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Today I have been granted the pleasure of reviewing set# CNH23, officially dubbed “Covenant commander” which features 116 pieces comprising of one vehicle, one named figure and one weapon.
For the release of the Fall 2015 wave and upcoming Halo 5 video game, we see that MEGA has reinvented their packaging template once again. Now gone are the heavy white borders with black “HALO” lettering anchored by a portrait of Master Chief; and instead we see a silhouette of Spartan Locke – possibly being a key indicator of what we can expect to see in the future of the HALO franchise. Initial opinion of this package design is that it feels more in-line with the Call of Duty packaging; perhaps a move to integrate all collectors lines together. It’s a nice change, but feels visually heavy compared to the more defined areas of the previous design where the borders served as good negative space contrasting the graphic. As such, first appearance tends to overlook the words “HALO” because of the background FX and upscaled render being so close to the labels.
The backside features some great coloring by using a brown-orange that fades into the blue/black backdrop, serving as a nice compliment to the colors used in this set. We can see a figure ID tag identifying the figure provided as named figure Jul ‘Mdama. Much of the fanbase was torn last year by a retailer exclusive set that featured a similar-looking elite; with may declaring it as Jul..but such debate can now be put to rest. The rest of the graphic shows off another set (gungoose – review coming next), as well as another fireteam coming in Fall 2015 featuring Halo 4-5 Spartan armor-types, and another Cyclops variant *insert eyeroll*.
We’re talking about a ghost….again (previous design review available here: Rapid Attack Ghost); so out-of-the gate I can’t say I’m very excited for it; but after completing the build [Approx: 13min. without sorting] there are a few aesthetics to the new design I find more enjoyable than the previous incarnation; as well as a few other changes that aren’t as welcomed.
First and foremost – NO STICKERS! YES!!!! *high-five!*This set has a superb alien graphic that is printed directly on the block, in fantastic fashion and without flaw.
Not to be outdone with something that’s been done before…the new design features an angular “hood” that carries the organic shape of covenant vehicles all the way through the length of the vehicle. This hood serves dual purposes though as it also ‘tucks’ the turrets under it, opposed to previous incarnations where the plasma turrets looked more like add-ons after the design was complete. In compliment to the revised hood; this ghost also features “fins” that have a more rounded construction opposed to every previous incarnations which always utilized a flat-panel design. In addition, there are more details added to the engine area, controls, and the constructions of the seating area that make the craft feel more detailed.
First, let me just start by saying I’m a fan covenant vehicles having a pearlescent finish opposed to flat; as the extra sheen does a good job conveying that the craft is alien. That being said; the “commander” runs a vehicle that takes a few steps back in aesthetics here by reverting back to color code ARM (indigo – seen in last iteration of the wraith and seraph) opposed to the pearlescent purple color of last year’s release. Some may see this as an advantage, because it’ll mesh well with the wraith and scarab; but my personal preference is a metallic appearance for my covies.
Next, let’s talk about graphics — they’re cool right? I mean, just think back to the first time you opened a MEGA BLOKS set and saw the bloks printed and not requiring a sticker. I agree — so be ready for disappointment; because where MEGA included the hood graphic; they neglected to provide the same graphic application to the engine; unlike last year’s set which drew a lot of attention in the side profile because of the cool looking engine compartment. As a result, we’re left with a very bland side profile. (I literally just swapped it out; and it looks AWESOME now. Hope you got a hold of a few more of those older designs when they were on clearance )
Speaking of cool things – how about that trans-blue injection with gray paint application on the plasma turrets of last year’s design….looked pretty cool right? Once again – this is the not-so-great: solid gray turret that re-ignites imagery of the LAST time we got a ghost in ARM colors (remember High Ground?) Compare it to last year’s turrets; and yep, you guessed it — far superior.
My biggest gripe with the new design though? The changes to the “tail” section. Last year’s design made that ghost look special, like it had some sort of extra booster intake; or something innate that just screamed “check me out”….like power bulges or a hood scoop on a car does. Contrastingly, the newest incarnation of a ghost highlights an awkward return to the angular structure of the front section for one block, then quickly slopes off into a triangular shape that has none of the wow factor from before. I will likely rebuild this at a later date to utilize last year’s design…assuming i can locate my Reach-style banshees.
…and now, the reason you’re really here…
What if I told you that there's a $12.99 MSRP set, consisting of 116pcs.; and 24/116pcs. were of ONE FIGURE!?!
After last year’s debut of series Alpha, fans went ga-ga for super articulation; and on the lips of many was “OMG…what about the covenant?” Well, fans..MEGA heard our pleading, our crying, whimpering,debating, fighting, complaining, and answered our prayers beginning with the Sangheili.
The base figure without armor is comprised of 16 pieces, showcasing a helmet-less Sangheili head (sans paint apps) with 19 points of articulation!
We all knew MEGA would eventually make swivel-elbows, and many of us speculated about removable armor (until Toyfair when it was confirmed)…but seriously – who expected we’d see an elite that could actually stand on his hindquarters with an extra hinge?! Because MEGA was on the ball (and likely was listening at all the complaints of elites/brutes being too close to human height) we now have an elite that in a kneeling position Jul stands about the same height as a UNSC figure (approx. 5.5mm); but fully extended the figure can stand almost 10mm taller!!!So that’s cool …but what about that elbow-articulation?
I regret to inform you, but although its nice having elbows on elites; it’s also not that practical. This is because the added bulk of attachable armor along with the general shape of the head restrict the poseability window that is required for two-hand articulation. As such, to get ol’Mdama to hold a rifle half-way correctly he: A) cannot be looking in the direction he’s shooting and B) has to hold it with an awkward gangsta-lean. This is contributed notably to the very stubby-feeling forearms of the elite; which I imagine was utilized to keep the visual aesthetic — but truthfully I think they could’ve gone another 1-1.5mm on the forearm and been fine. It also would’ve put the rifle (in this case needler rifle) further from the body to give more clearance to the helmet. I imagine if the same arm construction is used in other figures *ahem jackals* it’ll be much more successful.
Beyond the new articulation, MEGA also endowed Jul with defining symbols of his kaidon and affiliations through paint apps on both his helmet and chestplate; which were done rather effectively well if I do say so myself.
Clutch: 5/5 stars – no issues. Let’s hope that now Mattel is at the reigns in terms of quality assurance this KPI is a thing of the past.
Stability: 5/5 stars – It’s almost TOO stable (it can’t take the high-speed turns anymore without removing one of the clear 2×2 rounded studs on the undercarriage)
Build: 3.5/5 stars – Although I personally thought I liked the flat panel fins more; the beveled ones have grown on me; but do pay attention to the tips when putting them together — the two end-pieces ARE different! Major knock in this category solely lies on the tail-section.
Innovation: 4.85/5 stars – The most innovative part of this set, hands down is the elite. He’s not without his flaws (notably those stubby forearms and ugly-duck-face; but the added paint apps and extra hinged leg-piece make him very collectible. MEGA did the fanbase justice in at attempting to go a different route with the ghost; even if it’s a mixed bag of great new features coupled with a few errors along the way. Still, with all the new sculpting required for this set, along with the somewhat different design cues. The only thing keeping it from getting a 4.5 or higher in my book is that tail construction and the lack of detailing on the turrets and engine.
Overall: 4.65/5 – OK I was NOT expecting to give this set that high of a score, but MEGA put together a fantastic figure and managed to do just enough in the 5th ghost design to make me want a second one (and to figure out what to do with my old purple ones after the good parts were harvested). Kudos MB: Halo design team…kudos.
Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed the commentary and photos! Be sure to pick up your own copy of Covenant Commander at BAToys4BABoys.com
Semper Vigilans, Sabre