The other day, after I’d finished a review for a certain Y-shaped starfighter for a certain game set in a galaxy far far away, I got to thinking about licensed products and just what a company will allow their name and their IP associated with. It didn’t take me long for my mind to wander to Halo. Halo being the Tony Stark-esque holiday home my brain frequents when it’s not kicking it analogue style in the wonderful world of wargaming.
There’s no shortage of licensed products to look at for Halo but to keep things hobby focussed I thought it best to take a gander at a the sets from Mega Bloks. Fortunately for those lovely people at Mega Bloks obliged me and so I’ve got a couple of kits to take a look at over this review and a second to follow. My interest being this – can a licensed product, especially something like a brick kit capture more than just the flavour, but the feel of that universe?
First up is the Night Ops Gausshog set.
It’s been a long while since I built a kit of this ilk so I’ll say this – things have moved on since I was a kid. The components stretched into the hundreds and the sophistication of the kit impressed me. The designers cleverly built up layers of bricks so the Warthog looks every bit the rugged ATV we all know and love from the game. They even managed to get the independent suspension just so. Plus the overlapping bricks makes for a very sold model should you want to drive it around your living room floor. Which I totally didn’t do.
Moreover, the two tone casting of the bricks is a simple but effective way of making the Warthog seem camouflaged without having to design and produce a precise and ultimately crap looking camo-patterned kit.
The gaussgun is an ugly bit of kit. That’s no reflection on Mega Bloks. It’s an ugly bit of kit. And it’s all very cleverly put together so you get the crude bulkiness of the middle weight tank killer with a little bit of flash with the heating magnetic coils represented by the blue connector pins. My one grumble here is the weapon mount is a bit too flimsy. The gun slides onto a pig that’s too small to take the weight so it drops. And in an effort to make the turret as adjustable as it is in the game the central column isn’t fixed which makes it a pain to position the Spartan on it. Partly because the weapon handles are also a tad too close together for the hands to easily grasp.
Build time was about 90 minutes but do remember I’m pretty rusty on building these kinds of kits…Not enough clippers and plastic glue for my liking. Also the instructions were a bit frustrating. Whilst it was very good that the manual highlighted in colour where the bricks should sit, if any of the components were black the details of the brick were all but impossible to see. And some of the diagrams weren’t as clear as they could be. There was also a fair few spare parts, not to mention some fairly pointless yellow brings that were supposed to life the Warthog ‘up on blocks’ which is a totally unnecessary, if a nice, touch.
The Spartans are pretty cool though. Made up from Spartans from the UNSC Infinity, they boast some of the armour variants you unlock as you play the multiplayer which collectors and gamers will appreciate. The simple paint job works and it’s nice to see figures from a brick system with a bit of depth of colour. Plus the multi-joint approach allows a far more loyal reflection of the Spartans whilst allowing for more faithful kits to fit them into. Oh and the firearms they come with a nicely detailed for what they are.
The Promethean is massive and it’s a nice touch that the back plates move as in the game but overall the level of detail is a bit disappointing. It just feels like a bit of an after thought. But I suppose the Warthog is the main event and when it comes to tearing across the living room floor, gaussgun blazing, one Promethean isn’t going to last long.
And I suppose that’s the point. It’s a Warthog. It looks like a Warthog and feels like a Warthog. It lacks some of the wonder because it’s lifted from the Spartan Ops part of the story so, whilst still cool, it isn’t as cool as the Chief. Harsh but it’s cold hard fact. But you’re still going to drive it around making all the sounds effects that the engine doesn’t do for you. You’re still going to find room on a shelf for it so you don’t have to put it ‘somewhere safe’ and risk breaking it. And you’re still going to make the whit-doooo noise every time the gaussgun fires. So yeah, I’d say it successfully captures the spirit of the Halo games. rather nicely.
The Night Ops Gausshog is available from Argos priced £29.99)