One property that gets tons of coverage in my reviews is Halo. One aspect of Halo that has gotten zero coverage up until now is the Mega Bloks arm of its merchandising. Me and Halo Mega Bloks got off on the wrong foot, as I had some truly awful experiences with the first wave of the line and it’s, uh… shall we say, ‘explosive’ durability? To be blunt, the quality of the first wave of Halo Mega Bloks was so bad that the sets were prone to literally exploding into pieces in your hands as you built the vehicles. Gradually things have improved in quality, and the line has expanded to include different subsets and concepts like the very cool Drop Pods. The Drop Pod assortments began solely including ODSTs, but as part of the 2012 Halo Mega Bloks expansion, we’re getting Covenant Drop Pod sets as well, including the Elite Zealot Drop Pod I’m reviewing tonight. Thankfully, in most ways this set is superior to the Mega Bloks sets of old…
I’ll talk about the three main segments of this set (Halo Mega Bloks #96933) individually: the mini-figure, Drop Pod, and weapons.
The featured mini-figure of this set is our first Zealot Elite. He has all the standard articulation we’ve come to expect from the Mega Bloks Elites, because, well–he has exactly the same mold. I’ll talk about the issues with that later, but as far as articulation goes, it’s no sin–the standard Elite mold has an excellent 12 points of articulation: ball-jointed neck, ball-jointed shoulders, ball-jointed hips, swivel knees, swivel wrists, swivel waist, and swivel elbows. For a figure that’s less than two inches tall, that’s pretty terrific and allows a surprising amount of playability. The shiny gold paint on the Zealot Elite is far and away the best paint ever on any generic Elite released in the Mega Bloks line, although perhaps not as nice as the metallic silver on the Arbiter. The paint deco is clean and shockingly well-done for such a small figure.
The Drop Pod is the largest and (presumably) most expensive part of this set. The detailing on this Drop Pod is phenomenal. I’m used to the standard vehicles in the Halo Mega Bloks line where the deco consists of a sheet of stickers you apply, and this completely blows the deco on those sets out of the water. The Drop Pod has a scaly texture (like that of the Elites) running all over it, and is molded in the typical Covenant dark purple. However, there’s a ton of silver and black battle damage and battle scars covering every side of the Drop Pod. You get the very real feeling that this is a Drop Pod that’s been to Hell and back (and it probably has).
The front of the Drop Pod has a hinge that allows it to flip open, revealing the Zealot Elite inside. With his full armory snapped into place beside him, the Zealot Elite makes an intimidating opponent and is ready to spring into battle at a moment’s notice. The Zealot Elite plugs securely into his seat, and the effect of opening the front hatch to reveal him is great fun. I really enjoy just leaving him inside the Drop Pod with the hatch open, where he looks super cool. The Drop Pod can be a little unstable sitting on its own, but that problem is remedied by an included flat piece that works as a stand.
The weapons in this set include a beam rifle, needler, and plasma grenades. The plasma grenades are a huge upgrade over the non-painted, purple-molded plasma grenades that we’ve been given a plethora of times in the line, while the beam rifle’s paint deco has been likewise improved with multiple paint apps. The biggest prize here is the needler, which the package advertises as being an all-new weapon. I coulda swore that I had a bunch of needlers already, but I don’t have a single one in my collection, so it seems Mega was telling the truth. The needler is perfectly-scaled and nicely-detailed and painted, and looks great being wielded by the Zealot Elite. This is the first release of the needler and the best release of the beam rifle and plasma grenades, so I’ve got nothing to complain about with these.
This pack retails for about $10. A blind-bagged Halo figure sells individually for $3, so the Drop Pod is essentially costing $7 here. That entails that the Drop Pod should be as good as a $7 Star Wars or G.I. Joe figure, and it quite simply is not even close. It’s a cute little two pieces of plastic with a hinge, but it’s simply not worth that much. At $8 this set would be a great value–at $10 it’s 20% overpriced, and I feel a whole lot less good about it.
I understand that there is only so much that can be done in a figure scale this small, but it’s sheer laziness on Mega Brands’ fault to try to pass off the Combat Elite as a Zealot by just painting it gold. Unless Mega Brands wanted to make a Halo 2 Zealot–and let’s be honest, they didn’t plan it that way–then the Zealot should not be wearing the exact same armor as every other Elite. It’s lame, cheap, and reprehensible. They’re trying to pull this same crap with some of the Spartan armor permutations as well with the 2012 toys, and it’s annoying as hell. Mega Brands uses the same molds over and over and over–they can afford a different freaking head sculpt for the Elite Zealot when you take into consideration that they’ll probably release at least another half-dozen colors of the Zealot.
The new Covenant Drop Pods started shipping to retail at the end of 2011 and are surprisingly difficult to find at retail. The only retail stores that I know of who carry them are Toys R Us and some Wal-Marts. Online options are also limited, as the usual stores like BigBadToyStore and Entertainment Earth also don’t carry these.
The best choice for getting newly-released Halo Mega Bloks sets is usually ebay. Sets hit ebay as soon as they hit retail, and they usually sell for retail price or sometimes even below. Check out all of the current ebay listings for the Mega Bloks Zealot Elite Drop Pod by clicking here!
Amazon has both the Zealot Elite Covenant Drop Pod and the Combat Elite Covenant Drop Pod available from a variety of sellers with free shipping right now. Items go in and out of stock with lightning speed over at Amazon, so you’ll have to click through to check the current pricing.
Overall: This Zealot Elite Covenant Drop Pod set hits most of the right notes, but falls short in a couple ways. The battle damage deco on the Drop Pod itself looks absolutely stellar, and I am amazed at how much better the painted-on battle damage looks than the stickers that come with the larger vehicles. The new needler is extremely welcome and I’m thrilled to have it, and this set also includes bar none the best versions of the plasma grenades and beam rifle ever released in the Halo Mega Bloks line. The Elite Zealot itself has one of the nicest and shiniest paint jobs of any Elite ever, and really does look great–except that he’s just an inaccurate Combat Elite painted gold, of course. The set is also priced about $2 more than I think is a fair value for it. There’s a lot to love about this, and so long as you can deal with the corner-cutting on the Zealot Elite and don’t mind that the set is slightly overpriced, Zealot Elite Covenant Drop Pod set is recommended.