If you had told me that the Halo Mega Bloks line would live into its fourth year after the first wave of sets came out, I would have said it was unlikely. If you’d said I’d be reviewing two of their sets in one week of said fourth year, I’d have said you were insane. I love the Halo property, but the first Mega Bloks wave was of such poor quality that vehicles like the Banshee would literally explode into pieces in my hands as I was building them. Gratefully, the quality has improved at a tremendous rate this past year and Halo Mega Bloks is now one of my most-anticipated toy lines for 2012. I reviewed the impressive Zealot Elite Covenant Drop Pod earlier this week, and tonight I’m back with a more traditional vehicle set: the Revenant Assault with Bubble Shield!
Let’s start by assuaging my biggest fear with this set: Both the Revenant and the Bubble Shield build nicely and are structurally strong and stable. I can carry around either without fear of the item shattering back into bloks in my hands, for which I am eternally grateful. Every last speck of fragility from the earliest Halo Mega Bloks sets is gone here, making the sets infinitely more enjoyable for both children and adult enthusiasts. If you gave up on this line in its first year due to the “less than sturdy” builds, you can safely give this line another try.
The build itself is pretty simple. It took me about two hours to fully build the set, although I’m quite a slow and inefficient builder. I had a lot of problems with the stickers with this set, so I probably spend close to an hour fighting with those as well. Everything goes together logically and the instructions are more than adequate this time out, whereas in the past a couple steps were sometimes not clearly labeled or incorrect.
The set includes one vehicle (the mighty Covenant Revenant), one large accessory (the Bubble Shield), and three mini figures (Blue HAZOP/Grenadier Spartan, Blue Elite Combat, and a White Elite Ultra). This is the first release of an Elite Ultra figure in the Mega Bloks line, and the new head sculpt on it looks fantastic and really makes the figure stand out. This may also be the first Grenadier Spartan put out in the Mega Bloks line, although I’m not really sure since it’s not even a true Grenadier Spartan figure at all (more on that later).
The main event of this set is obviously the Covenant Revenant, which debuted in Halo Reach. I was pretty psyched the moment this set was announced, as the Revenant is far and away my favorite of all the Covenant vehicles from the games. So I had high hopes for the Mega Bloks version of this vehicle, and I was not let down. The burgundy blocks that predominantly make up the Revenant have a new metallic sheen to them, which looks other-worldly and tremendous. As in the games, the Revenant fits two parallel Covenant warriors, who can peg securely into their seats. The Revenant has a plasma mortar on the back that can either be retracted back into the vehicle or deployed (with a removable blue block to simulate plasma!). The feature is simple, yet effective. The scale on this vehicle looks dead-on, and I really have nothing to complain about with the vehicle itself (though I’ll be discussing its awful stickers shortly).
Another never-before-made-as-a-toy item is the awesome Bubble Shield. As good as McFarlane’s 5″ Halo Reach figures are, the size made it financially unfeasible for McFarlane to produce an activated Bubble Shield in scale with the figures. That’s okay, because as usual, Mega Brands picks up the slack for what McFarlane Toys can’t do. The Bubble Shield is made up of several clear curved pieces of interlocked lattices. I wasn’t sure how well the Bubble Shield was going to hold together, but once you lock it in place, it’s impressively solid. The Bubble Shield’s appearance is fantastic, as you can clearly see the inside of the shield through the transparent, textured force field. The Bubble Shield is my surprise favorite part of this whole set, and I expect to have it used non-stop in my Halo Mega Bloks dioramas from now on.
I have two main concerns with this set: the stickers and the price. I’ll start with the more important of the two: the stickers.
I had a bizarre problem with the stickers in this set that I’ve never had before with a Halo Mega Blocks set: many of the stickers don’t work. Basically, the stickers are made of a heavy enough paper that the adhesive on them cannot hold them down. I have never seen this happen with any Mega Bloks, Lego, G.I. Joe, or other similar toy ever. The problem is so bad that even after adding tacky glue as a little extra adhesive, most of the defective stickers still pull up at the sides. It looks terrible, and I’ve resigned myself to simply going without those stickers on my Revenant. Doing so takes away a lot of the detail of the vehicle, but there’s really nothing else I can do here.
The other predominant concern I have about this set is the price. MSRP on this set was $32.99 plus tax, for a total of $35+ at Target. My “sweet spot” for LEGOs is 10 cents per piece, but since they’re of a lower quality, I expect Mega Bloks to cost less–about 8 cents per piece. This set actually costs more than your standard LEGOs, at 281 pieces and about 12 cents per piece. At $29.99 the set would have still be overpriced, but I’d have been slightly more satisfied with the value–at $32.99 the price is at least 10% too high.
One other thing that less than enticed me about this set is some of the paint choices. The milky white that the Elite Ultra is painted with looks cheap and “toy-like”, and really hurts what is otherwise a terrific figure. His needler is also unpainted, and nowhere near as high-quality as the fully-painted one that debuted in the Zealot Elite Drop Pod set.
Slapping a red stripe of paint on a helmet does NOT make it a different helmet, Mega Brands. The very idea that they stuck a stripe on the HAZOP helmet and called it the Grenadier helmet is insulting and stupid. I’m not asking for Mega Brands to freshly sculpt every single character they release, but sculpting individual Spartan helmets is an absolute necessity.
Considering that a real Grenadier helmet would probably have gotten used at least a dozen times in various sets and paint schemes this year, the new helmet’s tooling cost would more than pay for itself and be justified. It’s sheer cheapness and corner-cutting, and those are not traits that I like to condone or commend.
“Where Can I Buy It!?”
The Revenant Assault is part of the first Halo Mega Bloks wave of 2o12. I had to have this set pulled from the back at Target using the DPCI number, as I haven’t seen this set naturally on any store shelf yet. and is being found sporadically. I haven’t heard of the set being sighted in any other stores besides Target as of writing.
The best and (surprisingly) cheapest source for most new mass-release Halo Mega Bloks sets is actually ebay. You can usually find the newest sets there for right about actual retail cost. Check out the current ebay listings for the Halo Mega Bloks Revenant Attack by clicking here!
As of the time of writing, Amazon is one of the only online stores that has the Revenant Attack set in-stock. They have the set from various sellers with free shipping, but prices and availability change rapidly on Amazon so you’ll need to check for the current specifics.
Overall: I have some mixed feelings about this set. The Bubble Shield looks incredibly slick and spectacular, and the Revenant itself is a great representation of the vehicle. The new metallic sheen to the Revenant’s blocks is a neat effect and adds depth to the vehicle. But on the flipside, it’s insulting that McFarlane thinks Halo fans are too dumb to know a repainted HAZOP helmet is not a Grenadier helmet, and the “Customize!” theme for this year would be more exciting if they gave us something more to customize with than the same head and arms with a red stripe painted on them. The quality of the stickers in this set are unforgivably bad, the paint apps on the Elite Ultra are lacking, and the set is at least $3-$5 overpriced. When it comes down to, this set earns a recommendation with some reservations. If you’re a fan of the games, seeing the Revenant and Bubble Shield finally realized as toys is going to delight you, but be prepared to be somewhat annoyed by the set’s hang-ups.