This week I’m stepping back into one of my favorite realms of toys to review: Halo Reach action figures by McFarlane Toys! I previously reviewed figures from the Halo Reach Preview Wave, Series 1, Series 2, the Covenant Ghost, and the Warthog vehicle. It’s hard to believe we’re only a year into the Halo Reach line and already have around four dozen different action figures in the line. Even with all those figures already out there, as soon as I saw pictures of the prototype for the Elite General figure online, I thought he was going to be one of the best and most stunning figures in the whole toy line. And it turns out he is pretty good. But like Humpty-Dumpty, I may have set this Elite General on a pedestal a little too high…
The way that the hierarchy in the Covenant works, the more ornate and complicated the armor worn by a member, the higher their rank. So with the Elite General being the highest-ranking officer in the Covenant released so far, it stands to reason that he also has the most elaborate armor. The all-new General armor is both sophisticated and imposing, and has been expertly sculpted by the team over at McFarlane Toys. I love the “rhino horn”-like helmet, and seeing it brings back memories of playing the game and being terrified every time I encountered this formidable opponent.
Unlike many bigger toy companies, McFarlane Toys rarely falters with the quality of their paintwork, and this is no exception. All of the lines and colors have been carefully applied, there’s no paint slop anywhere to be seen, and even the small areas of the Elite General’s eyes have been masterfully painted.
As is befitting of a general in the Covenant army, this figure comes with one of the most rare and powerful weapons in the Halo Universe: the Fuel Rod Cannon, making its first appearance in the Halo Reach line. We had Fuel Rod Cannons in the previous Halo 3 line by McFarlane Toys, but this is an all-new one made from scratch to reflect the appearance of the weapon in Reach. McFarlane could have cheaped out and thrown in the Halo 3 one, but I appreciate that they took the high road here and did this weapon the right way. How well the Fuel Rod Cannon works with the Elite General is another issue, but we’ll get to that later on…
First and foremost, I disagree completely with the color palette McFarlane Toys chose for this figure. While the paintwork itself is impeccable, it seems to me that McFarlane Toys reversed the color scheme for this figure. In-game, it definitely appears that the Elite General’s armor is gold with yellow highlights, whereas this figure is primarily yellow with gold highlights. As a result, the Elite General comes off looking more like a big banana running at you than a highly-decorated leader of his troops. This kind of mistake is unacceptable from McFarlane Toys. I don’t know if McFarlane Toys just botched this paint job or if they consciously chose to reverse the colors to save money on paint, but this really bothers me and greatly detracts from the appearance and quality of this action figure.
Like the other Elites in the Halo Reach line, the Elite General has stability issues due to his hoof-like feet. The Elite General in particular seems to be more top-heavy than most, perhaps due to his larger and heavier helmet than the other Elites released thus far. It’s heavily irritating to take 10 minutes posing this figure in your display and finally get him to stand, only for him to tumble over 2 minutes later and take half the Covenant army on display with him. I’m really hoping that McFarlane will take quality control of these into consideration and step back and re-engineer the feet for the Elite body so that future figures don’t have this problem.
Astoundingly, McFarlane chose to entirely leave this hotly-anticipated figure out of the case-packs that shipped to stores with Halo Reach Series 4 exclusives: namely Toys R Us, Target, and Gamestop. As a result, this figure only shipped to Wal-Mart, online stores, and other small retailers, causing this figure to be frustratingly difficult to find at retail and more expensive than most Halo Reach figures on the aftermarket. I’ve never seen him in a retail store myself, whereas I have probably seen several hundred helmetless Jorge figures, so this is certainly a miscalculation of McFarlane Toys’ part.
The only weapon (besides the ubiquitous plasma grenade) that the Elite General comes with is a Fuel Rod Cannon, which ordinarily would be a big positive since fuel rod cannons are hard to come by in the Reach toyline. Unfortunately, this figure commits a serious toy faux pas–the Elite General cannot hold the Fuel Rod Cannon in any way that the gun is meant to be held. At all. The way that his fingers are molded on his hand, and the way that the cannon’s trigger handle is molded, it is physically impossible for the Elite General to hold the Fuel Rod Cannon properly in any way. You can sorta lodge the handle between his fingers, but it’s angled strangely, falls off at a pin drop, and looks pretty silly. I don’t know what figure McFarlane engingeered this gun to be held by, but it sure isn’t any of the Elites.
“Where Can I Buy It?!”
This is one of the most aggravating non-exclusive Halo figures to find at retail in recent history, as it’s not available at the usual sources for Halo figures like Toys R Us, Target, and Gamestop. I ordered mine online, as I’ve never seen him on a store shelf. Right now, Amazon has him in stock for a couple bucks more than you’d pay for him at retail. I wasted a lot of time and gas driving around to different Wal-Marts looking for the Elite General before not finding him and purchasing him online myself, and I kind’ve wish I’d just purchased him online in the first place.
Overall: What initially looked to be one of the most thrilling Halo action figures ends up disappointing those high expectations. The Elite General is an impressive action figure with excellent sculpting and paintwork, but a number of little factors such as instability, a swapped-color paint palette, lack of a packed-in weapon he can use, and frustrating distribution end up bringing him down somewhat. He adds a lot of color and uniqueness to my shelf of Covenant , so I absolutely don’t regret buying him, but this figure could have been much better with some minor retooling. The Elite General is a cool-looking action figure and a must for Halo fans, but definitely not one of the best-designed figures in the great Halo Reach line.