Saturday, September 13th, 2008 at 7:42pm by Andrew M, BZPower Reporter
[Source: Black Six, Omicron, Smeagol4, Makaru, InnerRayg, Kohaku, Darth Vader, Magpi, Nicole]
Several weekends in the past, a grand event occurred. This event contained so much pure awesomeness and collected together so many super-cool people that words cannot properly articulate how amazing it was. The planets were aligned and the foundations of buildings shook. It was transcendentally awesome. These people gathered in Tyson's Corner, Virginia for various reasons: to enjoy each other's company, to attend BrickFair, to heckle speech-givers, to sing Beatles songs (loudly), and more. However, they also did something just for you, dear denizens of BZPower. They all gathered in the Mezzanine level of the Sheraton Premiere to review a one '8698 Vultraz' Bionicle set, for your information and entertainment. Read on and watch on (for there is a video that should not be missed!) and be amazed.
Before taking care of business, let us introduce you to the players involved:
||Andrew (Black Six) aka He's Soooo Dreamy
|| ||Shilo (Omicron) aka That Is One HUGE Brick Badge|| ||Andrew M (Smeagol4) aka Action Hat
|| ||Bryan (Makaru) aka 9 Foot 27 Inches with Hands the Size of Alberta
|| ||Ray (InnerRayg) aka Stephen Colbert and Christian Bale combined
|| ||Joe (Kohaku) aka Record-Setting Bloggie
|| ||Patrick (Darth Vader) aka Ambassador of Tough Love|
And special appearances by:
|Meaghan (Magpi) aka Even Cooler than Shilo
||Nicole aka You Should Totally Join BZ|
|Avatar of Jen (Tufi Piyufi) aka The Puffiny Empress|
The totally cool Byron (Kopaka's Ice Engineering) was there for a time also, but as he had coordinating duties to do, he could not stick around. However, look for a cameo via telephone!
Now that you know our grand company, it is time to dive headfirst into the review! This is no ordinary review however, as you could likely already tell. This committee reviewed the set live at BrickFair and captured it on film. Watch the epic adventure unfold before your very eyes by right-clicking on this link and selecting 'save target as' to download the video (we implore you not to stream it, to preserve our server's proper operation). Note that if you tend to only watch either the video or read the text, definitely watch the video of this review. The video is the heart of this, and you will see the crazy antics of the BZPower staff in-person. Seriously, you've gotta watch this thing. Enjoy!
And now for the text:
From the design of the box to the instruction manual, these are the first things you see before building the set.
A giant thumb descends upon the crew
Andrew: The box was nothing exciting, the same standard design as we're used to with an action shot of the set on the front and details of its various function on the back as well as an ad for the other summer 2008 sets. Of note the 'actual size' mask image on the top of the box appeared to be a little smaller than the actual mask.
The instructions feature the same image as the front of the box, and contain all the usual warnings, most of which were ignored by the Staff. The back of the instructions features ads for the other vehicle sets and a form to subscribe to the Lego Magazine.
Shilo: It sucks.
Shilo handles the box with care!
Andrew M: This set is packaged in a cardboard box of comparable size to a generic Bionicle 'titan.' It is a bland box overall, with nothing especially eye-grabbing or graphically interesting about it. Alas!
Bryan: The grey packaging and lackluster swamp background. I'm not going to say this is a reason you shouldn't get the set. I take all my boxes to recycling, so this is hardly a deciding factor for me. But it might help to push the sets off the shelf if they had something splashier than black and faint green tones. It might help if the set wasn't just black and silver with a splash of dark red, as well.
The picture shows you what you're getting. It accomplishes this goal quite well. You aren't being tricked by angles or effects into seeing stuff in the box which isn't actually there. You aren't being fooled by this box into hoping for a better product.
Table of contents
Ray: This box is alright, and it shows some action, but the set itself drags down a good design
Joe: The box is ok, but there really isn't anything special about it, besides the fact that the mask isn't actual size.
Not actual size
Patrick: There have definitely been more exciting boxes in the past. Nothing on the box really flew out at me, the colours were mostly muted, and if I wasn't looking for it, I'd probably miss it for something more colourful and exciting. Usual action shot we've already seen in all the promo material, and an 'actual size' mask that is not, in fact, actual size. Disappointing.
One thing that was cool was the instruction book had other set ads within it again. Those are always fun, right? I like to know what it is I didn't purchase in favor of what I (or Andrew the Smeag) did. Instructions are also helpful for building the set...
Bobbert demands pictures of 'new or interesting pieces' in every review
Half the fun is had building the set. How fun is it to build and how easy or challenging is it?
We try to present multiple angles in these reviews
Andrew:The build here was pretty straightforward. When building a set with a group of people, be sure to remember to take turns and keep an eye out in case your silly Blog Leader puts pieces in the wrong spots. Nothing was too complicated, but overall it was fun going back and forth among the group of us trying to get the set together.
Shilo: It sucks.
He is not amused
Andrew M: The rider was thrown together in moments with utmost ease. He is but another incarnation of this year's stock matoran design: a torso with four limbs speedily plugged into it and a head snapped on. He does nothing of interest and is nothing of interest. The vehicle itself, as one would envision, has a greater degree of complexity, though I was surprised at how simple it ultimately remained. There are shockingly few pieces in this set, in fact; the whole thing is pulled together in an expedite manner. Unlike the Jetrax T6, which was a delight to construct, this is entirely straightforward and cannot be easily savoured. Woe!
Look at all the pieces! It's like it's Lego or something
Bryan: While reviewing the set, we actually took some time to fool around with some of the pieces beforehand. What we came up with, to me, seemed more interesting than what we were told to make. Maybe it's just the room full of AFOLs, but the actual toy we were building didn't really have much to it.
There was one particularly challenging aspect of the Zamor/Midak compartment on the front of the vehicle, however, where you had to connect the gun to the case from the inside of the set rather than from constructing on the outside. This was a particular challenge for me, mostly due to my soda-can sized fingers. That aside, it was an interesting angle to the build.
Ray: The building is not terribly hard, but more interesting than say, a Toa, so if you have a younger fan looking for something a little more exciting but not ready for a titan this is a good direction.
Joe: Building it seems kind of boring, but the vehicle construction is the only high point about it.
The puffin likes them
Patrick: Very boringly simple. There was not a whole lot of, well, anything to it. The build is quick, though takes longer in a group (what can I say, we had too much fun hiding the pieces from one another than building). The Matoran is the exact same as the others this year, so there are no surprises.
UR DOIN IT WRONG
Now that the set is complete, we can critique how it looks from every angle. New or interesting pieces can also be examined here.
We actually got that set together! That's an accomplishment.
Andrew: It has some interesting design elements but nothing too unique. There are no new parts in this set, just some pieces in new colors. Overall nothing to write home about.
Shilo: It sucks
Andrew M: As said previously, the rider is of no interest. He does nothing; he is nothing. But the rider of a set that is primarily gathered around a vehicle need not have proverbial bells and whistles, so this is forgivable. What is unforgivable is that the vehicle also has none; it is a stick upon which the rider very precariously and loosely hangs. Oy vey!
Bryan: Like I said above, the engine/weapon compartment had a different approach where you had to connect parts from the inside. The rest, as they say, wasn't much. I do find it interesting that there is a small engine right behind Vultraz's head. Awkward, and possibly unsafe placement for such an apparatus does not seem to falter in the mind of this crazed Matoran, it seems.
Could we get a little less silver next year though, please?
Your esteemed cameramen want to make sure you miss no details
Ray: This set would have benefited from more of a gun-like design, to enable the Midak to be fired for role-playing. As is, it is alright but as far as cool jets go it is on the low end of the scale.
Joe: The only real thing I liked about the set design was the Zamor compartment, otherwise there really wasn't anything special.
Patrick: Nothing complicated, what you see is what you get, and that's boring. Though I will admit, it looks sort of neat, but I'm still not impressed. Neat does not equal interesting or exciting. I could imagine this as a fan-made set in the BBC forum, and that would be okay with me.
I don't like the new mask. It's just sort of bland, and it's really big and obtrusive.
Shilo will be recieving this mask
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?
Set your phasers to 'kill'
Andrew: The main play feature of the set is the Midak Skyblaster mounted on the bottom. Above that is a compartment that opens so you can store your extra ammo. It doesn't automatically reload the blaster like the Zamor clips do so it's not incredibly useful. The canister sets and larger vehicles both have more features.
Shilo: It sucks.
Andrew M: The midak launcher is perhaps the best-operating of the Bionicle launchers to date (though it has not nearly the absurd appeal of the squid nor the grand fun of the Rhotuka), though it is also sadly a big, clunky and otherwise thoroughly detestable chunk of a Lego element. That said, it provides some good shooting fun with this little bugger, and that's about all this set has for playability. Mediocrity!
Bryan: The ability to shoot the Midak was surprisingly more fun than I originally concieved. I mistook the silver claw (landing gear?) for a palm support, and when I went to fire the first shot, it kinda broke. My guess it wasn't intended for use as such. What can I say, though? Manhands.
Aside from that, I guess you can have your own fun pretending you're flying the ship around. Being hand-held actually works as its advantage for once.
Not at the eyes or face! The instructions said not to.
Ray: A fun set to roleplay with, it's fairly easy to pretend to zoom through the air with the little guy. Like most of the toys this year, you buy this one for the finished product.
Joe: It has a handle so you can make it "fly" around and fire. The extra Zamor add to it a bit, because you can fire four, then open the neat compartment and reload.
Patrick: There's a maybe-handle to hold when you shoot the Zamor spheres (or Midak as I suppose the silver ones must be called), but it breaks quite easily. We broke it on the first shot. We are also well above the intended age. There is a possibility that this was involved in our handle breakage. The little balls of light shoot just as well as they have in the past, and have some pretty respectable distances.
Oh, and uh, don't shoot them at people. It's wrong, or something.
Comes in new flavours like MANANA and GUN
Final Countdown...I Mean, Thoughts
Once it's all said and done, how does the set stack up? Should I get it?
What's to like?
- Andrew: Cheapest Vehicle Set
- Andrew: Storage for extra Zamor spheres
- Shilo: It sucks.
- Andrew M: It is nicely affordable.
- Bryan: Decent build
- Bryan: Affordable
- Ray: Cool gun-like action for roleplay
- Joe: Neat Zamor compartment
- Joe: Affordable
- Patrick: Close to canister-level price
- Patrick: Midaks do launch pretty far with a satisfying click noise.
What's not to like?
- Andrew: No new pieces
- Andrew: Few play features
- Andrew: Not as cool as the other vehicles
- Shilo: It sucks.
- Andrew M: The build is not satisfying.
- Andrew M: It is downright skeletal in design and lacks any intriguing or fun features.
- Bryan: More Zamors
- Bryan: Dull colour scheme
- Bryan: I'm afraid of crushing it in my ginormous hands
- Ray: Just overall a boring set
- Joe: Boring set
- Joe: Boring small Matoran
- Patrick: Midak launchers
- Patrick: Boring Matoran
- Patrick: Ugly and obtrusive mask
- Patrick: Striaghtforward build with little playability
I wonder what that phone call could be...
Andrew: If you want a vehicle and can't afford one of the larger ones then go with this, otherwise you're probably better off saving some money and getting a canister set.
Shilo: It sucks.
Andrew M: Vultraz is not too interesting, to blandly state things. The build is not so enjoyable, the design is a mite boring, and the features are stilted. That said, it is quite a bit less pricey than the larger vehicles, which sport intricate designs and constructions but horrendously huge pricetags. It is also more fun to play with than the canister sets of this year. Thus, it resides in a direct middle ground: if you cannot afford the larger vehicles but desire a Bionicle set, Vultraz is the prime choice. If you can manage a greater economic setback, skip this one and nab a Jetrax or Rockoh. Huzzah!
And what do you think, MAKENSTEIN?
Bryan: A pretty decent set, in terms of affordability, if you can't afford the other vehicles this year. But I didn't find any of the pieces to be interesting, and it provides way more silver than I care to touch in my life. The Midak is a superior heir to the Zamor, but not enough to convince me that more marbles are good. The build isn't as remedial as I thought, so that's a definite plus.
I'd say get it if you're a completionist, or cannot afford the other vehicles. In terms of MOCing, all the parts can be found in other sets, except for the mask.
Ray: This set really is the low point for the year-it's not necessarily bad, but it is the worst of what's come out so far, with the possible exception of the five-piece Matoran.
And what do you think, RAY-GUH?
Joe: It's an alright set, but you are probably better off saving money to get a larger vehicle, or going with a few Mistika.
Patrick: You get more pieces in this set than you do in a canister set, for a slightly larger amount of money. However, there is a larger variety of interesting molds in the canister sets, so the price to piece ratio is slightly negated in this humble MOCist's opinion. The playability isn't very high, and the Matoran design is pretty boring still. I just cannot recommend this. Save up and buy the Rockoh T3. I like that one.
We <3 Tufi
And there you have it. It's possible something so incredibly amazing may never happen in our lifetime again--though with luck next year's BrickFair will be even better. Until then, keep kicking the awesomeness, fair citizens, and post your thoughts in the talkback thread!
No puffins were harmed in the making of this review.
Did you see that fish? That fish is awesome.
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