Preface: The Infinity Armor Bay set# 97262 is MEGA BLOKS’ visual interpretation of the armory bay featured in HALO 4 Spartan Ops. The design of the set comes from a machine that utilizes robotics, AI support and sometimes human technicians to assist a SPARTAN in attaching their armor, as depicted below:
Inside the box contains 189 pieces and features a red HALO 4 Recon Spartan IV sporting an “exclusive” armor skin alongside a UNSC technician and 5 weapons: M7 (sub-machine gun), MA5C (assault rifle), M739 (SAW), the newly christened M45TS (Halo: Reach style shotgun), and the BR55HB (battle rifle); as well as some very unique and hard-to-find pieces: such as the claw (a re-use from old Spider Man sets), a pegged slant-1×1 (the sensor array piece used on the newly designed warthogs) and other non-traditional pieces. The following is from ONI Section I public records regarding the SPARTAN IV program:
Packaging: The box design continues with the white-bordered design utilized by MEGA BLOKS from the Fall 2014 lineup and depicts a SPARTAN getting some final tune-ups while a technician monitors a SPARTAN’s biometrics from a computer terminal. In the lower left-hand corner is a graphic stating the armor skin is exclusive to this set and text stating this is set #38. The rear panel consists of the recon Spartan and technician shown separate from the platform. In sets where landscape elements are included I can understand the reasoning for this kind of graphic, but in sets where there’s nothing left to interpret I prefer another action scene as MEGA does for the CoD line.
However, since this is the format that all HALO sets have used to-date; I suppose it’s nothing out of the ordinary. I should also mention that the armor skin appears to be a medium gray in the pictures; but in actuality is more of dark chrome like the shade of the spec-ops ODST (set# 96926). As with the ghost, the bottom corner also features metallic ODSTs being offered in the spring wave as well as the off-world Cyclops (sold separately).
Contents: This set falls in the $21.99 price point, so again there isn’t so much in the box that a picture or bag-count is necessary. At 189pcs.; you’re getting about 12-16 1×1 translucent studs and a bunch of weapons, making the actual build more along the lines of a $12.99 (roughly 100pcs). Honestly when I first heard of this set I expected it to be in the higher price-point range ($39.99), and still wish it would’ve been designed at that price to get a more robust platform. The price itself is acceptable as you get plenty of large plates and some of the more rare bits.The deco is jarring because of the utilization of yellow and white on pieces that IMO should’ve been either black or silver. The offbeat colors do this set an injustice, making it appear more like a ride at a carnival than of a piece of military machinery. Shame as the right color could’ve really boosted the visual appeal of this set and been more along the lines of the cool tones used in-game. Let’s hope this offbeat scheme doesn’t make it into future sets…
All weapons are flat black with no detailing, as expected in sets at this price-point.
The star of this set, the HALO 4 Recon features an “exclusive” armor skin, though from my limited research I can’t confirm which skin it’s supposed to be; so the “exclusive” tag must indicate that it is exclusive to itself? In any case the skin could’ve been excluded and the figure would still be a gem. That being said – the fact that it’s there is a nice touch by MEGA BLOKS. However, it’s the cut on this ruby that makes the figure so nice. The legs are fantastically done (albeit a little dry of paint detailing around the kneecap), the torso is spot-on. The helmet does a good job of not looking like a re-use of the Halo 3-style recon helmet., as shown in the comparison below:
If the recon is the star, then by all means the technician is the burnout. Sadly, we get a highly sought-after figure (pretty much any non-spartan is these days); but in a highly distracting and gawdy blue-and-white uniform. At first I thought it was passable, but as I reflected on the set a bit more I tried to rationalize the purpose of a white uniform on an engineer and my brain began to short-circuit. As HALO canon tries to apply real-world aesthetics to the lore, anyone in the engineering fields can agree that white would be the last color a technician would wear. At the last moment (as I’m wrapping up this review) it dawned on me that perhaps he’s a biomedical engineer or some sort of medical staff (after all he is watching the biometrics); but the only source I could find to back this claim would be Dr. Halsey’s depictions (http://bit.ly/1h8XqSR)
Structure: At first glance the mechanical ring’s construction is reminiscent of the pieces used on the covenant shade turret (set# 96949), but they are in fact a new mold – which may lend itself to some very interesting and new future builds. Overall the build runs about 40min.; but a large part of that time for me was spent pressing down all the 1×1 studs. Once finished, the set looks part Leonardo DaVinci’s Vitruvian Man and part dentist-office-horror-story. The bay includes some cool printed pieces like the Spartan’s helmet on a translucent plate along with a biometric screen and 5 weapons. I for one love the fact that Doc Ock’s robotic claw bit was brought back from the parts bank as it’s such a cool piece (and almost makes me consider getting more just for those!). Though I’m not as big of a fan on the use of the ball-socket post on the other robotic arm instead of another claw. Seems that 2 claws would’ve been a better option (as in-game the ring shows 2); but I hope there’s a reason there somewhere. In any case, the design looks nice on the surface but has a very noticeable execution flaw – the construction of the Doc Ock-arm has this wonky construct on the backside of the claw. It uses a jerry-can rail (found in the elephant and Halo 4-style warthog) with 2 sensor array bits attached at both ends…which end up falling out of the rail every single time you go to turn the arm. Additionally, the pieces themselves have a bit of over-clutch such that moving the arm becomes somewhat of a hassle and ends up just being left in place. It should also be noted that the whole assembly rotates around the base 360 degrees to allow full MJOLNIR assembly on the SPARTAN. The grating underneath the SPARTAN was a nice touch
- Clutch: 2/5 No issues with most of the standard pieces, but those sensor arrays really kill the build.
- Stability: 4/5 No issues with the structure overall, but be careful transporting the final build as the control bay only mounts via single attachments. I’m mostly taking a point here for those sensor arrays.
- Build: 3.5/5 nothing confusing in the instructions, but a few miscues in the design could’ve been avoided with a little more insight (ex. how does the technician get into/out of the observation deck?
- Innovation: 5/5 A new molded piece for the rotating ring, some cool printed pieces, another source for the new-style shotgun…and most notably: bringing back the Doc Ock piece = some great parts banking!
What was done right? It’s a structure (+1) featuring some cool bits (+1) weapons (+1), and figures (+1) make this set a must-have for HALO 4 fans, and a good source of materials for hobbyists.
What was done wrong? Leaving a grunt to choose the color palette for this set and a brute to design the mech-arm (-2) really leave this set feeling unrefined with room for improvements.
Overall, a nice but not dominant set for the $21.99 price-point, but likely a one-and-done kind of set. It’s worthwhile buy if you’re like me and want to see more structure sets; but not as exciting as a more robust set could be at a higher price point.
Thanks for reading!