Sunday, December 13th, 2015 at 9:10pm by Andrew, BZPower News Manager
[Source: Nuju Metru]
It's time to get back on the wagon with our 2016 Bionicle set reviews! Today BZPower Forum Assistant Nuju Metru is taking a look at the big baddie of the winter wave, 71310 Umarak the Hunter. As one of the larger sets we get this year, he has a lot to live up to. To find out how he stacks up and if he should be on your holiday wishlist, continue on to check out our video and text review!
Hey guys, and welcome to BZPower's review of 71310 Umarak the Hunter, one of the new 2016 BIONICLE sets! As always, I'd like to thank both TLG for giving us at BZP free stuff 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. Should you hunt this set down, or let it die off in the wild? 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.
71310 comes in a cardboard hexagonal container very much like those of the other Gen. 2 BIONICLE products we've seen thus far. Logo bar at the top? Check. Rocky-blocky text proclaiming the character's name in the bottom right? Check. Bodiless hands grasping towards the product from off-screen? Check. Aside from the actively-posed rendering of Umarak the Hunter - who, of course, is a new character, and so not something we've seen before - the only "new" thing about this box design is that in the aforementioned logo bar, rather than Ekimu's Mask of Creation over a blue strip, we get Makuta's Mask of Control over a greenish one.
Overall, 71310's got an unsurprising, if visually appealing, box front. Umarak's all glistening and shiny like the new, new product he is, so much so that his gunmetal gray elements look almost like they're silver (oh no, false advertising!). The Mask of Control, gussied up in the same kind of uber-metallic way, sits squarely down-center, surrounded by a nebulous of crackling green light.
Again, there's nothing much new of note on the back of the package, nothing that really breaks from what we've been taught to expect on BIONICLE boxes. Play feature call-outs - from left to right the mask-release, the six-shooter, the swivel-hips - occupy the top space, and below them are images demonstrating how one can combine Umarak with the small Creature sets (in this demo, 71300, Creature of Jungle whose name I forget and don't feel like looking up). A miniature comic strip in the usual Gen. 2 style forms a wall between these product images and the blocks of legalese filling the bottom of the box.
Something I thought was cool: y'know how the Nuva symbols are coming back this wave? Well, even though Umarak was never a Nuva (or, I guess, a non-Nuva, as the Uniter versions of the Toa are like Nuva equivalents), he gets his own symbol here, which looks a little like a Space Invader to me. I assume, based on other reviews I've seen so far, that the one on the right is the Creatures' emblem.
But you're not here for box pictures! So let's get to the meat of the matter.
Half the fun is had building the set. How fun is it to build and how easy or challenging is it?
The instruction manual looks like the front of the box, only with thinner paper and not in a 3-D hexagon... Obviously. But as I flipped through the booklet, I happened on a few pages I thought y'all might want to see. The first one there doesn't have much going on of interest: an infographic demonstrating Umarak + Creature A, B, C, etc. But look on the inside bottom of the left page: Netflix? What's a Netflix logo doing there? Can we expect a bingeworthy BIONICLE show in the near future!?
Probably not, but a guy can dream.
The second of my selected instruction pictures shows off all six Uniter Toa and their respective creatures. It's a neat graphic.
Now's the point in the review where maybe you say: "Aaron, where are the pictures of the build process?" I'll tell you: I didn't take any. A few reasons for that: first, that I got into building the set myself and don't feel like taking pictures; second, that I never look at those pictures myself in other reviews (I mean, it's basically always the same steps); third, because I like the little surprises that come with building something for the first time, and who wants that spoiled for them? Besides, you'll form your opinions (and I'll articulate my opinions) on 71310 when it comes time - very shortly - to look at the completed model.
I'll sum up the building experience textually, though: pretty straightforward, pretty much what you would have expected. Some points of interest around the attachment joints for the hip-tools and the shoulder armor, I guess, but other than that not much to write home about.
Now that the set is complete, we can critique how it looks from every angle. New or interesting pieces can also be examined here.
71310 comes with some new molded parts and interesting re-colors of existing elements. These are:
- The black superhero pectoral part, with a new om-nom-nom mouth print (1x)
- The large Chima segmented leg, new and fashionable in dark tan (2x)
- Its smaller companion version, same color, same love (4x)
- Atlantis horns/teeth, which I believe are new in dark red (7x, including the extra piece)
- The lower half of the hip-swiveling torso, a new part and gunmetal (1x)
- The upper half of this assembly - it perma-clicks in with the lower bit, forming a pivot point with an unexpected, and I think positive, amount of friction - in black (1x)
- The new armor/Uniter-point part - interestingly, has no CCBS connection points, it's purely Technic, and in design really reminisces Gen. 1 - in gunmetal (1x)
- Shadow trap halves, which I adore and are loads of fun in a pair, in gunmetal (2x)
- The shortened eyestalk, in trans-orange (1x)
There were a few other parts that I was unsure about the new/re-color status of. But, as one Chir brother or another tells me (without fail) when an element I call out in one of my reviews as new actually isn't, the humiliation sets me back weeks. So, I've decided to play it safe here. Could I look on Bricklink to verify the status of these myself? Probably. Will I? Well, clearly I haven't. But here are the parts I wasn't sure about the newness of, and so didn't mention:
- Chain links: okay I know that they're technically in a new variant of silver, but it's essentially the same as the '06 version, so no photos (7x)
- The six-shooter parts, in black and light grey; have these come in Star Wars or somewhere? I feel like they have (1x of each)
- A little bitty Technic element that I'd never seen before, but probably already exists, in light gray (1x)
- Bohrok eyes in dark red, which I believe are rare but not new (4x)
- Are 6L bones new in trans-apple? (2x)
- A classic little Technic part which comes in medium green, but I wouldn't be surprised to hear also comes on the new Lewa or something (1x)
I bet you thought I'd forgotten that the two masks that come in 71310 are also new parts, up there! Well, I didn't. They just get special attention here.
Big fan of Umarak's face. A sweet fusion of black and trans-apple, this asymmetrical mask looks almost like it's made out of the same crystal that appears all over the Uniter sets, but in a corrupted version. Cool scars mar the face. I'm impressed by the (possibly accidental) way that on the lower half of the jagged mouth, the piece is trans-green, and on the upper half, it's black. Apologies for the white lint that fell on the piece as I was photographing.
71310 also comes with the Mask of Control. I think this new mask is neat, as well. Though I never got the Mask of Creation personally (Mask Maker vs. Skull Grinder wasn't sent to me for free like this thing, so), I've seen enough pictures of Ekimu's masterpiece to say confidently that the new Mask of Control feels like it was forged on the same anvil as its predecessor. Similar, extraordinarily-intricate-for-LEGO letters run in lines along this face, giving the mask a magical aura only augmented by its goldenness. The shape of the forehead differs greatly from the Mask of Creation, of course, in that it's rounded, with ram-like horns instead of crown-like protrusions. Personally when I see the mold, it looks to me a little like Makuta from the MoL movie.
At last, the finished model! Take a look at all the angles up there.
Umarak comes out looking quite good, in my opinion. The color scheme is, to me, immaculate. Dark red and trans-apple, both on a blackish base, give Umarak a pseudo-toxic vibe that, when combined with the several hues of brown and the two hues of silver - a rustic/woodsy combination that's been foreign to BIONICLE for the most part - yields a fascinating palette that's balanced well.
The general shape of the model also looks great. Aside from the obviously distinctive antlers - ANTLERS! - Umarak's got a distinctive silhouette, due to those shadow trap shoulders and back-jointed legs (more on those in a second). The arms are of a nice length, with nifty trans-green underlay and thorny (that's what those horns look like, I've decided: thorns, and extremely cool) armoring. The bow is giant in the best kind of way, and while it's tough to get Umarak to hold it two-handed in many poses where one wrist or another isn't bent too much, I super-dig this tool. The long Chima spider legs look so good in dark tan, don't they?
I included a picture of Umarak sans accessories, just so you can get a better look at the body of the figure. It's also cool that all the accessories are easily detachable.
But yeah, Umarak's designer made some solid design choices. Look at the dangling chains! Look how well balanced colors and motifs are on the model! Look how Umarak comes with extra ammo and a place to store it and an alternate weapon! Look at the ANTLERS! Look at how the Bohrok eyes continue the thorn motif down to the--
Legs. Oh, the legs. This is the part of the design where I get a little less stoked on Umarak. And that's not sarcasm, I don't hate them, but I'm just not as big a fan of this part of the design. I understand why the designer chose to build the legs this way - it's a fairly efficient design that yields sufficient stability for the body above it - but the appearance isn't as hot. I find the lower parts gappy and unfinished, especially from side angles. From straight on, they don't actually look awful; just a little complex, a little heavy on bright blue connector pins, y'know? Shout-out to the trans-apple toes, though.
But you rarely see the legs over the ANTLERS. I think these are probably my favorite part of the build: they're so unique, shapely and recognizable. They block Umarak's face from many angles, but who cares! How often have we seen antlered characters? That's right: never. Very, very cool things- and, as an added bonus, Umarak can wear the Mask of Control without having to lose his horns. That was a nice surprise.
I'll take a moment to address the other part of Umarak's design I'm less-than-stoked (again, literally! I don't hate it! Stop interpreting so sarcastically!) on: his sloped, empty shoulders. The shadow traps are a wonderful part, and using them as shoulder armor is a cool conceit, but I feel like the way they're attached as epaulettes only draws more focus to how low the Hordika necks are. I don't understand why the designer set them on the lower axle; you can move them up to the higher one without impeding shoulder articulation horribly, and without infringing on the shadow trap attachment points. I did this on mine (for the few more minutes Umarak will stay out of my parts bins), and it looks so much better I can't even tell you.
Enough on the technical stuff- let's get to playability.
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?
Because of how pretty he is, Umarak poses well from most angles. I already brought up the thing about the bow and the wrists, which limits posing when the hands are both on the weapon; I found a few fun poses with one hand on the weapon, though, so know that's an option. Umarak can stand on one leg, since the back jointed legs are built with a lot of stability and he has friction joints at the hips. The ankles haven't got as much flexibility as I'd like, which limits some posing possibilities, though.
In terms of play features beyond poseability, Umarak has three main ones: the six-shooter, the mask-popping, and the swivel-hips.
The six-shooter works like they always do. The twist-trigger - the part that spins the internal trigger, you know what I mean - is attached to the whole shaft of the bow. I found that there's not enough grip on the naked axle to make twisting this trigger easy; a little gear, just for more traction/torque, might have been a nice inclusion.
The mask-popping function is also nothing new, really, but in this model the shorter eye-stalk makes popping the mask happen less often accidentally (and the weight of the antlers works in opposition to accidental popping, too). Beyond this, I think the new masks also grip the head element more tightly, which is a welcome difference.
The swivel-hip function is straightforward, but novel in terms of placement for a gear. I definitely like it. The fact that the pivot spot has a good deal of friction means that the upper body doesn't just swinging around willy-nilly, and will stay in place in all the enjoyable new poses this point of articulation opens up. Also: the gear teeth on the upper part are limited; there's about 90 degrees total of motion, just so you don't accidentally twist the upper body all the way around or something silly like that.
71310 has another play feature, of sorts, which I didn't see coming but which was prescribed by the instructions: by using a few included extra pieces, and taking some parts off Umarak's body (his shoulder armor and toes), you can build one of the shadow trap foes, the likes of which come with all the Creature sets. This is nice and all, but assembling this accessory diminishes Umarak; the biggest way is that it makes his shoulders look even lower and emptier. A neat thing I discovered, though, is that without the shadow trap parts as shoulder armor getting in the way, Umarak can wear his bow on his back, on one of the Technic pegs where a Creature would attach. Neato!
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 tally up the final score.
What's to like?
- Lotsa new and re-colored parts of quality (gorgeous dark tan)
- New masks are both well-designed; Mask of Control feels like fitting companion to Mask of Creation
- Color scheme on fleek
- Set poses well, looks good from most angles
- Extra tools, extra ammo, chains… i.e. Umarak is blinged-out
- Numerous play features, including surprise shadow trap!
- Hip-pivot function works perfectly
What's not to like?
- Lower legs gappyish
- Shoulders low and emptyish
- Bow difficult to pose with - I think the shaft is too long
- Six-shooter hard to fire without a lot of elbow grease
- Surprise shadow trap sucks Umarak main figure dry
I'm extremely satisfied with 71310. The set has a lot going for it aesthetically, has a cool, idiosyncratic character, packs a bunch of quality parts and play features, and fits nicely into - actually, charts fun new territory in - the Gen 2 BIONICLE world. There are a few points of the design that could've been improved in my opinion, but in the face of all the good things Umarak brings to the table, I'm more than happy to overlook them. I'd definitely recommend this set.
Join me in the Talkback to thank Nuju Metru for putting this together. While you're at it, if you have any questions or comments about Umarak you can ask them there. This is only our fourth Bionicle 2016 review, so there's still plenty more to come, right here on BZPower!
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