The HALO 3 line of action figures from McFarlane Toys continues to be insanely popular. Honestly, the company literally can't make enough of these things. Series 2 put in a brief appearance at my local retail store, so I managed to snag this ODST by sheer chance.
What gets me is the people that are trying to be completists with this line, at least the various Spartans and other related soldiers. McFarlane is turning out so many various exclusives, and they're flying out of the stores at quantum speed, never mind the fact that some of these exclusives won't even be available in the United States, that anybody stating his intention to obtain every single armored soldier in this line must have resources to rival those of most mega-corporations.
McFarlane Toys is to be commended for creating this cool an action figure line. While I still appreciate what Joyride Studios did with their action figures from Halo and Halo 2, it's evident that McFarlane's take on Halo 3 has proven to be the winner as far as a popularity contest is concerned. I do sort of wish they'd get MORE product to the stores. Certainly it would sell! But until that happens, I'll have to be content with what I can find. In this case, the ODST.
Let me say a word about the packaging. As of Series 2, it's changed, and for the better. Gone is the completely sealed in a plastic bubble with a ridge around it. Instead, these figures are now carded with a plastic bubble on the front. The bubble still comprises the majority of the front of the package, but it is now possible to open the package without getting to a high level of frustration.
The package is a very nice, fairly straightforward design, with the Halo 3 logo at the top, and the figure displayed against a backdrop from the video game. The back of the card presents a character profile, as well as a picture of the figure line-up, which features Master Chief, the ODST, several aliens, and about ten assorted Spartans in various colors and divisions where I might as well enjoy the pictures because I doubt I'll ever see the figures.
The character profile for the ODST reads as follows: ODST (Orbital Drop Shock Trooper) - Orbital Drop Shock Troopers (ODSTs) are an elite branch of the UNSC special forces, who served alongside the Master Chief on "Delta Halo" in the conflict against the amassed forces of the Covenant. Deployed from orbit into some of the most dangerous battle zones of the galaxy, ODST's are a surgical tool in the human arsenal, used primarily for incursion, sabotage, and strategic strikes behind enemy lines.
Okay, that's not bad, but as anyone who has read my reviews knows, I like to try to provide as much character background as possible on any given action figure. I think it helps take the figure out of the realm of a piece of articulated plastic and give him or her a little more personality and history.
And the ODSTs, have one heck of a background...
The Orbital Drop Shock Troopers (abbreviated as ODST and colloquially known as Helljumpers) are a UNSC Marine Corps Special Forces unit. They are renowned for their toughness and take immense pride in their "elite" ethos.
The Orbital Drop Shock Troopers, or "Helljumpers", have their roots in the paratroopers of 20th and 21st century fame, who dropped frequently behind enemy lines to capture buildings, bridges, and other important military and industrial targets in anticipation for a larger advance by more conventional military forces. Such troops were first used in 1939 by the German Wehrmacht in World War II to overrun the Allied defense forces in Holland and the legendary Eben Emaelfortress in Belgium and later in Operation Overlord on June 5th, when two American Airborne Divisions and one British Airborne Brigade landed behind enemy lines in Normandy, France. The ODSTs also seem to have characteristics from US Navy SEALS and the British SAS from today, highly trained professional soldiers working in small teams in extremely high-priority missions.
However, the origin of dropping humans from orbit comes from the Martian Campaign of 2163, where UN Marines were dropped onto Mars in support of UN forces against the Neo-Communist Koslovics. The ODST's seem to have "always been a part of the UNSC." It may be that the participants of the Argyre Planitia campaign were the predecessors to, or early members of, the first ODST units.
ODSTs were known to be operating as early as 2525. The first and most elite division of ODSTs were the 105th Orbital Drop Shock Trooper Division, most known as Helljumpers and his phrase (Feet First into Hell!) which quickly gained a reputation as a brutal and effective fighting force. They are often referred to as elite and seem to have a class of their own, often coming right after the Brutes, Elites, and Spartans.
Barring the personnel of the SPARTAN programs, ODSTs are one of the most effective forms of troops available to the UNSC, and the expectations placed on ODST units made them all-volunteer outfits, with some outsiders regarding such volunteers as 'crazy'. By 2552 their strength had swelled to a larger number of divisions in an attempt to fill the demands of the Human-Covenant War. Orbital Drop Shock Troopers are known for their unorthodox methods of insertion, including orbital drops onto terrestrial environments.
Similar to regular Marines, the ODSTs maintain units of varying strength aboard many UNSC vessels and installations. While they are Human, they are overall, very different from Marines in the sense that they take the most dangerous, suicidal, and high value target missions. They have no physical differences between the Marines, but they are always ready to "Jump Feet First Into Hell" as their motto goes (This motto comes from the intense heat inside the HEV drop pods. The heat inside these pods is what coined the nickname 'Hell Jumpers'), and dive into fights they may not return from, which shows an outstanding level of courage, honor, valor and sometimes, pure insanity. Due to this reputation, some contingents amongst the UNSC Navy believe that the ODST soldiers are peculiar, and the ODSTs think that Navy personnel are cowards, due to the fact that they stay in space, instead of joining in the fight below.
They also drop into areas that are under heavy fire, or are heavily guarded by enemy troops. Their primary objective for these situations is to clear the enemies and set up an LZ for Pelican drop ships to land or deploy Marine reinforcements. Without the use of the ODST clearing an area, the Pelicans would be unable to land. An example of this is on Delta Halo, during the events of Halo 2. The ODSTs, accompanied by the Master Chief, must clear a landing zone so that Pelicans could drop off a Warthog.
You know, that's a whole lot of history for a video game character. Not that I'm not impressed. Indeed I am. This is some very imaginative and creative writing here, even including some connections to real-life history. But when it comes to video games, sometimes I can't help but think -- I remember Pong. I remember Space Invaders. Nobody ever wrote a backstory like this for them...
Still, a good backstory helps to make the characters and the universe in which they exist more interesting, so as I said, I am suitably impressed here. Now, let's consider the figure.
When unpacking the figure, there are a couple of things you should take immediate note of. First of all, if you open the package carefully enough, you can save the backdrop of the card and use it for a display piece. Secondly, please notice that the figure is held in place on the plastic bubble by a couple of black twist-ties that are kind of hard to see because the figure himself is so dark. They're around his arms. I recommend the careful application of wire cutters from the back. Thirdly, you practically have to turn the bubble inside out to extract the figure, which should be done with some caution, as sometimes McFarlane figures can be a little on the fragile side.
However, if you have done all of these things successfully, you have freed your ODST. One of the first things you'll notice, if you have any of the Master Chiefs or other Spartans, is that the ODST is a fair bit shorter. The average Master Chief/Spartan figure stands almost 5-1/4" in height. The ODST is more like 4-3/4". And a half inch at that scale is pretty noticeable. This doesn't mean that the ODST forces are hiring runts. Master Chief and the other Spartans are notably large individuals. Despite their prevalence in the concept and in the game, they should not be taken as the human "default" height-wise. They're big guys, all of them. The ODST is probably more of a standard human height, really.
Now, I recommend gently testing the articulation points. The ODST is advertised as having 16 points of articulation, but for whatever reason, McFarlane-made figures can sometimes stick a bit. Add to that the fact that the design of these armored troopers, much like Star Wars Clone Troopers, but really even moreso, makes it fairly easy to conceal the articulation points within the armor design, and you might not be entirely certain just where and how this figure is supposed to be able to move.
The ODST is poseable at the head, arms, upper arm swivel and moderate outward movement, elbows, wrists, waist, back and forth leg movement at the hip, upper leg swivel, knees, and ankles. Honestly, the design of the arms and legs, at the shoulders and hips, is like nothing I've previously encountered. It works well, but it can be a little stubborn. I'm all for good, tight articulation, but at the same time, I am always reluctant to force a part to move. I have no desire for broken plastic.
Visually, the ODST is a very cool figure. He's also very dark colored. This uniform looks like it was designed by Snake Eyes from the G.I. Joe Team. Lots of black and dark metallic grey. The helmet is black, very stylish and futuristic, and unlike the gold-visored helmets of the Spartans, the ODST has a blue visor. It does a nice job of setting him apart, as such.
The bulk of the armored suit, which covers pretty much the entire figure, is either black or very dark metallic grey. However, a few sections of it, the lower arms and the upper legs, are actually a camouflage pattern of black and metallic grey. I won't say it exactly adds much COLOR to the figure, but it adds a little extra visual detail.
The ODST is wearing a very complex apparatus around his torso, which appears to consist of chest padding and some sort of equipment around his mid-region, which I am assuming is whatever allows him to survive being dropped out of orbit onto a planetary surface.
One thing about McFarlane Toys' designers -- they're detail freaks. This is a good thing. The level of sculpted and painted detail on this figure is enough to give you a headache and eyestrain. The equipment around the torso is very finely detailed. There are tiny little bits of detail all over this figure. Apparent buckles on the upper leg armor. Some little widget on the back of the helmet. Carefully crafted segments on the boots. All of this has been very nicely detailed and, where necessary, very neatly painted. If you're into superbly sculpted and detailed figures -- and neatly painted ones -- this is what you want.
The ODST comes with a single weapon, which is quite different than the futuristic-but-plausible hardware I'm used to seeing Master Chief and the Spartans tote around. The rifle that the ODST comes with is fairly conventional-looking. It has some futuristic attributes to it, but hot as much as some.
The package simply lists this as a "Battle Rifle", and I couldn't find anything in the ODST entry on Halopedia that specifically discussed weapons. It discusses their body suit, their entry vehicle, and things like that, but not their weaponry per se. There was a mention that ODST's sometimes act as marksmen, so one would have to assume that this is a good and accurate weapon. It's a little over 2" long, very nicely sculpted and detailed.
So, what's my final word here? This is an abundantly cool figure. He may look a little short next to a lineup of Master Chiefs and Spartans, but he's still an important part of the HALO universe, and McFarlane Toys has done a really nice job with him. I'm not saying it's going to be especially easy to find him, but if you can track one of these guys down, the HALO 3 ORBITAL DROP SHOCK TROOPER most definitely has my enthusiastic recommendation!