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Sgt. Avery Johnson

Halo 3
by yo go re

Since its fans can't defend Halo's gameplay as innovative - it's nothing but Wolfenstein 3D with more polygons - they try to claim it's the storytelling that makes the game special. A badass Space Marine Supersoldier? Yeah, real creative. And look, he's even bossed around by a gruff lieutenant (so to speak).

Sgt. Avery Junior Johnson combines the best qualities in a leader of combat troops: courage, resourcefulness, concern for his men... and a gift for cursing in a dozen languages. He leads from the front, and has earned the unquestioning trust and devotion of his troops.

Halo's Sgt. Johnson is pretty much a direct ripoff of Aliens' Sgt. Apone - and not just his hardass personality. Seriously, I hope Al Matthews is getting residuals, since the game designers basically digitized his face and threw it on their wireframe. Not that that's necessarily a bad thing: the cigar-chomping, gung-ho leader is a classic character type for a reason, and if you're gonna steal, better steal from the best, right?

McFarlane's Halo toyline is built on the idea of reusable bodies: every Spartan may wear different armor, but they're all the same underneath, so make a generic body and individualize it with removable armor. And that's fine as long as you're dealing with Master Chief and his brothers, but Sgt. Johnson is a plain human, so he gets something new.

Some folks claim the McFarlane Halo toys are in scale with GI Joe, since Master Chief is supposed to be taller than the average human. We did the math, and came up with a 4⅜" scale, strange as that is. Sgt. Johnson bears that out, reaching exactly 4½" tall thanks to his hat - so, unequivocably not GI Joe scale. Don't get confused.

Avery doesn't get full-body armor, but he's not unprotected. He's wearing what is probably UNSC Marine standard fatigues, tan but not camouflaged, and a bit of light armor strapped over that, black coverings on the boots, thighs, abdomen, hands and upper arms. The thicker armor, done in green, is on the shins, knees, waist, torso and shoulders. That still leaves a lot of areas where he could get shot, but hey, at least the center mass is safe. Surprisingly, he's wearing soft cover, instead of a helmet. Of course, in the future, maybe they've found a way to make bulletproof caps.

Articulation here isn't quite as extensive here as it is on the Spartans, but it's still pretty damn great. Balljointed head, swivel shoulders, balljointed biceps, hinged elbows, swivel forearms, hinge wrists, swivel torso (which may just be a very tightballjoint, but so far that's the only range of motion I can get from it), swivel hips, balljointed thighs, hinged knees and balljoint ankles. Some of the joints are awkward, but none of them were stuck. He did have to go in the freezer for a while, but just to crack the armor off his chest - it had been glued on crooked, and I wanted to straighten it.

There's no sense in going into a battlefield unarmed, so Sgt. Johnson is packing heat. He's part of Series 5, which is the "Equipment Edition." What's that mean? They come with extra accessories or something, I don't know. It's not like the previous toys didn't have a lot of gear. AJ has a sidearm plugged into his thigh armor, as well as a trip mine and the Anti-Vehicle Model 6 Grindell/Galilean Nonlinear Rifle... better known as the Spartan Laser. The most powerful weapon in the Halo 3, the Spartan Laser is a bit too big for Johnson to hold easily, but that just adds to his badass quotient. The sculpt is very good, and the paint is so fine tht you can even read "Galilean" on its side. The trip mine has been available before, and is more "scenery" than "accessory" anyway.

McFarlane's Halo figures are good toys, plain and simple. Most folks know by now how good the various Spartans are, but this is our first shot at a plain human, so there was some question of what the quality would be. Turns out that just like in the real world, where Sergeant Major and Master Chief Petty Officer are equivalent ranks (E-9 in the Marines and Navy, respectively), Sgt. Avery Johnson is right on par with Master Chief.

-- 07/22/09

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