Tuesday, November 4th, 2014 at 9:59pm by Andrew, BZPower News Manager
Bionicle is back! LEGO has been kind enough to send us some of the upcoming sets to review, proving once again that they are awesome. Today we're taking a look at 70788 Kopaka Master of Ice, one of the larger sets in the winter wave. Will he thaw your Gen 1 Bionicle-fan heart or leave you frigid and unyielding to change? We've got all the details in both the text and image format as well as video. So what are you waiting for, let's get going!
From the design of the box to the instruction manual, these are the first things you see before building the set.
The new Bionicle sets feature brand new packaging. Made up of thin cardboard - thinner than LEGO boxes usually are - it has a hexagonal cross-area that really catches the eye. It stands up on its own just fine, but I see a lot of these getting damaged at some point because of the flimsy material.
Form-factor aside, the front features the new Bionicle logo with the Mask of Creation and some beautiful artwork of Kopaka. The gold Mask of Ice is front and center, making it clear that it's included in this set.
There's a lot of stuff going on on the back. We see that if you have both Kopaka and the Protector of Ice, you can combine them into what appears to be a super-charged form of Kopaka, sporting his lovely gold mask. There's also a 1:1 scale image of the gold Mask of Ice. On the right side there's some callouts to highlight the action features of the set as well. Along the bottom is a little comic strip in the new animation style telling a little vignette. All of that surrounds another big image of Kopaka with his shield turned into skis. The comic is by far the coolest part and I love that the designers went through that additional effort.
Half the fun is had building the set. How fun is it to build and how easy or challenging is it?
This set definitely brings me back to the days of building some classic Bionicle sets. Yes, it uses the newer CCBS system, but there are gears and other Technic bits that we haven't gotten in many Hero Factory sets over the past couple of years too. It helps make the build very fun and engaging, certainly moreso than the past few Hero Factory sets that I've built.
Now that the set is complete, we can critique how it looks from every angle. New or interesting pieces can also be examined here.
Kopaka contains the 97 pieces that you can see above. There's quite a few Technic pieces in addition to the CCBS elements that you'd expect. White, gold, and trans-light blue are the predominant colors and they work well together. Overall it's a decent selection and you feel like you're getting your money's worth.
The set includes a Mask of Ice in both white and gold. It definitely evokes the original Akaku with its lenses and breath-mask shape over the mouth. Instead of an axle or bar, the mask connects via two dimples on either side. The new head piece has two corresponding divots that the mask clips on to. There's a hole on either side as well that fits an axle or Technic pin that the eyes attach to. On the bottom there's a ball socket to connect it to the body. Along with the head we get a new eye piece; it fits nicely into the head and has an axle hole for attaching it.
The other new mask in the set is the skull spider mask. It has the same connection points as the Mask of Ice but also features five bar connectors. Those are designed so that the new claw piece can clip on to them, turning the mask into a spider. The mask is quite evil-looking and it's awesome to get three masks in one set.
There are three other new pieces in this set as well as a fourth with a unique print. The new armor piece comes in white and features the same connectors that we've seen in other CCBS pieces. The ridges and pistons evoke some of the classic Bionicle feel versus the streamlined and smooth look of many of the Hero Factory sets and parts. We also get a new gearbox piece that contains quite a few Technic pin connectors that I'm sure will be useful in MOCs. Next up is the giant new sword piece, used here as a shield and skis. It has three axle connection points and four Technic pin holes. Again there's a lot of texture and pistons that seem reminiscent of classic Bionicle parts. What's even cooler is that the pieces actually connect to each other to form a big shield-like piece. Finally the CCBS chest piece we've seen in the past has a new printed pattern. The blue and white give it a very icy motif that fits Kopaka well.
What can I say, it's Kopaka! The character from 2001 is back and he looks like he means business. The gold armor on this shoulders and gold chest plate gives him a muscular look like he's been pumping a lot of iron at the gym. The waist seems a bit narrow, but the legs have a lot going on and continue the beefy appearance. From the side, Koapaka is not nearly as gappy as some Hero Factory sets were, since the new gearbox gives the torso some depth and solidity. The armor on the back and back of the legs helps out there too and also makes the back seem less empty. It's not perfect, but it's some of the best we've seen in a constraction set in a while. The white, gold, and trans-light blue work well together - no one color overpowers the others thankfully. Kopaka is armed with a spear and a shield which almost hearken back to his original sword and shield. The designs for both are simple but fit with the overall aesthetic, and I love the inclusion of the Guurahk staff. The only things I'm not entirely sold on are the printed chest plate and the stickers. I think the designs are nice, but they don't fit with the Bionicle look I remember. Of course that's my nostalgia and personal preference talking; taking my bias out of it though, the stickers go on a multi-faceted surface and are not the easiest things to apply. If they wanted a pattern on the legs, I would have preferred a printed shell, which LEGO has done in the past. All told though, I think Kopaka is a great-looking set and one worthy of the return of Bionicle.
This set doesn't just include our hero - there's a villain as well! The skull spider is made up of a mask and four claws. It's not the most complex build by any means, but it's pretty cool that you get a bad guy too. The spider manages to look quite evil even with the simple construction. It feels like a useful addition to the set and not an afterthought at all.
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?
Gears are back! Kopaka uses the new gearbox pieces to allow his right arm to turn when you rotate a gear on the back. It improves over the original Toa gears by inserting a second eight-tooth gear to add some additional friction to the mechanism. This makes it slightly harder to turn the gear (but only barely) but also means the arm stays in place for poseability purposes. I think it's great that the designers were able to satisfy kids that want to play with their sets and other fans that want to put them into cool poses.
Back in 2001, some of the ads and literature associated with Bionicle indicated that you could play games with your friends and try to knock the masks off Rahi or other Toa using the gears and other action features. This was easy because the masks had a fairly loose connection to the head. Apparently the intent of this was not well conveyed to kids and parents because many of them thought their sets were defective since the masks fell off so easily. LEGO has decided to avoid such problems this time around by making it very clear that the masks can be knocked off. If you push down on the back of the eyes the front will pop up and send the mask flying. The feature works really well, proving that sometimes simple is best.
In another throwback to the original sets, Kopaka's shield can be disassembled and attached to his feet for use as skis. It's straightforward and works pretty well, although some might argue that they look more like snowshoes. Personally I just appreciate the ingenuity of the piece designers when they created the new sword.
Of course what good are action features if you don't play with your set? As mentioned earlier, this set includes a skull spider for Kopaka to battle. The fight might not be very even, but it's better than pretty much every constraction set we got until the 2014 Hero Factory line. Without having to buy multiple sets you can create all sorts of conflicts for your characters to act out. Of course things get even better when you add more sets, but the play value in Kopaka alone is higher than the norm.
Once it's all said and done, how does the set stack up? Should I get it?
What's to like?
- Awesome new pieces
- Captures the feel of the original Kopaka
- Gear functions
- Good guy and bad guy in the same set
What's not to like?
- Printed chest plate
- I don't have all the other sets yet
Retailing for $20 in the US, Kopaka might seem rather expensive. But in reality, you get an impressive hero with a lot of play features and a bad guy for him to fight with. And of course, it's Bionicle, so if you were a fan of the original sets this should give you a blast of nostalgia. But unlike the Stars from the last Bionicle wave, this set is awesome and really delivers on a fun play experience. So even if you weren't a Bionicle fan the first time around you'll still really enjoy this set!
Thanks so much to LEGO for sending this set to BZPower to review. It was really exciting to get to build a new Bionicle set for the first time in over four years. I look forward to everyone's feedback and questions in the Talkback and will do my best to keep up with them. This is just the first of many Bionicle 2015 reviews we'll have for you over the coming months, so keep checking back for more right here on BZPower!
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