Thursday, February 18th, 2010 at 7:16am by Jason, BZPower Reporter
LEGO has been experimenting with some new brands lately, one of which has been a collection of buildable figures from the Ben 10 show. These new aliens use the same ball-joint system that has made Bionicle so popular, but just how do these sets stack up against Bionicle? Iíll take a look at 8519 Big Chill and give my opinions on the matter.
From the design of the box to the instruction manual, these are the first things you see before building the set.
First of all, these are not canister sets, because they do not come in canisters. They come in large boxes. The boxes take up more space than even the largest Bionicle canisters, but since theyíre made of cardboard, they probably cost less to produce. Itís not a big change (system sets still come in cardboard boxes) but it does feel different to pull the ball-joints for one figure out of a box rather than just a canister. Oh well.
The front of the box features an image of Big Chill in mid leap, featuring his claws, wings, and new head. In the blue background behind him, you can see the outlines of all the character in the line, in their non-LEGO forms. Thereís some other information on the front too; the age limit, which is now 5-12 (ha ha, Bionicle went all the way to 16!), the piece count (only 20 pieces?), and the traditional warning about the choking hazard. If you look to the upper right, you can see an advertisement for ďBuildable AlienĒ just in case you were wondering what to do with your pieces. In the upper left, you have the LEGO logo along with the Ben 10 logo, and in the lower left corner, you apparently have Ben himself. There isnít a set version of him though; who wants to build a boring human, after all?
If you flip around to the back of the box, you can learn a bit more about the set. The primary focus is of Big Chill again, but his lower body is floating around in a series of pieces! I guess thatís where you have to start building! Thereís also an image of an alternate model you could build (if you buy two more sets) as well as pictures of the rest of the aliens in the line. There is also a bit advertising the glow in the dark eyes that Big Chill has. The legal stuff is missing on the back, but donít worry, itís not gone. Itís just been moved to the edges of the box, where it wonít get in the way of showing off how cool Big Chill is.
Half the fun is had building the set. How fun is it to build and how easy or challenging is it?
After you open the box, you can pour out the contents. Most of the pieces, except for the wings, are enclosed in a plastic bag, and thereís also the instruction manual. I personally didnít use the manual when I built the set, but I did glance through it. In addition to the instructions for Big Chill, there are a couple advertisements for the other Ben 10 sets, images of the combo models you can build using Ben 10 pieces, an advertisement for the Bionicle Stars sets, and a sign up sheet for a free 2 year subscription to the LEGO Magazine.
The build is, I admit, mind-numbingly simple. You snap the limbs together, you put them on the body, and add the armor and wings. You could build him with your eyes closed, or while youíre still waiting in the car. If youíve ever built a Bionicle figure before, this should be no problem for you. In fact, I would compare the build more to Agori / Stars sets rather than traditional Bionicle canister sets. The only difference between Big Chill and any of the Bionicle Stars is that he has knee and elbow joints.
Now that the set is complete, we can critique how it looks from every angle. New or interesting pieces can also be examined here.
Big Chill only contains 20 pieces (actually 21: they apparently count the body and torso armor as 1 piece, since they come pre-connected in the box, even though they can be separated) This feels really low, especially considering there is not a single pin or rod piece in the entire set. However, the cool thing about Big Chill is that all the parts are completely new. There are no reused pieces, no recolors; these are all new molds. All of them are limited to the Ben 10 line, and 3 molds only come with this set. But while some are good, others leave something to be desired.
The new limb pieces are a slight surprise, since LEGO has quite a few decent limb pieces from the Bionicle line, and hasnít been afraid to reuse them. But all the Ben 10 sets come with these new molds, which include new upper limb pieces, new lower limb pieces, new feet and new claws. The first thought that comes to mind is that these new pieces feel hollow; they are bulky, but arenít solid like many Bionicle limbs. And worst, there are no connection points, with the exception of the lower limb piece, which has two axle connections on the back. The upper and lower limb pieces also have small holes that would fit the Viking horn pieces, but the claws and feet have nothing besides the ball-socket joints.
The feet are narrow and have the connection socket rotated, as compared to most Bionicle feet. This limits mobility severely, as the foot cannot move forward or backwards very much anymore. The claws, on the other hand, offer the same amount of mobility as most Bionicle hands, but there is a difference; they are made of a rubbery substance, much like the Piraka spines of old. This makes the ball-joint connection much looser, and I keep having problems with the hands falling off the set. While I like the idea of a claw mold like that, I wouldíve preferred it in solid plastic.
Speaking of the ball-joint system, there have been some changes. The sockets have been made thicker, so itís easier to connect the ball joint into the socket. While this doesnít work with the hand piece very well (I blame the rubbery substance) I do like it for the rest of the limbs. The connection is not as tight as the traditional ball-joints on Bionicle sets, which lets you take it apart and put it back together over and over again without worrying about breaking any of the pieces. But the connection is still strong enough to hold the pieces together satisfactorily. This is one new change that I like.
Probably the best piece in the set is the new torso piece. True, it is one giant piece, again reminding me of the Agori / Stars sets rather than the traditional canister set. However, unlike the limbs, this torso piece offers plenty of axle connections. There are five axle connections: one on the hip, one in the midsection, and three on the upper back. Additionally, there are ball joints for the legs, arms, head, and an extra set of arms too. (The middle set of arm joints look like theyíre for the Spider Monkey set) The torso armor is less interesting, with only one axle connection on the back and a few Viking horn holes on the shoulders. Sure, thereís a glow in the dark symbol on the chest, but Iíd prefer the Inika armor over this design.
Next, you have the head and wings. The head is a single mold built over a socket, with glow in the dark eyes. Itís fairly small, but has an interesting design. Then there are the wings; the lovely wings. Theyíre also made from the rubbery substance, and connect in axle holes on the back of the torso. This set comes with two wing pieces, which are split up in dragonfly-like wings. Theyíre flexible and large, and really make the set. Personally, I also think they look like fins, and I canít wait to use them on a fish MOC.
The Big Chill set has a distinct color scheme with black and blue, although the shades of blue vary. You have aqua blue limb pieces and armor, bright blue torso armor, and dark blue wings, and everything else is black. The blues are okay, but I wish they had stuck with a consistent shade of blue throughout the whole set. The other splash of color comes from the glow in the dark chest symbol and eyes, which donít quite glow as well as the old Kanoka discs or Piraka teeth, but are a nice touch.
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?
In the end, Big Chill is a model, and does not offer a lot in terms of playability. He doesnít have any gears or special functions, and even lacks a shooting weapon like the zamor or thornax. At best, Big Chill is made for role-playing or posing. However, I think heís at a disadvantage for role-playing because LEGO has not released any Ben 10 villains for Big Chill to beat up on. If Iím interpreting the show correctly, all the characters are aliens that Ben turns into, so having them fight each other would be like Ben fighting himself. Well, maybe itís a metaphorical fight for Benís inner conflicts. I guess the user has to decide the best way to use these models.
In terms of mobility, Big Chill is much like the traditional Bionicle canister sets. He has a total of 13 points of articulation. However, there are some downsides. As mentioned earlier, the new foot design limits movement, although the forward movement does feel more natural. (You try touching your toes to your leg) His hands are also problematic because they keep falling off when I move them. Also, the way they have you build the elbow joint limits it to a minimal 90 degree bend, which you can shrink down a bit if you flip one of the pieces around.
My biggest complaint on articulation is the head and the inability for him to look up. The way the neck is designed, he can only look up a few degrees while looking straight ahead. If he tilts his head to the side, he can look up higher, but his focus would be off center. For an alien whoís supposed to fly, youíd think he should be able to look straight up. Luckily, he can still look down, to admire that weird symbol on his chest.
Besides those quirks, Big Chill is the standard large figure set, with all the movement seen in the Toa, Glatorian, and other Bionicle canister sets. He isnít too top heavy, so he can strike some interesting poses. The wings do take up a lot of room, but they donít get in the way too much. (Although, if he ever wants to scratch his back, he might have some problems) And the new ball-joint system holds him together, so his limbs arenít constantly slipping. (Although how they hold up over time in another matter)
Who will win: Big Chill or the Vorox?
Fun fact: Despite the size difference, Big Chill only has two more pieces than Tahu Stars.
Once it's all said and done, how does the set stack up? Should I get it?
What's to like?
- All new pieces
- Wub wings
- Useful torso piece
- New ball-joint system feels more durable
What's not to like?
- Build too basic
- No pins or rods
- Many pieces bulky and hollow
- Problems with feet and claws
- Too many shades of blue
Standing alone, Big Chill is a so-so set. If youíre a younger kid and you want a quick, buildable figure, youíll like Big Chill. (Or if youíre into the series) The new ball-joint system works well for a rough-play setting, so you can beat up your Big Chill without worrying about snapping his sockets. In terms of pieces, he comes with a few good ones, namely the torso, lower limb piece, and wings, which could be useful to a MOCist. But many current Bionicle fans might be looking for something more out of their set, which Big Chill does not offer. Plus, I wouldnít recommend getting him at full price, which is $14.99 USD.
Big Chill is not the greatest set, and I wonít be getting any more Ben 10 figures, but he does have some useful pieces and designs that I hope LEGO reuses in the future.
Ice powers not included with the set.
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