It's said that an army travels on its stomach. Frankly, that doesn't sound terribly practical to me. Armies have tended to travel on foot, on horseback, and on a variety of motorized vehicles. There's no reason to assume that this is going to change in the future, even in the fictional future world of HALO.
For those who don't know, HALO is a series of video games, the most recent being HALO 3, that have managed to rise to the top of the astoundingly diverse world of video games. Master Chief and his friends and enemies have become part of that rare breed that become fairly well known even to those who don't play video games all that much, but have their attention on the general world of pop culture.
According to the backstory for HALO, humans developed faster-than-light travel and colonized hundreds of planets before encountering the alien Covenant in 2525. The Covenant declared humanity an affront to their gods and began destroying human colonies by turning the planet's surface into glass.
This sort of stunt obviously required a defense to be developed, which was the Spartan Project, a means of creating heavily-armored cyborg soldiers -- specifically Master Chief and the Spartans -- to fight the forces of the Covenant.
The first two games were massive hits, and the third was so greatly anticipated that there was a special HALO 3 version of the X-Box 360 game unit. The game was released on September 25, 2007 in Australia, Brazil, India, New Zealand, North America, and Singapore; September 26, 2007 in Europe; and September 27, 2007 in Japan. On the day before its official release, 4.2 million units of Halo 3 were in retail outlets. Halo 3 holds the record for the highest grossing opening day in entertainment history, bringing in $170 million in its first 24 hours, going on to gross $300 million in its first week. More than one million people played Halo 3 on Xbox Live in the first twenty hours. As of January 3, 2008, Halo 3 has sold 8.1 million copies, and was the best- selling video game of 2007 in the U.S.
Probably explains why the recently released action figure line has been so hard to find, too. The toy license for the first two video games was held by Joyride Stuidios, and they produced a superb series of action figures and related items, mostly for the specialty market. I believe the only "general" store that carried Halo products was Toys "R" Us.
For HALO 3, McFarlane Toys is producing the toys, which are ostensibly being more widely distributed, not only to the so-called "specialty" stores, but to Wal-Mart and Toys "R" Us, as well. That is, assuming you can find them. They've been selling as well as the game, if my "luck" has been any indication.
Fortunately, a representative from McFarlane Toys was willing to send me a few sample products for review purposes on MasterCollector. I am most grateful for this.
One of the items included is something that I have not seen in the stores AT ALL. Along with the action figure line, McFarlane Toys is prodiucing a series of miniature vehicles. Hey, even cyborg soldiers probably get tired of marching all over the place. I was sent the Warthog, a vehicle as recognizable in the world of HALO as Master Chief himself.
So, what's a Warthog? Basically, it's the HALO world's counterpart of a Jeep, or perhaps a Hummer. It's described in one online entry as a reconnaissance vehicle, but the thing has a big gun in the back, so I don't think it's only mission is going to be recon. It's designed to carry three troopers, two in the front and one manning the 12.7mm three barreled machine-gun in the back, and honestly, as far as the overall design is concerned, I find the Warthog to be a surprisingly logical extension of existing military vehicles into the future time period of the HALO universe.
Some science-fiction concepts accept wheeled vehicles better than others. Remember those things that turned up in "Star Trek Nemesis"? When had there EVER been a wheeled vehicle in the Star Trek universe? But somebody decided they wanted a car chase... Star Wars has had its assorted speeders, but it wasn't until the Clone Wars that we saw some wheeled vehicles, and they looked pretty cool.
The Warthog is impressive. It works well within the HALO universe. Somehow, its design doesn't look too far removed from the Spartan armor of Master Chief himself. The vehicle is sleek, low to the ground, and looks built for speed and the quick handling of rough terrain as much as anything, although the big gun in the back shows that it also means business.
The upper body of the Warthog is somewhat curved in design. There doesn't seem to be that much protection, although one has to believe that the body is made from some sort of armor plating. There are no doors on the vehicle, and just a low front windshield. This is not designed as a troop transport. Indeed, I can see where the description of "recon vehicle" comes from. There are two seats, and a steering wheel and control panel.
The front of the vehicle has a couple of nasty-looking hooks on it, as well as a winch with a long chain. There are no axles. Instead, each wheel seems to be mounted individually, inside a protective housing. This is a design element that makes a great deal of sense. If you're in a wheeled vehicle in a battle situation, possibly behind enemy lines on a recon mission, the one thing you're going to want to protect other than your own hide is your means of getting the heck out of there in a hurry if you have to.
There is a sort of rollbar structure over the otherwise open top of the vehicle, although I tend to believe that if this vehicle overturned, the biggest concern would be what would happen to the tri-barreled machine gun in the back. This is a large and elevated piece of equipment.
McFarlane Toys has done a really superb job with this miniature. It is almost precisely 4" in length. The body has been molded in a dark military green, and given an overspray of tan mud-splats (which somewhat hysterically don't include the clear windshield. I have this mental image of a couple of Spartans cleaning the window with rags and bottles of Windex before heading back to base...). The interior of the vehicle is neatly detailed, with ridged seats with painted color down the center, and other painting detailing.
The tri-barreled maching gun, which rotates on its base, is particularly well-detailed, with all three barrels of the gun clearly apparent, and some painted detailing on the ammo belt coming out of the large ammo drum attached to the base of the machine gun. The antenna in the back of the vehicle has a little red tip. Interestingly, the antenna is made from a very flexible, rubbery plastic. Probably to keep anyone from poking their eye. The headlights and tail-lights have also been painted, as has some detailing around the winch.
The Warthog has four large tries, also mud-splattered, but extremely well-detailed. And all four wheels do turn.
The vehicle is mounted to a ball-and-socket post on a display base. The base is nicely made, with the HALO 3 logo emblazoned on it and painted in a couple of shades of blue to give a sort of "marbleized" effect. It's a nice base, but it doesn't appear that the vehicle can be removed from it, which I think is a little unfortunate. The post is very narrow. I'm almost surprised it can support the vehicle.
Here's the thing -- the other two vehicles in the assortment, mentioned on the package back, include a Brute Chopper and something called a Ghost. These both appear to be FLYING vehicles. It makes sense for them to be mounted on a post on a display base. The Warthog, not so much. I may, at some point, decide to detach it, even if I have to sacrifice the post to do it. I doubt I'll be the only one doing so.
I have heard a rumor, and at this point that's all it is, that McFarlane Toys might consider a Warthog vehicle that would be TO SCALE with the new figures. I would certainly encourage them to produce such an item. This wasn't something that was really possible with the Joyride figures. At nearly 9" in height, a Warthog vehicle would have been too large to really be workable, especially in the "specialty" market that Joyride largely served.
However, the McFarlane Master Chief and assorted Spartans are 5-1/4" in height. That's not a criticism. Joyride chose their size, McFarlane Toys chose theirs. However, the smaller size of the new figures DOES make it more possible to make a Warthog vehicle to scale with the Master Chiefs and Spartans, that they could actually ride around in, and certainly the figures are well-articulated enougjh to take a seat behind the wheel -- or in the passenger seat -- and certainly stand in the gunnery position in the back.
Like I said, definitely worth serious consideration...
Meanwhile, I have to say that this Warthog miniature is a really nice piece of work. It's superbly well detailed, nicely painted, and it looks cool. I honestly haven't seen ANY of these miniature vehicles in the stores, but then again, all of the HALO 3 toys have been getting bought up so quickly that I might've blinked and missed it.
If you're lucky enough to find it, though, the HALO 3 WARTHOG vehicle
definitely has my enthusiastic recommendation. It is a cool part of
any HALO collection!