Sunday, December 12th, 2010 at 6:45pm by Andrew, BZPower News Manager
It's time to take a break from the 2011 set reviews and remember that it's still 2010. Today I give you a review of Thunder, done by, wait for it, me! I picked this set up at the damaged box sale at BrickFair this past August, and am finally getting a chance to take a closer look at it. What makes this Hero Factory villain tick? Read on to see!
From the design of the box to the instruction manual, these are the first things you see before building the set.
The first thing you see before you buy this set is the box. Thunder actually looks kind of cramped on there and his pose looks rather awkward. There's a reason for that, as we'll discover later. The claw and his blaster do stand out though, especially the claw. After having seen it at Toy Fair earlier this year, that was the reason why I picked this set over the other Hero Factory villains. He seems to have burst through a wall, Kool-Aid Man style, or possibly via the help of some lightning powers.
Also on the front of the box are the requisite LEGO, Hero Factory, and "From the Makers of Bionicle Characters" logos, the age range (I swear I'm not too old to be playing with LEGO), the piece count (only 47), the set's name, and a choking hazard warning.
The back of the box shows Thunder facing off against Natalie Breez, firing whatever they're calling the Thornax launcher these days, and using some kind of electrical power. I guess this makes sense, since thunder is the sound made by lightning, but with a name like that I would have expected more of a 'sonic boom' kind of power. You can also see his stats; he's pretty strong and durable, but is lacking a bit in the other two categories. The back also highlights his claw and launcher functionality.
Half the fun is had building the set. How fun is it to build and how easy or challenging is it?
When you open the box and dump out the contents, you're presented with an instruction manual and bunch of pieces, primarily black, silver, and grey. No, the stickers do not come already applied.
The building process is very straightforward, not much harder than any of the Toa sets from years past. The claw and launcher are the most complex stages for sure, while the application of the stickers is the most difficult.
I don't buy or build a lot of sets these days, but I had no problems assembling Thunder in a few minutes, both the first time I put him together and when I did it again for this review. I don't think anyone will have trouble with this villain.
Now that the set is complete, we can critique how it looks from every angle. New or interesting pieces can also be examined here.
Overall, I was not impressed with the design of the set. In certain poses he looks alright, but from the side and back you can see that unused ball join from the torso piece just hanging around not doing anything. The torso itself isn't very solid, although I've definitely seen worse. My biggest gripe comes from the arms - Thunder has no elbow articulation (only 11 points overall not including the claw). In addition, his right shoulder has very limited mobility due to the choice of the arm piece and the armor. If you try to move it like and actual shoulder, the armor gets in the way, so you end up putting it at this unnatural angle that really prevents it from moving much. The left shoulder doesn't fare much better - the Mata Nui shield piece gets in the way of normal movement as well, but not nearly as much as on the right arm.
The set redeems itself in the color department. The grays and silvers go well with the black and the hint of yellow added by the stickers makes some nice contrast. It's a very cohesive look and is only marred by one red axle and a couple blue pin-axle combos.
The above images don't showcase all of the parts, just some of the more interesting ones. Many of the pieces are widely available elsewhere, such as the Vahki legs, Ben 10 legs, upper arm pieces, and the torso. The arm-armor has been seen many times before, and the Thornax launcher we've seen plenty, and is available in black in other sets. Some nice recolors are present though, like the three Hero Factory Shields in light bluish gray (new for this year), the two Bionicle Stars feet in pearl dark gray (also new for this year), and the Mata Nui 'shield' in pearl dark gray. If you like using the gray and silver colors in your MOCs, there's definitely some good variety here. And of course black pieces are always useful. I really don't know if we've seen Zamor spheres in this color before, but there it is.
There are two pieces unique to Thunder: the claw piece (seen above with the other gray and silver) and the helmet (above). As I mentioned before, the claw is a big part of why I purchased this set, and the pieces that make it up are pretty interesting. I feel people will make good use of them in their MOCs. The helmet is pretty cool too, and has a very 'machined' look to it, which goes along with the Hero Factory premise very well. The gear and rivet details are a nice touch.
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?
As mentioned earlier, the set has two main features, the launcher and the claw. The launcher is pretty standard, and has the nice added feature of being able to pivot. The claw is the highlight in my opinion. The two outer prongs pivot back and forth, while the third has two pivot points allowing for additional articulation. I really like the way LEGO pulled it off - good job Billund.
Aside from that, you can pose him? Thunder has articulation in his neck, hips, knees, ankles, shoulders, wrists, claw, and launcher, for a total of 15 points. I still would have liked elbows and to not have the shoulder movement so restricted.
If you throw in a Hero though, the fun can increase plenty. Thunder has the obvious advantage, with a launcher and longer reach. And that claw comes in handy too. That picture took a while to set up though, as his arms aren't strong enough to fully support the weight of Billy Furno.
Once it's all said and done, how does the set stack up? Should I get it?
FEAR THE CLAW!
Nice color scheme
Decent source of parts
What's to like?
Poor arm articulation and posability
What's not to like?
If you want one of the Hero Factory Villains, Thunder may not be a bad choice. If you switch out some parts and make some changes to fix his arms, he could be greatly improved. If you're looking to bulk up your parts collection for MOCing, definitely pick this guy up - especially with some of these holiday sales.
I hope you enjoyed this look at Thunder, be sure to leave any questions or comments in the Talkback topic. We'll have more reviews, from 2011 and 2010 sets, coming up, so keep checking back right here on BZPower!
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