Sunday, October 4th, 2009 at 4:05pm by Andrew, BZPower News Manager
Sunday is review day, yet again. This week Shannara weighs in on Thornatus, the second largest set to come out this year. Will this vehicle roll over the competition? You'll have to read on to find out!
From the design of the box to the instruction manual, these are the first things you see before building the set.
So you're browsing the LEGO aisle at your local store, and something catches your eye.
It's the Thornatus V9! It's a sharp looking box, and it truly grabs your attention. Thornatus is depicted with Perditus behind the wheel (so to speak), rushing across a dark and desolate blue landscape. Lit up beneath the prominent BIONICLE sign is the Skrall shield design with a scarabax in the center. In the bottom left corner is the age range, set number, piece count, etc. and also a small inset picture showing that vehicle and driver can be split apart.
Flipping the large box over, you see the previous picture blown up to cover the bulk of the back side. The upper right corner showcases a collection of pictures showing each of the Thornatus' many features, while the bottom shows two other large summer Bionicle box sets (Skopio XV-1 and Baranus V7 to be specific), the BIO code for the set, the LEGO logo, and the promise of an exciting BIONICLE ACTION FIGURE GAME. Well it looks good to me. Let's take one home, tear it open, and see what we get for all this fancy packaging.
Half the fun is had building the set. How fun is it to build and how easy or challenging is it?
The box has been opened! Let's organize this a little bit.
Much better. The box has quite a lot of stuff in. The tally comes to four bags (three of which are labeled 1, 2, and 3), four small Viking wheels, four Midak Skyblasters, two instruction booklets, and one very large wheel. The first instruction booklet starts with Bag 1, which encompasses the building of Perditus, the Glatorian vehicle driver for Vulcanus.
If you would like to see the pros and cons of the construction of this guy, check out the reviews of the Glatorian or Glatorian Legends sets. He's very, very simple. Let's move on to the bulk of the pieces.
Most of the first booklet is taken up by building the front of the Thornatus vehicle itself, which can be found entirely in Bag 2. The build is interesting and the various moving parts show promise for some interesting functions... But we'll get back to that later.
Tada! Interestingly, there is a large number of pieces left over from Bag 2 when it's time to open Bag 3. How peculiar.
The back half of the vehicle is also a complex and entertaining build. There's really no other way to say it.
And before you know it, the set totally finished! I fear I do not possess the necessary vocabulary to describe this building experience properly. So instead of rambling on and on I'll just some it up in one sentence. Building the Thornatus V9 was the most interesting and fun experience I've had constructing a Bionicle set since the Bahrag. But we'll get to that more at the end of the review.
Now that the set is complete, we can critique how it looks from every angle. New or interesting pieces can also be examined here.
Here's some of the new pieces. The huge wheel isn't totally new but this is its first appearance in a Bionicle set. There are four of those new Technic bases in the set as well (though for this picture I accidentally missed one), two of the long double sockets with the pin holes pointing outward, and two of these fascinating bent Technic beams. Among my favorite pieces are the new Glatorian helmets and the two recolored Kanohi Crasts in all silver. I also thought it was a random note but interesting that the rubber bands in this set were found in a small cardboard packet shown above.
I decided the tan pieces needed their own photo. Some of them are new in this color and some of them are not, but I thought it best to show all of the glorious tan parts together.
Perditus' design is simple. Painfully simple. I would've preferred something a little more unique, maybe something to set this Glatorian apart from the multitude of Inika-rehashes. But you're not gonna buy this set for the driver alone, right?
Thornatus ROCKS. From every angle, this machine looks fast and powerful and dangerous. I've had issues in the past with some of the vehicle sets being rather simplistic, or having lots of holes in them, or looking somewhat rickety. But in a desert environment where the inhabitants are fighting every day just to survive, you don't expect every piece of equipment to look pristine and perfect. Somehow, taken in the context of a Bara Magna setting, the Thornatus V9 just looks... Right. Difficult to describe, really. But it's very fitting. I do have one bone to pick with TLG, though.
Pins. Pins sticking out at the most random of places. For no reason. The last of those three pictures is the biggest mystery I've yet encountered in a Bionicle set. The red two-length pins on the back of the top Midak Skyblasters serve literally zero purpose. I can't figure it out, and I find it a frustrating puzzle. Theories, anybody??
But, as usual, this is a very minor flaw. The colors aren't perfect, but it doesn't bother me as much as it has in other sets. Somehow this idea of Agori villagers cobbling whatever pieces they have in their possession together into vehicles for use in battle has gotten into my head, and made all these imperfections more valid. This could be a brilliant strategic move on the part of TLG, or maybe just a total accident.
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 playability of Perditus on his own is the same as all of the other recent canister sets. It's pretty standard. The Glatorian on his own is very playable, but he seems sorely in need of a weapon.
Let's take a look at the functions of the Thornatus machine itself, the ones shown on the back of the box.
The cockpit opens and closes! The function is identical to the one on the Jetrax T6 vehicle from last year. Nothing too complex, but it sure does make it easier to get the driver in and out.
This is the main function of Thornatus. A quick tug on the tan Bitil wing on the front of the vehicle and the side panels snap out. Again, the function is very similar to Jetrax. This time however the system seems perfected. Thornatus' side panels fit snugly against the main body of the vehicle, making it look very streamlined in either position. Frankly I'm not sure why Perditus would ever want the sides drawn in except to park it as the other mode looks much faster and more dangerous, but that's a decision we'll leave to him.
And then there's the Thornax launcher. This integral piece of the BIONICLE ACTION FIGURE GAME can be aimed in pretty much any direction, allowing Perditus to take aim at any enemy in any direction. Very convenient. It can even be lowered right in front of his eyes, giving him a chance to aim the Thornax manually. Very neat. And with two of the life counters on it, Thornatus is sure to take a fair few hits before it loses in the one game that everyone is just itchin' to play this year!
Other than that, it's difficult to photograph the playability of the Thornatus vehicle. It rolls around on its six wheels quite smoothly over even thick carpeting (or so I've found), but I can't really show movement in a photo, so I'll just leave the playability at that.
Once it's all said and done, how does the set stack up? Should I get it?
What's to like?
- Some fun new and recolored pieces, especially tan!
- Excellent building experience
- Grade A functions
- Awesome overall appearance
What's not to like?
- Lackluster driver
- Odd bits of pins sticking out
Now let's be honest. Most people don't wanna run and shell out 59.99 USD for something you're not gonna enjoy. Even for something you are going to enjoy, it can be an intimidating quantity and should not be a decision made lightly.
But I fully and whole-heartedly recommend the Thornatus V9 set. All around it is definitely my favorite large box set to come out in years, a position I thought would be long held by last year's Jetrax set. Start to finish, though, Thornatus is top of the line. It is an entertaining build that leads to a solid creation, one that is fun and looks amazing and has only the most minor of color flaws. Plus it's worth a mention that you can use this awesome set to recreate awesome scenes from the awesome new movie, Bionicle: The Legend Reborn!
All in all, I found this set to be a rare treat, a gem the likes of which I have not seen in years. Whether you run out and buy it now or hold off until you can snatch it up on sale, Thornatus is an amazing buy whether you're into MOCing, collecting, or just having fun playing with the model itself. Thornatus is the way to go.
That pretty much sums up Thornatus. Remember to thank Shannara for taking the time to complete the review. Feel free to share your own thoughts in the Talkback as well. Stay tuned for more reviews, rebuttals, and all the latest Bionicle news!
« Return to News