Monday, December 11th, 2006 at 10:04pm by Andrew, BZPower News Manager
I know we said we were going to review all the 2006 sets, but each day it's looking to be harder and harder to complete that goal. We still intend to do our best, however, because that's what BZPower does. So today Forum Assistant Toaraga brings you a review of that other guardian of the Mask of Life, Umbra. Read on to find out if this set is for you!
As has been known since near its revealing, Umbra is ironically named: “umbra” means “dark,” but this creature is one of light who guards the Mask of Life. That aside, it’s only fitting who should review it. But enough with my jabbering; you came here to find out if this set is worth the big set price. Well, the answer is simple: keep reading and see. You were expecting a straightforward answer, but the way of BIONICLE is never that easy.
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.
What stands out on this particular set is the green top, a note that tells about light-up weapons, the Umbra Logo, and the “Special Edition” found in the upper left corner. There’s a bit of overemphasis on the wheels’ capabilities, but it otherwise has a mildly interesting backdrop. Just look for the bright yellow and darkish green, and you’ll find this set with ease among the different Voya Nui big sets.
Turning the box over, you’ll find a small display of the few functions that come with Umbra. If you’ve followed BIONICLE for the last year two years or more, these are pretty standard functions, but if not, I’ll summarize: eyes light up, weapons light up, Rhotuka (the little display in the top-right corner) launches when you pull the ripcord. Of note is that the Kanoka Club is still taking codes: Umbra’s can be found just above the ripcord display, along the top border.
All your typical warnings and such are found separated on any of the sides, but they’re rather uninteresting to photograph. Seriously, who wants to see some pictures of a bunch of text… unless it’s a picture of the text on money? Alas, there is no money found on the packaging of Umbra, so no pictures were taken. There are a few rather small pictures on the sides, but the only one that photographed well enough was the logo.
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?
Inside, you’ll find the usual: book, bags, and bunches of pieces.
If you open the book toward the back, aside from the many commonplace advertisements, you’ll find instructions in several different languages on how to change the weapons’ batteries. Each language is represented by two letters, so I have no idea what some of them are.
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 interesting pieces that you will encounter.
First, you’ll find your standard fare for any big set along with the Viking horns, which now seems to be becoming a little more commonplace.
Next, you’ll find ball connector in Keetongu yellow and those dark green versions that were found in Nidhiki back in 2004. There’s nothing new here, but Nidhiki green ones add to the few that have existed in prior sets.
You’ll also find some standard pieces that might be a bit useful in the current BBC Building Contest. Along with that is one Keetongu yellow foot, which will later serve as the chest plate for Umbra, a lone 7-lengths crossbeam, and a piece of Rhotuka launcher.
No Rhotuka launcher would be complete without a ripcord and of course, a Rhotuka or two. There’s also the much cooler light-up weapons; after all, you don’t have to retrieve launched light-up weapons. Kids, please don’t launch them!
Though the Rhotuka isn’t new, I do believe the gradient of green and gray is different, and just a bit interesting. Yet it seems a bit archaic, which is perfect for someone that’s been in the same place for several millennia.
Also found in this set is the pieces for the head, including his Kanohi, which looks remarkably like the Kanohi Ruru. Rest assured, much like his name, his looks can be deceiving.
Of note is this semi-flex rod: it’s purpose is to keep the weapons in place without seeming bulky or whatever.
Also inside, you’ll find what could be considered the new movement system when combined with the two hollowed-out ball joints that have been featured in all major 2006 sets.
Coming into the homestretch, we also have silver Piraka, Toa Inika, and Toa Metru body pieces. There are also silver and Keetongu yellow Climbing Claw pieces, originally found in Pohatu Nuva.
Lastly, the pieces that seem to have gotten probably the most flack for a BIONICLE set: the wheels. Last seen in the Pewku set, though less prominently, do they add something new or something terrible to Umbra?
What can you expect while putting this model together?
The build itself was pretty straightforward, what with nearly every piece’s being available in past sets. The set is so simple, it’s almost impossible to make a mistake, yet if you just follow the instructions, you will make one slightly noticeable mistake. The right hand is not connected in the book; whereas, the box and book cover have the piece connected.
If you think differently about this, you can give Umbra a little more flexibility. With the wheels for feet, that flexibility isn’t such a bad thing, as you can manipulate his weapon to create more stability while posing; however, battle poses are a little less possible.
So you've got the model together, but is it more like playing with a block of wood or an interactive toy?
For something with wheels for feet, Umbra is surprisingly posable, though there is also a limitation because of the feet. An alternative to this dilemma might be to create some unique feet for this ancient guardian, but I leave that to the MOCists. Of course, depending on whether the weapons are fully attached or not, you can create some really interesting displays; one problem is that the ripcord can get in the way sometimes if you leave it attached.
Whether re-enacting or re-inventing battles or perhaps even creating your own, Umbra is pretty fun. With wheels, there is but one question to ask: how low can he go?
Believe it or not, this idea came out of BIONICLE Legends #5: Inferno, but you’ll have to read that to understand it. So I’ll take this time to plug that book… go buy it already.
Did I mention his weapons light up? Well, they do for about ten seconds.
Here's where it all boils down to whether the model is worth your money and time or not.
Okay, so almost all the pieces can be found in previous sets, but Umbra isn’t too bad of a set. If you’re wanting this set for new pieces, the only new ones you’ll find are the wheels, but if you’re a compl etist or a MOCist, as usual, no one has to tell you whether to get this set or not. The decision then is really whether to wait for a price drop and hope the set makes it or get it now while you can still find it. If you hurry, you might be able to use some pieces for the contest mentioned earlier, but remember that Friday is the deadline, so get looking.
How would I judge Umbra? It’s not a terrible set; on the other hand, there’s nothing really super fantastic about it, but for its price tag, it is a rather decent set. The build is straightforward, and the completed set seems mildly complex yet simple at the same time; its look even seems archaic yet new. It’s limitation is what gives it its posability. Come to think of it, perhaps Umbra has the perfect name after all.
Irony, thy name is Umbra.
And that, my friends, is Umbra. Be sure to thank Toaraga for writing it up for all of us. Hopefully it helped you get a better feel for the set. Until the next review, so long!
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