Review: Play Arts Kai Halo 4 Spartan Warrior

Play Arts Kai is a rather polarizing toyline. Mostly known for their figures based on video game characters, the toyline seems to be very much love-it-or-hate-it, with the former crowd praising the line’s overall great paint apps, sculpt, and large size, the latter crowd criticizes the lines often shoddy quality, atrocious paint apps on human faces (poor Commander Shepard), questionable articulation choices, and the unusual scale. My first PAK figure was their initial release of Master Chief, a mostly-original design somewhat based on John’s armor as seen in Halo Legends. I had my issues with it, but overall I thought it was a pretty cool toy, especially for the $35 I paid. After hearing that the new Halo 4 figures are generally of higher quality, I decided to take the risk and pick up the Spartan Warrior. How much of an improvement is he, though?

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Appearance

The first impression I got from this figure echoed my first thoughts when opening up the Master Chief: “Wow, this a really pretty toy.” While Chief was a shiny metallic green, the Spartan Warrior here is a gorgeous metallic royal blue with some silver accents. All the paint apps appear to be clean and well-applied, so absolutely no complaints there. As far as the sculpt goes, it’s a pretty faithful representation of the Halo 4 Spartan design, for better or worse. It reproduces all the cool armor detail from the game models, but also has the “bodysuit with big chunks of armor randomly stuck on” look that I really dislike about the Halo 4 Spartans. Regardless, I can’t fault the toy for that, and it does make the design work well. The Warrior still very much has the Play Arts anime-esque aesthetic of “long legs, big thighs, skinny arms,” but it’s not nearly as bad as on Master Chief, and his skinny areas aren’t toothpick-level like Sarah Palmer. My only nitpick about the sculpt would be that the Warrior helmet doesn’t look quite right compared to the in-game model; it should be a bit squatter and more square, while the toy’s head is tall and somewhat rounded.

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Articulation

The Spartan Warrior has your standard Play Arts Kai articulation, and I’m starting to think that very few of the line’s releases feature much variation on the formula. The joints are essentially Revoltech joints mixed with other types, like swivels and the like. The Warrior’s head is balljointed, but can’t do much in the way of looking up or down due to the sculpt of the armor. He also has two balljoints in the torso; one in the chest and one at the waist. His shoulders are comprised of a soft ratcheting universal joint mounted on a hinged part that can swing outwards, and his elbows and wrists are single-jointed ratchets with swivels built in. His hips are very heavy ratchet joints, almost to the point of being scary. His knees are double-jointed ratchets, and for the most part avoid the “Play Arts knees” thanks to the sculpt. Finally, his ankles are on universal ratchet/swivel joints, and the front parts of his feet can rotate. The only things I feel are missing from his jointage are another neck joint and a toe bend, but I don’t think their absence hurts the toy.

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Accessories

Ol’ Sparty comes with a fairly basic selection of accessories. His primary weapon is the BR85 Heavy Barrel Service Rifle (thanks, Halo Wiki!), otherwise known as the battle rifle from Halo 4. It’s a very nice sculpt with very nice paint, fits well into his hands, and overall looks like a fitting weapon for a space soldier such as this guy. The battle rifle can be happily mounted via a (sadly permanent) peg that plugs into a hole on the Spartan’s back. With that out of the way, the Warrior can wield his sidearm, the M6H Personal Defense Weapon System, or magnum. Like the rifle, it has a non-removable peg that allows it to be plugged into the Spartan’s thigh for storage, but also looks a bit ugly. The magnum’s thicker handle also makes it a bit difficult to fit into the Warrior’s stiff fingers. It takes some working and plastic-bending, but I haven’t felt like I’m in any danger of breaking the toy yet. In addition to the two guns, he also comes with two sets of hands: one pair for holding weapons and one pair for… reaching/grasping/groping/whatever. I would’ve liked some fists for some old-fashioned punching, but I guess Spartans never really do that in the games, anyway. The Spartan Warrior also has one more accessory that was a total surprise to me…

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A stand! It is a rather nice stand, too. You do have to damage the inner packaging a bit to get to it, but the result is well worth it. It’s a sturdy, well-designed assembly of translucent plastic that you construct not unlike your average Gundam Action Base, by clipping the parts out of a sprue and fastening the major bits together with screws. The stand comes with a large claw and a smaller claw, and both work quite fine. This stand did not come with any of my previous PAKs, so it must be a recent addition. I approve of this practice!

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Overall

This is a very cool action figure. It faithfully reproduces the Spartan Warrior from Halo 4 and manages to look downright sexy with the gorgeous paint apps and fairly good proportions. Out of the four Halo 4 PAK figures released (the others being Sarah Palmer, Master Chief, and a red Spartan Soldier), I think this guy looks the absolute best. Play Arts figures carry a bit of a hefty price tag at $50-$60, but the size of this figure (about 9 inches tall), the overall detail, and especially the inclusion of a functional stand makes the Spartan Warrior well worth the cost. If you can get him for around that price range, do not hesitate. The only problem you might have is finding other toys to display him with… or just buy more PAKs to make him fit in.

Where to Buy

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