassembled and in three pieces - but once assembled they look great, matching Microsoft's avatar design perfectly and carrying some unexpectedly fine detail.
Adding to their usefulness is the fact you can mix and match them, just like a real avatar, combining any of the legs, torsos and heads to form something of your own design.
The best part, though, is that there aren't any "weak" pieces. Normally with a range like this there are a few MUST HAVE pieces, with the collection padded out with some garbage, usually to compel you to keep coughing up for the random boxes. With these, though, you'd be happy with any of them.
The Halo 4 action figures and micro-scale playsets are out this month (you might even already be able to get them depending on where you're at), while the avatar pieces will be out in the Fall.