Monday, June 16th, 2003 at 2:33am by Kelly, BZPower Co-Owner
According to the official Bionicle legend, "No creatures, save the Toa, have ever seen the Makuta and returned." You can now make that, "The Toa and Kelly," and you can add yourself to the list by reading our Makuta set review below.
Up to now, Makuta has been portrayed as either a chunk of rock or an infected Matoran. That all changes with the Summer 2003 set releases, where we see The Evil One himself in an all-new form. This hunched and imposing figure is also apparently the movie version of Makuta.
As always, we start with the box (click for a larger view). This one has a rather nice, clear shot of Makuta, in front of the now-familiar Toa of Light/Makuta background. The back has a picture of the various combiners, notable among them Takutanuva, the combination of Makuta and the Toa of Light (coming in another review).
The 8593 Makuta set contains 199 pieces and retails for US$19.99. Only one piece is left over once it's completed, presumably an extra or part of Takutanuva, and it's labeled for kids 9 and up. My 8-year-old helped construct the set without a problem, so this may be more for content than for construction difficulties. Makuta is definitely menacing.
Crack the box open and you'll find the usual assortment of bags, instructions, and marketing material. This one contains four bags (three large, one small) in order of construction. The bags themselves contain few surprises, parts-wise. There are about half a dozen completely new pieces for the new Summer 2003 sets, and they're used well in the other sets, especially the Rahkshi. The first really noticeable piece is the curved container which forms Makuta's legs and chest, instantly recognizable as the Rahkshi torso. To me, the curved look of these pieces used as legs is a bit of a contrivance, but it does tend to give the set a non-rectangular profile. In fact, however, it makes the dark one a bit back-heavy, prone to toppling on his kiester if not balanced correctly.
Other Bionicle pieces (old, relatively new, and Summer 2003 new) are used well in this set. As one would expect from the Daddy of the Rahkshi, Makuta has many pieces featured so identifiably with Turahk, Vorahk and co. He also incorporates some of Pohatu Nuva's claws, dark gray Toa Nuva armor (chest and shoulder), and a pair of Takanuva's Kanohi Avohkii, otherwise known as the Mask of Light.
Without a doubt, the most sought-after piece from the set will be Makuta's mask, also known as the Kraahkan or Mask of Shadow. This unique mask serves double duty, and can be used in two modes: face-up or face-down. Either is apparently correct, and it's possible there is some plot significance to the orientation of Makuta's mask. Below are two photos in either mode, with a clear glitter Avohkii for comparison (which does not come with this set - it's only available with the Takanuva/Ussanui set. Makuta comes with two silverish Avohkii). In the second orientation below, it resembles the Avohkii more than a little. Coincidence?
Kraahkan and Avohkii for comparison (clear Avohkii not included with Makuta)
On to the build. It's a straightforward construction set, progressing in definable sections. The first is the figure's torso (left). A pair of the ratchet pin sockets introduced in the Star Wars sets a year or two ago await the legs, and a semicircular rack-and-pinion gear, used in the new Matoran (and as a slightly different piece for the Rahkshi) allow the figure to spin. The head mount is a bit strange, as the standard toa head (top left in this picture) are folded down. However, since it's mounted on a ball joint, the head is much more poseable than an average Toa.
Indeed, the 2003 Summer sets are remarkably posable... even Takanuva's head can be placed in two modes (for riding his Ussanui). This is a welcome shift from non-bending legs and arms, and Makuta has at least 10 points of articulation, not counting his flip-open Rahkshi holders. For a large model, the build time was relatively short. Torso, legs, arms, mask, done. Makuta was fairly interesting to build, but not particularly groundbreaking. It's much better once you actually get him together.
Makuta's staff holds powers we don't know about yet, or at least I don't know about them. The instructions, in typical LEGO fashion, are wordless and shed no light on the storyline. Guess we'll need to wait for the movie to clear that up. In the set, though, the staff is tall, about twice as tall as Takanuva's staff of light, and uses the same scythe-looking top. Makuta uses two "scythes" rather than Takanuva's one.
Now that Makuta's all together...
How's the set once you get it together? The shape is menacing, the colors appropriate for the character, and mask intimidating. In all, pretty much what you'd expect of the chief bad guy. But I must admit the design seems a little contrived, and not as elegantly designed as the other recent sets. The Rahkshi designs are hands-down the best; Takanuva and his Ussanui are sweetly designed sets; Pewku and the Gukko bird are also both innovative and unique in their shapes. But Makuta has a pieced-together look, like he was bulked up by whatever was lying around. Given the storyline history of the character, that would be more than appropriate, and if the story does indeed show Makuta coming together from whatever's lying around, I will be completely satisfied in his design. From a purely design perspective, he just seems... cleverly constructed from leftovers.
His function is a bit limited as well. His torso spins quite well, which is the best movement. The head rotates 360 degrees in its socket to flip his mask, but the "chin" part has a rather limited angle, so he's always looking down his nose at whoever he's talking to (or probably, more appropriately, berating). The staff goes into Makuta's hands, but it's not as easy to insert or move as it is with other sets. And while you have excellent mobility of the leg joints, only a few "clicks" let you stand Makuta upright. On the plus side, you can flip his curved leg and chest panels open and stash Kraata, candy, LEGO pieces, or whatever in there. If you don't mind the rattle.
Now that I've listed his low points, here are his better points. Makuta is big and menacing, and from a play standpoint, makes the perfect opponent for antagonizing your Toa. Especially of you have Takanuva, this is a vital addition from a storyline and "good guy / bad guy" point of view. He's got tons of Rahkshi pieces, which are going to come in very handy for MOCs - especially the bending "knee" joints, here used as elbows.
Is this set worth buying? Heck yeah. At $20 he's a steal. Any real Bionicle fan will want to have the ultimate bad guy in person, and he looks pretty nifty standing in front of a collection of Toa. On a scale of 1-10, I would rate Makuta about 7.
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