By: Tracey John
There might not be another Halo game in the foreseeable future, but in the meantime, they’ll be plenty of toys for fans of that universe.
At New York Toy Fair this week, McFarlane Toys founder Todd McFarlane talked about his company’s plans for the hit video game property. To celebrate the tenth anniversary of Halo this year, McFarlane Toys is producing a special line of tenth anniversary Halo figures, which will go back all the way to the first Halo game. Read on to find out more, and what plans he has for the series.
“Microsoft has allowed us to go into the vault and basically do anything Halo,” McFarlane said during an interview with us at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. “We now have access from Halo 1 to today, whereas before we just had Halo 3 and then Reach. So now it’s all things Halo 1, 2 and 3 as well, even ODST.”
The only problem with going all the way back to the first Halo game is getting the assets to craft the collectibles. For the last few Halo games, creator Bungie Studios gave McFarlane Toys access to the digital wireframes. However, for Halo 1 and 2, the archiving of the assets was not as sophisticated, so the toymakers will have to do some improvising to make those particular figures.
“To me, it’s just more of the visuals,” McFarlane said. “We’ve got to make sure that we’ve got the visuals as accurate as possible. So we’ll use what we can [from Microsoft], but otherwise, we might have to use concept art and just do what we’ve always done for the past 20 years. Clay in the hands of a very good artist looks pretty good too.”
Regardless of what assets they use, the game developers always give their input as to how the toys should look -- a lot of input. “They are a very vocal crowd, which is good, because it means they’re very loyal to the brand,” McFarlane said. “And if we aren’t doing what they need, or we’ve made mistakes in what we’ve done, they always guide us. They’re literally my editors.”
So without a Halo game to make toys out of, what will they start with first? McFarlane said that with the renewed license, it’s also possible for the company to create toys for things that have never been in the games, such as collectibles based on concept art. And luckily for the company, the Halo universe is vast, even beyond the games.
“I look at the Halo universe as I look at the NFL or Major League Baseball,” he explained. “It’s like, there are 32 teams, and they each got 32 players. We’ll never make everything. So we’ll just keep our eyes and ears open, listen to what the audience out there wants, and also make sure that some of the more popular stuff continues to get into the market.”
For instance, one particular toy that’s always in demand: Master Chief. Although he hasn’t appeared in the last two Halo games, gamers new to Halo and toy collecting are always in need of the franchise’s’ flagship character.
“Master Chiefs always sell,” said McFarlane, who estimates his company’s made around 15 to 20 iterations of the character so far. “There are literally millions of people who have been buying this game, but we haven’t sold millions of Master Chiefs yet. So there is still a portion of people who, when they come onto the game and collecting [toys] for the very first time, the first guy they’ve got to have is Master Chief.”
But the hardest part about continuing to make Master Chief is having to re-invent him, at least a little bit, with each iteration. “We don’t get to do like ‘Aqua Batman’ and ‘Arctic Freeze Batman’ with Master Chief because he’s limited to the weapons he can and can’t use,” he said. “But what we try to do is maybe mix them up in a two-pack. So, for instance, the character next to him, you’ve never been able to get that one before.”
As Master Chief lives on, at least in toy form for the time being, Halo fans will hopefully be occupied with McFarlane’s collectibles until a new game is announced. “At some point Microsoft will announce another game, and then we’ll start building towards that,” said McFarlane. “Until then, Halo has got a lot of characters, and we haven’t even begun to skin it. If I lived to be a hundred years old, I couldn’t touch everything that’s in those games.”