Sunday, May 30th, 2010 at 9:09pm by Andrew, BZPower News Manager
[Source: Darth Vader]
Today we bring you another set review of a wonderful (perhaps) LEGO set. Blog Leader Darth Vader has picked up the Ben 10 set Jet Ray, and has decided to share his thoughts on it. Read on to see how it stacks up compared to the other Ben 10 and Bionicle sets.
From the design of the box to the instruction manual, these are the first things you see before building the set.
Jet Ray, unlike our heroic BIONICLE figures of yore, forsakes the fun (and space/oil/plastic/money-wasting) canisters of our youth with a cardboard box. This box is, roughly, the same size as the boxes Roodaka or Keetongu arrived in, all those years ago. I like the disposability of this. I think I still have all the canisters from 2001-2005 in an old closet somewhere, and I would rather not have to add any more to it. (Though that begs the question of what I did with all the post 2005 canisters, I suppose.)
Stock catalogue image provided by the LEGO Group
I may or may not have been unable to find the box for Jet Ray when I went to take review photos. Oops!
On the front of the box we see Jet Ray crouching and reaching for your purse. You don't have a purse? Jet Ray must have already taken it. I think he's actually supposed to be flying, or maybe taking off for flight, but he really just looks like he's crouching. Kind of awkwardly, even. I think the other aliens, who adorn the box as silhouettes behind him, are probably making fun of him.
To the top-left there's an over-sized LEGO logo, followed by a "Ben 10 Alien Force" logo. The top-right contains a blurb letting you know that this is a buildable alien. Just in case the LEGO logo didn't tell you that already. Gotta play it safe. The bottom left has Ben Ten himself, looking older than I remember from when my little brother watched the show on Cartoon Network (whose logo also adorns the box). Oh, apparently "Ben 10 Alien Force" is a sequel to "Ben 10". So that makes sense.
The sides of the box have those legal disclaimers that I love so dearly. I was worried they might have left me as BIONICLE met its death, but no, they will not forsake my love!
The back has an image of the set in mid-build. Just in case you still didn't know this was a buildable alien.
Half the fun is had building the set. How fun is it to build and how easy or challenging is it?
So, uh, remember all those times I complained about the simplistic building style of the average canister set?
Jet Ray is even worse. I wish he was as complicated as the sets I've been decrying for years were.
But he's not.
This build is really reminiscent of an Av-Toran/Agori/Stars build more than one of our now-defunct canister sets. There's a body, a head, and limbs, and they all snap-together without any pins or axles.v
Sure, Jet Ray and the other Ben 10 sets have knees and elbows. But that's the sole difference between these and the aforementioned BIONICLE Impulse sets.
Jet Ray is buildable without needing a construction manual. But he comes with one anyway, because... Well, um...
Seriously, you just look at the picture on the box, and that's just to make sure you get the upper-limbs facing the proper way. The rest is literally snap-and-click.
Now that the set is complete, we can critique how it looks from every angle. New or interesting pieces can also be examined here.
So, there's an upside to this whole 'new brand, new look' thing. There's not a single piece in this set you'll have in your collection without a Ben 10 set (until Hero Factory inevitably reuses them). Every piece in this set was, at the time of release, brand new and Ben 10 specific.
The limbs are, well, not to resort to rabid-AFOL-esque terms, juniorized versions of the limbs anyone whose bought a BIONICLE set in recent years is familiar with. I say juniorized because instead of the sockets with armour as separate pieces route, we get upper-limbs that are a solid one piece, with no pin or axle holes. Sure, there's a hole that a viking horn or lightsaber rod or minifig weapon can fit into. And those aren't exactly useless to the seasoned MOCist.
The lower limbs fare slightly better, containing both the small viking horn holes, and two axle holes. Unfortunately, the axle holes are located only on the 'back' of the pieces.
Both of these types of pieces feel both more solid than our normal limbs (lacking the stylized holes and structures of most BIONICLE pieces), and yet thinner too.
The feet are most reminiscent of Bohrok feet, or LEGO Hockey maxi-fig feet. The socket has been turned ninety-degrees, so that when lined up, the socket bracings face front-back instead of side-side. Which unfortunately hinders the posability of Mr. Jet Ray. This may be a more realistic range of movement for a humanoid ankle, but without toes to add in the extra foot-range, this is detrimental. Also lacking is, again, any axle or pin hole connections. I had assumed originally that these would probably end up like the Bohrok feet, with an axle hole that sits underneath the toe-protrusion-arch, but no such luck. While that would be an incredibly handy feature, anyone wishing to use these in a MOC will have to utilize the socket, friction, or a rubber band.
The hands are probably one of the set's best new molds. Made out of a hard-rubber substance (much like the Krana), they contain three clawed digits. While the thumb and two fingers are set just far enough apart that the hand can't grasp anything with a normal LEGO weapon circumference, they still look wicked and I'm sure will come in handy for MOCists wishing to add some clawed fingers to a MOC. Unlike my colleague xccj, I didn't (and don't) have any problems with the hands falling off the arms, but I would not be surprised to see that as a common issue. Rubber isn't exactly the greatest at staying in one shape.
The head is one piece, with the socket screwed into the head. Unfortunately, much like the foot, the socket is facing the wrong direction for maximum posing feats. Of course, as the socket is connected via screw, a jewelery screwdriver could help someone determined just a little bit to loosen, twist the socket, and tighten the assembly. I haven't done it, but I have seen pictures from those who have, and it does indeed still fit inside the head this way.
The head design is, I think, pretty neat. It reminds me more of a Mexican wrestler than the face of the Jet Ray alien from the television show this figure is based on. The head-stalks are much smaller on the set than the show, for one. But I like the grimacing teeth, and the angry eyes.
The wings are my personal favourite new piece, and the reason I purchased Jet Ray and not another Ben 10 figure. It's a more malleable rubber than the hands, and attaches to the axle-holes on the bottom of the lower arms and one in the neck. Connecting as they do, they create a flying squirrel or Spider-Man-depending-on-the-artist set of arm gliding membranes. I really like this.
Oh, and there's a tentalce for the tail that has an axle instead of a pin built in. It's cool.
Outside of these, there's the torso.
The torso piece itself suffers from one-giant-piece-itis. However, it is gorgeous. It has a contoured spine designed into the back, with several axle holes and the smaller viking horn holes running alongst it. The set also features an extra set of ball joints for arms. This is also awesome. My one dislike, besides the whole "one big piece" thing, is that the hip joints are set on the same plane as the (flat) bottom of the torso, much like the Vahki waist pieces. This is not very realistic, and the torso would look much neater of the ball joints had been moved up closer to the hip contours built into the piece.
The armour piece (which is a separate piece from the torso, although they come connected in the box) is also an interesting piece. More solid, and more interesting (in my opinion, anyway) than the torso armours we've seen in BIONICLE canister sets, it has the watch-thingie-logo on the chest. This is not a sticker, or another piece, but a small printed section. The armour connects via a built-in-axle on the backside into the torso. This is the only normal connection point. Which is a bummer. However, there are, again, some viking horn sized holes on the front. I really like the contours and shaping this armour piece provides, and much prefer it to the canister set armour we'd gotten in BIONICLE sets. Especially that giant flat triangle one that came with Matoro Inika. Yuck.
The armour piece is compatible with the average Toa torso as well, as illustrated by Lewa:v
Which is a plus. I think, anyway.
The set itself is slightly larger than the average BIONICLE canister set. However, as BIONICLE fans, one piece of commonality should immediately show itself - the ridiculously long arms. While not as ridiculously long as, say, Mata Nui Legends, they're still comical. Especially as the arm and leg builds are the exact same. With the exact same pieces. I guess one could say that these are supposed to be aliens, but still, the problem remains. In fact, the images of Jet Ray I found on Google when I typed his name in while looking for a box image show that Jet Ray in fact has really long arms, but short legs. Which would have been neat.
And then I wouldn't have gotten to do my trademarked proportions complaint.
(Whew, glad we didn't have to deal with uncharted territory!)
The colours may bother some people, with Metru Red used for the hands, feet, and torso armour, with bright red used for the limbs, and the head, with a black torso and yellow wings, but I'm pretty meh on that. It just doesn't bother me. I like the yellow accents on the face, and I think it all comes together really well on Jet Ray.
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?
Jet Ray has all the normal canister-set articulation points (head, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, elbows, knees, ankles) with some of the new socket orientations acting as hinderances in certain poses.v
But the biggest hindrance is that awesome wing/gliding thing. As awesome as it is (and it is indeed awesome!), the rubber piece causes the same general problems as the Piraka spines. It's hard to get the arms to stay where you want them, most specifically, as the rubber will pull them back towards the body. It's not the most egregious of problems, but it's still one worth noting in a negative manner.
Jet Ray doesn't come with any functions, and he also doesn't come with any launchers. In face, he doesn't come with any weapons either. He comes with nothing, actually. At all.
Which begs the question, what does one do with Jet Ray? I understand it's an action figure for roleplaying. But still. And as xccj noted in his February Big Chill review, as the LEGO Ben 10 line comes with only heroic aliens Ben can turn into... I'm left with just a question mark.
Of course, there's always fun poses.
Or having Tahu face this part-of-BIONICLE's-replacement action figure down:
Which may or may not lead to Tahu [heroically] running away (like Brave Sir Robin):
Once it's all said and done, how does the set stack up? Should I get it?
What's to like?
- Not a single old mold
- Some neat pieces
- BIONICLE compatible
- Great torso
- Great range of articulation
What's not to like?
- VERY EXPENSIVE
- SERIOUSLY, YOU'RE PAYING ALMOST A DOLLAR PER PIECE
- No pins or axles
- Very little connection points
- Limited articulation in ankles and neck
- Comes with... Nothing
- Substandard limbs
- Not show accurate
I bought Jet Ray for the pieces. I can always use more red parts, whether in system or BIONICLE-compatible limbs. I don't regret my purchase. However, as a set, I cannot say that Jet Ray is worth the large price tag. He comes with 17 pieces, and costs around $15 USD. Tahu Star has 19 pieces, and costs around $9 USD. I think that's a point that makes itself. As a stand-alone figure, Jet Ray is kind of fun to pose and photograph. He comes with a wide-range of new pieces, and that includes an awesome torso and winge/glider piece. But as Ben 10 is marketed to an even younger audience than BIONICLE (I'm assuming, the age range is lower on Jet Ray than on Tahu Star), I just don't think most BIONICLE fans are going to be very interested in this. And in that regard, I cannot reccommend this as a worthwhile purchase. Especially at full price.
So that concludes yet another set review here on BZPower. Hopefully you enjoyed it, and be sure to leave any questions, comments, and thanks for Darth Vader in the Talkback. Of course, keep checking back for more set reviews and all the latest news.
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