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By Thomas Wheeler

JoyRide Studios' line of figures based on the popular XBox video game
HALO 2 keeps on coming, and with it, a new color of the main "Spartan"
armored character. This time, he's in blue. Or, more to the point --
THEY'RE in blue.

It seems that this time around, there are three different versions of
the Spartan. While the main armor color for all three is a semi-metallic
blue, the trim and insignia colors are different. You can get the Blue
Spartan with either red, orange, or yellow trim. I'm not going to knock
myself out trying to find all three, and I ultimately decided, for no
other reason than I thought it was the coolest color combo, to get the
one with the red trim.

Unlike most videogame based toys, which tend to find their way only to
such "specialty" shops as Suncoast or Software Etc, the HALO toys are
also carried by Toys "R" Us, which is where I found the Blue Spartan and
the rest of the items in this particular assortment, which is Series 3 of
the HALO 2 Collection.

The Spartan figure, designed and sculpted by a company canned Sculptech
Studios, is quite the impressive piece of work. Standing eight inches in
height, the Spartan has very highly detailed body armor, with a gold
chrome visor. He is articulated at the head, arms, upper swivel arm,
double-jointed elbows, wrists, mid-torso, waist, legs, upper swivel leg,
double-jointed knees, and ankles. Many of his articulation points are
concealed as part of the armor sculpt. About the only problems I've
encountered with any of the Halo 2 Spartan/Master Chief figures are
consistently loose wrists, and an occasional loose knee.

One other problem that seems to crop up from time to time is that
whatever lubricant is placed in the mold to make plastic extraction
easier isn't always cleaned off as well as it should be. This is a
problem that goes back to the first series HALO figures. I had a Clear
Master Chief that was downright greasy. This Blue Spartan needed a bit of
cleaning, too.

The profile for the Spartan reads as follows: "Spartans, technically,
are part of the SPARTAN-II project. They are genetically, biologically,
and technically enhances fighting units, standing seven feet tall and
weighing half a ton in their armor. Their reflexes are unmatched, with
strength and endurance quite unlike any other human, and their tenacity
is molded by a lifetime of conscripted military training. Spartans are
proficient in all current ballistic weapons and tactics, incursion, and
modes of unarmed combat, and have extensive experience with Covenant
military tech."

The Covenant is the name for the alien invaders that the Spartans,
including the lead character Master Chief, combat. And it's a good thing
they're familiar with the weaponry, because you oughtta see the thing
that the Blue Spartan comes with. The Blue Spartan comes with two
weapons. One is a standard shotgun, nicely designed and sculpted. The
other weapon is this huge, and very weird looking thing called a
BruteShot. Even if it wasn't designed by a contingent of aliens called
the Brutes, it would still live up to this name. It looks like a brute of
a weapon. Part very weird gun with what looks like a massive blade coming
out of the back of the thing, it's clear that this isn't the sort of
weapon a human would design for his own use, but the Spartan seems
readily able to handle it (although thank God for the picture on the back
of the package or I'm not sure I would've quite known how to pose him
with it).

The HALO concept continues to be hugely popular. It's the main game for
XBox systems, there's a series of paperback novels, and there's (about
darned time!) a movie in the works! And, no doubt these figures will
continue. A recent issue of ToyFare showcased quite a few figures for
Series 4 and 5, as well as store exclusives, with no shortage of
Spartans. Exclusive to Gamestop will be several (groan!) Battle Damaged
Spartans. Someplace called GameCrazy is releasing, interestingly, a
PURPLE Spartan! This thing is just weird enough so that I want it, but
I've never even heard of GameCrazy. Series 4 will feature a general-
release RED Spartan, that comes in three different trim/insignia colors,
much like this Blue Spartan.

A friend of mine made an interesting observation, too. Might explain why
I picked up the Blue Spartan with the red trim. He said, "You know, this
guy looks like a futuristic version of a Cobra Viper." Hmmm -- well, he's
far too big, obviously. But the colors are just about right. He's got a
valid point. I wonder how he'd look if I replaced that Ace of Spades
insignia with the Cobra emblem!?

Nah -- he's fine the way he is. And I definitely recommend the BLUE
SPARTAN, whichever trim/insignia version you decide to get, for any HALO
fan, or anyone else who likes really cool action figures!