Thursday, August 15th, 2002 at 4:02pm by Kelly, BZPower Co-Owner
We first heard about the Toa Nuva way back in January, when Kanohi-Power showed the first prototype pictures of the Nuva. Later, in early March, LEGO released the first official image of Tahu Nuva's Kanohi. At that point, we had no idea if the Nuva were good or evil, or if they were enemies or replacements or additions to our existing, beloved Toa. In the five intervening months, information dribbled out, rumor abounded, and we finally discovered they were the "good guys". Then the preview for Comic 8 was released with the latest press kit, and we found out the Nuva replace the Toa.
So after months of speculation, how do they measure up against their venerable predecessors?
Mixed. The Nuva generally stand taller than the Toa Olda, and follow the same basic layout for each individual. For example, Pohatu still has an inverted torso, although his chest armor is on the same as everyone else's. The armor itself is one of the two coolest new features, next to the updated multifunction tools. The bellbottom legs now fashionably sported by each Nuva also serve to differentiate this new crop of heroes.
Obviously the other major difference is in their headgear. Pictures are simply inadequate for conveying the effect of the Kanohi Nuva; they must be seen in person before a judgment can be made. The new masks are essentially melted, flared versions of the prior ones. Melted, stretched, and all the hard edges softened. Where the classic Kanohi are precision-cast and mathematically perfect, the Kanohi Nuva feel more grown than made. Some people will probably be put off by the flaring curves of the new masks, while others will embrace its organic quality. I personally favor the classic Kanohi, the lines and precision and clean design complement the robotic lines of the Toa and all Bionicle lines. Given the radical changes to these Kanohi Nuva, it's likely they will play a larger part in the ongoing Bionicle saga, much of which has yet to be revealed. (The Kanohi Nuva will be featured side-by-side in an upcoming article.)
One on one
Starting with the most obvious, Tahu. The best-known Kanohi Nuva sits atop a slightly taller Tahu Nuva, shoulder armor poking out like a quarterback from a Mad Max movie. The absolute best part of this Toa are his surfboard/magma swords. This intricate, dual-bladed monster machete is impressive and defines the character as someone who won't take "no" for an answer. The curved armor, as with most of the Nuva, softens the sharp robotic lines considerably, not coincidentally also obscuring the neck gears. The effect is heightened by the smooth flared leg pieces. Tahu has always been intimidating, with his frowning red Hau and spiky firesword; now he's downright scary with his veined Kanohi Nuva and massive swords.
Gali is likewise buffed up. Everything is bulkier about her, from her new Kaukau to the flared legs common to all the Nuva. The leg pieces are used as her arms as well, the only Toa designed that way. For Gali it makes sense, the shape would serve as an excellent paddle to power her through the water. And that's an excellent way of thinking about how Gali Nuva differs from Gali Classic: her first incarnation was sleek, streamlined, like a dolphin; the Nuva design, especially with her new Hau-like Kaukau, is more massive, more powerful. Instead of cutting through the water, one can just picture Gali Nuva forcing it out of her way. Her new tools, axes that double as propellers, are well-designed and serve her new design well. Their distinctive shape should make them a favorite for MOCs, although the loss of her trademark hooks is a bit disappointing, impractical as they were.
The Toa of Ice, Kopaka is just bigger in every way... his ice shield, his dual sword/skates, his armor, his mask, all are more massive than the Classic version. His Akaku Nuva is probably the most organic of the new masks, especially since it's asymmetrical. He's also a lot more gray than he used to be, due to his armor obscuring his torso, and his silver skates replacing his white sword. The tools are pretty well done, but nowhere near as intricate as Tahu's, and his featureless white shield now looks as if it could truly defend him rather than serve as a token defense.
Lewa (reviewed earlier here) has been available for some time now, and most early adopters with the means have acquired him. He actually seems to be the least-changed, despite his frightful new mask and increased bulk. The original Miru, with its intense slant of the eyeholes, always appeared a bit menacing, but like Tahu Nuva, he's now a scary apparition, with his fanged and flared Miru Nuva. The mere sight of him swinging out of the trees, bush swords at the ready, would probably be enough to make a Bohrok or Rahi trip over its own legs in panic. The double duty of the bush swords forming "wings" is stretching the tools concept a bit far, but it does fit in with the rest of the gang's two-tools-per-Toa motif. The distinctive axe, like Gali's hooks, is now a thing of the past, but the new swords will be a boon for MOC builders.
On to the hunchback of Mata Nui, Onua (previously reviewed here). The sleek Pakari is no more, it's been replaced with a ridged and much wider Pakari Nuva. Likewise, his intimidating claws are now chainsaws which double as roller blades (I'd hate to have to clean up the turf behind him when he's in a hurry). His lanky arms have been replaced with the dinky Bohrok-style arms/legs, no doubt to accomodate the length of his sawblades. This is probably the most-changed character from a storyline perspective: Onua's identity was closely tied to his tunneling claws, which made him distinctive. He now has chainsaws, tools not noted for their digging ability. The shoulder armor also lends a distinct football quarterback feeling to the Toa, and when viewed with his mask and tools, projects a sort of "get out of my way or I'll go right through you" demeanor.
Finally we have Pohatu, the star player of Team Toa. His armor fits surprisingly well, considering his torso is upside down. The claws that form his Kodan ball are interesting and help lend him distinction, as Gali's hooks or Onua's claws did in their earlier incarnation. In addition to his inverted torso, he still has his massive feet, so his unique body design has made the transition to Nuva. Of course, that means this set won't fit into the Exo-Toa set without the same type of modifications required for Pohatu Classic.
So the $47.94 question is: are the new sets worth buying? That sort of depends on who you are, but for the most part, the answer is "Yes". The number of new parts will appeal to MOC builders, the added tools will be vital for serious Bionicle fans, and new people getting into the Bionicle line will not have much of a choice. We've assembled a chart to help various audiences determine how important the new sets are for their interests.
|You are a:
|Newcomer to Bionicle
||Starting your collection
||The Nuva replace the originals.
||There really won't be any other choice.
|Casual LEGO player (kid)
||Acquiring different sets for playing
||If you've got the original Toa, these would be redundant
||If you haven't completed your set, these are good additions
|Casual LEGO player (adult)
||Acquiring different sets for playing
||If you follow the storyline, the Nuva are vital
|Casual Bionicle fan
||Following the storyline, acquiring and playing with some sets
||Those tools! Those masks!
|Dedicated Bionicle fan
||Collect and play with anything branded Bionicle
||You are the target audience
||Like there's a possibility you won't get them?
||Completing my Toa/Kanohi/Krana collection
||Mask packs will be out shortly with Kanohi Nuva (and Krana)
|MOC builders, completist collectors
||Gathering pieces to make really cool custom creations
||The new tools and Kanohi, along with the armor, are very versatile
Rather than a rebranded packaging of slightly updated action figures (which is a popular if annoying sales tactic for many toy manufacturers), LEGO has made the Toa Nuva an interesting and exciting update to not only their product line, but the increasingly vital storyline. The forms are familiar, but the specifics are adapted... and these more massive, fiercer-looking Toa appear ready for the next challenge LEGO throws their way as they gear up for their movie debut in 2003. The Kanohi will rekindle the collector's fire with 36 new masks to acquire, the updated forms and tools are multifunctional and add volumes to play possibilities, and the new pieces will appeal to custom builders.
Some minor drawbacks: the sets are close enough to the originals that casual players may find them redundant and not worth purchasing if they already own all six Classic Toa. The masks may also not appeal to everyone, but before judging it would be wise to see what LEGO does to integrate these flowing organic shapes into the storyline.
In all, the Toa Nuva are a welcome addition to the Bionicle product line.
« Return to News