Saturday, January 24th, 2009 at 2:45pm by Andrew, BZPower News Manager
Today BZPower Forum Assistant InnerRayg brings us our next set review. He takes a look at the Glatorian Strakk, and let's us know what this cool-as-ice warrior is all about. Read on to see his thoughts and opinions!
From the design of the box to the instruction manual, these are the first things you see before building the set.
So, first impression of Strakk?
"Man, this guy is cool."
What, I thought puns were in now? I mean, Lego did it, that means it must be cool right? Well, I guess now that we've "broken the ice" we can get on to the review.
Yeah, I'm going to be doing this the whole time.
So, the new Glatorian canisters are some of the most generic I've seen. Indeed, without the box art and tops this and the Mistika canisters would be impossible to distinguish. Both have the word "Bionicle" punched into the plastic on the side, both have a slot mechanic on the bottom to make the canisters stackable and both have the same generic shape and color.
It seems the people at Lego are banking on the box art to sell their products-and luckily, it seems like it might work.
Unlike years past, the box art has taken on a particularly elemental flavor. This kind of design should make you artists out there salivate - when Lego can succesfully distinguish a white and blue character from a white and blue background, you know that the team is top-notch. Here Strakk's icy blue eyes reflect the frozen heart locked within, withered and cold from years of merciless...
Well, maybe not, but he still looks pretty "cool".
Aha, you had thought I had forgotten about -that-. The back of his box is, in contrast to the front, super boring. Badly posed sets with poorly rendered colors on a stock background. But hey, you're not buying the toy for the packaging...
...or -are- you?
Half the fun is had building the set. How fun is it to build and how easy or challenging is it?
Hmm, now we get to the meaty center of this little nugget. When you pour out this cascade of blue and white you'll see some very appet"ice"ing parts. But we'll talk about that further down. For now we're gonna take a peek at the build.
When you open the instructions you'll be greeted with the standard cartoony render of our frozen Glatorian. Nothing spectacular - the days of the fully 3D rendered instructions have gone the way of the ice age, but I gotta say that Strakk looks unusually cool (No pun this time) in this format. This is where his transparant parts shine.
When you get down to the actual building, you're going to be struck by something amazing in the very first steps.
What? Innovative torso builds? In a -canister-??
That's right, this guy makes use of the Av-Matoran connector from last year to give his torso a 90∞ angle. This gives him a permanent hunch, but after years of the standard Metru hip piece + Inika Chest, it's a welcome change. He's not the only one either this year, check out Skrall and his review to see another unique torso.
As you continue to build, you'll (snow)drift into the old familiar paces, the double hip joint connects to the leg joint connects to the hip joint connects to the foot...but if you stop you might notice an odd color choice by Lego. Unlike past years, Strakk sports a three tone color scheme. Now, this is present in all the sets to some degree (Gresh has dark green, lime, and black, for example),but it is the most obvious on Strakk.
I like that Lego is branching out, but I'll be honest, I'm not sure if I like it. The light blue goes alright with the white/blue coloration on his armor, but I just can't dig the dark blue. I gave some serious thought to replacing it with white parts afterwards. It wouldn't be the first time I've had to spot-check colors on the Glatorian (I'm looking at you and your silver claw, Malum).
As you move on, you'll get to put on Strakk's helmet. I'll go into more detail on it down below, but I must say that I love the almost sinister character it adds.
At long last you get to those boss shoulderpads. You snap the axle pins in and...ooh.
Oh my. While those icicle shoulders look great, the second you put them on you're going to see that they do absolutely nothing for him in either profile or from the back. It's not a deal-breaker, Malum has the a similiar thing with his shoulders, but it does mean if you're smart you'll be displaying Strakk from the front. Ah well. At least he's not thin.
During the build I realized I had placed the torso incorrectly. The Av-Matoran piece was supposed to be connected up one peg further than where I had placed it. For the review I went back and put it in the proper place, but I honestly prefer my version.
The original version shown above allows Strakk much more neck articulation and gives you a spot on his back for the Life Counter, but it also makes him look like a chicken with his awkwardly long neck. It is true with my way you can't put the life counter on his back, but hey, you can always just put it on his shoulder or something. That is the beauty of Lego.
Now that the set is complete, we can critique how it looks from every angle. New or interesting pieces can also be examined here.
Aha, now we get to my favorite part. "Freeze" right there, because you don't want to miss this. (Kill me, kill me now.)
So you get a variety of new pieces along with the old in Strakk. There's his gigantic new Axe, his shoulderpads, his oddly thin new helmet, and his launcher and hands.
Starting from the head down, Strakk's new helmet is surprisingly thin and small. He's not the only one - Malum, Vorox, and Tarix all suffer from small-head syndrome. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, the size of masks has been going up ridiculously in the past years, and I like this turn toward smaller ones. In any case, it's pretty undetailed as far as helmets go, with a mostly smooth facade and some pretty ice detailing on the top.
Then we get to his killer shoulders. Oh. Wow. These things are works of art, beautiful in every respect. Like, these things are the reason someone who doesn't particularly like Strakk should buy him anyway - they have the potential to make some awesome ice scenery. The top blue portion is not only transparant, it is a soft rubbery plastic, much like Pridak had in 2007. I love this effect. It gives the piece a lot of flexibility and I suspect is the thing of divinity. I want more rubber like this Lego. For the record...
Full Rubber masks? Bad crazy. Fusion of rubber and plastic for armor? Good crazy.
If you "snow" what I mean.
Finally we get to the monster of an axe that Strakk wields. This is one of the largest weapons I've seen from Bionicle, and that is saying a lot. Granted, when combined into a shield Gresh's weapons are bigger, but Strakk definitely kicks his "ice" in a one on one comparison. It's also a beautiful mix of white and blue. Unlike the shoulders it is all hard plastic and has a gossamer texture to it that is shared by Tarix's Water blades. It's very pretty to look at. Lego, whoever is designing this year's weapons deserves a raise.
In fact, he's not the only one, Black Six. *Coughs.*
Oh, and there's that launcher thing. The pieces that make it up are bendy, but uninteresting. The Thornax is pretty "chill", but not nearly as shiny as the packaging implies. It is also rubber, if you were not aware, so you can't poke yourself or anyone else with it.
As for the new head and hands, well, if you haven't learned enough about them by now from pictures you need to go buy a set and find out for yourself. Personally I like them. The hands aren't perfect, but they add a lot of character to the sets that instantly differentiates them from the past few years.
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?
Well, why else would you buy this set but to use the Thornax to torture someone small and helpless?
What's that? Oh, you mean you're -not- supposed to shoot it at other people?
Man, did I misread those instructions. Sorry Mrs. K!
The Thornax shoots relatively far for a push launcher - the Thornax fruit also has a satisfying way of bouncing a bit. Still, if you're looking for pure power in a launcher then the Midak Skyblaster is still king. The Thornax only wins points in the style and simplicity catagories.
As for posing, the angled torso means that Strakk will perpetually be in a crouching pose, and trying to straighten him is going to go badly for everyone involved.
But hey, if you've got it, flaunt it, and Strakk pulls off the menacing crouch well. The emptiness of his shoulder armor is going to make most people resist moving the arms too much, and that is a downside. Also, the axe, while below-zero cool by itself, has this weird angle to it that makes it a little hard to pose. If you don't do it right, Strakk looks like he is either about to drop the axe or break his wrist.
The new Action Figure Game and Life Counter introduce a new side to Bionicle we haven't seen since 2001, a way to play with your friends and not have to resort to tearing each other's sets apart to "win"(-ter? This is a lot harder than it looks). I like this, and I hope to see it continue far into the future. Yes, it is campy, it is cheesy, but really, when has Bioncicle not been about the combination of cheese and drama in one delicious package?
Plus, the game opens up a whole new avenue of creativity, which with Lego is always a plus. Players can easily modify the game rules with their own stipulations - don't believe me? Check the forum topics about it. Post after post saying what specific models can and can't do, advanced rules, all sorts of things. I love this, keep it up Lego.
Once it's all said and done, how does the set stack up? Should I get it?
What's to like?
- Strikingly awesome new Ice-themed parts
- Innovative Torso build
- Great looking overall design - a character with "character"
What's not to like?
- "Empty" shoulderpads
- Humerously long neck - if you don't modify it ;)
- Confused color scheme
Most reviewers also like to tack on "Price" as a con, but I'm not. Yeah, it sucks, but the fact is that these price points are here to stay and I wouldn't be surprised if in a few years they go up again. You're either going to be willing to pay more or you won't, and the fact is that you still get the most plastic for your dollar with Lego anyway, so do what you feel is right.
As as whole, I gotta say he's a pretty solid buy. When I first saw the pictures of him in those -completely legal images- last year I was in love. The Ice Monster look, the elemental theme, the imposing axe, it sent a "shiver" down my spine.
Unfortunately he turned out to be the last Glatorian I bought. So how did he stack up to my expectations? Sadly, not so "hot." Yeah, his individual components are awesome, but the finished piece is just not as swell as it could be. A few different color choices, maybe a little redesign on that axe, and some rethinking on that neck and he would be a dream. If you're going to be picking up a few Glatorian then yeah, give him a go. But if you are limited to one or two, I'd say go with something better. My personal favorites are Malum for his firey elemental coloring, Skrall for his killer weapons, or Gresh for his overall awesome design, but you might prefer one of the other sets. Go take a look at some more reviews if you are still having trouble deciding.
That said, Strakk's character in the story seems like it will be a fun one. The official bio tries to hock him off as a cold-blooded mercenary, but the comics show he's much more likely to take the place of sarcastic pessimist, a very funny position. I suspect I'm going to come to really like him as the year goes on...
...and I "snow" you will too - Wait, I already used that one! Dang!
Well, that's Black Six, he's saying something about cryogenically freezing me forever... something about puns and being the worst since Arnie in Batman and Robin, so I think I better run. Till next time!
And thus concludes another set review. Be sure to thank InnerRayg for sharing his thoughts and opinions, and feel free to post your own in the Talkback. Finally, keep checking back for the latest Bionicle reviews and news!
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