Wednesday, January 9th, 2008 at 2:17pm by Andrew, BZPower News Manager
[Source: ToM Dracone]
Today we wrap up the Toa Mahri reviews. BZPower Forum Assistant ToM Dracone has kindly given a very in-depth of this Toa of water, Hahli Mahri. Are they wings or fins? How does the lime work with the blue? Should you get the set? All these questions and more are answered within, so read on!
From the design of the box to the instruction manual, these are the first things you see before building the set.
By now you’re probably well familiar with the oddities of the Mahri “canisters” – bulky, not even actual canisters, and, usefully enough, peppered with Technic attachment points. These things are more like frames than anything else, but I find their sheer size does distract somewhat from what’s supposed to be the focus, the picture of Hahli. It is a nice picture of her, though; much more dramatic than any of the Barraki’s.
And as you also well know, it has a cardboard back – the same material and thickness as the box of a small Lego set. The back is, thus, completely flat and able to be scanned, as shown above.
In the center is Hahli, not in the most flattering of poses or lighting, and around her (using the circle design that’s the Mahri’s trademark) various set and story pictures. Her “canister” is shown used as a sort of fort for Hahli to crouch in – nothing anywhere about it being used to store her.
Unfortunately for your storage space, if you’re one to keep the boxes to things, it's almost the same size as the enormous Inika canisters. Just a little thinner from side to side.
As you can see, under the blue shell is a clear plastic bubble, with nothing to pop or unscrew off like we've had since 2001. Instead, in the bottom left corner of the cardboard backing is a light, semicircular perforation. In theory, one punctures that and then tears open the rest of the cardboard to get to the pieces. But for those of us (like me) who prefer to be less barbaric and keep the back intact, it's very easy to peel off the cardboard, starting at one of the corners.
This is also a useful alternative because one only needs to peel the back off halfway, at which point it's easy to extract the pieces from inside. This way the "canister" can still function to store pieces, as its rigidity makes the back lie just about flat after you've gotten the pieces out. And there's always masking tape if it doesn't.
Inside, we find that the Mahri, for the first time among canister sets, have most of their pieces in a plastic bag. Presumably this is to keep them from leaking out should the back be punctured prematurely. The only things outside said bag are her largest or longest pieces – talons, wings/fins, breathing tube, Cordak blaster, and of course the instructions.
Half the fun is had building the set. How fun is it to build and how easy or challenging is it?
Before one can build, one has to have pieces, and Hahli comes with the strangest assortment of them (visually, at least) since Hewkii Inika or Carapar, thanks to her illogical color scheme and the disfiguring redness of the Cordak stuff. But I’ll talk about those later.
Like any Toa set these days, Hahli's build is quick and straightforward. However, she earns many points of distinction with her wings, which make the process – and outcome – considerably more interesting, if not much longer.
Her mask is also the most complicated to date, coming in three pieces: the mask itself, the visor underneath, and the Barraki eye at the top. Plus the two clips for her breathing tubes, if one counts those.
Now that the set is complete, we can critique how it looks from every angle. New or interesting pieces can also be examined here.
My goodness, there's a lot to talk about here. I'll begin with her pieces, because they are one excellent reason to buy Hahli...
Hahli comes with six recolored Inika pieces, an absolutely wonderful thing: Inika legs, shoulder armor, and round feet in solid dark blue, rather than the white-swirled design she had as an Inika. It's a MOCist's dream. She also comes with a Barraki eyepiece in ice blue, a welcome addition to the transparent blue and red that the Barraki had.
She also has six new molds, four of them new to her specifically, plus nine Cordak-things. Her Protosteel talons are huge, but I find look good, now that I've gotten used to them.
Her wings/fins are long but comparatively thin, which is what fins are supposed to be, but they still look and move distinctly like wings. But what really matters is that they look absolutely cool and function well, so what they're called becomes moot. The Metru hip piece on Hahli's back gives them almost a full range of movement – they can be up, to the sides, swept back... The only thing they can’t do is move frontward and wrap around her.
They're really Hahli's defining quality, the unique point that sets her aside from every canister set made before. Have I mentioned how awesome they are?
The Mahri's breathing tubes are a good piece, and a very welcome one, too: something as thin as an axle, but with almost the flexibility of a normal ribbed tube piece. Hahli’s isn’t completely secure in the system clips that attach it to her Faxon (the very ends bend forward slightly), but it stays in there. The result also has one of the most realistic appearances of the Mahri, what with the quintessential look of diving equipment – tubes going from the mouth to the back. Some have complained that the ends don’t actually plug into her mask, and while it might be slightly better if the Faxon were designed with holes facing the sides rather than the front, it really looks fine as it is.
The way Hahli's body is constructed means that the tube is wedged slightly against her body, so one has to be careful when moving her head side-to-side. More on that later.
Her mask is glorious. The mask and its visor absolutely belong together, and the effect simply looks perfect. It's a little square from the front, but from the side or an angle it just looks nice. Like the rest of the Mahri’s Kanohi, Hahli's Faxon fits smoothly onto a Metru head. Unfortunately, it's just slightly too narrow to go on one of the original Toa heads...
Above, the mask without visor or Barraki eye, and the visor itself, which is ice blue. There was much anticipation as to fitting the visor into other masks, but unfortunately this actually works on very few of them. The effect of a visor is also completely lost in all the earlier masks it fits into, simply because the Faxon, Volitak, and Tryna are the only masks that are actually designed to fit over the visor. (Augmented now by the Miru and Kakama Phantoka.)
An image of the visor in the mask from the inside... the mask's mouth axle is longer than usual to accommodate it.
The Cordak blaster is mediocre in the extreme. It's huge. Far too big to look good on the Toa Mahri – Maxilos is the only set big enough for it to be in proportion. It also comes in one pre-assembled piece. It only works for me about half the time – you have to press the red part really hard and really fast, and even when you do it’s still tempermental.
Function-wise, the Zamor were much better, since they always fired. I also liked the Zamor launchers better in that one could build them oneself. The Cordak do have one thing in their favor, at least: the ammunition doesn’t fall out.
Hahli's extra ammunition (she comes with nine pieces total) is supposed to be stored in her back, but I just leave it out – it’s garish even there and the one in the center protrudes distractingly.
Which is another problem with the blasters and their ammunuition – they’re red. Red. All of them. I’m not sure a worse color could have been chosen. Red and lime clash terribly, and when you throw bright red onto the already awkward combination of dark blue over lime green, you get an eye-searing combination. Everything about the Cordak would have been much better in either a neutral color or in elemental colors.
The single worst part of Hahli Mahri is her color scheme: lime green and dark blue. Now, lime is a nice color. But it’s also a very bright one, attracting the eye wherever it’s used – and this is a problem on Hahli, whose dark blue is very dark indeed. The lime immediately draws attention to itself, especially in her thighs and arms, with the long stretches of it, from many angles unbroken. These make the blue look both greenish and far too dark, and if you put Hahli somewhere without a good source of white light it makes her look black. Not good.
The two can work together, for instance in her canister picture. Said picture completely covers up her long lime sockets, leaving only small bits of lime against blue, which looks great. But that picture also has the dark blue brightened so much it looks like Gali’s blue, not dark blue, which works better with lime. In real life, the blue is quite dark and the lime double-sockets are exposed from most angles.
Light blue is much more aesthetically pleasing, methinks, is less obtrusive, was actually Hahli’s original color scheme (it might be just me, but I always like color continuity), and much more suggests a Toa of Water.
Her orange eyes are another problem – orange clashes severely with lime. Coupled with red, the two stand out horribly against the already struggling lime green and dark blue. The red Cordak stuff and reddish-orange-looking eyes wouldn’t be half as bad over dark blue and light blue: then it would be effectively red over blue, rather than three contrasting colors competing with each other.
Structurally, Hahli has the standard humanoid build (minus her wings). There have been complaints that her construction is virtually the same as her Inika form's, but to me that's one of her positive points. We get six recolored pieces – what is there to complain about? It's also not a bad design, aside from the too-wide shoulders and too-long arms.
Visually, her main structure flaw is the reversed Piraka torso, making her chest look concave and emtpy, which it is. Play-wise it’s better like this, since the front-facing Piraka chest impedes her head slightly, but she could really do with some chest armor of some sort.
The gap between the two pin/axle joiners that attach the Metru hips to her back is also unsightly, though necessary with the Piraka torso and breathing tubes the way they are, alas. Fortunately, it’s not a prominent flaw.
Another benefit of using Inika limbs is that the final appearance is extremely aquadynamic – smooth, sloping limbs; broad, flat feet; a round, sweeping mask; and finally the lightweight, wide fins for extra propulsion or maneuverability. Claws, too, are practical underwater. (Though her Inika harpoon is even more so, I guess the Cordak took that place.)
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?
Hahli's wings place her far above any other canister set from the past two years in terms of fun to pose. Aside from them, she's the same as the Inika in poseability, but they're all she needs to make her much more interesting to look at in any pose. Her box, of course, provides a suggestion for a more dramatic underwater pose, like the one above...
The Cordak blaster is ungainly and awkward in any pose. It's huge, it clashes with the lime and blue, and it has an inconvenient connection point – it's best just left off entirely.
The one downside (after the blaster) to her playability is her breathing tubes – cool though they look, one has to be careful when moving her head so as to prevent them from popping out. This is, fortunately, very easy to do: one just needs to ease the tube through its connector piece at the back at the same time as one moves her head.
If you don't have sufficient light blue pieces to redo her color scheme, here is one amendment I avidly suggest: attach her talons with a blue axle/pin piece. This way, they're realistically positioned relative to her hand, and the ball at her wrist holds the talons in place. It's much more streamlined. Also easier to pose.
Of course, as you heard in Lesovikk’s review and have from many BZP members aswell, be careful with Hahli’s single sockets. (Meaning her neck, hands, ankles, and wing joints.) They’re usually fine the first time you build her, but if you must take her apart use great caution – four of the seven snapped as I was doing so. (Two more have since I first wrote this review.) Since this is not a piece that has ever broken on me otherwise in my now seven years of Bionicle fandom, the problem is obviously in the lime color, not the mold.
So if you take her apart (for instance to give her light blue, as I did), be warned that you might be stuck that way unless you have a hefty supply of extra lime joints on hand.
Above, the three Hahli released so far, accompanied by her Tohunga form (pardon the normal blue feet; I only have one set of dark blue Tohunga feet).
If you're one to just pose sets and admire them, Hahli looks good in the context of the other Mahri, but she and her three preceding forms are rather a motley crew... bit too motley for my tastes.
Once it's all said and done, how does the set stack up? Should I get it?
What's to like?
- Solid dark blue Inika pieces
- A very cool mask
- Streamlined, aquadynamic design
What's not to like?
- Lime green
- The Cordak blaster and everything about it
- Reversed Piraka torso and resulting empty chest
- Brittle, easily-breakable single sockets
I’m very tempted to add “no red axles!” to the list of pros – she, Jaller, and Nuparu were mercifully spared their eye-searingness. Which is a very good thing.
Hahli is my personal favorite of the Mahri, despite her color scheme woes. You get a bunch of recolored pieces, some rather cool new ones, an awesome mask, and another dark blue Piraka body to boot. And she has wings! (Or fins, or whatever you want to call them.) They bring distinction and glory to Hahli just by themselves.
Those excellent things mostly outweigh her flaws – and of those flaws, the lime green is the biggest. Still, lime is a nice color in less clashing combinations, so if you're an MOCer, that might even be a positive point for you. Assuming it doesn't break on you. It just isn't so great on Hahli. (From some angles, it’s not so bad, like the picture below.) The Cordak blaster is just as uncooperative as the squid launcher in the way of firing, and huge and cumbersome to boot. Not good.
Should you buy her? Of course you should. She's Hahli. She has great pieces. But if you can, I really suggest you make her secondary color light blue. It improves her appearance infinitely. And be careful when taking her apart.
And that concludes the Toa Mahri reviews for 2007. There are still two playsets remaining, and while we may try to get reviews for them at some point, we intend to focus on 2008 sets at this point. Keep checking back for our next review, which, with any luck, should be Chirox. Also, be sure to thank ToM Dracone in the Talkback for this great review!
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