Of all the items I thought would be a total pain to find at retail this year that I would end up breaking down and buying online, the Halo Mega Bloks Combat Elite Covenant Drop Pod was toward the bottom of the list. The first wave of Covenant Drop Pods started appearing at retail in late 2011, and I finally found and reviewed the Zealot Elite Covenant Drop Pod back at the start of January. I assumed that I’d be able to find and review its Combat Elite counterpart a couple days later, but things just didn’t work out that way. After rifling through several million ODST Drop Pods at Wal-Mart and Toys R Us over the last two months, I gave up and bought the Combat Elite Drop Pod off Amazon for $11. I wish I had just ordered it months ago–not only because I would have saved myself a ton of gas and aggravation, but also because the little set is a ton of fun to play with as well…
I’ll talk about the three main segments of the Combat Elite Drop Pod set (Halo Mega Bloks #96932) individually: the mini-figure, Drop Pod, and weapons.
We’ll start with my favorite part and the one area where this Combat Elite set absolutely blows away the Zealot Elite set: the weapons. I think there was some miscommunication with the packaging department on these Drop Pods, because they mislabeled the Needler in the Zealot Elite set as being an all-new weapon when they’ve been out for a while. Meanwhile, there’s no labeling on the Combat Elite Drop Pod set to tell you so, but the Fuel Rod Gun really is a fantastic all-new weapon in the line. The Fuel Rod Gun is huge and impressive, and is literally as large as the Combat Elite himself! The Fuel Rod Gun is molded in yellow with black and silver paint apps, and comes with a really cool clip of translucent green fuel rods that can be inserted into the top of the gun. Not even the McFarlane Toys’ Fuel Rod weapons have had a removable cartridge, so to see that detail in the tiny Mega Bloks scale is just crazy awesome.
In addition to the stellar Fuel Rod Gun, this set also includes an Energy Sword and a Plasma Pistol. The Energy Sword is a mix of clear plastic and translucent blue plastic. It’s not that special, as we’ve gotten the Energy Sword in a ton of sets from Blind Packs to Mongooses to Wraiths to Combat Units and so forth over the years. It’s always one of my favorite Covenant weapons, though, so I’m content to add another to the armory. Finally, the Plasma Pistol is molded in purple with yellow and gray paint deco. I have a ton of Plasma Pistols, but most of them are the unpainted purple ones. The painted weapons look so much more detailed and high-quality, and I’m always excited to get extra painted weapons to replace old non-painted ones with.
The featured mini-figure of this set is a Combat Elite. We’ve had… a number… of Combat Elites in the Halo Mega Bloks line. An uncountable number. Even so, this one brings at least something new to the table, and that’s the milky white color scheme on a Combat Elite. I won’t mince words here–the Combat Elite’s paint job isn’t nearly as exciting as the Zealot Elite’s was. The gold paint on the Zealot Elite was gorgeous–I called it the best-looking paint deco on any generic Elite in that review, and I stand by it. This Combat Elite is no slouch, though. He’s molded in the same milky white as the Elite Ultra in the Covenant Revenant Attack set, and will look good alongside the white Grunts from the Phantom set. He has neon green, grey, black, and purple paints used on his body, making him one of the most decorated Elites in the line.
The Combat Elite utilizes the same mold we’ve all grown to know and love, so he features the standard 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. His weapons all clip into his hands tightly and he looks quite slick dual-wielding with any combination of the three.
The Drop Pod itself is the same mold as the one in the Zealot Elite set, except with a twist: whereas the Zealot Elite came with a heavily-worn, battle-damaged Drop Pod, the Combat Elite comes with unmarred, fresh-from-the-Grunt-sweatshop-factory Drop Pod. It features the same leathery texture as the Zealot Elite’s Drop Pod, which gives it a distinct ‘alien’ look and feel that sets it apart from the UNSC Drop Pods.
This Drop Pod functions exactly the same as the Zealot’s one did. The front of the Drop Pod has a hinge that allows it to flip open, revealing the Combat Elite inside. With his full armory snapped into place beside him, the Combat Elite makes an intimidating opponent and is ready to spring into battle at a moment’s notice. The Combat 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.
I complained in my review of the Zealot Elite Drop Pod that I thought the set was a little overpriced. I’m starting to come around a bit on the price. Considering that a Star Wars figure of any kind will run you almost 10 bucks these days, I can deal with a highly-articulated and detailed Halo Mega Bloks figure with painted weapons and a Drop Pod for right about the same price.
While the Drop Pod has a decent amount of paint colors used on it including red, gray, whitish-gray, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t look awfully plain next to the battle-damaged version. It’s nice to have the undamaged version of the Drop Pod, but the other one just has a ton more detail and is a lot more visually-compelling. This isn’t really Mega Brands’ fault–by nature, a battle-ravaged Drop Pod will always be more interesting than a totally clean one–but it is worth noting. If I wanted to army-build Covenant Drop Pods, I would definitely go for the battle-damaged one instead.
Also, I think it’s kind of bizarre that the ignited Energy Sword is meant to clip into the Drop Pod and sit across the Elite. It’s not ‘bad’ exactly, and I like that the Drop Pod can securely store all the weapons, but it does seem a mite dangerous. It’s just a little weird.
“Where Can I Buy It?!”
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.
I purchased my Combat Elite Drop Pod from Amazon, which 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. I also ordered the brand-new Ultra Elite Drop Pod and Flood Infected Elite Pod from Amazon, which I’ll be reviewing in the near-future and can’t wait for!
The other best choice for getting newly-released Halo Mega Bloks sets is usually ebay. Sets hit ebay as soon as they hit retail, and they often sell for retail price or sometimes even below. Check out all of the current ebay listings for the Mega Bloks Elite Drop Pods by clicking here!
Overall: I honestly did not expect to like this set nearly as much as the Zealot Elite Drop Pod set. But it turns out I love them both equally, and consequently, they receive the same “B+” grade. The Drop Pod itself remains a nice sculpt, and while boring, an undamaged Drop Pod makes sense to have on the battlefield and adds diversity to the battlescape. The Elite Combat isn’t the most exciting figure since we’ve had so many already, but the milky white paint looks good and is easily nicer than the paint on the Blind Pack Elites. And the weapons–the weapons!–pure win. Another Energy Sword is always welcome, the Plasma Pistol looks great in colors and will be replacing one of my unpainted ones, and the all-new Fuel Rod Gun is tremendous and easily the star of this set. The Combat Elite Drop Pod is overall a very fun set that gives us lots of new things for our Halo Mega Bloks displays, and I can easily and whole-heartedly recommend it.