Preface: Normally when I do reviews I start off by opening the package, getting a few shots of the contents inside and then proceed to build it to capture some cool detail in the build or fascinating feature of the set. However, for this review I decided to take a different approach and write the sections below as I encountered them. So without further ado… I present set# CND02 MEGA BLOKS BOOSTER FRAME
Background and Features:
The Booster Frame is an Open Frame 92/Extra-Vehicular Activity fighter vehicle used in zero gravity space for close quarter ship-to-ship combat that is most notable from the HALO Legends story: The Package. It is a purely offensive asset that serves as a rapid, highly maneuverable inner-space MAC cannon. As such, the OF-92/EVA is classified as a weapon rather than a vehicle and features as much of a kick as it does a punch:
- Engines (10): 2 primary nuclear fusion thrusters, 2 auxiliary fusion thrusters, 6 recursive
- Armament (3+12): 1 M92 Principle Gauss Cannon, 2 80mm ball-mounted rotary cannons; followed up by 12 MITV missiles (for those curious, MITV stands for multiple independently targeted vehicle pods). Typically this vehicle also features a rear-mounted M41 ELAAGat machine gun, but that weapon was omitted in both releases by MEGA’s designers.
This reissue by MEGA is comprised of 277 pieces including one named figure UNSC Spartan Fred-104, his signature Spartan laser (aka SPLAZER), and the OF-92/EVA.
Packaging and Contents:
The box continues the fall 2014 graphics lineup featuring a white header with black HALO font across the border, bookmarked by a Spartan helmet and the MEGA BLOKS COLLECTORS logo. Front-and-center is a nicely done graphic of the booster frame in space, jets ablaze with Fred riding the hot seat. I must admit though that as nice as the front image render is, the overall presence of all the blue FX is a bit overbearing and gives the package an overly cool undertone. Perhaps this was done to illicit a feeling of being in deepspace; but I personally think the use of a muzzle flash on the cannons would’ve evoked a little bit of needed color balance to the package instead of the not-proton-streaming-ghost-rendering blast from the front cannons. The imagery continues with a profile card of Fred in the lower right corner and the piece count, suggested age range and set name in the bottom left; however an peculiar side-note is that the front labels no longer include the set number but instead highlight the age range in a larger font. One must wonder if this was a design change resulting from that ridiculous online petition that was circulating a few months ago :-/
On the back panel we get another render of the booster frame, this time with Fred standing beside it holding the SPLAZER, with a small graphic on right-center showing the weapon is included in the set. The image composition is balanced by another graphic of the Spartan in the upper left corner showcasing the armor system and anchored on the bottom right by a graphic of fireteam eagle (due Spring-2015, set code CND00) with what appears to be a re-release of the ODST wombat (set coode CYY43). The inner contents contain 6 poly bags – 5 standard + 1 combo bag that when opened brings the total to 7 actual bags for this set. The Spartan and weapon are separated from the sea of silver parts fodder that make up the mass of the frame.
As we’ve seen since Fall-2014, the HALO brand features super-poseable Spartans *ahem humans*. This figure utilizes a black under-armor base with a silvery-pewter tone blue that many fans will remember as “Reap-X blue”; the same shade used for the ONI siege bike, quad walker, and VTOL from the Spring 2013 waves. Digging deeper, this particular figure Spartan Fred-104 is another named fig (something MEGA started doing in the Signature Series of 2012); a SPARTAN-II that is very popular among the fanbase for his intertwined service record with the HALO protagonist John-117. His helmet dons some upgraded faceplate which I was unable to confirm via my research, but I assume it is either the armor upgrade he receives on Reach while rescuing Dr. Halsey, or perhaps just a representation of artistic license taken from HALO: Legends. In either case, it has a very strong presence and evokes kind of an American Football helmet/Predator mask hybrid appearance. Following down the figure’s armor, we get a new style chest plate, shoulder pauldrons with Fred’s signature knife inserts molded into the pauldron (sorry guys, not removable!) along with new sculpt forearms, codpiece, thigh armor (only slightly different from other iterations) and boots.
Rounding out Fred’s individual stype is a barrage of paint apps including white lines on the chest plate and helmet, silver detailing on the shoulder knives (no, they aren’t removable), and “104” printed on his the left side of his chest plate as well as on both sides of his helmet. My particular figure had a little paint run on the chest “104”; but it’s not really anything that bothers me since Fred isn’t a perennial character to me. In any case I hope MEGA really keeps an eye on their QC for this figure because such finite details could really lead to a lot of replacements if the paint masks don’t get proper maintenance. It should also be noted that it looks like MEGA finally pulled off a fine visor paint-app on first-wave figures, as mine has no overspray or paint-deprived areas. Great job guys!
Let me begin by declaring and confirming this: I have very little knowledge of the booster frame – yes I know it’s from HALO Legends “The Package”, but other than that my perspective on this vehicle is strictly from a set-building and bad*** toy perspective. On that note I can say that for being approximately 268/277 pieces, this set really takes up more time than expected to build – approximately 45min, give or take for pictures, decals (groan..yes, decals..more on that later) and write-up which is largely contributed to the many small pieces utilized in the bulkhead of the vehicle. However, I personally find that a bit refreshing, as it gives the buyer a nice little project to do while watching a TV show or listening to a podcast [in my case, TED talks], opposed to some of the past $25 price point sets that seemed to just slap together in no time.
Once completed, the final motif of the set is eloquently done and features a nice color combination of silver and red (a longtime favorite of mine) with hints of black accents and white (arctic camo) missile pods with gold accents. I’m not 100% sure why white was chosen for the pods, but it adds some variety. More intriguing though is some of the pieces utilized in this set, where I counted at least 3 new types of parts in the parts bank along with a few other fairly-recent new bits. Considering that most likely these bits are silver or black this set could definitely display some building fodder material for those interested in obscure pieces.
One of the cool features of the frame that MEGA did include is in the construction of the missile pod “wings”, insomuch that the rails can be removed and the tip of the wing can be attached to the bulkhead to give the frame a “lock position” or “stowaway” look; similar to an X-wing in cruise mode. Although it’s a neat gimmick I personally found it a bit cumbersome as it can be difficult to pull the rails out of the 1×1 holed posts and runs the risk of decimating the wing tip or scattering the missile pods if tried with too much force. Post-build and shooting I’ve left mine in full deployment mode; as I think most other fans will do the same. Another nice feature is that MEGA took into consideration that the dual machine guns (you know, those proton blasters according to the box art) are supposed to be on ball-sockets to permit a virtual 180⁰ firing radius and as such built the boom to accommodate a wide field of motion. It’s still a little finicky due to the tightness of the pegs in the 1×1 peg holes, but better that it be tight than loose. Again, one of those features that’s a nice nod, but mine will primarily be displayed face-forward.
OK, so that’s the good…let’s go into the bad. Thankfully there’s not much – but there is some. First and foremost is the fickle rider’s mount. It pivots on a 1×2 plate with a rail molded in, attached by a 1×1 with a molded clip on the chassis which results in a seesaw effect when your Spartan’s in full pursuit. Maybe it’s just built in shocks…as I said: I don’t know the vehicle that well – but feel this could’ve been done a little better. The Matrix-plug-into-your-spine umbilical cord was a nice touch to keep the Spartan from floating off into space, but it doesn’t really deter the seesaw effect. This is even more evident further on down the chassis where what used to be a HUD display in the V1 design is now an angled 1×1. Instead they could’ve possibly went with a 1×3 with a 1×1 stud on the end, and have something plug into that; I dunno. I think it was used to add a finishing touch to the riding chassis but it just doesn’t feel secure to me.
But, by large and far the greatest faux pax of this set comes from the DECALS!!! I don’t know if this is a cost-saving maneuver by MEGA to keep prices from jumping up further w/ the new Spartans or what…but the decal design needs an overhaul…and here’s why: as with the elephant – MEGA is taking us all the way back to 2011 with decal designs that require application across MULTIPLE PIECES! ARG >:( This may not be so bad for collectors if you manage to get a good sheet – but I pity anyone that experiences the frustration I had in building the elephant (i.e. bent sticker sheet) because it will be hell to get them aptly applied onto this build.
The saving grace here is that the set looks just fine without the stickers, but definitely has an extra pick-me-up if properly applied…so I would recommend doing so if you don’t ever plan on disassembling the set. If you decide to do so; just be careful with the boosters on the top of the bulkhead* as the instruction graphic doesn’t really layout how that is supposed to be applied very well, and the box images don’t show it in enough detail whatsoever. I’ve snapped a pic of how I think they’re supposed to be applied for your reference.
So, after all that, how did the booster fare?
Stability: 4.25/5 stars – the frame has FANTASTIC swooshability without anything flying off or causing any sort of raucous in the heat of battle, which is GREAT! When resting, the OF-92/EVA has nice balance and can hold up on its own with just the center structure supporting it; but the slightest bump will make it teeter. Considering it was designed with a stand clip built in for display it really just should’ve come with one.
Build: 4.8/5 stars – no complaints or confusing issues with the build itself, the color scheme is pretty effective for parts fodder in future customs, but I deducted tenths of a point on the issue of the decal renders being difficult to discern.
Innovation: 5/5 stars – this one is a no-brainer…utilizing rails instead of plates, making the missile pods clip-ons, the railing system, new parts banking and brand new Spartan mold make this a highly innovative set, and an impeccable improvement over the V1 frame. I particular appreciate the sensor array at the nose of the MAC cannon as well as the 1×1 blok w/ the hole representing the MAC chamber. It’s fine details like this that really make the HALO builds feel like they’re moving toward more finesse like the CoD designs.
Overall: 4.3/5 – a hands-down improvement over the first-gen designs, with newly added features, a superb NAMED! Figure and overall appealing color scheme with banking that can be useful for customizers at a fair price. Verdict…. ONI recommends you pick at least one up – if not for the build than for the Spartan, and if not for the Spartan than for the build
Thanks for reading!
Cmdr. “Sabre” Six
Booster frame is now available at BAToys4BABoys.com! Order yours today by following the link here