Monday, 6 May 2013

[Toy] *Review* 3A’s Halo Commander Carter

Toy has posted a new item, '*Review* 3A's Halo Commander Carter'

Youve spent a stupid amount of hours playing it.. your friends have kicked your
butt countless times in it.. your
girlfriend/boyfriend/husband/wife/mother/father have rolled their eyes while you
spent long evenings shooting at things in it.. even your weird red-headed
neighborhas probably heard of it. Iguaranteetheir somehow even weirder kids
have. Id say, its pretty safe to assume that if you or someone you know has
picked up a video game controller in the last decade, youve played or at the
very least heard of the epic video game series, Halo.
It started with Halo: Combat Evolved way back in 2001 (am I alone in thinking
that wasnt that long ago? Also, where did these crows feet come from?) by the
very talented game devs, Bungie. Since then, the Halo franchise has become a
multi-billion (with a b) dollar juggernautfor Microsoft Studios.
I have really fond memories of playing Halo: Combat Evolved on my ugly tan
desktop with its massive CRT and beefy BFG Video card. At the time, I didnt care
much for single player games, but I was a multiplayer fiend and thats what
really hooked me! Since then, Ive picked up each and every Halo game that slips
down the chute, despite opinions of fluctuating creativity and quality.
Microsoft has aknackfor timing Halo releases via some intergalactic series of
happenstance, which somehow seems to coincide with the exact moment I start to
feel a depressing lull in my gaming world.I take comfort in two things when it
comes to Halo games. I know that theyll always be pretty to look at, and I know
that, regardless of how the single player story turns out, Ill be darn sure to
wring my moneys worth out of the multiplayer.
But were not here to talk about video games, and I fear Ive probably gone on too
long already about them. Most of you have probably skipped ahead to the pretty
pictures or are checking out the video preview which requires little to no
active reading skillz. Thats fine, but I feel like I must reward those of you
who have stayed true through the choppy waves of my prattle.. yes, something for
those who have the obvious steel to see this review through to its hallowed
purpose. I offer you, brave reader, anunflinching analysis into what may
potentially be the most epic toy to cross my desk!

To the point! Where were we? OH YES! Halogamesand toys and BILLIONS of
dollars.Despite owning and spending uncountable hours playing every single Halo
game, the only one I ever felt compelled to play its single player through to
the end, was Halo: Reach.
When ThreeA announced it had landed the Halo license, many were surprised that a
character from Reach was to be the first out of the gate, especiallysince that
game came out in 2010. Halo 4 was just around the corner and seemed the much
more obvious choice. For me, I simply thought,Cool, at least theyre starting
with the interesting Spartans. But moreover, I just chalked it up to the idea
that ThreeA, when dealing with their 3rd party licenses, appears to prefer
releasing secondary or less important characters first, before tackling the
Master Chiefs or the Gordan Freemans of said franchise.
Whether or not thats true, Ihaventany evidence. McFarlane Toys and Play Arts Kai
have both released a fullrange of Halo figures, all starting with the main man,
Master Chief. ThreeA went another direction and chose Commander Carter from the
long since bargain-binned Halo Reach.
Regardless of the reasons or the contracts at play, Carter is here.. and I can
promise, youve never seen a Halo figure quite like this.


Brent Ashe must be working overtime over at ThreeA. Since his hire last year,
ThreeAs boxes have a more graphic design flavor, with Ashley Wood occasionally
contributing some original artwork to display on the front. Commander Carters
box goes a route similar to those seen with ThreeAs Real Steel designs, clean
with techy graphics, character specs and icons.

Though its doubtful Ill be leaving it out on display myself, its definitely a
fitting design choice for something pulled from Halos futuristic world.

ThreeA saw it prudent to outfit Carter with a wide selection of armor and weapon
On the armor front, we have two magnetic shoulder pauldrons, two front chest
packs and a belt pack for his back.

Carters mini armory may be missing the iconic Halo magnum, part of the default
starterload-outin multiplayer games of slayer, but what is included doesnt
He has two magnetic frag grenades, a combat knife with sheath and the M392 DMR.


I first peeked Carter at last years SDCC and he knocked my socks off. He was
behind glass, so I couldnt fondle him or pinch his cheeks.. but just from the
looks of him, I wasthoroughlyimpressed. Now that I have him in hand, hes well,
Ill say this: Ihaventspent this much initial time posing and playing with a toy
in at least the last six months.

The details on him just pop from under all that great rusty blue paint. The
sculpt itself is nothing short of fantastic.Ive said it before, Im saying it
again, and I hope to say it many more times down the road; ThreeA has somehow
raised the stakes on its paint work. Each and every extrusion/recess/depression
seems to haveaccuratelypainted edge details and wear marks. On looks alone,
Carter wins my toy collection.

Just the fun I had posing him in various degrees of grenade holding/tossing was
enough to keep me busy for half an hour. When I got tired of that, it was time
to pose him holding and slashing his knife. I kept finding myself trying to
imagine in-game moments to pull poses from. This is part of why Carter wows you,
right out of the box.

Carters articulated fingers make holdings things a breeze for the most part.
Theyre cool to mess with and work great with the knife and nades. I did think
they were a little less than the ideal shape to hold the rifle. Something about
the way they collect when they close keeps the rifle from laying flush to his
palm, which can give him anunnaturallooking grip. Its a little thing that only
the pickiest of the picky would notice.. like me. Still, they get the job done.

While I really dig the articulated fingers, there is something about them that
bugged me. They occasionally fall out. Hey, its better than hearing a snap, but
when they fall out, theres no sound at all,particularlyif youre standing on a
padded surface like carpet. Few things make a toy collector more nervous than
taking a figure out into the woods for aphoto shootwhile its tiny pieces are
falling off all willy-nilly.

Speaking of taking photos, I asked my friend, who happens to be a big Halo fan
and pro photographer, Dallas Nagata White to join me in snapping some cool shots
of Carter in the wild. You can probably tell which ones are hers, because theyre
the really good ones. ;0) We had a great time.. and from the marks on my legs
and arms, so did themosquitos.

Lets talk about Carters articulation a bit. A lot of the stuff youve grown
accustomed to with 1/6 action figures is all here, with a twist.
Carter has a rubber (like?) suit that runs over his entire body, underneath the
sculpted hard surface parts. I think it gives his suit a very natural and
believable look that would be difficult toimitateotherwise. With that in mind, I
expected some limitations in howposeablehed be. What I didnt expect was, well..
Ill get to that.

Carters arms have all the articulation you could need for basically any natural
pose you may want. His neck is the same. Where things start to get odd is around
his pelvis. First off, his waist doesnt bend.. scratch that, it bends.. it just
doesnt stay bent. Theres flex to it, but its so minor Im not sure its meant to
bend at all there, simply restricted by the suit or if Im making it do
unintended things.

So lets just chalk the waist up as bendy, but not really. I can live with that.
The thing thats really strange is the hip articulation. You can almost get
Carters legs out into a split as well as push them into a fairly wide running
man stride. The thing is, theres nothing there catching the joint. Its just,
loose. The moment you let go, it flops back to an almost neutral standing
position. Check out our video preview at the top of this review for a better
look at what Im talking about.
The good news is, his knees and particularly his ankles have really nice,
flexible, but firm joints. So by working the two of those together with his
loosey-goosey hips.. you can actually manage some decent poses. Also, despite
the hips and some wobble, Carter is really easy to pose and pretty darn stable
when standing.

One of the biggest features of Carter is the hidden magnetic points in his
armor. Its a fantastic idea that perfectly mirrors the way Spartans carry gear
in-game. It looks great and works well.. almost.
The shoulder pauldrons click on and stay put fairly well. The same can be said
for the pack that sits at the small of his back. But honestly, all the magnets
are just a little too weak.

One of the two biggest culprits is the shoulder knife, whose sweet spot on his
shoulder is so small, the slightest errant jiggle will knock it free. But even
worse than that is the magnets meant to hold his rifle in place. Two small
magnets on the top of his back line up with two small magnets on the rifle and
lock it into place. Except, it really seems like one magnet is either smaller or
weaker than the other and tends to come unlocked very easily. Theweightof the
rifle takes care of the rest and given the fairly delicate nature of the gun
itself, its not likely to survive a steep fall from a shelf or table top.

The magnets that hold the grenades in place arent that much better, but I didnt
seem to have the same problem with them being knocked off. Also, theyre sturdy
little round fellahs that can take hit when they do fall.
Unlike everything else, the two included chest packs are notmagnetized. Instead,
they simply clip into two small slots on Carters chest.Strangelyenough, one pack
stayed onincrediblywell while the other seemed to fall of at the smallest nudge.
In the end, I left that one off for convenience.

All said, Id recommend removing all the delicate bits before posing or
transporting Carter to reduce the risk of something falling and breaking.

The last thing I want to touch on is the light features of Carter. Ill start
with the bad, then work my way to the good.
First off.. the instructions call for you to insert 3 tiny batteries per the
back of each arm. You WILL curse. You will throw things in unfettered rage. They
will fly all over the room and under things that have not seen daylight in
years. About 20 mins in (yup, 20) the tension coil in the back of Carters left
arm snapped. I almost lost it like, my mind AND the coil.
So, I decided to just try 2 batteries instead of the 3. After they were in
place, I slid the broken piece of coil back in best I could and viola! The
lights (or should I say light, seriously, that much work for one tiny bicep
light!) came on and worked just fine. Im sure the life of them will be greatly
decreased as it calls for 3, but Ill take my chances.
Moving onto the next arm with my revised plan, tragedy stuck. It didnt work. The
light would not come on. I swapped out different batteries, moved things around,
everything. In fact, I managed to get all three installed and it still didnt
work. Thats when I noticed the split at the back seam of his arm. You can see
from the pic that its clearly not meant to be that way. This is probably a good
spot for me to bring up the purple-ish tape you see in some of these photos. You
see, once I broke the paint seal on the battery cover for this arm, I wouldnt
snap back into place securely due to the warped plastic in the surrounding area.
The tape is what I used to prevent myself from losing the cover.

(Ive already contacted CS and it is a defect specific to my figure and not
something you should have to worry about)
Unlike those tiny little devils, the batteries for the body of Carter are a lot
(understatement) lessaggravatingto put in. His back pops open with relative ease
and the two batteries slide into place. The thing I dont like about it is that,
unlike the arms, you have to open that same panel up to access the lights
switch. Its really inconvenient.

But when you finally do emerge, blistered and bruised, and you get the LED
lights on.. man does he look great.
REALLY great.

I wanted to give you guys an idea of how big Carter is. Heres a quick pic of one
of Ashley Woods Tomorrow Kings and Damtoys Spade J standing next to him for

Hey there, big fellah!

ThreeA has without question released the most impressive looking Halo toy yet.
Impeccable details, fantastic paint, etc.. its all here and it all looks
amazing.Even with the issues I had, Im still a big fan of this toy. Ill no doubt
add the next one to my collection and the next one after that. Thats not
stopping me from hoping they improve a few things of course.

The body has some good articulation and then some that just doesnt make any
sense. The rubber isnt the problem, its the hips themselves. They just dont
catch at any point to stick in a position. Theyre almost completely loose. While
it apparently doesnt hinder his balance at all thanks to a generous ankle and
knee joint, it definitely limits the kind of poses you can get out of him. It
also seems like something that could have been easilyavoided by just giving
Carter regular hip joints!

I really like the magnet feature. All the parts fit naturally and look really
great. Swapping off pieces of armor so easily is just a lot of fun. But they
need to be stronger so they hold in place what theyre supposed to hold in place.
The more delicate bits like the rifle are at a pretty big risk of falling and
breaking, as is.

Delicate. Thats not a word Id normally use to describe a Spartan, but honestly..
thats a bit how Carter feels. The base figure itself is solid enough, sure. But
with the loose wobble of his hips, the fingers falling out of place when you
move them and the magnets not being strong enough to hold things in place well
enough to endure a vaguely moderate bump, its difficult to describe him any
other way.

Hiccups and all, Im really looking forward to seeing what ThreeA does next with
their Halo license. Theyve already done a really great, if flawed, job setting
the tone this time around with Carter. If I refer back to my original statement
about this figure, before the batteries, loose hips and weak magnets distracted
me, I had fun with Carter. Spending all that time just seeing what was possible
with him was nothing but pure joy.

I have little doubt the skilled ladies and gents at ThreeA willimprove on the
groundwork laid out with Carter. Even now, Im looking over at him and trying to
imagine just how amazing hed look on my shelf, flanked by Jorge and Emile. Now
thats going to be some seriously epic stuff.


Everything looks fantastic, spot-on sculpt and a clever use of a variety of
materials give a very believable look
Paint application is top notch, some of 3As best
The LED light feature (body) really looks amazing
Magnet attached accessories are super cool and I want more!
Sturdy and easy to balance
Articulated fingers are super cool
Those frag grenades
A heck of a lotta fun to mess with


Magnets arent nearly as strong as they should be
The very odd freeballn hip joint situation
The instructions ludicrous suggestion that we struggle to jam 3 tiny batteries
into that impossibly small area, when two work just as well (though theyll
certainly be shorter lived)
I wish the chest packs didnt block some of the LED lights
Switch for armor lights or ANY lights should be external and easy to access

Massively huge thanks to ThreeA for giving me a playdate with Carter.
A huge thanks to Dallas Nagata White for hanging out and taking some fantastic
photos! Everyone be a love and go check out more of her stuff
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