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28 January 2016

REVIEW: MEGA Bloks Halo Pelican Gunship from 2013

Pelican crossing.

Back down memory-block lane today, as we take another look at an older release MEGA Bloks Halo set... and this is a biggie. Our largest MEGA Bloks build to date, we stepped aboard the huge (and excellent) 'lights and sounds' version of the Pelican Gunship. Lock and load!




This set, released in 2013, was MEGA Bloks' second stab at the famous Pelican gunship, this time capturing the look of the updated ship from the later games. The set contains 1161 parts and four figures, one of which is of definite interest as you can see from the leading image. The build itself took us about six hours split over three nights, and despite being one of the trickier Halo sets we've completed, it was a butt-load of fun and very rewarding. Lets take a look, shall we?


What a beast. As well as containing the most number of parts of any MEGA Bloks set we've yet seen, it also produced the largest model. The Pelican Gunship is about 45 cm long once complete and also that wide to boot, so a very dominant model to display on your shelf, packed with lots of good features.


The Pelican looks awesome. There is a consistent green colour to it, identical to the one used in the Scorpion's Sting set from 2015. Different angles and building directions are used exceptionally well here, meaning that studs are really only left exposed on the top and wings, adding a lot of texture. It looks just like the actual ship from the games, and appears extremely aggressive. 


You might think that there are a lot fewer parts to this, especially when you see those large single units such as the gold air intakes and the green-tinted canopies. Actually, most of the forward cockpit section is one part too, housing all the electronics for the lights and sounds elements. Fortunately you need to built quite a few plate parts around it to attach it to the rest of the ship, so it doesn't look weird plonked on the front.


Here you get a closer look at the air intakes, as well as the button which activates the lights and sounds (to the left, near to the black thruster). Press it, and the forward guns will come to life as if firing, and the ship will also make flying sounds as you move it around. There is no 'off' switch; rather you need to wait about a minute for it to reset, after which you can move the ship around without it making a peep. We discovered this while building it in the middle of the night - needless to the say the sleeping people in the house were not grateful!

The shot above also shows off a neat feature - a panel that flips upward to reveal a pistol and two grenades. There's an identical one on the other side too.


It isn't just those two panels that open up either, as much of the ship is accessible. Both cockpit canopies open, the main roof flips up to give access to the hold, the rear door drops open, both wings rotate, there's an panel on the tail section to expose an engine, and the rear thrusters can spin as well.


Four figures can be carried in the main hold, with seats for each. There's also plenty of room in there for more to stand, and there's a weapons rack for the Spartans to stow their guns while flying. Health and safety, you know.


The main door is great, sliding open between the two rear support legs (which also can fold up for take-off).


The hatch is plenty big enough for a figure to actually walk through, and thanks to the exposed studs you can pose one up doing just that. On either side of the door you might have noticed...


...guns! Both of the pylon turrets can be mounted by a figure, and the barrels themselves can rotate while the whole assembly can swing out to almost a forward-facing position.


The cockpit section looks great, and obviously you can fit a figure in each of the seats. The seats themselves feature a little pin which slots right into the figures' backpack hole (tee hee), keeping them locked in while you swoosh the Pelican around.


We love the detail on the exhausts of the wing engines, which can, as we said, rotate around just as they do in game. When used in conjunction with the VTOL thrusters (seen here in black) it really looks like this thing could take off any any moment. The above shot also shows how subtle the set's stickers are; just a few which add a good amount of realistic detail to certain areas, and none that go across multiple bricks. Nice one!


The largest of the stickers is a nice UNSC crest which goes on one of the smooth plate pieces on the roof. Speaking of which, we love the lift-up roof panel. It's a really clever kind of step-build, which although appears to be going down from front to back, actually angles upwards.


Another fantastically designed section is the tail. Multiple angles are used really well here, with fins and flaps to add a great deal of realism. The fact that the rear engines can spin around is also good, giving you the option to change the look of the ship.


It certainly looks just as awesome from the rear, showing off yet more engine exhausts and the arrow-head shape of the ship itself. Oh, while we're at the back...


One very subtle feature is the drop-down arm that swing from the undeside of the tail. What's that for, we hear you shout. Well, if you purchased the UNSC Mantis set (which we reviewed here), the Pelican's instruction booklet suggests you make a few modifications using the parts included...


...to make the back of the Mantis look like this with a special silver gripping arm, so the Mantis can be...


...hoisted by the Pelican! Cool, or what? This means that you can use your Pelican Gunship to carry the Mantis into battle and drop it down to engage with the enemy. Its a nice little feature, and its great that MEGA Bloks actually include the parts you'll need to modify your Mantis. Also, if you have the 2013 lights and sounds Gaushogg set, that too can be picked up by the Pelican, without the need to modify the build.

By the way, the first time we tried to take the above photo, we dropped the damn Pelican. Christ, its well put together - only a few bits fell off!


Onto the figures now, and first up are the Spartans. Yes, this is a pre-2014 set so unfortunately you get the older style of figures, but they are still great and very collectible. You get a Spartan Scout, an Operator, and a Protector. The Protector and Operator are the same metallic blue/grey colour, while the Scout is a very light silver.


All three are well-detailed, and despite the two above having the same colour, there is enough moulded detail to tell them apart easily. Sure, we're not as enthusiastic about these older figures as we are the newer highly articulated versions, but we still rather like them.


The silver Scout stands out not just because the difference in colour, but also because of the unique painted details. Some very minute splashes of fine red on his armour looks great and really helps to make him stand out and for the bright silver to look a bit less plastic-y.


Onto the big boy. Just like how the Broadsword Midnight Strike set had an extra tall figure, so the Pelican Gunship has another unique Promethean. The Promethean Knight Battlewagon is very special, not just in looks, but in features too. It has it's own light-up feature, this time motion activated. Give the figure a shake and the removable Promethean unit on the inside will glow, illuminating all those orange transparent parts on the Battlewagon. It's pretty eerie. 


There's the pilot on the back who, once the upper flaps of the Battlewagon are lifted, can be removed, either for play or to change the batteries.


Apart from those fun features, the Knight itself is still a very articulated figure and both the legs and two sets of arms can be posed, as well as the head which is on a ball-joint. It's main weapon, a binary rifle, can also be removed and wielded by a normal figure, just like the Prometheans from the Phaeton Gunship set. At first we thought the paint application to the eyes must have been a bit of a mistake, but once lit up from behind the head looks bloody frightening!

So the biggest MEGA Bloks set we've ever put together is also the best and by far the most fun. Even if you're not bothered about (or maybe even a little put-off by) the lights and sounds elements, fret not, as the rest of the ship is pretty spectacular. Despite being a few years old, this is still better than any of the sets we've seen since from the Halo range, so MEGA have a lot to top thanks to this.


Although the set is now no longer being made by MEGA Bloks, there are still plenty out there to snap up. We managed to find a brand new set from Very.co.uk for just over £50, but many go on eBay for more than twice that, so shop around - its really worth it.




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