Remember how I keep saying there’s all kinds of shit I want to get around to writing about? Well this is one of them! It’s always exciting to see what the next line of Hot Wheels Real Riders or Retro Entertainment is going to be. A lot of the time it’s just random stuff, in all fairness stuff aimed at gearheads, which I am not. I mean it’s cool, I get it, but I always love seeing something I recognize given this sort of lavish treatment from Hot Wheels. I don’t know the exact criteria for a Real Riders vehicle, but in general they’re much heavier – more metal, less plastic – rubber wheels (sometimes plastic wheels are used for unconventional vehicles or configurations), and some great attention to detail. The vehicles are still at 1:64 scale, yet they run ~$5.00 each instead of the usual ~$0.99.
A few weeks back, I spotted a lone Halo vehicle from Hot Wheels hanging on a rack at Toys R Us. Couldn’t find anymore, but the back told me what I needed to look for. In addition to the UNSC Gungoose I had in hand, there was also a UNSC Warthog, UNSC Scorpion, Covenant Ghost, and a special new vehicle from the upcoming Halo Wars 2 video game, something called a Banished Wraith. Long (or not) story short, TRU restocked within the week and soon I had my own set. These things are heavy, detailed, and just plain boo-tiff-ool.
The Gungoose is an updated version of the ol’ Mongoose, created for and introduced in Halo 2: Anniversary Edition. Being that the Mongoose always felt kinda useless, I can appreciate the evolution. Despite the buggy / ATV-type shape, it’s surprisingly heavy. You can also see the multiple pieces comprising the vehicle, including the frame, the body, a front bumper, and the overlay with the seat and guns. Its slightly weathered look gives it that extra push towards realism and attention to in-game detail.
The Scorpion may come to mind as the ass-kicker of the franchise, but it’s the UNSC Warthog that sees the most action due to its versatility. Along with the driver, it’s capable of carrying a gunner to operate the mounted mini-gun and a front-seat passenger who can carry on the fight with his handheld weapon of choice. Later games added a variation where the mounted gun fired high caliber, explosive shells. Highly maneuverable, able to tackle most terrains, and capable of withstanding a harsh beating (or two), this is a perfectly detailed model, showing off its rugged yet sleek design.
It’s also cool to note that Hot Wheels produced a “regular” version of Halo’s UNSC Warthog from their 2017 Screen Time sub-series. Although they’re definitely similar. the Real Rider has a slight edge when it comes to realism.
If you’ve spent any time at all playing any of the main Halo titles, it’s tough to look at the Scorpion without cracking a smile. This unstoppable, indestructible, infallible Behemoth houses a driver who also controls the tank’s main cannon and minigun while up to 4 soldiers can hitch a ride and use their own weapons to handle smaller threats and/or counter the foe’s anti-tank measures. This model features a rotating turret, vertically moving cannon, and rotating minigun. And don’t forget that this slow but steady juggernaut can plow through almost any obstacle, a powerful “weapon” in and of itself!
These agile hover-bikes present a unique challenge to the wheeled armies of the UNSC. The elegant shape is beautifully represented by the model, and the range of purples and blues have been carefully captured as well. Covenant Ghosts may not have been among the most durable vehicles in the fray, but let’s face it: they’re always available, easy to commandeer, and fun as hell to drive…or fly…? Hot Wheels has been thoughtful enough to embed 3 small, clear “feet” on the bottom, keeping the Ghost upright and in flying position without the use of a separate stand when on display.
Aside from the obvious difference in color scheme, I have no idea what delineates the new Banished Wraith from the regular purple Wraith from games past? Do the new, very obviously un-Covenant colors coupled with the word “banished” indicate a regularly used Wraith by an opposing faction? Whatever the case, the red and silver paint is shiny and metallic, making for a very aggressive-looking vehicle. These “floating tanks” have mostly been known for their effectiveness as long-range artillery, hurling massively damaging plasma bursts at the UNSC…mightn’t this revamped, “banished” version have a few more tricks up its sleeve…?
So whatcha think? Pretty good looking group of vehicles, eh? Right now these things seem to be all over the place, especially at Toys R Us. Take your time, but don’t take too much time. These Real Riders series are always fairly limited, and while there should be plenty to go around and then some, I suspect the Halo connection will cause these to sell a little faster than most.
Stick around! I’ve still got all sorts of cool toys to write about!