Monday, December 21st, 2015 at 12:46am by Jason, BZPower Reporter
It's time for another BZPower set review, and today we're swinging high with 71305 Lewa, Uniter of Jungle. Does the latest iteration of our favorite green Toa soar high into the sky, or is he just full of hot air? BZPower Reporter Xccj takes a look at him in both a video and picture review, so watch or read to see for yourself.
From the design of the box to the instruction manual, these are the first things you see before building the set.
The box shows off Lewa traversing through the jungle, going after yet another gold mask. The background is pretty neat, and there is a glimpse of Uxar, Creature of Jungle in the background fending off two Shadow Traps. I'm sure Lewa's going to race to his rescue once he grabs that golden mask.
The back of the box shows off the two jungle sets, as well as the combination Uniter mode of the two characters. There's some action features showing Lewa's pop off mask and spiny torso, and then there's a nice comic featuring Lewa and Uxar fighting against Shadow Traps and Umarak the Hunter. Plus, there's an actual size image of the gold mask and a logo for the Buildable Figures, which is apparently what Bionicle falls under now. (A little bit of a mouthful, but easier to understand than CCBS: Character and Creature Building System.)
Finally, the top of the box is adorned with Lewa's Nuva symbol, as well as the symbol for the creatures. It's a neat callback to classic Bionicle, and it appears all the sets in this wave have the same design standard.
Inside you get three bags of parts and an instruction booklet. The instructions include another copy of the comic (in case you recycle your box) as well as advertising for Umarak and the other Toa.
Half the fun is had building the set. How fun is it to build and how easy or challenging is it?
The build is straightforward, although it is a departure from standard CCBS / Hero Factory builds. In addition to some technic designs in the torso, Lewa also has custom built upper arms and lower legs instead of the standard bone pieces. Whether this is a good or bad thing depends on your preferences
Now that the set is complete, we can critique how it looks from every angle. New or interesting pieces can also be examined here.
Lewa comes with 79 pieces, plus a few extras. There are a couple of nice new recolors, including the new trans bright / trans apple green Bohrok eye pieces and the silver Vorox shells. Strangely, he also includes some 3L and a 7L axle in yellow... I guess those piece colors are changing up now?
He's got a few brand new molds too. First there's the new Uniter armor piece, which has some neat designs that harken back to 2006-2008 Bionicle armor, and it's also interesting to note that it only has technic connections and no ball joints. We get one of these pieces in silver with Lewa, but most of the other 2016 sets have this element too. Plus, all the 2016 Toa also have a new, shorter trans blue eye stalk.
Lewa also comes with the new sword design, which is silver that transitions to solid bright green. It's a very crystal like blade. Although it's apparently the only new weapon mold we're getting in the winter 2016 wave and comes with many of the other Toa and creatures, this particular color combination is only found with Lewa and Uxar. Also keeping up with the crystalline look is the new crystal armor addition. Again, this mold appears in a lot of other sets, but I believe the silver and green version is unique to Lewa.
We do some new torso pieces for all the 2016 Toa. The upper body is most interesting because it does away with the arm joints; it only has a ball joint connection for the neck and chest armor, and otherwise makes use of technic connections. But the bottom is a pin for a turntable that fits into the new hip piece, allowing for waist rotation. The connection between the two is pretty solid, similar to the gatling six-stud launchers. It is possible to separate the torso and hips, but it takes a fair amount of force, and I fear that repeated separations will wear down the pieces. It seems that LEGO intends for it to be a one-time only thing. Finally, we have the new torso armor. It is one giant piece that fills out the Toa's body. It has a plethora of pistons molded into it, and a lot of sharp printing too, the highlight which is the Nuva symbol on the center of the chest. I guess it works for Lewa, but it's a little gaudy and very specialized. It's a bit unfortunate that single use torso armor keeps getting made for CCSB characters, both in Bionicle and Star Wars, but it's just something we have to deal with. Lewa's armor is also different because it has no connection points for add-on bits that traditional Hero factory torso armor had.
Finally, we get the mask. Lewa has two variations of the same mold; one is bright green and silver, while the other one is gold and trans bright green. It certainly feels like an evolution from the 2015 Mask of jungle, as I can see the similarities in the eyes and nose. (However, it doesn't seem to take any cues from the older Bionicle masks... this isn't your classic Miru.) The top of the head has some nice ridges that could be interpreted as either crystals or feathers. And again the Nuva symbol reappears, molded into Lewa's forehead. There are a few other runes above it, but fans of the 2002 Lewa Nuva character will quickly recognize it. On one hand, the transition of colors on these masks is very well done. However, I still would've preferred to see solid versions instead, because these will now be harder to use in MOCs. I can see the silver and green one getting by, but the gold and trans bright green seems difficult to merge into a MOC unless it uses the exact same color scheme. With two colors, they're just not as versatile as previous, single colored masks.
Lewa's new design definitely makes him look slimmer. Personally, I wasn't a fan of his bulky shoulders in his 2015 version, and this one slims him down a bit, which I think better matches a Toa of Air build. (Unfortunately, now he's the Toa of Jungle, so I guess maybe it's less important now.) I do like the silver and bright green color scheme he has going, although it's kind of disappointing that green seems to be the secondary color to the silver. For the most part, he does do away with a second bright colors, like last year's Keetongu orange. I'm fine with just the two colors, but I can understand how others would be disappointed.
The most striking things about Lewa's design are the technic construction bits, which are quite the departure from regular CCBS designs. I do like how the shoulders are build out using Hordika neck pieces, and the addition of the Bohrok eyes to fill in the gaps behind the armor is nice too. But, as mentioned before, both the upper arms and lower legs are custom designs, which utilize the Vorox armor for some interesting connections. At some angles, I do like the upper arm design, which angles his shoulders in a way that the traditional Hero factory design could hardly achieve. But move the shoulders too far up and it starts looking odd and bad real quick. Plus, he doesn't have the now-traditional elbow joint, so it takes a bit more effort to get his arms in some bent poses now.
The lower leg design, however, is just straight up awful all around. The socket piece at the knee juts out blatantly, ruining the flow of the leg entirely. I appreciate the designers going the extra mile to create some more custom limb designs... but the CCBS bone pieces do their job exceedingly well, and it's hard to improve something that is already so good. So, nice attempt... but not good enough. (I'm going to just modify my Lewa to include proper bone pieces for his legs.) Speaking of his legs, Lewa also has a friction joint at his hips and at his ankles. While the hip connection is standard, the ankle connection makes his feet look too tall. Plus, two joints per leg seem to restrict ball joint movement even more, requiring more effort to pose them.
His weapons are interesting. I can see that they were trying to have him hold them at different angles, and in some poses it works, but it can be cumbersome to work with. However, what's with the Bohrok teeth attached to his hands? They look stupid and out of place, and not to mention that the red axles completely contrast against the rest of the model in a very bad way.
All in all, Lewa does have a decent looking appearance, even if there are a few glaring issues. But there's nothing that quite makes him stand out; he looks okay, but is just a bit bland. Plus, his back is quite empty, especially compared to his detailed torso. This is done purposefully for when you unite him with his creature, but when he's on his own it doesn't look as good.
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?
The first function Lewa has is his knock-off feature for his mask, which is the same as all the characters with masks from last year. This time, Lewa has a shorter eyestalk, which means it's a bit harder to accidentally knock his mask off while posing him, but the option is still there if you desire it.
Lewa's main function is his new spinning hips. As mentioned earlier, the torso and hip pieces fit together like a turntable, and a gear is attached to his hips and allows his upper body to be rotated. The gear teeth on the body don't go all the way around, so at best Lewa can turn 45 degrees both left and right. It is a different idea that we haven't really had before. Of classic Bionicle, I would compare it to the Rahkshi (and the 2003 Matoran and 2004 Vahki) who had rotating shoulders. Like them, the rotating hips allow Lewa to swing his swords from side to side, instead of the up and down function that his 2015 variation had.
It's far from a perfect function. In my experience, the gear at the hips can loosen up while you're turning it, to where it loses its grip on the teeth and thus won't turn the torso anymore. Plus, the turning can be quite tight, although that appears to vary between the sets. (It may have to do with how tightly you have the rotating gear attached on the hips. But I've also found that detaching the hips from the torso a couple of times resulted in a faster spin... which may mean that the turntable connection wears down every time you force it apart. So builder beware.)
Plus, it seems to be a bit awkward to turn the gear on your Toa's rear end as opposed to the back of their shoulders. I can see why they had it this way, because his upper back is meant for the creature connection.
Speaking of the creature connection...
This is one of the rare cases where the combination model is better than its separate parts. Lewa and Uxar, Creature of Jungle, fit together to form quite the interesting character. They achieve this using the new style armor piece, which is situated on Lewa's upper back and Uxar's underbelly, and allows for a fairly sturdy connection that's still easy to take apart. You can see a lot of design elements in both sets that go towards making this connection work. Lewa has an empty back, where his eyestalk has been shortened and his gear function moved down lower. Meanwhile, Uxar has a fairly empty underbelly and a hollow head. Separately, these are flaws for each set, but together they combine and it works. I can see some problems where you're being forced to buy both sets (a $25 USD value for these two) just to make one decent looking character, whereas separately they're a bit lackluster. This will hurt people on a budget for sure, and if you want all your Toa to be in their United forms, it's going to cost you a pretty penny. (Specifically, $160 USD to get all six Toa and all six Creatures.)
But looking at the Lewa Uniter model, I have to think that it's worth it. The wings in particularly really make Lewa look epic, and Uxar's flapping function still works here. Uxar's spiked legs can also be pointed outward to look like features, or they can be wrapped around Lewa's shoulders and waist to resemble more of a backpack. (The shoulder spikes also seem like another callback to his 2015 version.) Uxar's head fits perfectly over Lewa's mask, making for quite an interesting helmet. In this mode, Lewa's supposed to don his gold mask. However, the mask contrasts badly against the silver and green, being the one gold piece on the entire set. So for Lewa, I prefer just using his standard mask, since the silver and green already fit in with the rest of the color scheme.
The combiner isn't the perfect set, of course. The wide wings do limit some of the arm and weapon movement, and the helmet over the mask also limits Lewa's head movement. He's a little top heavy, but generally can hold his own weight. (I guess that's what the extra friction joints on the ankles were for.) Still, the combination of the two characters makes Lewa look quite flashy and ready to take to the skies like the noble Toa of Air that he is! (Except now he's Toa of Jungle... why must they keep giving him air related features?)
Once it's all said and done, how does the set stack up? Should I get it?
What's to like?
A fair amount of nice pieces, both recolors and new molds
A technic design on the torso and upper arms that works
Green and silver color scheme works
I do like the angles shoulders; it slims him
Looks epic when combined with Uxar
What's not to like?
Technic design on the lower legs looks ugly
Hip swivel function is a bit problematic
Two friction joints per leg make posing more difficult
Weapons are positioned a bit oddly
What's with the green spikes on his hands?
On his own, he's not very remarkable looking
To form his cool Uniter mode, you need to buy Uxar
On his own, Lewa is a mediocre set. I like the angled shoulders and the green and silver color scheme, but the weapons are a bit odd (especially with those useless spikes on his hands) and the jutting socket on his knees is terrible. The gear function on the waist works, but it's not quite as awe-inspiring as the shoulder gear designs of 2015. Unlike his previous incarnation, he doesn't really stand out too much on his own. If you want him to do that, you need to combine him with Uxar, because together their Uniter model looks really amazing with the wings and helmet. But the major drawback to that is that you're required to get another set, which will end up costing you more.
Lewa, Uniter of Jungle will be going for $14.99 USD and will be available in stores come January 2016.
Thanks again for reading and / or watching another BZPower set review. Like and subscribe to our Youtube channel, and stay tuned for more Bionicle 2016 set reviews coming soon!