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Grifball Spartan (Recon Armor)

Halo 3
by yo go re

Play ball!

In 2554, the Red Army introduced Grifball to the world. By 2557, all other sports had been abandoned.

Well that's an ultra-brief biography, isn't it? It doesn't tell us anything about what the hell a Grifball Spartan is or why we should care. But that's why you read OAFE: so we can do all the hard work for you.

Grifball is a "sport" from Red vs. Blue, a machinima created by the guys at Rooster Teeth. A "machinima," in case this is one of our moms reading the review for some reason, is an animated film made using the game engine to provide everything you need - actors, props, sets, physics... all that stuff. RvB is probably the most famous one there is, going so far as to even get some official recognition from Bungie, Halo's creators. Anyway, a throwaway line in one episode made reference to something being "the best game since Grifball," and eventually that got fleshed out. More on that in a bit.

The figure is based on the same basic body as every other Halo Spartan, a well-designed piece with plentiful articulation and a decent construction. For all the facts and figures on the under-body, feel free to read the Spartan Soldier (CQB) review - since the toys are designed to be fundamentally changed just by adding new armor and paint, if you know one, you know them all.

This figure is wearing Recon Armor, which is pretty special. Why? Well, you'd have to know anything about Halo to understand, and I don't, so I don't understand. But that's what research is for! The Recon Armor... isn't actually in the games, so it doesn't do anything. It's a design for the multiplayer games, one handed out exclusively by Bungie employees as a reward for... doing... stuff. Yeah. There's no set way to get the armor, you just have to attract Bungie's attention somehow. Like the way John Hinckley attracted Jodie Foster's attention. You know, get creative.

Anyway, since the armor's so rare, it's something of a status symbol among the teabagging dimwits who enjoy playing Halo. And keeping that trend alive, McFarlane Toys chose to only make the Recon Armor available through their "Halo Points," a fancy way of saying "send us your UPCs." That means this release is the first time Recon has been publically available (even if it was an SDCC exclusive) - plus, the Halo Points will only buy you the armor, not the figure beneath it, so this is a first in that way, too. See, lots of originality abounds.

The Recon Armor - which, in-story, is officially the Mark VI MJOLNIR Powered Assault Armor/R variant - has a distinct look. The visor is very small, and surrounded by the unarmored black stuff. The actual protective part of the helmet (of the entire suit, really) is the orange bits, which means that the Recon Armor apparently has two big open ports on the top. That doesn't seem very good for protection, right? Still, the design is cool, and since none of this stuff is functional anyway, that's all that matters.

The shoulder armor is boxy, with a panel that extends down toward the the elbow. Small spikes (or something) poke off each shoulder, painted in a silver that stands out well from the black beneath them. The chest is deeply complex, designed to look like multiple plates overlapping one another. It's molded as a single piece, sure, but just to accommodate the swappable design of the toys. You get the feeling that if this were real, there'd be three or four layers before you hit the body.

The figure isn't done in orange on a whim - in Red vs. Blue, the character Minor Junior Private Negative First Class Dexter Grif - "Grif," for short - wore orange armor. In Grifball, whoever's carrying the ball turns orange, because they represent Grif, get it? So this toy, being orange, is standing in for everybody's favorite loser, Grif.

He's also got the three accessories necessary for a game of Griffball: a bomb, a gravity hammer, and a sword hilt. Apparently. The bomb, which has a one-second fuse, is the ball. Plant it in the other team's goal to score a point. And blow yourself up in the process. Boosh! The gravity hammer is one of the bad guy's weapons, and releases a shockwave that can send people flying. Useful bolth for defending your own goal and for launching your teammate across the field. The final accessory is the hilt of an energy sword, un-ignited and therefore lacking either "energy" or "sword." It's basically a lumpy stick. The lumpy stick and the gravity hammer plug onto the figure's leg or back, and a peg in his left hand allows him to grip the bomb-ball.

Once the Halo 3: ODST game comes out, the Recon Armor will become more readily available. Similarly, McToys will soon be releasing their first mass-market Recon Armor figure, but that will just be another plain Spartan - won't it be a ton cooler to own the Grifball version? Not only is it the first full release of Recon Armor, it's also the first-ever toy based on a machinima creation, and it's one of the first-ever Toys Я Us Comic-Con exclusives: they went to SDCC for the first time in 2009, partnered with Entertainment Earth, and brought this Grifball Spartan with them. He's limited to 6,000 pieces, but he's really cool - grab him while you can!

-- 07/22/09

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