- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 20, 2008

The legendary video-game adventures of Halo’s Master Chief move from a virtual world to real life through a new line of weapons by Jasman Toys created specifically for serious laser-tag and Halo aficionados.

Two weapons, the Plasma Rifle ($119.99, requires three C and three AA batteries, included) and Plasma Pistol ($79.99, requires seven AA batteries, included) offer adult players the exact size, look and estimated weight of the guns routinely used by the grunts of the evil Covenant in the video game.

The lineup was a favorite project for Jasman’s product development team. According to Jasman Vice President Brian Bonnett, his designers (many of them Halo fans) were more than happy to do “research” by “playing hundreds of hours of the game and doing a fair share of alien killing.”

The team ultimately delivered “out of this world” weapons that fire infrared beams — rather than deadly plasma emissions — that interact with a target.

Each gun sports high-grade paints and rubberized handles and uses lights, vibrations, sounds, recoil action, an LCD shot counter and a reload button to bring it to life. Higher-end speakers also were used to unleash sound bites compiled directly from Halo to re-create the weapons’ loading and discharges.

The 2-foot-long Plasma Rifle stands out with detail down to two-toned blue on the metallic honeycomb of the barrel and six areas that light up to portray plasma flowing through the gun.

The horseshoe-shaped pistol packs a punch with a pair of translucent beam generators at its tip that light up as the gun charges and fires and a familiar charging sound that will raise the hairs of Halo devotees.

Fans will be pleased to know both can simulate an overheating if the trigger is held down for too long. The rifle’s sidepieces pop out while the pistol’s top flange flips up. Close them, and the gun comes back to life.

Each weapon’s target shield reticule is also quite a wonder. It keeps track of opponents’ hits, and when the block-sized device is turned on, it bellows, “Slayer.”

After taking six hits from the laser, it sternly declares “game over.” More interesting is that if the player takes a few hits but can get out of the line of fire for a short time, the target will clear the damage, just like Master Chief healing in the video game.

The only caveat with the experience is the steep price for the fun. More than $200 for a quick game of laser tag, no matter how cool the weapons look, may not be worth it for the average Halo fan.

No worries, Jasman is developing a scaled-down version of the guns in a package that contains two Plasma Pistols and two shields. The pieces are about 10 percent smaller and have fewer bells and whistles but still light up and sound similar to their predecessors.

The price for the mass-market Halo 3 Plasma Pistol Laser Tag set should be around $49.99, way more comparable to what Hasbro offers for the laser-tag player.

On the topic of cool Halo collectibles, McFarlane Toys is handling the latest action-figure line ($11.99), and one of the pieces really stands out with just a bit of tech flair.

The 5-inch-tall version of the female holographic being from the game Cortana is the highlight. The piece offers beautiful translucent sculpting and a base containing a trio of blue LED lights (three AAA batteries required) that really make her stand out in a darkened room.

Write to Joseph Szadkowski, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20002; or send e-mail (jszadkowski@washington times.com).

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