Less than four months after the mega-ton announcement that Mattel had secured the master license for producing Halo action figures, the very first Mattel Halo vehicle set has now arrived–and hey, we even get an all-new Elite action figure packed-in with it! I paid scalper prices and ordered my boxed set last week, so I got it today, but the joke’s on me, as Amazon has the Covenant Ghost w/ Elite Officer for 13 bucks less than I paid last week. Alas. On the bright side, I’ve got the vehicle and figure a day earlier than folks who ordered from Amazon–was it worth it? Read on for my full review…
In addition, I’m thrilled with the price-point on this set: $29.99 for a medium-sized vehicle and a fully-articulated Elite Officer figure that would probably otherwise retail for 20 bucks on its own? Great value–sign me up!
The Mattel 6″ Ghost vehicle comes packaged in an attractive box with a bright yellow background that both the Ghost vehicle and figure show up really well on. Both the Covenant Ghost and the action figure are protected by hard plastic, so there’s also no worries about the toys getting handled roughly and worn out by kids checking them out in stores (unlike the McFarlane Warthog and Ghost back in the day, which had open-air packaging).
The Ghost comes with a clear display that is truly awesome–four pieces of clear plastic that you snap together to form a sculpted “levitation effects” base that you snap into the underside of the Ghost.
The base is very stable and sturdy once attached to the Covenant Ghost, and looks drop-dead awesome. This base is probably the single biggest improvement between the Mattel version of this vehicle and the McFarlane Toys Ghost.
While there’s a tradition of “vehicle driver” figures coming weapon-less that stretches back to the 1980s GI Joe line, the pack-in Elite action figure with this set actually does have his own weapon: a Covenant Carbine gun.
The Carbine not only has several colors of paint deco on it (and looks very sharp), but the Elite Officer figure can actually hold it! That’s right–this time, the Sangheili’s fingers are a flexible plastic that’s a cinch to wrap around the handle of the gun.
Two removable pegs come wit the set: a short peg for attaching the Covenant Carbine to the Elite’s leg, and a longer peg for attaching the gun to the Elite’s back. Both do their jobs nicely, although it does look a mite odd hanging a huge gun on the Officer’s leg.
Unlike the McFarlane Toys Elites that were more like semi-poseable statues, this Mattel Elite Officer figure actually feels like a toy you can actually play with. Some of the armor really restricts the articulation, but you can see the full extent by removing any (or all) of the armor.
The 6″ Elite Officer has 29 points of articulation, and all of it is easy to use without any fear of the figure breaking or shattering. The ball-jointed neck and articulated head of the figure are among my favorite points of articulation, although I really like the ball-jointed upper torso as well.
Meanwhile, while it’s surprisingly light, the Covenant Ghost vehicle is actually very nice. I like the purple plastic of the Ghost far more than the color of the Officer’s armor, and I appreciate the large amount of paint deco Mattel implemented on the vehicle.
The seat extends out on the Ghost to make the vehicle longer than it appears in the box, and the vehicle moves in four other places: the energy cannons on the front and the flaps beneath the wings. All four of these parts are nice and tight and stay in position as expected.
I’ll start with the Elite Officer six inch figure and address the (undersized) elephant in the room first: this action figure is just about 6″ tall on the button. He can see virtually eye-to-eye with my Marvel Legends Captain America figure, despite the fact that Sangheili should be noticeably larger than mere humans.
Basically, Mattel chose to make the Elite action figures six inches tall instead of six inch scale. As a result, the Elites tower over the McFarlane Halo Spartan action figures (as they should), but are going to look kind of scrawny next to the Mattel Spartans when they’re released (hopefully soon).
This is a major bummer for those hoping to have properly-scaled Covenant Elite figures to display both with other Halo Mattel figures and with other 6″ toy lines like Marvel Legends and the Star Wars Black Series. Sigh.
The paint on the figure is another let-down–it’s not the shiny, metallic purple shown on the packaging or in the official photos at all. Instead, it’s an almost matte otherworldly purple color. The plastic color itself on the armor isn’t bad, but there’s absolutely no paint wash to bring out the details of the sculpt. As a result, the aestheric of the armor is rather underwhelming overall.
For the most part, the articulation scheme on the Halo Elite Officer 6″ figure is very solid–but there are some deficient areas. Those used to Hasbro Marvel Legends 6″ figures will be sorely missing the double-jointed knees and elbows present in the Marvel Legends line, and the foot articulation on the Elite is just not as good as the ball-jointed feet with ankle rockers Hasbro does.
The most annoying part of the articulation, however, is the wrists–rather than being ball-jointed, the wrists swivel at the base of the wrist and then have a hinge on the palm to let them move back and forth. It’s really awkward as far as wrist articulation goes, and I can’t remember ever seeing this form of wrist articulation before in any line. It makes getting good poses with the Carbine gun difficult, and also makes it harder than it should be to get the Elite Officer to hold the handlebars of the 6″ scale Ghost.
Just during the half hour I was taking photos for this review, both pieces of the forearm armor on this figure fell off over a dozen times each. I was getting so frustrated with the forearm armor popping off that I was ready to hurl this Sangheili warrior off into the woods to fend for himself. His helmet also popped off far more often than I wanted it to, despite the peg in the helmet and the hole in the Elite’s head.
As for the Covenant Ghost 6″ vehicle itself–it’s also undersized. While the seat extends out to properly fit the Elite Officer figure, the vehicle is still just not quite large enough to be totally accurate with the Elite.
Overall: It breaks my heart to not give the first item in the Mattel Halo Collector Series a grade that’s below an ‘A’, but this Covenant Ghost with Elite Officer set has too many issues for me to overlook them all. The Covenant Elite Officer 6″ figure comes very close to being excellent, but is held back by the lack of a paint wash, rubbery armor pieces that fall off at the slightest touch on his forearms, and awkward wrist articulation that makes handling the Carbine a real pain. Meanwhile, the paintwork on the Ghost vehicle itself is sloppier than I’d expect in a “Collector” line, and while good-looking, the Ghost’s scale is definitely off.
On the bright side, the Elite Officer action figure looks awesome sitting on top of the Ghost, and I really love the clear “levitating” display base. The Carbine is well-detailed, and hey–for a change an Elite action figure can actually hold a gun! Mattel has achieved in one figure what McFarlane Toys wasn’t able to perfect in years of making Elites!
This set is a solid entry-point to the Mattel Halo 6″ Collector’s Series and I definitely recommend picking this set up online while it’s still available, but be prepared to be a little bit disappointed in some aspects of both the Ghost itself and the include 6″ Elite Officer figure.