One of the most notable points about McFarlane Toys' extensive line of HALO 3 action figures, based on the mega-hit video game, is the astounding number of assorted store exclusive Spartans that have turned up in the line. Since Halo 3 is available at both general retailers such as Toys "R" Us and Wal-Mart, as well as various "specialty" stores and online retailers, it has opened the door for quite a few such exclusives.
Let's start with Toys "R" Us, which received a brown ODST Spartan. One question sort of nagged at my head: Why brown? That's a question I found myself asking a bit when I learned that the Toys "R" Us exclusive entry into the ever-growing Halo 3 collection of Spartan-type soldiers from McFarlane Toys would be given Brown armor. And it seems to be continuing. There's a 12" Spartan at TRU that was also given brown armor.
Wal-Mart seems to have cornered the market on Blue Spartans. That makes sense. Blue is a color well-associated with Wal-Mart. Their aisle banners, the printing on their bags, the vests that some of them wear -- all blue. And if Target was carrying Halo 3, they'd probably want some red exclusives.
Anyway, the fact remains that Toys "R" Us did receive an exclusive Spartan from McFarlane Toys, and I purchased it. One of the distinctive points about Halo 3 over its predecessors is a far greater variety of specialized Spartans. This one is an ODST Spartan, which stands for Orbital Drop Shock Trooper. The Web Site "HaloPedia" has a fairly extensive history about these guys, which I herewith present:
The Orbital Drop Shock Troopers (abbreviated as ODST and colloquially known as Helljumpers) are a UNSC Marine Corps Special Forces unit. They are renowned for their toughness (occasionally cruelty) and take immense pride in their elite ethos.
The Orbital Drop Shock Troopers, or "Helljumpers", have their roots in the paratroopers of 20th and 21st century fame, who dropped frequently behind enemy lines to capture buildings, bridges, and other important military and industrial targets in anticipation for a larger advance by more conventional and numerous military forces. Such troops were first used in 1939 by the German Wehrmacht in World War II to overrun the Allied defence forces in Holland and the legendary Eben Emaelfortress in Belgium and later in Operation Overlord on June 5th, when two American Airborne Divisions and one British Airborne Brigade landed behind enemy lines in Normandy, France on D-day and again in operation Market Garden. They were extremely successful, and played a significant part in the wars eventual conclusion as an Allied victory. The ODSTs also seem to have characteristics from US Navy SEALS and the various British Commonwealth "Special Air Services" of the 20th and 21st Centuries, highly trained professional soldiers working in small teams in extremely high-priority missions.
However, the first true instance of dropping humans from orbit took place during the Martian Campaign of 2163, where UN Marines were dropped onto Mars in support of UN forces against the Neo-Communist Koslovics. The ODST's seem to have "always been a part of the UNSC." It may be that the participants of the Argyre Planitia campaign were the predecessors to, or early members of, the first ODST units.
ODSTs were known to be operating as early as 2525 . The first and most elite division of ODSTs were the 105th Orbital Drop Shock Trooper Division, most known as Helljumpers, and their phrase "Feet First into Hell!", which quickly gained a reputation as a brutal and effective fighting force.
Barring the personnel of the SPARTAN programs, ODSTs are one of the most effective forms of troops available to the UNSC, and the expectations placed on ODST units made them all-volunteer outfits, with some outsiders regarding such volunteers as 'crazy'. By 2552 their strength had swelled to a greater number of divisions in an attempt to fill the demands of the Human-Covenant War.
The ODST helmet is fairly narrow in appearance, with a visor that seems angled forward somewhat. I can almost see this design being practical as far as channeling air from an orbital drop through atmosphere around it. The shoulder plating and chestplate are less distinctive, and in fact seem to be pretty much identical to the basic Mark VI Spartan.
Articulation on the figure is excellent. The package boasts that the figure has 26 points of movement, but it actually seems to be a little more, given that most of those points of movement have a multiple range of motion. The ODST Spartan is poseable at the head, arms, elbows, wrists, mid torso, legs, knees, ankles, and fronts of the feet.
I would advise a fair degree of caution in moving some of the parts. The figure is painted entirely head to toe, and I think that sometimes the paint makes the articulation points stick a bit. While the figure seems solidly made, I would still be reluctant to force any part that sticks too much. I would especially emphasize this cautionary note with regard to the wrists, which seem to be fairly narrow pieces of plastic, and unfortunately do have a tendency to stick. The left wrist on the one I purchased really doesn't want to budge too much, and I'm not going to risk twisting it clean off.
Overall detailing is excellent. The sculpted level of detail on these Spartans is considerable, both on the armor plating and on the black "undersuit", which seems to have a fair measure of protection of its own, based on how it seems to be designed as a thick armored mesh.
The figure stands about 5-1/4" in height, which as I've observed before when reviewing these Spartans is kind of an unusual size in the action figure world these days. Most toys tend to be either in the 3-3/4"-4" range, or closer to 6" or so. 5-1/4" sort of splits the difference, and Halo seems to have it all to himself.
A curious note about the packaging. I think this is the first time I've ever encountered multi-lingual packaging on one of these. I checked back on some of the others that I've purchased, and they're all in English -- period. This package has English, as well as French and Spanish. One supposes that Toys "R" Us is marketing these toys in Canada and perhaps elsewhere, and required it as such.
The accessories for the ODST Spartan include a fairly straightforward but impressive-looking and well-made rifle, and a small grenade that I recommend putting in a Ziploc bag so it doesn't become a vacuum victim.
Fortunately, this particular store exclusive doesn't seem to be as elusive as others. Finally, it seems, supply is getting close to meeting demand, as opposed to the earlier releases in this line -- and not just the store exclusives -- where if you didn't see them within about the first two hours of them hitting the shelves, you could pretty well forget about them. If you're looking to add this brown ODST Spartan to your collection, it shouldn't be too much of a headache to do so.
Next, let's consider the GameStop exclusive Silver EOD Spartan. For background on the EOD Spartan, let's turn to the Web Site "Halopedia" for further details.
The Mark VI MJOLNIR Powered Assault Armour/EOD variant, more commonly known as Explosive Ordnance Disposal Armor, and abbreviated as EOD Armor, is a type of United Nations Space Command body armor. It is first seen in Halo 3.
The MJOLNIR/EOD variant was created at UNSC Damascus Materials Testing Facility facility on Chi Ceti 4. The helmet was designed to channel the pressure wave of an accidental detonation around the user's head, significantly reducing the likelihood of decapitation in the event of an explosion. The MJOLNIR/EOD variant's pauldrons and chest plate were designed specifically to reduce the number of grabbing edges on the armor, decreasing the likelihood of dismemberment, and protecting Spartans during operations involving the handling of explosive ordnance [e.g., clearing/planting land mines, demolishing enemy structures/ material and, or planting/defusing bombs].
EOD is a legitimate, real-world military term, and indeed it refers to Explosive Ordnance Disposal. Bomb Disposal became a formalized practice in the first World War. The swift mass production of munitions led to many manufacturing defects, and a large proportion of shells fired by both sides were found to be "duds". These were hazardous to attacker and defender alike. In response, the British dedicated a section of Ordnance Examiners from the Royal Army Service Corps (latterly the RAOC) to handle the growing problem.
In 1918, the Germans developed delayed-action fuses that would later develop into more sophisticated versions during the 1930s, as Nazi Germany began its secret course of arms development. Such delayed-action bombs provoked terror in the civilian population because of the uncertainty of time, and also complicated the task of disarming them. The Germans saw that unexploded bombs caused far more chaos and disruption than bombs that exploded immediately. This caused them to increase their usage of delayed-action bombs in World War II.
The problem of UXBs was further complicated when bomb disposal personnel began to encounter munitions fitted with anti-handling devices e.g. the Luftwaffe's ZUS40 anti-removal bomb fuse of 1940. Bomb fuses incorporating anti-handling devices were specifically designed to kill bomb disposal personnel (who at that point probably wished they had something like this Spartan armor).
The eruption of low intensity conflicts and terrorism waves at the beginning of the 21st century caused further development in the techniques and methods of Bomb Disposal. EOD Operators and Technicians had to adapt to rapidly evolving methods of constructing improvised explosive devices ranging from shrapnel-filled explosive belts to 100 kg IED charges. Since improvised explosives are generally unreliable and very unstable they pose great risk to the public and especially to the EOD Operator, trying to render them safe.
At least the EOD Spartan is certainly well equipped and well protected as possible. Most of the Spartan variants wear very similar armor. The main alterations are to the helmet, shoulder pieces, and chestplate, depending on the specialty. This makes sense from both a toy and game standpoint, as it allows for the creation of all-new specialities and reasonably different playable game characters -- or action figures -- with a relative minimum of effort. Computer animation is still a somewhat complicated business, and so is toy making -- not to mention an expensive one, especially when it comes to molds.
Let's consider the particulars of the EOD specialty armor pieces, again with a little help from Halopedia. The helmet is mostly squared off with two separate eyepieces, rather than a bulky visor. They are more akin to a pair of goggles compared to the other MJOLNIR armor variants that are visor-adorned. The helmet also has a single plate over the nose and mouth and a pair of rectangular objects along each cheek, assumed to be cheek guards and/or lengthy re-breathers.
The shoulders are large and rounded. They have been optimized for EOD missions and are designed to decrease the chances of dismemberment if the wearer were caught in a blast. This is considerably different from most other Spartan variants, which tend to have smaller and more angular armor pieces at the shoulders.
The chest plate looks and seems to be a bulkier version of the Mark VI armor variant. This design was most likely intended to increase wearer survivability in the event of a full-frontal explosion by decreasing the probability of shrapnel harming anything vital. The chestplate design here is distinctly angular, protruding forward noticeably more than usual, and being somewhat V-shaped, almost ending in a wedge. I can see how this could deflect explosive shrapnel from head on, at least to some degree.
The overall sculpted detail is excellent, on both the prominent armor pieces, and to some degree, even moreso on the somewhat armored black undersuit. The Steel color of this GameStop exclusive Spartan makes him look almost robotic, but we need to keep in mind that there is supposed to be a person under there.
I rather like this helmet design, and the bulkier shoulders. The chestplate is a little odd, but it works well. There are two white stripes on the upper right arm and upper right leg, which have the Roman numeral "VI" in them, signifying this as being a variant on the Mark VI armor, of course.
Paintwork is good on the basic figure, but unfortunately it falls short on the specialty pieces, especially the helmet. I've seen this before, on too many of these, honestly. I remain convinced, although I do not have this definitively stated, that what has happened here is that paint spray stencils were created for the basic armor body, which is used for EVERYBODY, really, or at least all of the Spartans (I'm not collecting the aliens), and for the "add ons" -- helmet, chestplate, and shoulder pieces -- the painting was left to be done by hand. The Hayabusa is complex enough so I think that it may be an exception to this, as may Master Chief. As for the rest -- I've said it before any number of times: I don't care how talented the people in the factories may be -- you're not going to mass-paint this many toy parts and have them all come out very neatly.
Unfortunately for the EOD Spartan, he has a pretty ornate helmet. Along with a black area around the eyes, you've got the gold metallic eyes, as well as extensive black over the top of the helmet. I think the white -- whatever they are -- on the front of the helmet may have been painted properly, but the rest -- forget it. I had to go through over eight different Steel Spartans to find one that was even reasonably neat, and he still needs some work around the eyes, and the black detailing over the top of the head is nothing short of horrendous.
I certainly have no complaints about the figure's level of articulation! The Steel EOD Spartan is fully poseable at the head, arms, elbows, wrists, mid torso, waist, legs, knees, ankles, and the front of the feet. Most of these articulation points have a multiple range of motion. I do worry just a little that some of them might be a bit on the fragile side, especially the wrists, and sometimes some of the parts can stick a bit. Once unstuck, they're generally fine, but I recommend careful adjusting. Don't force them.
The Steel EOD Spartan comes with some interesting and very distinctive weaponry. The Halopedia entry didn't have anything to say about this, and strangely, neither did the package. The EOD Spartan comes with a large rifle, somewhat less futuristic in appearance than some of the other rifle-like hardware that other Spartans come with, but somehow, it's that much -- meaner-looking for it.
Then there's the really bizarre piece. This EOD Spartan comes with what looks like a mace, and a rather alien one at that. I'm not entirely sure what this is, except to say that it probably is an actual mace, and he probably did get it from a fallen alien. It's a staff about two inches in length (so compare that with a 5-1/4" tall figure), with a series of four little spikes right at the top, followed by four really long hooked spikes, almost blades, directly below, and another bracket of eight more spikes somewhat below that. Swat somebody upside the head with this thing and it's unlikely they'll be getting up from it, and if they do, they'll be in a lot of pain.
So, what's my final word here? This is a very impressive figure, and a cool addition to the HALO 3 collection. I doubt that he's all that readily available at this point. Being a GameStop exclusive, I suspect that supplies were rather limited, and ran out pretty quickly. But, as I say in such matters, if you really want him, and have the necessary sources and/or resources, there's always the secondary market, whatever form you might choose to use.
Now let's turn to the Suncoast/FYE exclusive. Suncoast is technically a video store. Wall-to-wall DVD's that I wish I could afford more of. But Suncoast is one of those shops that's regarded as a "specialty" store. In the toy world, that means they carry certain action figure lines, most of which you're not going to find at Wal-Mart or Toys "R" Us because they're intended for adult collectors. You can find some standard toys in there. The one near me has a handful of Star Wars and Indiana Jones figures. But most of the toys are from companies like DC Direct and such, that don't market to the general retailers.
Fortunately, that includes McFarlane Toys, and it also includes HALO. But I still figured I'd need a certain element of good timing and a bit of luck to snag the Gold Rogue. As it happened, that's what I got, finding a generous supply of Halo 3 figures in there one day that included the Gold Rogue Spartan.
So, what sets a Rogue Spartan apart from other Spartan divisions? For that, I turned once again to the Web Site Halopedia.
The Mark VI(A) MJOLNIR Powered Assault Armour, otherwise known as the Rogue Helmet, is a United Nations Space Command Armor variant.
The Mark VI(A) armor was the first of the "privatized" variants, manufactured by private industrial firms. With the fall of the Outer Colonies, the UNSC called upon private industry to manufacture classified war material.
Apparently, that's the only real difference, apart from the look of the helmet. Halopedia didn't have anything specific to say about the Rogues having special duties or capabilities such as the EOD's or ODST's.
As with a number of armor variants in the Halo 3 video game, certain levels of achievement have to be accomplished before the Rogue helmet becomes available. In order to unlock the Rogue helmet, you have to have the Spartan Officer achievement, obtainable only through online multiplayer. Halopedia also notes that if you have unlocked the Spartan Officer badge, but do not have the rogue helmet, you can obtain it by achieving a rank of Lieutenant in any of the new playlist-specific ranking systems.
The helmet design for the Rogue is probably the most similar of all the variants to the Master Chief/basic Spartan itself, and especially looks so from the side. Here we have the angled, jutting brow, and the extended jaw. However, the differences are more apparent from the front. The visor ALMOST splits into two separate eye-pieces, but not quite. Halopedia described the visor as looking like "rap-star sunglasses". I'd personally call that a bit of a peculiar reference and comparison, and suggest that Halo players start listening to better music.
There's a peculiar hole at the front of the jawline, that is supposed to be there. It's not a toy defect. As to what purpose it might serve, that remains a mystery. Halopedia denotes its presence, but doesn't comment on any useful purpose. Really, there's a degree to which, within the game, the various armor variations are little more than aesthetic. I've encountered phrases along the lines of "switching to this armor does not affect game play" more than a few times.
Unlike some of the other Spartan variants, which also have different chestplates and shoulder pieces, the Rogue does not. He uses the same armor pieces as the basic Master Chief/Mark VI Spartan armor.
With all of the different Spartans I've reviewed since McFarlane commenced their toy line, it's been a while since I've presented the origin backstory of the Spartan armor.
Spartans utilize numerous weapons and equipment, but their most distinctive feature is their armor. In the novel "Halo: The Fall of Reach", the SPARTAN-IIs were originally equipped with fairly standard armor, but were later equipped with the Mark IV MJOLNIR armor system. By the end of the novel, the Spartans are clad in the MJOLNIR Mark V armor, which has a personal shield greater than Covenant's own technology. In addition, the Mark V allows the Spartans to house an artificial intelligence; the Master Chief was paired with the AI Cortana.
The visor of a Spartan provides a real time HUD (head-up display, allowing the Spartans to keep track of their ammo and shield integrity.)
In Halo 2, the Master Chief's armor was replaced with the Mark VI. This version contains a supply of "biofoam", which automatically seals wounds the soldier receives. Spartans are the only humans who have the lightning fast reaction times and biological augmentations required to wear MJOLNIR armor. Additionally, the suit moves at the speed of the wearer's thoughts; in testing early versions of the armor, ordinary soldiers unintentionally shattered their bones with the slightest movement. However, the Spartans, having undergone a series of physical and mental augmentations, are able to utilize this feature to its fullest without consequence.
The armor design is sufficiently plausible that an individual named Troy Hurtubise, known for his anti-bear suits, has developed a real counterpart to the MJOLNIR battle armor. The suit is functional and its capabilities were inspired by those present in the video games versions of the armor. The armor's features include a system that purifies air powered by solar panels located in the helmet, equipment for weapon transportation, a recording system, emergency illumination and a transponder that can be consumed if the wearer is in serious jeopardy. The armor offers protection against attacks with knives, blunt objects and small explosions and is bulletproof.
Not a bad start for something that, in the game, doesn't exist until midway through the 26th century.
The armor really is a superb design, and indeed looks entirely plausible, regardless of which version one might be discussing (although some elements of the Hayabusa are a bit of a stretch). The overall uniform seems to be designed over a black undersuit that is not lacking in protection of its own. Indeed, the McFarlane toy is highly detailed in this area, and shows elements of armor and what is clearly intended to be thick ridged fabric, possibly a light armor mesh.
On top of this is the armor itself, which, apart from the helmet, consists of a colored chestplate and backplate, with a secondary chestplate that is often distinctive to certain specialty Spartans. There is armor on the upper arms, with often a distinctive shoulder plate, the lower arms, the backs of the hands, the lower torso, upper legs, knees, and legs. Interestingly, the armor almost seems to be more extensive, or more covering, anyway, on the legs than it is elsewhere, but this may simply be due to the size of the pieces. On the whole, one would have to say that the wearer is abundantly well-protected, and if you throw in the technological capabilities cited in the game -- yeah, this would make for an extremely effective battle-suit.
With regard to the figure itself, the Rogue Spartan stands about 5-1/8" in height. As I have said before, this is a somewhat unusual height. There's nothing wrong with it, but it is uncommon in a toy world that seems to be pretty well split between 3-3/4" scale figures such as G.I.Joe and Star Wars, and 6" or thereabouts figures such as DC Universe, Power Rangers, and Marvel Legends.
The sculpted detail is superb. Apart from the astounding level of detail on those areas of the black undersuit that are visible, the armor pieces themselves are highly detailed and quite intricate in many respects. No offense to Star Wars, which I do enjoy, but these aren't Clone Troopers. Spartans wear extremely intricately designed armor, and McFarlane Toys has seen to it that every panel, ridge, hinge, seal, or external device is present and accounted for.
Paintwork is excellent. I was especially pleased that it was decently neat on the helmet. I've seen, unfortunately, a number of helmets from other Spartan variants that were pretty sloppy. I believe they are being hand-painted whereas the bodies are mostly painted through proper paint mask stencils. However, I have to say that the Rogue seems to have a neatly painted helmet.
The gold color of this Suncoast exclusive is an excellent shade, as well. It's not a metallic gold. That'd probably be asking to be a target on a battlefield. It's a color that a painter would probably describe as "ochre". It's a very deep yellow, without going into tan or brown. Really, it's a very nice yellow-gold, and an impressive color, and it works from the military standpoint of the Spartans. There's any number of environments where this color would likely blend in quite well.
Certainly compared to some of the other colors. I mean, how'd you like to be sent on a mission, told to conceal yourself, and you're in pink armor. Right. Conceal myself. Is the Botanical Society having a meeting around here, please?
The Gold Rogue has a red stripe on his upper right arm and upper right leg. Within these stripes is the Roman numeral "VI", representing the Mark VI armor. Okay, technically this is the privately-produced Mark VI (a), but hey, no major difference. Let's not quibble.
Articulation is excellent, if a little tricky at times. The figure is fully poseable at the head, arms, elbows, wrists, mid-torso, legs, knees, ankles, and fronts of the feet. Most of these articulation areas have more than one point of movement and a wide range of motion.
The Rogue Spartan comes with a rifle which manages to be futuristic and plausible-looking at the same time, and is a weapon that I've seen a number of Spartans equipped with. He also comes with a small grenade.
Now, if you can't find the Suncoast-exclusive Gold Rogue, and still want a Rogue in your Spartan collection, there's a general-release Rogue in Series 3 that's a very pale green in color that McFarlane Toys is officially calling "Olive". Personally, I'd be more inclined to call it "Mint" or "Sage" or something, but that's not too military sounding.
However, this Gold Rogue is the first and, to date, only Spartan to use this particular color. And it's a cool color. I'd say it's worth the effort, and maybe you have more Suncoast, or FYE, or Sam Goody stores in your area. And of course there's always the "secondary market".
Finally, let's have a look at the BigBadToyStore exclusive. He's a CQB Spartan -- and he's PURPLE.
When you mail-order an action figure, there may be a picture of the action figure you're ordering on the Web Site, but it's not that one precise figure you're getting. More often than not, it's probably a picture of a prototype supplied to the Web Site by the company making the toy. To a degree, you're buying sight unseen. I don't like doing that.
Unless there's no alternative. And in the case of this particular HALO 3 action figure, there wasn't. BigBadToyStore doesn't have any retail outlets, at least not around here. And BigBadToyStore did manage to get itself on the surprisingly considerable list of stores offering an exclusive Halo figure of one sort or another. So, why was I willing to take the chance and mail order one from a Web Site?
There is a vast variety of colors available in the armor of the various Spartans being produced. Of course, there is Master Chief's standard Olive. But you can find Spartans of many different types with red, blue, white, orange, silver, steel, gold, brown -- but there are two armor colors that are -- well, let's be charitable and call them "unusual" -- pink and purple.
This isn't anything new to Halo 3. Halo 2 offered a Pink Spartan and a Purple Spartan, and Joyride Studios even turned out action figures in those colors. And this time around, there is a Pink Spartan from McFarlane, exclusive to some retailer whose name escapes me just now. I haven't quite had the nerve (or money) to pick it up yet, and my reluctance about mail-orders is also a factor. But I decided I did want the Purple CQB Spartan from BBTS, so I pre-ordered him a while back, and he arrived safely.
Purple's a cool color. Actually, green used to be my favorite color before it got turned into an annoying socio-political statement. But purple, generally speaking, isn't a color that one associates with a suit of futuristic military armor in a knock-down, drag-out, take-no prisoners video game. The oddball factor right there was enough for me to want the figure.
The Purple Spartan offered by BigBadToyStore.Com is a CQB Spartan. And I headed over to the Web Site "HaloPedia" one more time to find out specifically what that meant.
Here's what HaloPedia had to say about the CQB Armor: The Mark VI MJOLNIR Powered Assault Armor/C variant, more commonly known as Close Quarters Battle Armor, and abbreviated as CQB Armor, is a type of United Nations Space Command ground infantry body armor.
The MJOLNIR Mark C variant was developed and tested at UNSC Beweglichrüstungsysteme facility in Essen, Deutschland (Germany) and Songnam, Hanguk respectively, integrating both feedback and testing gathered from the Jericho VII theater. The intent of the MJOLNIR Mark VI Powered Assault Armor/C variant was to improve survivability in close combat, specifically by looking at alternate methods of K dispersal and improving joint mobility.
As I said, the main differences between any of the various Spartan armors are in regard to the helmet, shoulder plating, and chest plate. HaloPedia discusses each one of these individually for the CQB Spartan:
With regard to the Helmet, it says: The helmet is very different then the Mark VI. It features a roughly "T" shaped visor with two large cheek guards. The top of the helmet is protected by black alloy that forces a protective brace on top. It somewhat resembles ancient Greek or Roman helmets - the shape of the visor is especially similar, and the cross brace loosely resembles the crest on a helmet.
With regard to the Shoulder Plating, it says: The shoulder pads are significantly lower than that of the standard Mark VI armor. They consist of a rectangular, slightly bent metal plate that is attached approximately where the deltoids, biceps brachii, and brachialis muscles converge. In actual combat, this would greatly improve the ease at which a SPARTAN-II moves the arms for close quarters combat, but expose the shoulders to greater damage.
With regard to the Chestplate, it reads: Like in most other MJOLNIR variants, the chest plate seems to be a plate of alloy attached to the existing Mark VI Armour underneath. It consists of an additional set of four plates fused together in the body, and a tubular object at the bottom part of the chest plate which could either be a handle or some sort of canister due to its shape.
My take on all this? I'm especially impressed with the helmet. Of all of the various designs, this one strikes me as the most plausible and functional. It doesn't have a lot of areas that jut out that could obscure vision or be "grab points" for enemies -- certainly a good ides for a Close Quarters specialist -- and it seems to offer a good amount of protection.
The chestplate is also interesting in that is seems the most minimal of any of the chestplates, and it has a small knife in a sheath attached to it. According to Halopedia, this is not a functional weapon in the game. Probably just a bit much for the programmers. Maybe Halo 4.
Although to be perfectly honest, given some of the massive and horrifically ugly alien critters that these soldiers have to go up against in the game, any anyone would want to get close enough to one of them to be engaged in a close-quarters fight is beyond me. Let's come up with a new specialty -- a long range trooper. Comes with a big futuristic bazooka with a telephoto sight and he can launch the thing from about five miles away.
Anyway... The figure stands about 5-1/4" in height. The sculpted detail is highly intricate and very well done. McFarlane Toys seems to excel at this sort of thing. Articulation is excellent. The figure is fully poseable at the head, arms, elbows, wrists, mid torso, waist, legs, knees, ankles, and fronts of the feet. There are various swivels and pivots along the way, too. The package boasts that the figure has 26 moving parts. I almost wonder if that's a bit of an understatement, of course some of those parts have a pretty extensive range of motion.
I'd like to make one observation about the packages. Whenever McFarlane Toys does a Halo exclusive for someone, they use that company's official logo on the package. And it's pretty much in the same place for any of the exclusives. You can line up the plastic shells to these packages, and see the official logos to GameStop, BBTS, Toys "R" Us, Suncoast, Wal- Mart, whomever. As a graphic artist, I appreciate the fact that McFarlane Toys took the time to use those logos, and still create consistent packaging with them all.
This CQB Spartan's armor is VERY purple. It's not a dark purple, like some purple that is trying to cheat its way into looking more hardcore military. It's not some lavender that might be better placed on a plastic Easter egg. It's PURPLE. It's a very straightforward purple. I appreciate that.
The paintwork on this figure is, for the most part, better than I expected. I was a little concerned, because I have seen sloppy specimens before, in the stores. It seems to especially happen on helmets. However, this figure's helmet is just fine. There's a couple of little glitches elsewhere. There's orange stripes on the arm and leg, with the Roman numeral "VI" in them, for the designation of the Spartan armor. A little of this orange went further up on the leg -- I'm not sure how, since this almost had to be spray painted on through a stencil. There's a few areas of light blue detailing that could've been neater.
Any other complaints? Just one. There's this little armor segment right below the chestplate, that's a separate piece that, even if you remove the outer chestplate, is inserted beneath the armor under that. It's this little curved, ridged bit of armor. And on more than a few figures in the stores that I've seen, this piece has been pretty poorly inserted and glued in, sometimes very crookedly. And unfortunately, it's pretty crooked on this guy. I honestly don't know if I can remove it and reglue it without damaging the figure. Somebody at the assembly facility needs to watch their aim and precision on these.
I will give a small cautionary note to those who open and pose their figures. The figure is basically painted head to toe. Some of the parts can stick a little bit. Be careful in loosening them, especially the wrists if they need it. The wrist joints are quite small, and while I haven't had one of these break on me yet, I think it's possible for it to happen.
This CQB Spartan comes with a couple of really nasty-looking weapons. They're not specifically named on the package, but they look like relatively short guns with the ultimate in bayonets attached to them. Both guns have these two large, thick blades secured to their fronts, that look like they'd be really good at disemboweling just about anything that got too close. I would definitely call them a distinct advantage in the sort of close quarters fighting that this guy specializes in. I certainly wouldn't want to be on the wrong end of them!
So what's my final word here? McFarlane Toys is doing a really nice job with this HALO 3 line, and the line only continues to grow and prosper. It's a decided success story in a toy world that sadly seems to have fewer and fewer of those these days. Despite my reluctance to mail-order action figures, I'm glad I got this one. He's an interesting Halo Spartan soldier, and he certainly has a distinctive color that will make him a real standout in any Halo figure collection. As for the others, although they might be out of their respective retailers by the time you read this, it can't hurt to check. And all of them, the TOYS "R" US BROWN ODST SPARTAN, the GAMESTOP SILVER EOD SPARTAN, the SUNCOAST/FYE GOLD ROGUE SPARTAN, and the BBTS PURPLE CQB SPARTAN, are all cool additions to the collection, and each one of them definitely has my enthusiastic recommendation!