As vaguely promised, after nerding out on some specific aspects of Mega Bloks/ Mega Construx products I wanted to give you the full reviews of some sets in a rather loose order. Given the overall unsatisfying situation with how those sets are extremely hard to get at times and of course me being late after you’ve probably read and watched a million other reviews, there’s apparently no rush and I’m taking my sweet times with my own ones. As a start I’m going to review the set that was actually my first Mega kit, the Phaeton Gunship (CNG 67) from the Halo series.
As an important note beforehand let me reiterate that I’ve never actually played any of the games those sets are made for. Therefore I’m blissfully ignorant of the deeper lore and storylines plus it has the advantage of me not constantly having to compare the models made from bricks to their in-game counterparts in terms of realism and so on. Of course I have done my homework and watched a few “Let’s play” videos, trailers and researched some aspects, but I didn’t go out of my way to know every detail.
Hence I will mostly judge the sets on their own merits – this one and any others that may come in the future. As an additional sideeffect for the same reason I will also exclude the miniature figures from my reviews – I simply don’t know what roles they play in the games and how realistically (or not) they may have been miniaturised, whether their weapons are accurate and all that.
The Phaeton Gunship appears to be the basic airborne fighter vehicle in the Halo games and as such is somewhat generic and basic in its design, though as I understand it you can still level it up and customize it. There are also advanced variants like the Helios Strike version, which is also available as a buildable set from Mega (FWD 97) since late last year, but that would be a different story and so far I haven’t even seen that one anywhere for a reasonable price (here in Europe, that is).
What attracted me to this set should become apparent rather quickly – this vehicle oozes pure elegance. Even with my limited photographic equipment it’s nearly impossible to shoot it in a way it doesn’t look good. Just the opposite – you could spend all day just posing it and capture it from all angles. In particular the limited colors with many dark elements and sparse lighter grey highlights gives it a nice contrast.
That said, in my strictly personal view that probably only goes for the brick set, as I found the actual in-game version a lot less attractive. There the whole thing feels more like a flimsy lightweight fighter and the many glowing elements, disconnected parts only held together by “force lightning” and the dynamic response of some elements makes it look too toyish. It would be much more imposing as a slow hovering heavy fighter. I was also surprised how it is actually almost completely light grey. For those reasons I’m almost inclined that the plastic model is better than the original design.
The build is not particularly challenging beyond actually getting into the Mega mindset and how the instructions and steps deviate from beloved LEGO habits and standards. In this example this is further facilitated by essentially building every sub-section separately. You start out with the front part, then the aft, then the engine pods. You could even do this as a group effort without stepping on each other’s toes all the time.
The front segment is connected to the aft one by using two of Mega‘s version of a 2D rotation joint side by side, which makes this connection extremely sturdy. The pods are attached using transparent angled plates to retain the illusion of them merely hovering on the sides. This is okay, but requires a little care when handling the model, as the pods themselves are already heavy and exerting too much force could potentially damage the transparent items and make them crack.
The same applies to the “stands” at the bottom made from transparent bars and connection elements. As long as you leave everything alone and don’t work it too much this oddly enough works quite well, but naturally it is prone to breakage. With transparent materials also aging unfavorably I’m already dreading the day when it will simply break out of nowhere because the plastic has become brittle.
In contrast to some other Mega Bloks/ Mega Construx models there are no specific details on the underside nor was much of an effort made to tile it over smoothly and structure it beyond what the construction required, anyway. This is understandable and by no means much of an issue. Because the various parts are mounted at an angle to one another, they obscure the bottom quite well. My only little peeve is the actual joint section between the front and aft that could have benefited from a bit more fairing over.
Though it’s not relevant for the way I build and collect these sets, there is ample provision for interior space, meaning your could fit in your figurines. The cockpit is quite deep, so you should be able to seat your pilot and still be able to close the hatch fully. There is no interior detailing, which appears to be the norm. My research suggests that since the vehicles in Halo are controlled from a third-person view most of the time, anyway, there would be little point in fleshing out those details that no one ever gets to see. for the model some printed tiles would have been nice, though.
The aft compartment is more or less just generic stowage to throw in another soldier or some equipment bits. The hatch for this section was also one of the few occasions that gave me a hard time during building. The flat rounded bits on top just didn’t want to fit and if you look closely on the pictures further above you can still see one sticking out visibly. Round parts generally seem a bit tricky with Mega, possibly due to somewhat too liberal manufacturing tolerances or shrinkage. The pods at least also required quite a bit of force to push together, but at least left no gaps or protruding parts.
On the whole this is a quite nice set, though. For around 25 Euro way back then when I got it, it was a steal and the ship makes a nice eyecatcher on the shelf for any sci-fi oriented person like me, even if you don’t play the game. It’s also not too overtly militarized and you could tone it down even further by simply leaving the guns off, making it still more of a generically elegant light (space) vessel. If you can find it for a good price it’s definitely worth chasing down, though personally I would not pay more than 40 Euro and just pass on it if some crazy scalper wanted to rip me off…