5 November 2015

REVIEW: MEGA Bloks Halo Phaeton Gunship

Suns out, guns out. 

Back in the awesome realm of MEGA Blok's Halo line of sets, and this is one we've been really excited for. Currently starring in the recently released Halo 5: Guardians, the Phaeton Gunship is one of those sets that just looks cool and aggressive, satisfying our need for spaceships. Spaceships, SPACESHIPS!

The Phaeton Gunship set weighs in at 455 parts and includes three micro action figures. The ship itself was introduced in this set, being released waaaaay before the game actually game out, and served to give fans a little taste of some of the new designs of Halo 5. Let's jump on in.

Here it is then, and what a model! We've never built anything, be it in MEGA Bloks or LEGO, that has such an aggressive stance. This is clearly a warship designed for causing maximum damage at high speed, and MEGA Bloks have captured all that potential energy and action really well. The build took us about an hour, and thanks to the great mix of parts and colours, as well as building techniques, it was a lot of fun and not too tricky.

The Phaeton is such an awesome display piece which looks great at any angle, even from below. Those 455 parts are used very well to create quite a large model, and this is both wider and longer than the Scorpion tank we reviewed a few months back, and that had nearly 700 parts.

As it is such a unique shape, the Phaeton needs to be elevated from a flat surface, Instead of using solid transparent bricks to build a stand or cradle (as with the Banshee set), MEGA Bloks have employed two thin T-bar parts, visible in the shot above. These help to life the ship high enough (just high enough, mind) to give the nose and side engine pods some clearance. Although the method looks quite insubstantial it actually provides quite a lot of stability, but does mean you need the space of the entire area of the ship on a shelf to display it.

Speaking of transparent parts, are are actually some used in the structure of the Phaeton itself. As you can see above, both the guns on the side, and the huge engine pods themselves, are attached to the main body of the craft with transparent pieces. Having not yet played the game, we're not sure if this means the 'real' ship has sections that simply float in place, or it actually uses transparent building parts itself. Either way, it looks cool.

The details on this are great, especially at the front with that bulbous part held within the pincer-like grip of the body, and the orange neon sections which hint at a hot engine core.

The chunkier rear section also has great detail, including those downward sloping carapace-like sections, lots more orange neon, and the smooth large dome of the main hatch.

Speaking of which, the Phaeton features two opening hatches; the larger rear one, and one up front that is much smaller. The rear hatch is set on a simple hinge part meaning there is no friction to it. This also means it simply closes thanks to gravity, so if you swoosh the ship around your head it might flip open a bit. The front hatch is attached with a gripping part however, meaning once it is shut, its stays shut, and can be posed in any open position.

And  of course both hatches can accommodate the figures very well, with the chap up front facing forwards...

... and the guy in the rear - according to the instructions - facing backwards. Why, we don't know, but obviously that is a feature of the game craft. Maybe he's the driver and uses screens and other ways to see, so doesn't need to be oriented the correct way. Whatever the reason, the oddness adds to the ship's alien aesthetic.

On the underside of that same section you can see something we really love about MEGA Bloks - multi-directional building techniques. Here you can see that there are studs next to anti-studs, meaning the underside isn't just rough detail and smooth featured pieces can be easily attached.

Next up, the figures... and what a great trio. On the left is an Orbital Spartan in speckled green armour, followed by two identical Promethean Soldiers. Of course, all three are of the newer highly-articulated figure design, and the Prometheans are new to the range.

The Orbital Spartan looks great and comes with the newer version of rocket launcher. There are dark speckles within the green of his interchangeable armour, which lends a dirtied, battle-worn look to him. The visor is gold paint which seems to have been applied really well.

Look how well the figure can wield that rocket launcher! Thanks to a redesign on the weapon it is now far easier to grip and still look cool. The forward handhold is off-centre slightly, helping the figure to reach it, and the mould better matches the shape of the figure's armoured shoulders. Some dramatic poses are very easy to attain.

The two Prometheans come with two weapons, a boltshot pistol and a binary rifle. Although the figures are identical, thanks to the weapons and the articulation system, they can be posed up to appear very different. Also, notice the orange ball joints at the shoulders? Those feature a transparent part which matches the neon bits of the Phaeton, and because the part is installed backwards (compared to Spartan figures, at least) it lets light through and seems to glow slightly.

These guys are just as articulated at the human figures, with the exception of the waist. You can't rotate it unfortunately, due to the unique shape of the torso, but plenty of motion is afforded by the hip joints. In terms of interchangeable armour bits, the whole torso plate can be removed as one, as well as...

... the backpack, which serves to continue the sticky-out tendrils of the Prometheans' heads and adds nice spine detail. In the shot above you can also see the reverse side of the shoulder joints, where the light floods in.

"Dodge this."

This is a great set that is packed with playability and value. Kids will love the swoosable element of the craft itself, and the fact that an 'enemy' is included for the Prometheans to fight. Meanwhile older collectors will adore the aggressive stance as the Phaeton dominates their display shelf, and the unique figures. And, should you get bored of it, this set is packed with interesting parts in good colours... so an all-round excellent buy.


Available from www.argos.co.uk

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