left-to-right: Troop-pack hunter, Elite Storm, S7 single-pack grunt, S5 single pack grunt.

HALO: Quad-Walker Review (MEGA BLOKS Set# 97263)

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Preface    The ONI Reap-X subseries is a deviation of the HALO brand licensed to MEGA BLOKS, that integrates the technologies acquired by Covenant defeats with current UNSC assets. Although it is not technically canon (yet), it is MEGA BLOKS attempt to add to the HALO universe through a series of vehicles classified as ONI prototypes which are sent on missions through covert deployments aka BLACK OPS. This concept allows a greater freedom of expression by MEGA BLOKS design teams to simply do what they feel would be fun to build…opposed to having to go within the rigmarole of official vehicles. As a result, we [the fans and collectors] end up with a mishmash of various concepts rolled into a single platform. Thus far, the Reap-X line consists of three vehicles:

  • ONI Siege Bike – the lowest pricepoint set…a mix between a mongoose, tank, and warthog. No relevant Covie tech in this build.
  • ONI VTOL – the midrange pricepoint set..it’s kinda ghost-ly, kinda hawkish and assumes a battlefield role similar to a banshee.
  • ONI Quad-Walker – the largest set of the three offered thus far; it features a trifecta of covenant locust meets shade turret meets SOEIV [ODST drop] pod

Packaging    The packaging of the quad walker is the standard cardboard punch-out type, with edges glued with a cutout where to begin tearing to open the carton. The front façade featureDSCN2330s the white-header graphics with black “HALO” letting and MEGA BLOKS logo in the upper corner. Graphical renders of the quad walker and accompanying shade turret are on display battling each other, as well as the figures included. It’s my presumption that since the canopy is dark, one must assume the quad-walker can be remote-controlled thereby allowing the Recon Spartan to run amuck in front of the vehicle to fire at the shade turret (that must be ONE BAD @$$ turret! :P).DSCN2332

Special to the Reap-X line is also the ONI logo graphic in the lower right-hand corner along with an insert graphic displaying the quad-walker in deployment mode. On the backside of the packaging is another render of the set (this time in a stand-off position); bordered by directions on how to transform the quad-walker from deployment mode to assault mode. Interestingly, the graphics here show the walker having some form of propulsion exhaust coming from the feet as it gets to assault mode – but the actual construction doesn’t have any exhaust ports. This was either an oversight by the graphics team (as there IS exhaust ports on the “thigh” portion of the vehicle); or perhaps a late-design change after graphics were already finished. Nonetheless, only a keen eye would pick up such a minor detail. The rest of the box contains the standard description and figure portraits, centered by a high-contrast ONI logo, and at the bottom is pictures of the other two sets in this wave of Reap-X (as described above).

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Contents:    This set #97263 contains a total of 335pcs packaged across multiple poly bags and includes two figures, two weapons, and two platforms (quad-walker and shade turret). Oddly enough, some of the poly bags are marked with a 1 and a 3, but none of the others have numbers on them. This may be a sign that MEGA is considering a manufacturing design change to incorporate specific parts of the build in numbered bags (i.e. steps 1-8 are bag 1, 9-__ bag 2, etc.)…but who knows. Another fine detail in the contents (which I found particularly cool, as I like fine details) is a sort of collector’s card showing which Covie/human tech was applied to the design of the Reap-X vehicle, which was also available in the siege bike, leading me to believe it’s also available in the VTOL. I for one am not a collector of things of this nature (I typically discard my instructions after finishing a build and prefer to go the digital route should I need to go back to them), but it’s neat nonetheless.

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Figures:   Let it be declared here [first :P]…this set has the best figures of the three vehicles. DSCN2345First up (because protagonists always get to go first) is a Spartan IV in recon armor. He/she comes donning what seems to be the “ONI color pallete”: a dark blue color injection with plenty of black paint application details, and a nice-fancy red visor, similarly found on the Mk VI Spartan available in the VTOL.

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“Winner!”

Oddly enough, the CIO found in the siege bike doesn’t follow this pattern, but that could be because he has optics opposed to a visor, who knows.

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“I so look better than you :P

In any case I can’t stress enough how cool this figure is…it’s like the Spartan representation of a transformers character:  Soundwave (my favorite). Not only does the blue tone remind me of the Air Force uniforms, but it certainly makes the armor look better than it did in red (which comes in the armory). Here you can see the quality of the figure becomes tenfold with the added black details, which are much more welcomed than the skin that was applied on the red variant. Supplemental to this figure,  he is packaged with a promethean incineration cannon that can attach to a promethian knight via the sculpted arm socket.

Not to be outdone, this set also comes with a covenant Storm Elite, in a goldenrod/yellow deco, featuring a silvery-gunmetal gray detailing and a covenant carbine. DSCN2346The carbine is the newer pewter-purple color now seen with covenant weapons and looks great in-hand with the elite. By long and far, this elite is one of my favorite of the Halo 4 issued figures as the goldenrod/gunmetal color combination and looks really vibrant on him, especially considered to other iterations of this color-type  — as one would expect when dealing with the egocentric Covenant warriors:

left-to-right: Troop-pack hunter, Elite Storm, S7 single-pack grunt, S5 single pack grunt.

left-to-right: Troop-pack hunter, Elite Storm, S7 single-pack grunt, S5 single pack grunt.

 

"Still winning!"

“Still winning!”

Vehicle/Structure:    So, what do you get when a Locust consummates a relationship with a drop pod, and a shade turret on the side(s)? You get the ONI Quad walker. This design takes the best elements of each of the aforementioned platforms in an effort to revitalize the UNSC in a dynamic fashion – by deploying mobile shade turrets from the sky!

DSCN2369For starters, the quad-walker has two modes:  deployment and active. In deployment mode, the “feet” are positioned upright along the hull of the pod by moving them into a “U” shape by rotating the leg joints/knuckles up and inward toward the body. If done properly, the jet exhausts on the midsection of the leg point downward (as they would in a landing scenario to slow down from terminal velocity); and the “feet” serve as airbrakes. The turrets fold downward along the deck to each side of the canopy, in a stored position to minimize drag. DSCN2368The resulting look is very “egg-like” similar to an SOEIV drop pod, except that it would be “dropping” in a horizontal position, opposed to the upright/vertical stance of a standard SOEIV – so I have to say that from an aesthetic perspective, my mind immediately starts to wonder if something like this would actually survive an atmospheric deployment. Perhaps that’s what the tanks on the aft section are for though.

Quad-Walker gifOnce crashed…er. Landed, the quad-walker gets right to work, extending its legs out and getting the footing set whilst charging the shade turrets for quick armament. DSCN2377Overall she stands about 6-7 inches high (very similar in height to the original locust) and looks menacing. Fine details are added to the design such as the aforementioned exhaust ports, as well as the canister “charging” tanks on the rear of the vehicle, hose lines, lights, rails, etc.

OK, so it sounds great, but how was the execution:

Let me preface this response by saying that I fully support artistic licensure and always enjoy a nice prototypical asset. However…well to be honest, I must say that I’ve enjoyed this vehicle more than I expected I would but it has flaws. First and foremost, in the HALO canon something of this scale needs to be either quick or powerful — to outgun or outrun Covie tech. However, the walker is neither of these – it’s “quad” design lends itself well to being protected from infantry, but is very susceptible to damage from any of the Covie weapons platforms, especially ghosts and any plasma-mortar shot. Secondly, the armament (twin shade turrets) alludes to being an offensive weapon because they fire in bursts; meaning infantry would easily be able to outmaneuver the firing pattern leaving the vehicle vulnerable to weapons such as a plasma cannon.

In terms of build, it’s fairly straightforward with little tricks, but suffers a few design oversights. For example, the turrets can’t rotate 180 degrees, so it’s in quite a pickle if flanked. There’s also a bit on the nose that looks to serve as either a sensor array or tow hook –DSCN2379 but seems misplaced as a tow hook – so I’m not sure what its purpose is for, maybe to connect to another ONI build in the future, I suppose. There are some nice details on it, such as the “jet blast danger” warning on the feet and the printed “ONI Reap-X” logo; as well as my favorite parts – the “fuel/ammo” tanks (which make a nice looking oil rig from the back ;) ) and the steering column.

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Basically, the quad-walker would be better served as an unmanned decoy to draw fire and resources from the Covenant while an ODST team drops down elsewhere than as an offensive “tank” like weapon. As such, if I were designing it I would’ve done a few things differently:

1)      Added more firepower:  if this thing were going to be a quick-drop infantry/light-armor smashing weapon; I would’ve gone with either a mini-MAC cannon like the cobra, or an under-mounted set of shade turrets; as well as replaced the awkward tow-hook with a chin-mounted turret; and possibly swapped out the red “lights” in favor of frag launchers.DSCN2361

2)      Oriented the insertion drop direction vertically opposed to horizontally: changing the direction not only makes the drop faster, but would allow for a more rational “rollover-and-stand-up” approach to the transformation from pod to walker.

 

3)      Added the “jet exhaust” such that there’s actually an exhaust vent on the feet, opposed to only being higher up on the legs.

DSCN2358In regards to the covenant turret also included in this set – it’s almost identical in construction to set# 96949 except for the turret itself, which is made up of 4 pieces. Suffice it to say – it could have just as easily been landscaping material (and probably would’ve bumped the set rating up a little as a result :P )

 

SUMMARY:

Clutch: 3.5/5      Mega has really tackled the mold quality issue since 2010 on the blocks. I may find the off-shot 1×1 peg/post that doesn’t stick well, but not here. However, I do have a leg socket that doesn’t hold together well. Sure, it’s a bit disappointing, but nothing that would keep me from buying this set.

Stability: 5/5   The joints in the legs on my build are a little compromised by the socket clutch issue, but I didn’t feel I would knock off points here due to that one piece. If it were OK, the stability as a whole would be fine.

Build: 4.3/5   Essentially you’re getting a canopy with legs, with two turrets attached. DSCN2360Some of the bits and bobs of the kit itself are nice (ESPECIALLY the control stick), but it lends itself better to customs (I gave it a whole point surely on customization potential). The added shade turret is nice as well, though overmatched against the walker.

Innovation: 3.5/5   The concept itself is interesting, but due to the lack of firepower AND speed, I have a hard time believing this vehicle would ever pass the prototype phase. As such it’s hard to imagine seeing one of these actually in the Haloverse.

DSCN2380Overall: 3.7/5…I can’t say this is one of my favorite Mega Bloks sets, but it does have some good elements, some great figures and I’m thankful for the opportunity to review it because it would’ve always been on the back of my mind to check out; and anything ONI is a win on my list!

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Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed the review, and be sure to look for the re-release of this set this fall featuring the new ALPHA design Recon figure!

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