While most of McFarlane Toys' Halo 3 figures are a marvel of both sculpt and articulation, not everything lives up to that standard. Witness, for instance, Master Chief's little imaginary friend, Tinkerbell. Er, sorry: Cortana.
Developed by the United Nations
Space Command (UNSC), Cortana is a smart A.I. with the ability to project herself as a holographic image and be transferred between computer systems, including the cybernetic armor of Master Chief.
I've never played Halo, so all Cortana is to me is the holographic naked blue chick. She could be the most compelling videogame character ever conceived, and I wouldn't know it. That means this little figure of her has to stand on her own merits, without the benfit of the games' hard work and characterization. Cortana isn't getting a free pass because of how she acted in the game or anything.
Cortana is the voice in your head as you move through the various stages of Halo and its sequels, and also offers what assistance she can: usually hacking computers so doors will open when they're supposed to, giving you a path to new areas after you've killed everything where you are. Need a narrator to tell you where to find the next checkpoint or to warn you of incoming enemies (and therefore motivate you to get your butt in gear)? Cortana's your girl!
The absolute first thing you must know about this figure: she's got no articulation. Zero. She's one solid lump from tip to toes. Well, actually five solid lumps glued together. There's no way to pull this fgure from the mold in one piece, so she's assembled from multiple bits. But still, there's a good reason for that, which we'll discuss when we get to it.
Thankfully, Cortana's sculpt is very nice -
much better than the Joyride Studios version, to be sure. Of course, that one was based on the original Halo, while McFarlane's has the advantage of being based on the superior graphics of Halo 3 - no wonder it looks better! She's got a cute little contrapposto pose, with her hands on her hips and one leg out in front of her. The head and face look just like the Halo 3 renders, and her chest isn't as over-inflated as Joyride's attempt.
Cortana is molded from clear plastic, and painted with technological "strips" running down her body. The techy patches are dark blue, and the color tends to reflect through the clear plastic, giving the entire figure a slight tint. Her hair is solid periwinkle, and her eyes are white, blue and red. Really, comparing her to the game, they did a great job of turning a see-through hologram into a three-dimensional object.
To complete that illusion, Cortana lights up - or more accurately, her base does. She stands on a 4¼" wide, 7/8" tall conical base that has a smooth exterior and some technological details on the inside lip. Three blue LED lights are housed in the front of the base,
and controlled by a switch on the bottom. The lights are powered by two AAA batteries, and are startlingly bright, even in a well-lit room. Heck, she'll even catch the light in normal conditions, glowing pleasantly under your desklamp or in front of your monitor. In the dark, though, she really ignites, and looks really cool.
I will say that I have never encountered a battery cover that was tougher to open: I ended up nearly sawing the damn thing apart, I was so frustrated. So be warned.
That light feature is why Corts doesn't have any articulation: joints mean more internal plastic, and that would catch the light and throw off the look. As it is, you can already see where the figure's pieces were put together: her left leg is a separate piece that plugs into her hip, and her hands are molded pieces of her waist, while her arms plug into the wrists and shoulders.
The plastic tabs that hold her together already turn out brighter when the light is on, and joints would have made that worse. That's why she doesn't even get a neck joint: right now, the light spills up into her head, illuminating it from within, but more plastic there would have ruined the effect.
Cortana is just under 4½" tall, which is fine for this line's scale. Especially when you consider that she doesn't have a physical form, and her size varies throughout the game. Hell, as Shocka pointed out, she's in-scale with real life: Master Chief often displays her at this tiny size, and now you can, too. Just don't expect her to interface with your computer for you. Yes, a figure with more articulation (any articulation) would have been more playable, but that's the sacrifice McFarlane made to best represent what was seen in the game. It's like they blew their articulation allowance on the Spartans and their enemies, and had none left over to give Cortana. Still, if you like what you see, get her quickly: once again, Cortana's hard to find.