Saturday, June 24th, 2006 at 1:01am by Andrew, BZPower News Manager
Well, summer is here, which means the Toa Inika, Titans, and playsets will soon be appearing around the world. This means we have to finish our set reviews for the first batch of 2006 sets soon! To further our goal, today BZPower Forum Assistant Smeagol4 brings you a review of Garan, to help you decide if the set is right for you. We also have a little surprise this time, read on for more!
Today marks our very first video review. Yes, you read that right, in addition to the normal text and photos, you can watch Smeagol4 review Garan before your very eyes. You can download the movie HERE. Right-Click (Control-Click on a Mac) and select 'Save As,' or the equivalent menu option to save the review to your computer. The video is 32.7 MB in Windows Media format; if there's a large enough request, we'll try to get other formats online later. I suggest you start the movie downloading and then read the review. By the time you're finished, the movie should be done too. Please do NOT stream the movie! Save it to your computer.
Now, on with the review:
The the most superficial part of any LEGO product, but the one that often determines whether or not the set is a success or failure.
The box of Garan (or, as any self-respecting Trek fan will want to call him, Garak), is very elegant and professional-looking. I’m quite fond of the new Voya-Nui style, with the light-colored backgrounds not colored to each specific character’s general pigmentation. Particularly on Garan this whiteness of the background provides a sharp contrast to his own dark hues and the black foreground elements, creating a picture of our little Matoran leader of the Rebel Alliance that practically leaps from its two-dimensional cardboard confines. Another excellent new addition to the boxes this year is a small circular portrait of the character in question situated in the upper-right corner of the box. A final observation that I, the casual viewer, notice as I gaze upon this excellent specimen of graphical craftsmanship, is that Garan has very prominent and visible eyes. This is, as Benedict Arnold put it in his letter To the Inhabitants of America, an “unfortunate deception!” However I will move on from this point currently, and rather expound upon it later in this review. At the moment, I will instead give you a glimpse at the other side of the box.
The posterior side of Garan’s packaging reflects that same elegant styling at the front. Here is displayed all six members of the aforementioned rebellion framing a map of the island Voya-Nui. I find it interesting to note that they are labeled as the “Matorans (sic) of Voya Nui” Now, it was always my understanding that “Matoran” was both the correct singular and plural form of the fictional word—perhaps the box artists merely needed the illustrious GRAMMAR HAMMER! But, I digress.
Overall, Garan’s box is top-notch; I would go as far to say that the 2006 packages are the best-designed Bionicle boxes to date. You, however, don’t buy a Lego set for its fancy artwork though. Fear not! There is a set hidden within every Lego package—so let’s get rolling.
WHAT'S IN THE BOX?
So you've bought it and taken it home (or at least made it to the car), punched the perforated tabs and dump out the contents. What do you get for your money?
As in every Lego set, the contests of Garan’s box include a glossy instruction booklet and a polished, porous, plastic bag (let’s hear it for alliteration). Honestly there’s nothing of note; there’s not even an ad enticing children to join the Lego Club free and receive awesome Bionicle comics alongside a three-page magazine in the mail. With Garan, Lego seems to have become less superfluous in its package contents. Perhaps this should be welcome—brevity is, after all, the soul of wit.
Here's where we start to cut to the heart of the matter. You didn't buy this box for all the glossy booklets & creative artwork. You want to know about the LEGO bricks & bits that are included, and what (if any) new & interesting parts you'll find inside. Here's also where I'll talk about any new and/or interesing pieces that you will encounter.
According to the trusty piece count on Garan’s excellent box (I’ve mentioned how cool that box is, correct?), this set contains exactly twenty-one bricks. The pieces are quite familiar; there are no new bricks included in this set. The parts roster consists of three black Bohrok feet, a black Great Ruru, two of the formerly-rare Chronicler’s staffs, several double-hip-joints, a handful of silver Bohrok “eyeteeth,” a Toa Metru head, two normal hip-joints, Rahaga limbs, assorted plus-rods, and no less than four Hordika head-pieces. Judging by that hit parade, I suspect this will be quite a useful set for MOCing.
What can you expect while putting this model together?
The building of Garan goes rather quickly. As stated above, the pieces are familiar; we all already know how they connect. One could likely build Garan just by looking at the box art, in fact. While the build was not enthralling, certainly nowhere near classic sets such as the Bahrag, Exo-Toa, or Boxor, it was fun due to the unorthodox nature of Garan’s construction. This Matoran is put together completely differently than any previous Bionicle villager, and it was entertaining to see him form from a pile of technic bricks into a semi-humanoid biped.
Garan looks pretty interesting put-together. He’s rather hunchbacked (was Victor Hugo on the design team?), lanky, and bizarre, but it’s a rather good look for a Karzhani-twisted Matoran who escaped to Voya-Nui. Strangely, however, Garan has no eyes (Yes, I’m expounding. I’m glad you remembered.). Why these ocular items are absent is beyond me, but this deformation can be easily remedied with a pair of Toa Metru eyes and a #2 plus-rod. The mobility of Garan’s head is not inhibited a mite, and as you can see in these comparison pictures, he looks a world better.
So you've got the model together, but is it more like playing with a block of wood or an interactive toy?
For a four-dollar set (that was what I nabbed him at Wal-Mart for), you don’t expect a plethora of playability, but this is Lego, and to a true fan such as you or me, that means quality. We won’t be happy with the proverbial block of wood. As you know, the Bionicle team has decided the drop those entertaining gear-driven action features so common in older sets, appeasing those “poseability is playability” people. Personally I’d rather have both, but I can’t speak for all. Garan has a fair amount of articulation, nine points total (it should be noted that I miscounted in the video review). He can swivel his head, shuffle his feet, and swing his arms all around, brandishing his unwieldy weapons all the while.
Here's where it all boils down to whether the model is worth your money and time or not.
In all honestly my recommendation of this set depends entirely on what you buy Bionicle sets for. If you are a storyline or character collector, of course you’re going to buy the leader of the Matoran Resistance; you don’t need my review to tell you whether to buy it or not. If you want a cheap set to entertain yourself (or your children, if you’re a parent), then this is a fine little inexpensive set. However, you’re not going to get hours upon hours of playing experience out of it—if you’re willing to go a tad higher in price range, definitely get one of the Piraka, and if you’re willing to go even higher, I’ve heard this year’s titans are rather good.
The only class of prospective buyers I would definitely recommend this to would be the MOCist crowd. This set has a lot of useful pieces for a very cheap price, and it’s black, which is a color that can be used in almost any MOC. So if you want a great crop of bricks at a low price, get out there and buy Garan when you get the chance. Keep the economy chugging.
Garan hitches a ride on the author's cat
I hope you all enjoyed the review and that it helped in deciding whether or not to purchase the set. Be sure to thank Smeagol4 in the Talkback topic, for essentially doing TWO reviews, taking the pictures and writing up one review and recording the video for the second. Stay tuned as we continue reviewing the 2006 sets, maybe there will even be another video review some time in the future!
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