Thursday, November 20th, 2014 at 11:25am by Andrew, BZPower News Manager
[Source: Nuju Metru]
Are you guys getting bored of all these 2015 LEGO Bionicle reviews yet? Good, because neither are we! Today BZPower Forum Assistant Nuju Metru is back to take a look at 70781 Protector of Earth, the smaller, more purple Earth-themed set from the first wave. Will he burrow his way into your collection or will you leave him buried by bedrock? You'll have to read on to find out!
Hey guys, and welcome to BZPower's review of 70781 Protector of Earth, one of the new 2015 Bionicle sets! As always, I'd like to thank both TLG for giving us at BZP free stuff (they're so nice to us fans) and thank Andrew for passing some of the swag on to me. Read on to see my thoughts - captured for you in both a video and a text/image format - on this model.
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 come in tapering hexagonal boxes made out of flimsy cardboard. I assume that the switch was made from the ol' Hero Factory Ziploc bags because of cost, but it also makes the set's packages more easily recyclable, which is nice... on the other hand, though, I see these boxes getting banged up and damaged much more easily than the Ziplocs. Personally, I still miss real canisters.
The front of the Protector's package shows him (I'm gonna assume it's a him, based on ages-old Bionicle patterns; prove me wrong, TLG!) dynamically side-stepping a Skull Spider. Above and far behind the model, in the background, are some thick stalactites onto which Ewok-looking huts have been affixed; this Okoto setting has an almost Karda Nui-esque feel to it. The top of the box bears the new Bionicle logo (it's like the old one, but thicker, with blue energy peeking through the chipped gold letters), and in the corner opposite the LEGO square is a little Mask of Creation. The corner below that proclaims this to be the "Protector of Earth."
The back of the box, legalese portion aside, is mostly occupied by call-out boxes of the features included with this Protector (let's start calling him Steve, or Barney, or something; "the Protector" is too formal). These include graphic representations of the mask-popping feature, a demonstration of the Skull Spider attachment, a picture of the Gatling gun in action (with special effects!), and a 1:1 representation, which uses the Protector's mask. Off to the right side is an infographic showing us that this set can be combined with 70789 Onua Master of Earth to make an even more powerful version of Onua. We'll be examining this combination later.
Half the fun is had building the set. How fun is it to build and how easy or challenging is it?
The first thing we make is the Skull Spider; that build is so simple it's almost not worth mentioning. Barney (henceforth, he's Barney; deal with it) comes together lickety-split. He's built from the bottom up and the inside out. The last thing to be added is, in traditional Bionicle fashion, Barney's mask. I think I built the set in less than 10 minutes. It was a quick thing, no more complex than I would've expected from a set of his size.
Now that the set is complete, we can critique how it looks from every angle. New or interesting pieces can also be examined here.
70781 includes a fine bunch of interesting pieces; perks of being among the first sets of a new theme, I guess. The set includes some recolored elements as well as new molds. Described vaguely left to right as they can be seen in the above image, these are:
- A trans-purple half-mace piece, new in this color
- The new Protector Mask part, in mixed black and trans-purple
- 4(!) trans-purple CCBS bone parts
- The Skull Spider face/body, in spring yellowish green
- 2 rocky textured CCBS shell cladding parts, which are new in silver
- The two parts of the Gatling gun assembly, one yellow and one dark bley; inseparable once they've been clicked together
- 4 gunmetal Skull Spider legs
- The new Bionicle head, in silver, and
- The new eyepiece, in trans lime green
Before we look at the finished set, though, let's take a quick look at my favorite of those new and interesting parts: the Protector mask. It, like the other Bionicle 2015 masks, attaches to the sides of the head with round-clawed prongs. The Protector mask (does it have a power? Who knows) mold reminds me strongly of the Kanohi Arthron from Jaller Mahri in 2007, which is fine by me because the Arthron was one cool flippin' (flippin', like flippers, for underwater, like the Mahri, geddit?) mask. Barney's earth-flavored variety comes in mixed black and trans-purple. I'll be the first (but probably not the last) to say that they look quite good together. I've always liked mixed trans and solid hue elements; this one has the virtue of being both a neat new mold and a striking combo unlike anything we've seen before.
The Skull Spider, in just 5 parts, makes for something we didn't really see in constraction sets before the HF "Invasion From Below" stuff: both a good guy and a bad guy (however diminutive the latter may be) in one package. Though the dinky spider doesn't feel like a terribly large threat, I'm nevertheless happy about its inclusion.
The design is nice, too; I like the new claw/leg pieces (but don't really understand why TLG didn't use the previous, very similar claws we've seen in HF and LoC sets before), and the Skull Spider "mask" itself is a great mold. Its shape and contours remind me of a Mega Bloks Neo Shifter's face (these came out a few years ago; go use Google), and the inclusion of bar attachment points present intriguing MOC possibilities. I mentioned above that the thing comes in spring yellowish green. I'm enthused by the employment of a Friends color in constraction on principle, but also happy to see it used because this a perfect hue for an icky, sinister bug. The new Bionicle sets play with a lot of colors we've not seen, or only rarely seen, before in constraction (earth orange on Pohatu, dark azure on Gali, etc.); it's a trend I hope continues as the theme progresses.
At long last, we can examine Protector Barney himself! Resplendent, even regal, in a clean color scheme of black, purple (most of this, trans-purple; the only flat purple on him is the stud ammunition of his Gatling gun) and silver - with touches of yellow, common among all the Bionicle 2015 sets, highlighting play features - Barney's more fully committed to, ah, protecting the new Earth elemental color scheme than Onua, undiluted as he is by gold. Alongside neutral black, the gorgeous trans-purple really stands out and draws my gaze in the best way. Earth elemental products in the past were often-times grey-washed affairs, sleek and stylish without being eye-catching. For the sake of interest, for the sake of more vibrant elemental differentiation, for the sake of getting more amethyst-colored pieces, I heartily approve of the inclusion of purple in the new Earth sets.
Barney's of a slightly smaller size than most CCBS sets we've had in the past, with his smallest-possible torso, shortest-possible limbs (though he does have elbows and knees, unlike a few of the other Protectors), and smallest-possible 3-length shell cladding; he's of a size with the littlest machines and beasts from "Invasion From Below." Still, he has decent stature, emerging taller and fuller than many Matoran sets from the old days. The silver rock-texture shoulder plates give Barney the build of a linebacker in pads, just like Onua; broad-shouldered top-heaviness seems as much a part of the Earth aesthetic this time around as the color purple.
In one hand, Barney holds what I think is officially referred to as a "Star Drill," a trans-purple half-mace on a rotating axis (indicated in its functionality more by the two yellow half-bushings than by the actual gear used to turn it), and in the other he clutches what looks a lot like a rocky shard, made of two light bley straight spine pieces. It's a filler sort of weapon, and looks just as likely to stab Barney as to fend off a Skull Spider.
Barney and Onua go well together. Their matching colors (aside from the aforementioned gold, which Barney lacks) make the two seem to be of a pair, and their similar physiques - and, come to think of it, their mutually silver-armored shoulders - also tie the two sets together. Barney's heavier on the purple, proportionally, which gives him a visual quality distinct from our Toa hero.
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?
Speaking of Onua and Barney in relation to one another, this is as good a time as any to take a look at that combo model I mentioned earlier that the box showed off. It's less a combo model in the traditional sense - where one would take apart both sets and make an entirely new model from all the pieces - and more an Onua-modification, where pieces of the Protector set are removed and given to the Toa one. We're instructed to remove Barney's silver shoulder pads and his Star Drill. These are, in turn, attached to Onua, with the shoulder pads slapped on top of his own shoulder pieces, and the drill placed into his hammerless hand. By giving Onua the golden "Pakari," the transformation is complete!
Onua's ultra-hero form looks good, I think (and looks better than some of the other Toa/Protector combos, which burden themselves with giving the Toa their corresponding Protectors' Gatling gun tools). This is because the ultra-Onua modifications augment the visual integrity of the original; ultra-Onua has even burlier shoulders and so an even more hunched look; he has two weapons instead of one, granting him more aesthetic balance; the increased the silver and gold presences on his body make these hues belong better. But what makes me happiest about the ultra-Onua combiner is that Barney still looks whole - and, really, still looks pretty decent - after giving parts of himself away. I imagine combo-model Barney as peacetime Barney... I choose to ignore the six-shot rapid-fire weapon permanently set into his chest.
And we haven't even talked about the six-shot rapid-fire weapon permanently set into Barney's chest yet, have we? We have not! Like the rest of the Protector sets, Barney comes with a play feature new to Bionicle 2015: a revolving stud launcher. This works sort of like six of the Star Wars stud blasters arranged in a circle, and with a common trigger: the yellow part in the middle of the mechanism has a triangular ridge on its edge which, as it runs into the studs loaded into the six barrels when the yellow piece gets turned, gives the studs impetus to leave their slightly pressurized holding tubes. It's a simple and effective weapon, like a foolproof Cordak Blaster.
And, given the small size and weight of the studs, the feature is really effective. It's actually too effective. The main issue I have with this play feature is that its ammunition is the kind of LEGO piece you're most likely to lose. The studs really go flying when you twist the yellow-stalked axle that pokes from Barney's back and, being dark purple 1x1 elements, they're prone to bounce out of your sight only to end up in a mysterious crevice you didn't know existed until you searched the room with a flashlight for several minutes.
Barney comes with seven extra studs for his chest gun, but given how quickly I've already lost two of them in a very small room (one time, I lost a shot firing into my hand, which I didn't think was possible...), I don't think seven is enough, especially given the product's target audience. Speaking from experience, I loved playing with my Bionicles (yeah, read it and weep) outdoors when I was younger; little LEGO pieces + tetchy firing mechanism (by the way, the mechanism's sorta tetchy; the studs come out easily, and if the gear twists whatsoever with a full cartridge, one of the studs will fire) + woody groves = lots and lots of lost ammo.
Oh yeah another play feature: you can push on the back of Barney's eye piece and his mask or the Skull Spider whichever you have on at the moment will pop right off. But I figured you already knew about that since it's been mentioned in every review thus far since it's a play feature common among all the new Bionicle 2015 sets.
Once it's all said and done, how does the set stack up? Should I get it?
Well, that sums up the in-depth review. Let's make some lists.
What's to like?
- Package prevented instructions from getting bent (again! <3)
- Set includes many recolored and new parts
- Skull Spider in Friends color once more
- New Protector mask hearkens back to the attractive Kanohi Arthron
- Clean color scheme, cleaner than Onua's
- TRANS-PURPUL YAAS
- I like this color scheme a lot, it's clean and heavy on the trans-purple
- Combo model with Onua makes for one bad-butt Toa of Earth without compromising the Protector or making Onua look silly
- Gatling gun feature is really effective
What's not to like?
- Package is flimsy, prone to damage in transit and on shelves
- Rocky spike weapon's pretty lame
- Gatling gun ammo is waiting to get lost, and we don't get enough of it
70781 follows the pattern that's been set thus far by the Bionicle 2015 sets: it's a solid product with more pros than cons, and it upholds the legacy of its predecessors while also offering new and exciting pieces and features. While the Gatling gun feature feels a bit too micro for the constraction class, and you're prone to lose all of its ammunition within a few days if you play at your highest level, at least its ammo is easy to replenish. 70781 complements 70789 Onua Master of Earth very well; I'd recommend getting your hands on both of them.
"Say hello to my little friend!"
Thanks as always to Aaron for taking the time to write this review, and thanks of course to LEGO for making it possible. Questions, comments, and other feedback can go in the Talkback topic where we'll be watching and replying. We're a little over halfway through all of our Bionicle 2015 reviews, but we're not done by any means! So keep on checking back for more, right here on BZPower!
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