Saturday, July 8th, 2006 at 11:29pm by Andrew, BZPower News Manager
[Source: ToM Dracone]
"What?" you say. You thought we were going to review all the other 2006 sets first? Well we were, but we got slowed down by the recent torrent of news. So they'll have to wait. Instead, we bring you a review of Toa Matoro by BZPower Forum Assistant ToM Dracone. You're heartbroken, I'm sure. So what are you still reading this for, keep going and find out all about the new, improved, awesome, and amazingly cool Inika!
Inika. Inika, Inika, Inika. When we first saw them, people seemed to either love or hate them instantly. They're like no Toa we've seen before. They have armor, and lots of it. They have features even the Piraka didn't have. And they used to be our beloved little Matoran from the MNOLG II.
Now, after a lot more prerelease pictures, several in-hand photos, and general wild anticipation, almost everyone seems to want them.
And with good reason.
The the most superficial part of any LEGO product, but the one that often determines whether or not the set is a success or failure.
Before I address the canister, I should mention something that comes with it: a $9.99 USD price tag. In Canada, the United Kingdom, and Europe, the MSRP is $14.99 CAD, £7.99, and €12.99, respectively. I'm not familiar with CAD and British pound conversion rates, but I do know that 12.99 euro is much more than $9.99 converted to euro – €12.99 is equal to about $16 USD.
The U.S.'s increase in price by a dollar from the regular $8.99 is understandable – light-up swordthings. Why the price is so much higher in Europe, I haven't the faintest idea.
Now, on to the box.
The first thing you will notice is that it is huge. The second thing, which you probably already knew, is that it is rectangular. The front features a nice, attention-grabbing picture of Matoro himself, staring at the viewer through the trademark Inika setting of rain and a broken chain-link fence.
The third thing, you won't notice until you actually have the set in hand. The canister comes in three pieces – reminiscent of the Visorak canisters. Inside the elemental-colored top is a black "display tray" of sorts, which has indentations for Matoro's sword and four Zamor, all visible through the white covering. Consequentially (and the whole point of this assembly), the swords can be activated for store-browsers' pleasure, advertised by a "Try me!" arrow on the box. For this reason, I advise you to get sets from the back of the display, where the batteries will probably be full (but more on that later).
The back has a picture of Matoro illustrating the Zamor launching function and his sword's luminescence and slipping neatly into the canister. There are also high-contrast images of the other five Inika, which look quite cool. And the regular warnings and legal lines in three languages.
Whoa. Taller than a Piraka canister, high above an original Toa can, and taller even than Matoro himself, this is the biggest canister Bionicle has seen to date. The width and shape are due to the need to display the light-up function, but I personally think a traditional cylinder, with the sword running down one side, would have been much better for these Toa, especially given how they arrived on Voya Nui.
WHAT'S IN THE BOX?
So you've bought it and taken it home (or at least made it to the car), punched the perforated tabs and dump out the contents. What do you get for your money?
Plenty. In addition to the slew of white pieces expected for a Ko-Toa, we find silver armor and weapons and an extraordinarily obnoxious lime green spheroid thing. But what catches my attention are nine pieces in the elusive and crystalline color ice blue, a fitting color for a Toa of Ice (you may remember that Kazi's chest and Kopaka's eyes have this same color).
Here's where we start to cut to the heart of the matter. You didn't buy this box for all the glossy booklets & creative artwork. You want to know about the LEGO bricks & bits that are included, and what (if any) new & interesting parts you'll find inside. Here's also where I'll talk about any new and/or interesing pieces that you will encounter.
What's new? It would be simpler to list what isn't new. The old pieces in Matoro include a blue friction pin/axle, seven Technic pins and five axles in varying lengths, two Vahki legs, a Toa Metru hip piece, and a Piraka-style Zamor launcher assembly.
Beyond that, absolutely everything is new.
Two pieces that jump out are Matoro's feet. Spiky and flat, they look remarkably like an alternate version of a Hordika foot, and not at all like they belong on a good guy. In fact, Matoro's whole appearance has a decidedly malignant vibe to it. I find that Kongu, Hahli, and Nuparu's feet look a lot more Toa-like.
Next we find a new lower leg piece. Contrary to some suspicion, this is a single piece – cool though it would be, the armor on the front does not detach. New for Bionicle, however, are kneeguards, which look decidedly awesome. Although they lose their point a little with a large hole right over the knee.
The thigh armor is fairly simple, as is usual for such a piece, and flat at the bottom so that the kneeguards can overlap it slightly. Not a riveting piece, but it looks to be a useful piece for armor.
Again with armor, the Inika shoulder armor also has holes, the filling of which will probably be a popular undertaking for MOCists. For shoulder armor, it's quite thin from the side, unlike the previous Metru and Nuva armor pieces. It's quite wide head-on, though. I myself am quite fond of the curved shape, which works quite well with the leg armor to give the Inika a style unto themselves.
The "Zamor magazine," a cage-like piece that attaches to the Zamor launcher, needs little explanation when attached. Because the piece is curved backward at the angle of a #3 bent Technic axle joiner, and has axles at both ends, it can be stacked to form a smooth curve.
The final, and most intriguing, white piece of the bunch is Matoro's mask, the Kanohi Iden, given to him by Karzahni and transformed into an organic Great Mask by the bolt of lightning that made Matoro a Toa. As the Mask of Spirit, the Iden lets Matoro leave his body and wander around as a ghost, completely undetectable to anyone other than Toa Hahli and Axonn (whose masks can find him). With the original title of "Mask of Astral Projection," I've always thought that the mask looked something like a star from the front. In concordance with the organic masks of the story, the Iden is made of the same rubber as the Krana and Piraka's spines, but it is surprisingly rigid.
Unfortunately, the Iden doesn't fit onto any of the Matoran or Toa heads we've had so far. An old Toa head can fit inside it, but doesn't stay in place by itself. This is also the first time a Ko-Toa has had a symmetrical mask – the asymmetry in this group goes to Kongu. I think it looks like a cow, but I've also heard it compared to a Krana, the MoL Kraahkan, and the back to dreadlocks. None of which really work for a former translator Toa of Ice, but it wasn't Matoro's choice.
In silver, we have three knew pieces. One is Matoro's as-yet-untitled sword. Again, more on it later.
Next we find the body piece for the Inika, looking decidedly not like one. Two crossed 5-length beams dominate it, one beam connecting all the body pieces, the other having no function on Matoro but attaching accessories on some of the other Inika. Like the Piraka, the body piece "leans" forward from the cross at the back so that the arms attach directly above the hips (unlike the Piraka).
With the front armor piece, used by Matoro, Nuparu, and Hewkii, my first reaction is flat. And wide. All of the front's design work occupies only one stud's worth of depth, despite looking a lot deeper. The piece is also very wide at the waist, more so than the hip piece, which gives the impression of Matoro being fat. This last is entirely the fault of the pistons on each side – without those two, the piece would be a reasonable width and would flow very nicely into the hips, much like the sleeker armor worn by Jaller, Hahli, and Kongu does.
These need little explanation – four long double sockets and five normal sockets in ice blue. Again, this is a perfect color for ice, this color is making quite an appearance this year – to no objections from me. It's a very cool color ... if you'll pardon the terrible pun.
And now the oddities. The Zamor are nothing new, but the blue they come in is – something like a more opaque, bluer version of the clear teal used for Kohrak's eyes. I didn't find any in Matoro, but Kongu came with one Zamor with a splash of darker blue, reminiscent of the Zamor in Reidak with splashes of green.
In the middle, each Toa Inika comes with one of the new ball pieces, first introduced in Axonn and Brutaka. These serve essentially the same purpose as the old pieces, but they have axle openings on both sides so that a Technic axle can pass straight through them.
Finally, the obnoxious lime green spheroid. Otherwise known as Matoro's head. Lime green is normally an awesome color, but it isn't when you're expecting glow-in-the-dark. The prototypes of the Inika had glow-in-the-dark heads, which simulated how the Inika's faces glow so brightly in the story without their masks that you can't make out any features. This function seems to have been a last-minute change, though, as all the Lego marketing for the Inika described them as having glowing heads. ([email protected] has since removed the blurbs describing this.) I was expecting Lego's relatively new transparent glow-in-the-dark color for the heads, as this would have let them glow at night and shine in the day with light behind them.
But, despite all expectations, the Inika heads are lime green at the top and fade to white at the bottom, giving the effect of green eyes and white teeth. This effect is lost on Matoro, though, being one of the only two Inika without mouth holes. Whether lime green eyes work with a white mask is your decision, but I'm not overly fond of the result.
What can you expect while putting this model together?
Like all canister sets, Matoro is a very straightforward, simple build. Without the complications of the Piraka's spine piece, Matoro comes together very quickly, though very solidly. His torso and legs are sturdy, and the only thing not sturdy on his arms is the shoulder armor. The whole thing is entirely Bionicle, with absolutely no Technic functions beyond the Zamor launcher. I personally like the old functions (first absent on the Piraka), but the Inika are so awesome that you don't even notice that there aren't any.
As said, Matoro's base body piece is silver, unlike the rest of the Inika, who have elemental-color bodies. With both silver body and chestplate, Matoro's torso looks well-armored, but it looks extremely out-of-place without any other silver armor. I would have preferred a white body, personally.
The Iden slips right over the head piece. I was surprised by how simple this was: I had been expecting that the masks would clip onto the back of the head, then fold over the front and clip at the chin. But, like I said, the mask's rigidity makes this impossible.
Unfortunately, this slip-right-on build means that the Iden is slightly wobbly on the head. This isn't helped by the fact that the neck socket flops around, as the cavity in the body is slightly wider than it needs to be – a downgrade from the Piraka's body construction, where the neck socket fit snugly in place.
Worse than the Piraka, whose combiner models had no storyline function, the Inika have no combiners whatsoever. Maybe Lego will have something that uses the Inika in the magazine (just speculation), but a lack of combiners or Kaita is a definite loss. Which, if I know BZPower members, will soon be changed.
What are in the instruction booklet, however, are directions as to how to open the sword so that the battery can be replaced. So even if you do get a set that's been "tried" a lot, you can still replace the batteries.
So you've got the model together, but is it more like playing with a block of wood or an interactive toy?
The Toa Inika are the most poseable canister sets to date. Their shoulders and heads are free to move, unlike the Piraka with their spines, which alone gives them much more freedom of movement. Matoro is very fun to pose, but he doesn't look head-on, the result of his wide torso and comparatively thin legs. He looks quite swell from the side and angle views, and even the back – a result of the (for me) one redeeming feature of the armor: the waist sweeps backward to cover the 1-wide waist under it, which makes that one section look like real armor. And quite cool armor at that.
Matoro firing his Zamor launcher, a demonstration of his flexibility. The instantly reloading Zamor launcher works very well, meaning you can fire several in rapid succession. I've found, though, that with all four Zamor in one holder, the top one tends to fall out very easily or jump out when you fire the first.
Ah, the sword. One of the biggest toolthings to date, Matoro's sword is almost as long as a Vahki staff and heavy for a Bionicle piece. It looks perfect for a Toa of Ice, and the light color – blue – is one of the few that goes with the element and color of the Toa wielding it. The sword has been advertised as having a strobe light function, which works like this: after pressing the button at the base, the tube flashes blue, first (comparatively) slowly, then fast, then slow again before it goes out entirely. The whole sequence lasts about 10 seconds, with most of that being fast flashing.
You can see the light-up function in daylight, but not very well. In shadow, it looks very cool, and in my opinion quite worth the $1 price increase. But in pure darkness, it is beyond awesome.
Last night after turning off my bedside light, I tried the light-up function to see how it looked in darkness, and I was amazed by how bright it was. The sword sends flashes of blue light across the room, giving enough light to see faintly. It casts Matoro in stark contrast of blue light and black shadows, and the strobe effect brings the real element of lightning to the Toa Inika. It looks awesome.
Here's where it all boils down to whether the model is worth your money and time or not.
Matoro. Is. Awesome. So awesome that it makes me use the word three paragraphs in a row. He comes with ice blue joints, blue Zamor, and a spiffing cool light-up sword. And white armor. And a new ball joint. There are shortcomings – his head, and the fact that he's missing his trademark Matoran color of sand blue. But ice blue more than makes up for that. The Inika are the most individual sets since the Toa Nuva, with a unique color scheme and distribution of those colors for each one. They're a definite improvement over the Piraka. Even if you (like me) don't like how they look barely anything like their adorable Matoran counterparts, you have to admit that for the most part they look really cool.
Their flaws? Their masks aren't compatible with the old ones. They have absurdly high prices abroad (or in Europe, at least). Matoro's feet and chest armor don't look especially Toa-like. But the non-monetary shortcomings can be overlooked.
Don't question the Inika. Buy. Them. Now.
So there you have it; it's hard to argue with a conclusion like that. Be sure to thank ToM Dracone for taking the time to put together such an in-depth review. Keep watching for more Inika reviews, as well as the remainder of the Matoran and Piraka!
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