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Master Chief Collectors Set

Halo 3 Kubricks
by yo go re

As a game, Halo has nothing to set it apart from any number of other first person shooters. Programmers, short on time, money, or skill, cut corners by not animating their lead character, and instead try to pass off a bouncing gun barrel (or sometimes a hand - ooh, innovative!) as an "immersive" experience. It's been the same thing since Catacomb and Castle Wolfenstein, so why should it be any different now? They may call it "combat evolved," but Halo's claim to fame has nothing to do with gameplay, and everything to do with story.

Set more than 500 years in the future, the Halo series takes place in a world where humanity has begun colonizing distant planets. When a theocratic species known as the Covenant declares mankind an affront to its gods, the colonies (and, by extension, the colonists) are targeted for extermination. So again, yeah, not exactly a labyrinthine plot, but on par with the average summer blockbuster and a big step above any other FPS. "Hell is on Mars; shoot it" isn't a plot, it's a premise.

Halo has always had plenty of ancillary merchandise, but Halo 3 really kicked that into overdrive. Games, guitars, fast food Master Chief restaurants, sodas, NASCAR... it seemed like everyone was taking Microsoft money to promote the game. And though McFarlane Toys loudly touted the fact that they'd be making action figures (real, honest to goodness action figures, not statues), there were already Halo 3 toys ready to go right at the launch, a set of Kubricks distributed by Gentle Giant.

Yes, the RealScan folks imported Medicom's block figures so we'd all have some Spartan goodness ahead of McToys' spring 2008 target date. The Kubricks were sold in a Master Chief Collectors Set four-pack, and though not technically an exclusive, were available solely at EB Games (as far as brick and mortar locations go).

The detailing on these little guys is great. Kubricks are only about 6cm tall, but they also have an advantage that a lot of block figures lack: an abundance of add-on pieces to create detail. Master Chief's armor isn't just created through the clever use of paint outlines, but instead actual molded pieces. The simple Kubrick body is black - everything else on Master Chief is a separate piece that the figure wears.

And it's not like this is overly simplistic armor, either; there are no plain blocks slipped over the body for an illusion of layers. The armor comprises seven pieces - helmet, upper torso, forearms, waist, and boots - and every bit is covered with raised elements, recesses, angular pads, vents, plates... all the stuff that makes the Mjolnir armor. It's been simplified, of course, but it hasn't been left out. The Kubricks give you a perfect Chibi Master Chief.

He even has tiny weapons. Each MC in this set includes one battle rifle and two SMGs, each detailed just as well as the armor. The particular design of the Kubrick hands means MC can't aim the weapons very well, but he can hold them all. The guns are black with silver and gray apps where necessary.

In addition to the classic green Master Chief, this set also includes multiplayer mainstays red and blue, as well as a clear "stealth" version. There's also a variant, where the clear MC has been replaced by black, but what fun is that? The blue paint is dark and vibrant, while the red seems a bit paler. All the figures' weapons have the same paint apps, save for the stealth guy: his are the same clear as his armor. Well, clear with a faint blue tint - possibly a result of making the armor and guns slightly occluded, since the body is as perfectly transparent as a toy can get.

Kubricks aren't the most poseable block figures on the market, with joints at the hips, wrists, waist, shoulders and neck. However, their modular construction - even on these Master Chiefs (Masters Chief?) - means plenty of interchangeable fun. Even if all you own is this set, you can mix and match armors to your heart's content. But buy some more Kubricks, and you can really start making some oddball creations. Ever wanted to see the guys from Grand Theft Auto III in the Spartans' armor? Now you can!

The Master Chief Collectors Set retails for about $20, so if you do the math, you're paying approximately $2 an inch for these toys, which isn't exorbitant: the average 7" NECA figure costs around $15, so that's the same rate. This set is definitely worth buying, if you can find it - just beware, store clerks are probably going to think you want HeroClix when you ask after these Kubricks.

-- 01/03/08

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