Saturday, May 12th, 2007 at 6:00pm by Andrew, BZPower News Manager
For those of you who thought we had abandoned this year's set reviews, fear not, they return again! Today BZPower Forum Leader Toaraga reviews the aptly-named, manta inspired Barraki, Mantax. So whether you don't own any Creeps From the Deep yet or if you want to see how he stacks up against the other villains you already own, read on!
So you've gone to the BIONICLE section at your local store, looking for the latest sets: the Barraki. But you have to make a decision about which one to purchase. (For this scenario, you can only choose one.) Does Mantax stand out against the rest, or does he falter in comparison? Is this dweller of the ocean bottom worth the ~$10 price tag? How much wood could a woodchuck chuck? Today I shall answer all these questions* and more below.
From the design of the box to the instruction manual, these are the first things you see before building the set.
When browsing the BIONICLE section, you'll notice one of two things first when looking at the Barraki canisters: they are see-through, and they seem asymmetrical (more later).
Not since the Toa Metru have the standard sets been translucent, thus allowing potential buyers to see the pile of parts that will, when put together, make a creature designed by the BIONICLE team. Unlike previous translucent canisters, the Barraki's are blue, probably to signify the water world in which this year's storyline takes place: those bubbles are probably another indicator of this. Covering up the front and back are the labels that indicate which creature resides in each; the only other thing to indicate difference is the mountainous-shaped lid located at the bottom.
The Barraki's canisters are also not rounded; rather, they slant to the right. At first glance, it might seem the canisters are not symmetrical, but the lid is what really causes it to look this way: remove the lid, and it's actually pretty even. Because of this design, the canisters do not stack atop each other as previous sets, but if one is reversed (back to front), then two are somewhat stackable.
One thing interesting to note is the top of the container; within the design is what appears to be a big crack (almost shaped like a turtle): smaller cracks run down the sides. These most likely represents the opening of their former prison through which the Barraki escaped.
Half the fun is had building the set. How fun is it to build and how easy or challenging is it?
Once you've bought, opened, and emptied the container, next it's time to assemble the pieces.
As usual with small and medium sets, Mantax's build is simple and straightforward; unlike usual, the construction of each Barraki is different. If you've built other sets, you should have no problem putting some of it together by looking at the picture, but the instructions do become necessary at some point. There's not much else to be said: if you like putting things together, then Mantax is right up your alley.
If you take notice as you build, you just might see that some of the fun is most had within the construction process. Without the arms and actual head attached, Mantax appears to have (or be) a giant head.
Now that the set is complete, we can critique how it looks from every angle. New or interesting pieces can also be examined here.
Though I do prefer other Barraki's design over Mantax, his set design is a pleasant mixture of old and new pieces. The color scheme is also a good mixture of gray, silver, and black with just some red spikes that seem to cry danger to any unsuspecting passerby.
Some of the most interesting new pieces I did find were the head, shoulder "pads," and feet, for true MOCing potential is easily found there.
I found another piece that, while not necessarily seen as useful for MOCing, reminded me of the past.
(Homage to the Rahkshi perhaps…)
I did find something particularly bothersome with part of the design. It might be hard to see in the photo below, but the shoulder "pads" seem way too bulky for the very thin arms underneath them: all that empty space could be filled with some "arm"or. (Forgive the pun.)
Also, I noticed that the torso has a considerable chunk of empty space big enough for a hand (or at least a finger or two) to fit inside. What purpose this much empty space serves is beyond me.
I believe the tail pieces are only new to BIONICLE, not LEGO sets. Movement is limited on the tail, but it's a pretty good resemblance of the manta rays which Mantax is apparently modeled after.
Of course, I can't forget the Polyps. They tend to not stay in those little holder pieces, and that type of material it's made of tends to pick up dirt, dust, and other tiny debris if you're not careful.
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?
Despite these few flaws, Mantax doesn't really have any complaints from me. Its set design might be questionable, but it's good for some playability; albeit, I still can't shoot a squid to save my life (another reason I'm not too fond of them).
Mantax does have some fun poses:
Whether declaring victory (or surrender?)...
Crying out in pain or hunger (I wonder if that was his apple that munkeymunkey's Ehlek ate)...
Standing in a "Karate Kid" pose...
Or my favorite: Sleeping Sentinel...
Aside from posing Mantax, it is possible to use his head for some less-than-serious puppeteering (discovered while writing the review). Maybe this goes hand-in-hand with the empty space mentioned earlier.
Once it's all said and done, how does the set stack up? Should I get it?
What's to like?
- Each Barraki is different, and Mantax is no exception. (Yeah, you read that right.)
- That color scheme actually works for him.
- Intriguing design… that's one cool tail.
- Did I mention those new pieces? (They're awkward on Mantax but good for MOCs.)
What's not to like?
- Bulky pieces, stringy arms, empty stomach: why does he feel incomplete?
- Polyps: I hate those things. Why, LEGO, why?
Okay, so it has its flaws and isn't my favorite set, but I would recommend Mantax. If not for his design, get him for his pieces.
Mantax is lying and waiting... for you!
*I don't know about the woodchuck.
I believe the answer is 42 trees worth. Anyway, woodchucks aside, I hoped you enjoyed this glimpse of Mantax. Perhaps it gave you some new insights into the design and function of the set, or maybe it helped you notice some strengths and weaknesses you hadn't seen before. Whatever the case, be sure to thank Toaraga for creating the review and taking the time out of his busy schedule to do so. Hopefully, with spring in full swing, we'll be able to get some more reviews up soon, so keep checking back!
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