Saturday, August 18, 2012

Halo 4 Frozen Master Chief with Cryotube Deluxe action figure review

Halo is one of if not -the- biggest of Microsoft's video game franchises. It's spawned multiple series and Halo 4 is the next big installment due out later this year. The figures are hitting now and here we have a frosty Master Chief in his cozy Cryotube. These are deluxe figures and are packaged in fairly large boxes, the ODST Drop pod being the other. There's a regular single carded Master Chief as well as a 4-pack Chief but here you get an icy variant.

The first thing you'll notice is how large the package is with a lot of wasted space in there and the tube locked down with zip-ties. Once removed the Cryotube stands almost 9 inches tall. It's design is visually striking with four locks on either side, a semi-clear window and plenty of sculpted detail. Various brackets, clamps, and hoses run along the backside making it look fairly complex. The cryotube is tilted back at an angle with a permanent stand to keep it upright even with the door fully opened.

To open the tube you must first pull the door out, THEN lift up. I saw two returned Cryotubes at different Targets with the door busted off and I can almost guarantee you this is because they didn't read the included directions. Otherwise the tube is extremely well made. Its paint apps consist of molded grey plastic with silver streaked drybrushing and bit of paint wash around the edges to dirty it up. The frost on the glass is a tampo and overlaps in some places making the white appear thicker there. The padding inside is painted but the side edges were skipped. Otherwise it's really nice.

Master Chief fits inside easily and looks pretty neat with his armor all frosted up. His sculpt is super detailed with all sorts of panels and edges. No armor is removable from Master Chief. His paint apps consist of the deep colored green plastic as the base color instead of paint and frosted highlights that really bring out the suit detail. The visor gold is the best I've seen on any Halo figure to date and has a pearlescent sheen that follows your eye as you turn him.

Master Chief's articulation is different from earlier Halo figures mainly in the hips. They're true ball joints this time and lose the separate T-crotch inner system. This means to get Chief to sit his legs angle out a little bit but would work fine if he was straddling a Mongoose. Everything else is Halo standard like the ratcheting joints and a much better range of motion than the Reach figures but not as good as the very first series. He's a little shorter than The Package chief but taller than the others and comes with a single pistol as his accessory.

 Going back to the Cryotube we find it will fit your basic 6" figure comfortably. Figures with wider shoulders may need to be angled to get in at first (DC Universe, larger characters) but should fit. The tube itself unscrews if you want to take it apart for customizing purposes and there's a foot rest that can be removed to give you an additional 1/4" space if needed. I really wish it lighted up from the inside like in the game trailer and that could have made this set truly spectacular. There's plenty of room inside the base or bottom of the tube for someone to add their own LED system with a little work.

So what's the verdict? This is a very cool set and for around $25 you get a desk-display quality item with a Master Chief figure inside. I personally love stasis pods/cryotubes and this is the by far the nicest one out also fitting other sized figures. Our sponsors Big Bad Toy Store has them in stock for a very good price and Past Generation Toys will be getting them in soon. I can see people buying multiples and making a diorama using these, changing the number 16 to something else using model railroad rub-on labels. This is one cool pod and would make a great first Halo 4 purchase to get your feet wet.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

ThreeA Toys Action Portable Badbot by Ashley Wood action figure review

The fandom of ThreeA Toys and its designer Ashley Wood is one that lies somewhere between the realm of action figures, pop art, statues, and designer toys. With 1/6th (12") scale robots and humans with prices upwards of $300+ collecting them as a line would have your wallet screaming. But now we have 'action portables', 1/12th or six-inch scale versions. Badbot is part of the wave sold in February and is just now shipping.Yes they are significantly less expensive

Badbot stands 7" tall and is made entirely of hard abs plastic with the exception of his flexible intestinal hoses, tho you'd think he was metal by the paint work. Each figure is hand painted with a variety of wash, splatter, and sponge-on techniques to add a textured rust effect that is convincingly realistic. There are weathered stars on his shoulders and a "Badbot" name on his chest that can be made out under all that weathered paint. While I'm one for weathering effects it's a little difficult to tell what base color he is. Black? Dark brown? There's just so much going on here but that's then the idea. You can tell the wash was done with a rag because there's fibers all over his hoses and in the paint you'll want to scrape free.

Packaging for Badbot requires you to tear him free of a blister card. At $55 initially (double on the aftermarket in some cases) I would have really liked to see collector friendly packaging like the 12" version. Once opened there's no way to seal him back in. The package does its job of conveying Ashley Wood's unique art style and shows off the figure. The backer is large and if ordered directly from the Bambaland store is tabbed into the shipping box to keep it safe, a neat idea.

Articulation for Badbot is pretty amazing. First off every joint of his small 1/2" wide hands is articulated. He can spread his fingers as they're on ball joints, make a fist, or hold his guns with a decent firmness. Double ball joint shoulders and waist give him great range as does a ball head/wrists/hip/ankles. The biceps turn and the elbows/knees/toes are hinged. One issue is the ankle ball joints are tiny and are quite loose, his feet falling off easily and making it nearly impossible to stand. Hopefully this isn't widespread. I had to spend a good hour tightening them with superglue around the edges but they still are designed to just barely sit in their sockets.  His knees don't hit a 90 deg angle but come close.

Badbot's accessories are nice. Two large guns make up his arsenal and are done with the same weathered rust effects he has. Their cylinders spin and you can see little bullets in there. He also comes with a cloth goods duffel bag with a cat stuffed inside. The bag's zipper works as does the adjustable strap, also covered in weathered splatter.

Sculpting for Badbot is going to depend on your personal taste. He's retro-sci-fi looking with flat, long sections but very detailed. There's rivets and panel lines on him and his head is very HAL 1000ish. The gut hoses are flexible and don't get in the way of movement but it's partially because the waist is a thin connecting rod hidden from view amongst the hoses. He's 6" or 7" scale depending on the figures in your other collection tho the two guns are more 8" Sigma 6 scale.

So what's the verdict? Well, how big is your wallet? If you were lucky enough to find out about the 'drop', the time Bambaland store stocked them before they sold out in 30 minutes you may have just dropped $55 plus shipping. But if you have to buy him on Ebay expect quite a bit more. Our sponsor Big Bad Toy Store has similar ThreeA figures and will probably have Badbot in stock soon. One serious drawback is the six months production time from when you first order ThreeA figures directly. Some people will lose interest waiting for so long or in my case relocate and have to go through the hassle of forwarding a package registered from China. But if highly articulated, designer action figures is your thing then look ThreeA up. They're also doing mainstream licenses like Halo, Metal gear Solid, and Real Steel.