I wrote recently about the Halo Mega Bloks Toymation Fest, which is now in its final judging phase. You can watch the top videos in each of the five categories now, and the winners should be announced sometime in December. In the meantime, I got a chance to check out one of the big Halo Mega Bloks sets, the UNSC Forward Unto Dawn frigate. It’s a massive ship, at 1:500 scale (although the interior compartments are at a larger scale so that you can actually put minifigs inside).
The four boxes of pieces helpfully came with charts indicating which pieces were in each box, and I tried to keep them sorted in their individual plastic bags as well. However, the one difficulty I found was that the ship came in three colors: light metallic grey, dark metallic grey, and black. It was often hard to tell the three colors apart, and the majority of the time spent building the set actually came in finding the appropriate pieces.
The build took around twelve hours spread out over five days (while my kids had the week off for Thanksgiving). My kids were excited about it, but less excited about helping me find the pieces, so I ended up doing most of it myself, with occasional helpers to snap together a few bricks. One nice thing I found was that because the ship was symmetrical, I could often have both of them building mirrored sections simultaneously.
The set comes with several minifigs: Master Chief, of course, along with one Elite and two space marines in uniform. According to the plotline, the Forward Unto Dawn was under Commander Miranda Keyes’ control, but there are just two guys in the set. The ship gets cut in two when a portal shuts as it’s traveling through, and the Mega Bloks version splits into two pieces, with some exposed hoses and other bits in the “broken” part. Also included are a light-up Cortana and Master Chief’s cryo chamber.
The completed ship is enormous, just over three feet long (including those long pointy bits) and is too heavy for my kids to pick up unassisted. About two-thirds of the roof is easily removable, both to access the interior compartments and to separate or rejoin the two halves of the ship. There are also some rotating guns on the outside and movable levers inside. The set also includes a sheet of decals to apply, and since some of them (like the big UNSC logo on the wings) cover over seams, it doesn’t look like the sort of set that’s intended to be taken apart and built into other things. We’ll see how long that lasts: so far any other Lego, Kre-O, or Mega Bloks sets my kids get their hands on tend to get disassembled and scattered so we never find all the original pieces again.
The Forward Unto Dawn set retails for $249.99; prices on Amazon are currently higher than that, but it looks like Toys “R” Us has it listed at that price. I was impressed with the minifigs, which have a lot more articulation than both Lego and Kre-O minifigs. They bend at the elbows and knees (but not the Elite’s backward-facing legs), and their hips, shoulders, and necks are all ball joints to allow for better poseability. However, the quality of the bricks themselves can be less impressive: the plastic feels somehow softer, and I found a few pieces which looked like the plastic didn’t quite fill the mold, with bits missing or worn away. The overall build was fine, but I suppose there’s a reason Lego is still the gold standard for building bricks.
At 2,877 pieces, it’s the largest set I’ve ever put together myself. I was inspired by fellow GeekDads Nathan Barry and Dave Banks, who filmed time lapse videos of the Lego VW Camper Van and Taj Mahal sets, so I decided to try my hand at that. Of course, it would have been nice to have a tripod and somebody taking photos for me, because I probably could have saved some time if I hadn’t stopped to take photos after every step and tried to keep the parts arranged neatly as I built. I stitched together my photos into this minute-long video. Enjoy!
(Music in the video is the Halo Quintmix, arranged by Brian Hampel.)
Disclosure: Mega Bloks provided a sample set for review.