Wednesday, July 1st, 2015 at 11:16pm by Benjamin, BZPower Reporter
Here comes the duel of the century, or at least until next year's big Bionicle sets come out: Mask Maker vs Skull Grinder, in the plastic flesh and ready to review. This is the largest set of the summer 2015 wave and features some heavy-hitting characters. Also of note it that the Mask of Creation is included, making it seem like a must-have for all fans. Is it worth it, or is it just all flash and action? Read, and watch, on to find out and to see how to win a copy of your own.
This $30 USD set has 171 pieces, and comes out officially August 1st, but hopefully sooner if you are lucky. LEGO sent BZPower a few sets to review early, including this one, so a big thanks goes to them on everyone's behalf, because in the video review I share details on how you can win your own! Check it out for play features and parts examination too.
From the design of the box to the instruction manual, these are the first things you see before building the set.
This is the only rectangular set box this year, everything else having the hexagonal folds. But that does not change any of the important details, like the snazzy picture up front showing the two characters included in mid-battle over the coveted Mask of Creation. It also shows off the Bionicle logo we love seeing on boxes again, an age recommendation, and the set name. Absent from this non-USA box is the piece count of 171 pieces. For $30, that is $0.18 a piece, which is not too bad for a Bionicle set.
The back of the box displays the power features of the characters, including Skull Grinder's dual-swinging arms, Mask Maker's swinging arm, and his spinning shield. His hammer also doubles as the new gatling gun seen in the Protector sets this year, to which Mask Maker borrows their build design while adding in the gear functions the Toa utilize. If you buy 70794 Skull Scorpio, these two sets have instructions online for building a combo model. The comic on the very bottom suggests that the Mask Maker will indeed wear the Mask of Creation to fully power-up and defeat evil, but the latest Bionicle commercial shows Skull Grinder wearing it and summoning his undead skull army.
Half the fun is had building the set. How fun is it to build and how easy or challenging is it?
It is really fun seeing how all the new pieces are utilized. Sure, armor is armor, but with the new molds certain things come together in exciting ways, especially seeing those bone-limbs in use and the weapons being built. If one has built any of the Toa sets from Bionicle's return, the gearbox design is familiar and works wonders for motion.
Building the Mask Maker in particular adds a twist to the Protector build, giving him the gearbox that the Toa utilize and really bulking up his character. It is a concept I know some builders integrated into MOCs already, but seeing the set come together through the instructions give it a new feel for our standard heroes.
Together, the result is two characters and something to fight over. One stands tall, the other is fairly short. Both have some great additions to their build, including utilizing the gear boxes and assortment of weapons and armor. Which leads us to Set Design...
Now that the set is complete, we can critique how it looks from every angle. New or interesting pieces can also be examined here.
The set consists primarily of bright transparent parts and metallic tones. The masks stick out, of course, and the new weapons do too (somehow the sword slipped my mind, and I did not notice the eye brain in its new color of orange until I started building the set). I think those ax heads have a lot of building potential, given their shape, color, and two connection points. The horns are a really cool new piece that I suspect we will see in plenty of other sets for years to come, hopefully. Finally, the bone-limbs, spiky curved armor attachments, trans-orange ribs, and trans-blue stud-launcher are also worth mentioning.
Skull Grinder is tall and strong, though feels boney around the limbs and torso too. His armor makes up for that, with the gunmetal shielding his joints and the trans-orange looking like evil energy. I do not think he feels worried about shielding an attack and hitting back twice as hard, especially when both arms move by utilizing the gearbox function.
The Mask Maker looks like a knight ready to face the evils in his territory. The gold armor really blends well with the trans-blue parts, some of which I realized are quite new compared to what we got in the first wave of sets. He integrates the gearbox, giving him a stockier build than other Protectors his design borrows from. His hammer arm can swing, while his shield arm stays in place for posing and is built to spin. Using the Cinderella hubcap/wheel is a great addition to his shield.
The set also comes with a stand for the Mask of Creation, so it can be floating in the middle of the battle between our two characters. Unfortunately, it does not face forward, and instead usually falls and points downward unless you can balance it well enough to point it at an upward angle. LEGO definitely could have done better with this, even if it was just a head on a Technic axle, but it doesn't make or break the set.
The mask itself is stunning. It is quite large compared to the other masks released this year, and has all kinds of writing on its crown. The detail put into the mask is incredibly impressive.
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.
There is plenty of conflict potential in this set, merely by pitting a good guy against a bad guy with a shiny mask between them. While Skull Grinder looks menacing and stands tall, Mask Maker has his armor to protect him and the good-guy-vibe charging his spirit. But Skull Grinder's staff is specifically designed to grab masks and keep them for himself. Mask Maker needs to prevail even if Skull Grinder has the Mask of Creation in his clutches, but it will take a bit of heroism on his part.
Whoever wins, the Mask of Creation fits well on both figures, though feels more appropriate on the good guy. However, as seen in the new Bionicle commercial, Skull Grinder wears it to create his undead skull army. This adds just another touch of story play for the set.
It is also important that these models look cool, and they certainly will inspire fear or hope in you from their stances on your shelf.
Once it's all said and done, how does the set stack up? Should I get it?
What's to like?
Two new masks, including the Mask of Creation, and another colored variant
Plenty of new pieces
Solid builds fitting for the characters
Plenty of story play potential
Mask of Creation included!
What's not to like?
Skull Grinder is a little boney, all things considered
Display stand does not work effectively
Not out in the US...yet
This was a really fun set to build and explore the play features for. None of the other sets this year have a true conflict other than a dinky little Skull Spider, so pitting two powerful beings against one another in the same box is a big plus. There are three new masks, one of which is highly desirable. The models look great standing tall or clashing in a brawl. The set gives exactly what it promises, and it is what fans deserve. It will be a hit.