Alan Smithee

McFarlane Toys’ Master Chief Evolution 3 Pack – Review

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Reviewing toys isn’t exactly something that I had in mind when I first established WatchPlayRead, but thanks to some of our community members sharing their love of the hobby and generous toy companies who sometimes send out review copies of their wares, I’ve found myself getting in touch with a side of my psyche that I haven’t payed much attention to over the years.

The toys in question for this review is a three pack of Master Chiefs from the Halo universe (which is celebrating its 10th year as a franchise). In this one package you have a low polygon count Mark V Mjolnir armored Master Chief complete with assault rifle, a Mark VI Mjolnir Master Chief with twin submachine guns, and a battle hardened/damaged Mark VI Mjolnir Master Chief with a sniper rifle. Each one a masterpiece in their own right and will be getting their own section in the review, but first…the overall packaging.

PACKAGING

The box that these 6″ figures come in is a solid construction of high gloss cardstock with a ginormous front panel that shows off each of the three figures if you’re planning on leaving them mint-in-box. You may not get the gorgeousness of each figure up close but if you’re one of THOSE types of collectors who refuses to disturb the packaging, then this review should essentially be over for you. The toys look good and they look good in the handsome box that you spent $34.99 on.

However, if you actually like to play with your toys, let’s continue with the first of the three.

HALO: COMBAT EVOLVED MASTER CHIEF

Out of the entire package of awesome that is this toy set, this has to be my favorite of the bunch. Every bit of this guy screams out ‘retro’ in gigantic bold letters. He’s got the same exact look that he had from the classic Xbox game (read that as extremely blocky) as he touts his ‘low-polygon count’ body. There’s just something awesome about the character of Master Chief and this is the one that many of us fell in love with.

He comes with a UNSC standard issue assault rifle and frag grenade, which I could rattle off the exact names of, but for the sake of this review, I’m going to keep it simple.

Each of the weapons that comes with Mr. Chief in the toy collection are extremely faithful representations of the ones you find in-game, though when I first looked at them, I could have swore they were a bit on the tiny side. This isn’t the case as I simply forgot that Master Chief John 117 is simply a giant in human proportions so no matter what weapon you put into his power armored hands, it’s going to look a bit on the tiny side.

The sculpt on this figure is amazing, there are some angles on his armor, namely the shoulder guards and his helmet visor, that come out extremely sharp looking. I’m almost certain that McFarlane Toys was looking to make his armor not look pristine and brand new by design because any pits or divots in the armor seem to have been intentional as they don’t look like any molding inconsistencies that I’ve ever seen on any of my other action figures.

The paint, usually McFarlane’s strong point, is very well done but not perfect. There are a few places where there was a little run off between the silvers, blacks, and greens that could stand to be touched up but I’m not complaining as to any other collector out there, I’m sure this would be given a pass as it’s VERY minute.

All of the toys in this collection features 26 different points of articulation including thighs, hips, waistline, torso, elbows, wrists, neck, ankles, knees, and shoulders. These guys are all very nimble beasts no matter how you look at them. The only limitation between the 3 figures is the Halo: CE Master Chief who has a hard time making some poses due to a limited shoulder range (thanks to those shoulder guards I mentioned earlier) and knees that won’t bend to a 90 degree mark…because old Master Chief looks more like a spaceman than an honest to goodness augmented space marine.

Let’s move on…

HALO 2 MASTER CHIEF

Next up on our review is the Mark VI Mjolnir equipped and dual SMG wielding Master Chief from Halo 2. It’s easy to see just how graphic designers from Bungie changed a few things around with Master Chief to make him a more hulking and in most cases a paradoxically slender character. Gone from this figure are the extremely limiting shoulder guards, instead we have some much better ones that allow him to mimic John McCain in arms raised mode, but still no high above your shoulder poses…as if you really wanted to make him look like he was going to fly.

The classic is my favorite out of the pack because of how he looks, but for posing purposes, the MK VI models work so much better and easier. They’re more menacing, but less bulky…oh and you gain another point of articulation in their feet of all places.

Again, the molding is great with that ‘look at me, I’m battle damaged’ type of feel, but I feel that this is a bit of a cheap way out with this character. Sure he’s been through a ton of combat, but it’d be nice to have a figure with some pristine armor next time.

The biggest gripe I have about the MK VI models is their lack of hand articulation, specifically in the fingers. Instead of the kung-fu grip that you’ve given us, how much harder would it have been to give these guys the ability to either open or close their hands…instead we’re left with a John-117 who looks like he’s about to choke chickens at all times, it’s just unfortunate.

The paint, oh god the paint on this toy. I didn’t mind a little messy painting on the Mark V, but when you jump up a generation, don’t get TOO sloppy. There were a few areas that I can see that I know I’ll have to touch up with my own paints and brushes because it just doesn’t sit right with me. There are some overpaints and some serious blotches that make me think that there’s no way that’s supposed to be him wearing the suit in.

As for the weapons he comes equipped with, the dual SMGs are nice, if not a little cheap. They’re fine for most purposes, but the grips are much smaller than the openings on his hands, making them seem a bit comically small.

Finally let’s get to our last figure.

HALO 3 MASTER CHIEF

You’d think that since the Master Chief had ZERO armor changes between the events of Halo 2 and Halo 3, that he’d be the exact same model with a different gun…well you’d be wrong. They actually made small changes in the model between the games as they had a need to show off how awesome the Xbox 360 really is when rendering its flagship title. The changes are subtle really and if you didn’t look close you’d swear it was the same model.

There are just minor cosmetic changes all around, a smaller bit here, a more detailed bit there, but essentially it’s the same figure, just better…in EVERY department.

Unlike the last toy, this one is SUPPOSED to look like it’s been through hell. I mean, this is supposed to be the same armor that tore up another Halo installation, fought off the flood, and essentially saved the universe yet again. It just looks a hell of a lot more deliberate than the random splat here, odd divot there type of mess that is the Halo 2 figure.

Standard equipment for this model is the ubiquitous sniper rifle that is honestly the best looking weapon out of all 3 toys. Not only is it the most detailed, but it is also the most brave as it features a very slender barrel that if not done with the right mold and packaging, could be bent all to hell, which I’m glad to say that after sitting in a hot ass car for two days and an afternoon on my front porch, this one isn’t…thank Crom.

Where this toy shines is in the painting effects that the other two seem to be lacking. The Halo 3 model seems like it had more time put into it with someone that knows how to dry brush with light colors on blacks to make the angled bits pop out more, and on the marine greens there is some excellent shadow work in the nooks and crannies with what appears to be a black ink wash…I am speaking in miniature painting terms (like Warhammer 40,000) but this is honestly the winner in all three when it comes to paint detail.

OVERALL: 85%

I just realized that I never told you all the scale of these magnificent figures that will be available for purchase on the 28th of September, all three are 6″ figurines and for the most part, are completely worth the price if you’re a big fan of the series. These are by far the finest Halo toys I’ve ever laid my hands upon and will have hours of fun playing and posing my figures at my desk.

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