Life In Plastic: RETRO TOY REVIEW: Halo Spartan and Jackal (Joyride and McFarlane)

halo-jackalvsspartan

Ah, Halo! You know, the series actually has some good mechanics and cool atmosphere and fun gameplay… provided you go single player. Try multi, and you’ll be inundated with pre-teen racists screaming into their mikes. Such is life! And I used to enjoy Halo 2. It was new at one time, kiddies!

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Anyway, today is kind of a fun thing – a friend of mine asked if I could review some toys for him, so I said sure! And here we are now with two random loose Halo figures.

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As it turns out, two companies produced Halo toys at different times. For Halo through Halo 2, it was Joyride Studios. From halo 3 on, it has been McFarlane Toys. The figures are really in different styles, and even scales – McFarlane’s are in a smaller 5-inch scale, and take a completely different tactic for texturing and paint.

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So, we’ve got a blue Spartan from Halo 2 (Joyride) and a Jackal Sniper from Halo 3 (McFarlane). Jackals are the skinny little sniper aliens – and they’re small, so the scale difference actually evens itself out here. So, how do these guys stand up? Let’s find out!

 

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PACKAGING: ***1/2

Joyride’s figures came in gigantic blister packs which, although not terribly super-unique, did the job of keeping the logo and brand visible. Also, the figures had some nice poses in the box.

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The McFarlane figures have clamshells. Annoying, surprisingly minimalist clamshells. These are hard to open, and although they do show off the figure, its plastic tray just seems odd – especially with all that blank space.

 

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SCULPT: ****

And now we look at the big differences between the companies! The Joyride Spartan is built in a 7-inch scale, easily in par with NECA’s Aliens, Predators, and whatnot. His texturing is mostly smooth in imitation of the game’s 3D model, and due to the nature of his armor it does not seem cheap. All of the details are right where they need to be, making this figure pretty much entirely what it should be. The plastic used for its body feels a little light, but it is definitely sturdy.

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The Jackal is another story, with its exposed skin and Todd McFarlane aesthetic. His skin is very wrinkly and leathered, matching a real creature and – even though it is separate form the 3D model – making the figure look alive and real. The face is especially awesome, combining so much personality in one simple little visage. He’s a skinny, rangy little weasel of a monster, and you can just see that annoying little smirk when he’s about to shoot you from afar. Argh, SNIPERS!

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PAINT: ****

At first glance, the Spartan seems like it has a lot of flat paint, but this is actually a pretty good design decision. The blue on its armor is slightly pearlized, so it comes out looking like car paint! It’s a great effect, and something that fits this kind of futuristic armor. The visor is reflective (vac-metallized? Maybe), and all the in-between plating joints look like rubber, or leather, or whatever the material is supposed to be. He also has a company insignia on his shoulder – no, not a corporation, more of a squad thing. Just look at that ace of spades!

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The Jackal is another story entirely. Primarily tan (as he should be), the Jackal also has a pretty complex pattern of spots and freckles on his body, giving him a much-needed realistic texture. His armor and cybernetic eye are just fine, and honestly the skin is the biggest draw – everything is good, but this goes above and beyond the video game’s 3D model to create a more realistic appearance. Also, his eye is wonderfully buggy.

 

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ARTICULATION: ****

The Spartan has ball-and-socket shoulders, ball-jointed head, ankles, wrists, torso, and hips, hinged elbows and knees, swivel thighs, and swivel upper arms. This is pretty good – you can pose him prett much however you want, including properly holding his gun! My only possile compaint is how the legs feel a little loose on this figure, so standing him can be difficult.

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The Jackal has hinged elbows, ball-and-socket knees, ankles, and upper arms, swivel shoulders and wrists, and a ball-jointed torso. He’s also pretty flexible (a miracle for McFarlane), and is mostly sturdy, but his legs and ankles have a pretty big looseness problem. Getting this guy to stand in a sturdy manner takes a surprising amount of work, and limits his play value a bit. He has some trouble holding his sniper rifle with both hands – but as you can see, it is possible!

 

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ACCESSORIES: ***

Each figure comes with one accessory – one. This is the same regardless of company. One! When everybody knows that in Halo, you carry at least two guns at a time!

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The Spartan comes with a Brute Shot, which almost seems odd – yes, they are super-useful in the game (I always used mine as a bludgeoning weapon), but it is a Covenant weapon. In fact, where’s the Brute who owned it? Despite that, it looks really accurate to the game, and is nice and intimidating in the Spartan’s grip.

(EDIT) It turns out that the Spartan originally came with a shotgun, too.  There’s the two-weapon limit!

 

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The Jackal comes with his sniper rifle because he is a jerk. You know how it goes. You discover snipers when they hit you. His rifle is pretty tiny in his hands, and kind of hard to hold properly, but he does have it. This raises a sad question, though – where’s his shield? Jackals either have sniper rifles or shields, and the lack of a shield just makes it feel like he’s missing something. I get the idea that you need to collect multiples of these guys to acquire each gun, but the weapons seem like an afterthought, and it is very odd for weapons in a shooting game to be an afterthought.

 

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VALUE: ****

Neither of these figures are terribly expensive on the secondary market – see if you can pay under $20.

 

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THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR:

While the figures seem durable, the Joyride one has loose joints, and the McFarlane one has loose ankles. McFarlane toys also have a tendency to break, though the Jackal feels sturdy. So be a little careful!

 

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WHERE TO BUY:

eBay. eeeeeeeeeeeeeeBay.

 

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OVERALL: ****

Hey, these toys are fun! If I were a big halo fan, they’d look good on my shelf. But the thing is, the huge differences in scale and style are pretty obvious – the jackal almost looks like it came out of Halo: The Movie instead of Halo: The Video Game. It’s probably more apparent with figures meant to be the same size, but a Spartan-Jackal mashup still works. And since I like monsters more than people, I could see myself snagging a few Jackals if they came with shields, too.

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One response to “Life In Plastic: RETRO TOY REVIEW: Halo Spartan and Jackal (Joyride and McFarlane)

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