Monday, November 10th, 2014 at 12:37pm by Andrew, BZPower News Manager
[Source: Nuju Metru]
It's time for more Bionicle 2015 reviews! I know I can hardly contain my excitement, so hopefully you all are excited too. Today Forum Assistant Nuju Metru takes a look at 70789 Onua Master of Earth, one of the larger sets from next year's line. Are you going to dig this Toa of Earth? Or will you leave him in a deep, dark cave? You'll have to read on to find out!
Hey guys, and welcome to the BZPower review of 70789 Onua Master 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 Andrew for passing some of it on to me. Read on to see my thoughts - captured for you in both a video and a text/image format - on this model. Is Onua worth your widgets, or should he stay buried? Let's find out!
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 Onua's package shows him in a dynamic run, his huge hammer raised, a Skull Spider at his feet, and what I'm gonna call a Suva off in the bottom corner, above which hovers the golden mask in a nexus of green energy. 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 "Onua Master of Earth" in case we didn't know.
The back of the box gives us plenty to look at. Dominant on the top half of the package here is Onua again, this time holding his alternate weapons - shovels - and surrounded by little things that highlight functions of the product. On the left, an infographic demonstrates that combining Onua with the accessories of 70781 Protector of Earth yields an even more fierce and battle-ready Toa. Next door to the souped-up Onua is a box using the Pakari (I'm gonna keep calling it a Pakari, and you're gonna have to get used to that) to demonstrate the 1:1 scale. Over on the right of shovelling Onua are boxes calling out his gear function (GEAR FUNCTION!), his mask-popping head feature, and the way the Skull Spider can be worn like a mask.
Below all this is a comic strip, drawn in the animation style of the backstory video we've all probably watched like 15 times by now (what do you mean you haven't seen it 15 times, who even are you?). The story of the comic goes a little like this: Protector, guarding the golden mask, is surrounded by Skull Spiders. A Skull Spider lunges! Onua breaks out of the ground! He takes the Golden Pakari, puts it on, and turbo-claps the spit out of the spiders. Wham! Bam! Thank you, ma'am! The Protector's face is saved!
Below the comic we can find legalese of several dialects. It's the usual stuff. Overall, the package is decent; it's light, it kept the instruction manual flat (which is a welcome change) and it didn't fall apart before I chose to open it, so it did its job. Let's move on to the real meat of the review, the bricks 'n things!
Half the fun is had building the set. How fun is it to build and how easy or challenging is it?
Pouring out the box, we get three non-numbered bags, a flat instruction manual, a little sheet bearing Onua's torso plate stickers, and the big black chest armor part to which they're applied, which floats in the package by itself.
The first thing you see upon opening up Onua's instruction manual is an expanded version of the comic from the back of his box. This one has frames demonstrating the Protector's Gatling gun chest, and its combo ability with Onua.
The first thing that gets built is the Skull Spider, to which we attach legs. Easy peasy, and we quickly move on to the main figure. Onua's legs come together first. Then his torso is constructed, complete with the Technic knot associated with his two-armed gear function (which we'll investigate more fully later). Onua's arms are built and clicked into to his wide shoulders; we attach hefty plates to cover the front and top of his torso (the sticker application comes in here... I was careful and had no troubles, but some people might have difficulty lining up the stickers). Onua's hammer comes together, and then finally - in classic BIONICLE fashion - his mask is the last part added.
The back of the instruction manual presents you with a prize for having gotten to the build's end: a cool, two-page graphic showcasing all six of our revamped Toa heroes and their masks' golden variations, arranged like spokes around a wheel, at the hub of which resides of the Mask of Creation. I actually ended up distractedly ogling these pages for a hot second in the middle of writing this review, because I got so caught up in my BIONICLE appreciation... Focus, Aaron. Let's move on to discussing the set, proper.
Now that the set is complete, we can critique how it looks from every angle. New or interesting pieces can also be examined here.
70789 includes a lovely assortment of interesting parts; perks of being among the first sets of a new theme, I guess. First, there are some recolored elements (a few of which I forgot to take photos of), and rare-ish or fun parts, including:
- 4 4-length shells, in purple
- 1 big black chest plate
- 2 trans-purple bones
- A silver Ben 10 Constraction hoof
- A black Technic part with a friction pin perpendicular to a pin hole
70789 also includes a plethora of new molds, including:
- The new gearbox, in dark bley
- The new Pakari, in both black and gold
- The Skull Spider body part, in LEGO Friends "tea-green"
- 4 silver shovel/hammer/shoulder plate parts
- The new BIONICLE head, in silver
- And its matching eyepiece, in trans-lime
- 4 gold shell-cladding parts (reminiscent of the Toa Mata bodies!)
- 4 Skull Spider legs in gunmetal
In short, 70789 makes for an impressive parts pack. Now we've gotta see how all those parts work together on the completed model.
Before we do, I wanna take a closer look at the new Kanohi Pakari (to be more correct, the "Mask of Earth"). While not as direct in its tribute to its predecessor as, say, the new Akaku, the new Pakari definitely takes its cues from Onua's first mask, looking like a more intricate version of its former self by maintaining signature features (the vents on the sides of the mouth, the forehead, and on the sides of the eyes are still there) as well as adding new shapes. This Pakari is smaller than the first iteration, and attaches to the bearer an entirely different way, with a sort of clamp/vice that hits the sides of the head, rather than by a stud pushed into the mouth. I like the Pakari's design; I think it hearkens back well to the original, while still looking different enough to feel like a fresh face.
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 much of a match for brawny Onua, 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 "tea-green" (I won't look up the actual color name). 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 line progresses.
Finally, the main attraction: Onua himself. He's squat and burly, a powerful-looking fellow captured in black and purple - the Earth elemental hues this time around - with gold and silver accents. Though I wish the set had stuck to just one metallic color (if only his shoulder plates had been black...), the actual color balance on the set is maintained well. Onua's torso stickers perform a vital role in the maintenance of the color scheme, so even if they're hard to apply right, I'd recommend you try.
Structurally, Onua is a hefty Toa, with a thick torso (the gearbox and its cladding fill out the figure's back in a way we haven't seen in years). The friction joints at his hips curtail the dangers of top-heaviness, and the weight of his hammer-holding arm is managed the same way by use of friction joints at the shoulders. The hammer itself is neat - made neater by the fact that we've not seen a tool like it used by a BIONICLE character before - but I wish another solution had been found for filling out its back, since the inverted Ben 10 hoof is conspicuously hollow on top.
To best show off the mechanics of Onua's gear system (and to showcase some internal structure, like the CCBS contrivances that support his shoulder armor from behind his chest plate), I stripped him down to the "bare bones" of his construction. The gear mechanism is simple; it's the same 90-degree transference of rotation as we got on the original Toa Mata, only this time it's achieved with 4-prong rounded gears (which makes aligning the arm axles much simpler!). To prevent the arm flopping that was characteristic of his Mata version, one of Onua's arm axles - the one that bears his hammer and, therefore, the most weight - has been fitted with a clever source of friction: a ball in a socket. I was very impressed and excited by the ingenuity and effectiveness of this solution to the age-old problem of gear floppiness.
Now, let's play.
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! The new Toa manage to possess the best of both the gear and after-gear worlds: on the one hand, you can still twist a knob on the figure's back and set its arms to swinging; on the other, with friction added to the mechanism as it now is, the arms won't just come falling down after you pose them upward. I can raise Onua's weapon arm with the gear, and it'll stay there until I tell it to. The extra friction joints on the tops of his upper arms mean that they don't flop during gear-induced motion unless you're turning the command gear with a truckload of torque and speed. This kind of stability makes the reintroduction of an old, favorite play feature feasible, because gears no longer equate with jeopardized poseability.
Like the rest of the BIONICLE 2015 Toa, Onua follows in the tradition of the Toa Nuva by possessing a multifunctional tool. The primary one is his hammer. However, if you take the front end of the hammer - the interlocked silver shoulder-plate parts, that is - then remove the upper haft of the weapon (it can be stored on Onua's back), the two halves of the hammerhead can be repositioned in Onua's grip as Whenua Metru-esque shovels. This is probably why Onua was given two gear-swinging arms; I love making him "dig."
Here are some images of Onua wearing the gold Pakari that comes in the set. The Golden Mask looks good on him, and feels like it belongs given the other spots of gold on his body. Speaking of masks, I've yet to mention the minor play feature involving masks on the new BIONICLE sets: if you push down on the back of the eyepiece, it levers up on the mask and sends it toppling from (or, in clingier masks' case, flying off) the head. The Skull Spider has mask attachment points, too (and its grip is stronger than the Pakari's for whatever reason), so it can be launched from Onua's face in the same manner.
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 recap lists.
What's to like?
- I mean, bonkle is back or something had you heard?
- Package prevented instructions from getting bent
- Build includes enough Technic complexity to keep me engaged
- Includes three masks (if you count the Skull Spider, I do) and thereby cheaply gives set in-box conflict
- Skull Spider in Friends color
- New Pakari honors the old Pakari while adhering to the updated aesthetic
- New BIONICLE molds nod at original aesthetic
- Set includes plenty of recolored, new, or otherwise interesting parts
- Structurally extremely stable, fleshed out and full
- I like this color scheme, mostly
- Gear function, and at no cost to poseability (friction mechanism is beautiful)
- Double-function weapon, with somewhere to put the hammer haft when it's not being used
- Mega-mode model with the Earth Protector's help
What's not to like?
- Package is flimsy, prone to damage in transit and on shelves
- Stickers harsh my buzz... and, curse them, they're essential to the color scheme
- Pakari is, from my (and VBBN's) experience, less clingy than the other new Kanohi
- Silver and gold next to each other is like wearing stripes on opposing stripes (not quite as bad, but same premise...)
- I don't like the Ben 10 foot's use in the set, it's hollow-looking
- $20 might be hefty for some
70789 is a solid set in more ways than just its burliness. Packing lots of valuable elements, elegant play features, and a heckuva lot of character, the new Onua doesn't only satisfy me as a Constraction set; he meets - and, in some ways, even exceeds - my high hopes about BIONICLE's return. 70789 manages to honor its roots aesthetically and functionally at the same time as it presents a fresh, attractive product; Onua's fulfillment of this dichotomy impresses and pleases me.
Big thanks to Nuju Metru for putting together this review, and bigger thanks to LEGO for sending us the set! Please share your questions, comments, and feedback in the Talkback topic. This is just the second Bionicle 2015 review we're putting out, so keep checking back on BZPower for even more!
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