Sunday, July 18th, 2010 at 9:05pm by Andrew, BZPower News Manager
Welcome back, readers, for another Sunday set review. Today, rookie reviewer Toa_Velox takes a look at Hero Factory's Alpha Team leader Preston Stormer. Is this set awesome enough for you to track down and pick up? You'll have to read on to find out!
For my first staff review here on BZPower, I will be reviewing one of BIONICLE's replacements: Preston Stormer, otherwise known as the white Hero Factory set. Apologies in advance about the quality of some of the pictures - it's my first time using a black background, so I'm not quite used to it yet. Anyway, without further ado, Preston Stormer:
From the design of the box to the instruction manual, these are the first things you see before building the set.
As others said before me: the canister is really the exact same as the Stars', with the exception of a slightly different lid. I am glad that it is an actual canister, but at the same time it would be kind of nice to have something different to define Hero Factory.
The front and back are both similar to the Stars' canister, with obviously a few changes as it is Hero Factory and not BIONICLE.
The lid, too, is quite similar with some structural changes and the Hero Factory logo instead of the Skrall shield. I must say I do like the smoother design of the lid better than the Stars'.
Still, being just the canister, it's not all that exciting so I'll stop now before I start rambling (though I definitely do like the main design - as DV said, it does give it a "factory" look).
After opening the canister (which you will most likely need a knife, key, pen, et cetera to open) and dumping out the pieces, you see an instruction booklet once again very similar to the Stars', with Stormer's heroic pose once again taking up most of the space, and with the same background as the canister. Once again, like the Stars, the first page shows a group picture with all the Heroes, with the next page beginning the instructions.
Not that anyone needs the instructions.
Half the fun is had building the set. How fun is it to build and how easy or challenging is it?
So I'm not entirely fond of the pictures above, but as there's been two other reviews of basically the same set (all having similar building structures), I think they're fine (still working on my picture-taking). Anyway, the build is incredibly simple - so much so that, as I said above, you really do not need the instructions at all, especially if you have built a Star, Agori, Av-toran, etc. before, as the build is very similar.
Which is disappointing, considering there are absolutely no pins or axles. Sure, it makes a nice quick build for a smaller set, but I personally like building a set the most. When it's over I wish that there'd be more to it – all that's left is for it to go on a shelf or in a box for me as I don't play with LEGO sets any more. But if you like simple builds then this is the set for you.
Now that the set is complete, we can critique how it looks from every angle. New or interesting pieces can also be examined here.
Unfortunately, Preston Stormer only has 17 pieces. Considering, however, that all but five of those pieces are new molds, it's less disappointing than if it was just another Av-toran (as the past three years have basically been the same mold with some extra armor added). And that is awesome – new pieces are always welcome.
New arms/legs, new armor, new feet, new torso, new torso armor, new weapon, and as usual a new helmet, as seen above.
I'll start with the helmet - an interesting piece, yes, but nothing really that stands out. He has a mouth similar to the Stars Piraka, as there is a piece that sticks out, leaving both a gap and a mouth-type look (though if it is a mouth, that's one weird smile). He has small slits by both of his eyes, which while aren't very noticeable, are slightly cool. An odd thing, though, is that near his right eye he has small circular indentations. I'm not really sure what their purpose is, but it doesn't look all that bad (just odd, as I'm not sure what they're supposed to be).
As for the chest piece, I myself love the design. It gives the impression of being well armored, has a cool shape, and just overall looks good. The three spikes on either side also add a nice touch.
Next up is the... heartstone? Well, no, as this isn't BIONICLE, it can't be a heartstone. It does, however, look incredibly cool, and more trans pieces are definitely welcome. I especially like that it actually matches the head, both because they're matching and because that is my preferred trans-blue color. That icy-blue is a lovely color. Adorned with the Hero Factory logo, it is yet another nice addition to this set. Not to mention the shape is rather lovely as well.
The torso itself is a very nice piece, having a slight curve to it and several connection points - I'm sure MOCists will be pleased with that. I definitely like it more than the Stars torso, mostly because of the curve and shape (I always thought the Stars torso was slightly too small, and this one just looks good).
Next would be the weapon. The blue unfortunately does not match the head or chest-piece-ornament. And that is not the only unfortunate thing about it. I am quite disappointed that it does not attach to an arm piece. Honestly, I doubt it would have been that hard to just have it fit over an arm piece, but this is not the case.
Even more disappointing is the fact that it is not armored on both sides - the backside is hollow, which from the left side of the set looks quite awful. Really, it doesn't look good. Why LEGO couldn't add a little more plastic is beyond me.
The front side has nice detail, though, with the Hero Factory symbol, a buzz-saw, and other things, as well as the ice-thing on the end, makes an interesting weapon (but, again, would be awesome in the blue of the chest and head).
Another thing about the weapon-arm is that it disrupts the color flow. Before, it's always been white over blue (with the exception of the torso and left arm - the former being over black, and the latter having no white), but with the weapon arm all white, it's almost a little too much white. Really, it would be so much cooler if that weapon-arm could fit over another of those blue limbs. Also because it makes one arm shorter than the other, which from the front looks odd. But anyway. Enough of my rambling about the weapon.
The arms/legs are similar to the Stars limbs, but both slightly better and worse. I like the angle and overall shape of the limb better than the Stars before it, but it would be nice to be able to use the Stars' armor pieces – adding Takanuva's white chest piece would look lovely on the single arm, since it looks rather thin by itself (not to mention it would add more white, which would match the legs better). But alas, that is not possible.
The leg armor pieces are definitely a nifty touch. Though, to be honest, the first thing that I thought when I saw them was, "Hey look, he has pants!" But once you get over that and realize it's armor, it actually looks quite impressive - definitely gives it a nice armored look, which goes well with the torso and gun-arm. It attaches via a single plus-rod (that is already molded into the armor piece - no pins or axles in this set) to the upper portion of the leg.
And last but not least, the... shoes? Shoes, feet, whatever, they're cool. The shape is nice, and the detail is also impressive. I especially like the back of the feet where there are those rocket-things. They reminded me of one of Nuju Metru's BZPRPG characters as that character has "rocket boots." I don't know the story of Hero Factory, but hopefully this guy flies.
Now for the set itself: Overall I think it looks better than any small, white BIONICLE set - Takanuva, Metus, Solek, etc. He's well armored (except for his left arm, unfortunately (well, and also his back, but when was the last time LEGO armored the back of a set? So yes, some back armor would be nice, but whatever) - that sort of ruins the nice flow that LEGO had going), has nice new pieces, and just looks cool.
Really, the main flaws are his two arms. If you only pose him so his right side (gun-arm side) is showing, then he looks great, especially if you cover up his weak-looking left arm. But, no set can be perfect, can it?
Last thing I'll touch here will be the colors - very lovely combination in my opinion. I'm liking the black, blue, white coloring. If there was just more blue on the right arm and more white on the left (such as the Stars armor, if it could be placed there), and the gun-blue would match the other trans-blue, it'd look so much better, IMO. On the note of colors, if LEGO did have to have just the one-piece gun/arm/hand, then the Y-connector piece that connects it to the shoulder would be better in blue, but whatever.
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?
Like all the other Av-toran designed sets, he is able to be posed well, with the exception of being able to move his arms/legs/torso (the usual with a small set). His feet do allow good support for the rest of his body.
On that note, the feet have a humanistic movement capability, which I personally am fond of - the leg armor helps with this. Of course, with his gun-arm being one all piece, he is unable to move his right hand at all, the only movement coming from the shoulder.
The head also has humanistic movement. Other than that, he's just an Av-toran build and has his limits in movement, even if he does look pretty cool.
Once it's all said and done, how does the set stack up? Should I get it?
What's to like?
- Cool new pieces
- Overall he looks good
- Nice color scheme
- Mostly well-armored
- Better than most other small sets
- Better limbs than Agori and Stars
- New torso piece
What's not to like?
- Still an Av-toran and boring build
- Arms leave something to be desired
- The weapon's blue doesn't match the other trans blue
- Only one side of his weapon-arm looks good
- He's expensive
That last part I haven't mentioned until now – the price is quite high, being about a dollar for every two pieces. Which is slightly ridiculous, but I'm used to it by now.
In the end, though, I'd say that the pros outweigh the cons. Some of the other sets may be better than Preston Stormer, but overall I think he was mostly worth it (and Hero Factory as a whole looks promising).
And so yet another set review concludes. Be sure to thank Toa_Velox in the Talkback, as well as ask any questions or add any comments you might have. Stay tuned for more reviews, as well as our upcoming anniversary celebration!
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