Saturday, January 27th, 2007 at 8:00pm by Andrew, BZPower News Manager
It's been a while since we last posted a set review, in fact, we haven't posted one yet this year. There's a good reason for this, however. Over the past month the staff at BZPower have been working behind the scenes on a new review format! The first review to use this new format is none other than the Barraki Ehlek, as reviewed be Forum Leader munkeymunkey. So read on to see the new format, but more importantly his thoughts on the set.
The canister. Sitting there so unassuming... Concealing the dismantled pieces of a vicious monster. If it weren't for the pictures plastered on the canister, you wouldn't know that inside was a menace to the world of Bionicle: the Barraki Ehlek.
From the design of the box to the instruction manual, these are the first things you see before building the set.
The canister itself is already something to admire. It doesn't serve a function like in the past, but it truly is a piece of art. The upper portion is a semi-transparent deep-sea blue, and the sides sport cracks and bubbles. The base of the canister is also interesting: it has swirls of different shades of green and a texture that, although distinctly plastic, is very entertaining to touch. Lastly, as you may have noticed, the entire thing is at a tilt. Very artistic, Lego. The one major downside is that I'm going to have some trouble stacking this with my canisters from 2001-2006.
Now, let us turn on the light and see what's inside...
The canister opens, and out creep some pieces. The light is dim, and they move with the pace of sleeping molasses.
Look here: 54 little pieces. Yes, indeed, that is more than in the average canister set, even the Toa Inika. There are plenty of Metru green and light green pieces, but none of them are new shapes. These will make up the main structure. The silver pieces are all new, as are the almost-rubbery, not-completely-opaque, green/yellow-green spine and head pieces. Lastly, there are a number of smaller dainties, most notably the red pins, which look like they're here to stay, now don't they?
The instruction booklet is pretty nifty. Note the bluish, underwater lighting, and the Mahri-Nui background to come.
Half the fun is had building the set. How fun is it to build and how easy or challenging is it?
The Building process is rather standard. Like most sets, you read the instructions, follow along, and try to restrain yourself from skipping ahead (yes, I did put the eyes in the head before I was supposed to). It's pretty simple, with the most complicated part probably being the construction of the "neck" that connects to the head group. I bet that even a caveman could do it. [Editor's note: the owners of BZPower wish it be known the our views do not necessarily agree with the reviewer's, especially as to the intelligence of a caveman.]
As expected, nothing but the Metru green and light green are used for the main structure. Lots of snapping fun for you sound-lovers.
This is about as complicated as it gets. Can you stick a gray plus road through a plank? Better hope so. Don't be too cocky, though; those little white teeth can slip right between you're fingers.
Once the head is on, Ehlek looks rather humanoid. See, he's running...
Ah, much better! Lego is really utilizing those spines. We're almost done. Now we just need some nice shiny weapons, and he's all complete. Marvelous, no?
Now that the set is complete, we can critique how it looks from every angle. New or interesting pieces can also be examined here.
Here we arrive at the finished product. Like I said, the spines make a BIG difference. They really complete Ehlek. Instead of a human, he's a hunched over creepy creature. His head looks more in place with the complementing colors. They blend in well with the light green, making him seem like a two-toned set. The silver highlights the set; it doesn't crowd out the other colors. This is another major plus.
Ehlek has the basic 13 points of articulation (3 per limb and neck) and two squeezable pincers. I suggest flaring them out a little; it looks cooler that way. Also, although his limbs are more simple than the Inika's or Piraka's (no shoulder pads or femur armor), he doesn't seem incomplete. He's sleek, sharp, and thin from his spines to his limbs to his long, pointy knife-like fingers. It's a good blend.
The feet seem to be a little big for him, but because of his weight being thrust forward, they're probably necessary. Even with such large feet, he still falls over sometimes. As long as his legs are bent over nicely, he works fine. Because of this, Ehlek has a tendency to crouch, but honestly, this looks much better than an Ehlek in full, stretched out form. He's sneaky and a slinker; he must remain stealthy.
The new pieces aren't very exciting. They're cool, yes, but they're really specific to their purpose as Ehlek's body parts. In other words, it looks like it will be hard to use them in many different ways in MOCs. The head is a head, and not much else. The spines are pretty specific, too. And how many ways can you really use a Polyp launcher? Nevertheless, it's nice to see more of the light green, especially in the ever-important ball joint connector pieces (i.e. arms and hands), and the green/yellow mixture is pretty sweet.
The other half of the fun is in playing with the set. How well does the set function and is it enjoyable to play with?
As far as playability goes, Ehlek isn't earth-shattering, but he's just as good as any of the recent sets. No, no gears, but his little snappers are fun to squeeze together, and I had a blast posing him (as seen above). His weapons are a great jabbing combination with his mandibles, especially when attacking fruit. Notice how the apple's color matches Ehlek's light green pieces. Anyway, he must have been hungry.*
When taking on moving enemies, Ehlek is just as handy. Matoran are no match for his Polyp launcher! The only problem here is that those little squids are seriously difficult to fire off, not to mention keep still. They insist of slipping out of Ehlek's holders, and they won't stay in the Polyp launcher well at all. Shooting them is another mystery. I've tried a number of things, even Pekel's suggestions from a previous review, but I'm still having trouble. And it's not as if I'm incompetent, so I'm a bit afraid for the cavemen. There must be a knack to it, so just keep trying!
Or, get frustrated like me and just throw an apple at them. That always works.
Once it's all said and done, how does the set stack up? Should I get it?
What's to like?
- Ehlek looks awesome and unlike any canister set we've had before.
- The Barraki are in no way "clone sets."
- Ehlek's color scheme blended nicely.
- Patterns: Ehlek has consistent spikes and points; even his arms and legs are long and thin.
- The canister is pretty.
- He's fun to pose, and play with.
What's not to like?
- He isn't great on new MOC pieces, but he's a good buy for anybody who likes to build with green.
- Polyp launchers are nowhere near as much fun as Rhotuka. In fact, they're as frustrating as brushing your teeth with chocolate super glue.
- Unlike previous canisters, these boys aren't going store well with anything else. Their shape may be a little too unique.
In the end, I've come (appropriately) to a conclusion: Ehlek is a great buy, but the squid launchers aren't. The Barraki as a canister series are great: no longer will you have to choose a set based solely on your favorite color. Now, there are differences in structure, building fun, playability, and style. Personally, I find Ehlek to be one of the cooler Barraki sets.
I hope you have enjoyed our new review format, we didn't want to keep boring you with the same format again and again. Maybe this one will last another five and a half years, who knows. Be sure to thank munkeymunkey for reviewing Ehlek, and keep checking back for more 2007 reviews!
*One apple was harmed in the making of this review.
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