Saturday, October 11th, 2008 at 4:45pm by Andrew, BZPower News Manager
[Source: Darth Vader]
Welcome to another installment of BZPower's set reviews. Today Blog Assistant and master photographer Darth Vader brings you his thoughts on the Shadow Matoran Gavla. Fourteen pieces may not seem like a lot, but is it enough for this set? Read on and see!
From the design of the box to the instruction manual, these are the first things you see before building the set.
Matoran have, traditionally, been sold in small boxes, or given away in small baggies through Happy Meal promotions.
So here we have Gavla. Released in early 2008, she is one of three 'Shadow Matoran', one of six Matoran sets for 2008.
Notice anything different about Gavla? Me too.
Where once was a nice, neat, three-dimensional paralellogram of a box, we now have this somewhat rounded cardboard tube both topped and bottomed with large plastic stalagmite/tites.
Visually, these little almost mini-canisters (they are just as canister-esque as the Mahri containers, I have concluded) most definitely look pretty appealing. The blue cave molds are vibrant and help the sets pop off the shelving in ways previous boxes have not.
The box has Gavla in the same pose we've seen in promotional materials since October/November 2007, with the blackish-blue cave-dwelling in the background, and the Matoran in the foreground. Unfortunately, where the bright blue of the plastic box-ends stand out, Gavla most assuredly does not, her blue/black colourscheme helping the set stand out from the dull cave background, oh, not at all. The eyes just sort of glance over the packaging, while the mind says "move along, folks. Nothing to see here." The large "BIONICLE" branding we are so accustomed to is there, of course, with little WW2 era wing graphics chilling out on either side. Underneath the aforementioned graphic is the name of this blue set, "Gavla". And of course, the usual age limit (or as I like to think of it, age suggestion).
The back of the box has those wonderfully magnificent warnings, trademark issues, etc that we so love and hold dear. Also appearing on the back is a graphic demonstrating the ingenious idea of set-interactivity! If one were to have both Vamprah and Gavla, one could attach them so as to have Gavla riding the silent predator!
The side of the box says "Bionicle". I wonder why?
While the packaging is quite neat, I, along with my other dear reviewers, wonder how much cost TLG could have passed onto us, the consumer, had a traditional box been used instead. I would much rather a traditional mini-box with a mini-set, and spend three to four dollars, then spend the six I had to spend on the fourteen pieces hidden herein.
Half the fun is had building the set. How fun is it to build and how easy or challenging is it?
So the top stalac-thing comes off, and the handful (is fourteen enough to be considered a handful?) of pieces spill out.
The instruction booklet is now an instruction flier. Side A consists of the building instructions, and when we switch the cassette to Side B, we find an advertisemnt for the other Winter 2008 sets and their adorable Matoran counterparts.
Building is easy, with all four steps taking less than a minute (I promise!). In just a few, short and glorious moments, you have before you the arrogant, snobby Shadow Matoran Gavla.
Seem too easy to be true? Unfortunately, it's not. This is for real, oh dearest of denizens. And I am sorely disappointed. I know that the target group loves a quickly put together set, with which they can roleplay with haste, but for myself - not so much. From the complexity of the Voyatoran, and somewhat of the Mahritoran, the building here is such a huge disappointment, that I can scarcely find words to describe it (Lucky you!)
Now that the set is complete, we can critique how it looks from every angle. New or interesting pieces can also be examined here.
Of the fourteen pieces included in this set, five are brand new molds, and one (not pictured) is a re-mold of the old, familiar socket piece. The mask is a clear and obvious homage to Vamprah's toothified mask, and both are even marbled the same. I do indeed see what you did there, TLG. And I like it. The new, trans-head is interesting, the socket built right into the head. A neat idea, but it creates a neck that sticks out a little oddly.
I am glad the Matoran now have actual, glowing eyes, though. But I can't help but think that there could have been a less-awkward looking way to do it.
You can get Gavla into some pretty ferocious looking poses, though I, again, can't help but wonder if it is the mask that makes these poses look as sweet as they do. Believe me, oh readers, this mask has character. And I, for one, welcome the character.
A consequence of the pre-bent limbs, is, of course, being pre-bent. Stuck at a ninety-degree angle, Gavla is continuously crouching. While this adds to the evil, it detracts from the play. And isn't the play what the people want?
I say give the people what they want.
Another consequence of these new molds is that Gavla is tall. Mightily so, compared to the Matoran of yesteryears.
Though new Titan Takanuva dwarfs the evil Matoran, I am slightly amazed by the extend to which he doesn't tower over her. I would think as a lowly Matoran, and he a mighty now-Titan-sized Toa, not to mention the largest humanoid to date, Takanuva would be able to squash the troublemaker with a foot. But she actually comes up above his knees! Make no mistake, these new Matoran are large!
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?
Gavla can move at neck, hips, ankles, shoulders, and wrists. This is slightly more articulation than our beloved Toa Olda. Yet the fun of arm-swinging and mask-knocking off is decidedly absent.
There's not much here, folks. There really isn't.
Of course, the super-dooper new set interactivity does allow for something to go on here.
Like the other Matoran, Gavla can connect to one of the Toa Nuva, or the evil Makuta. Take your pick of which. I was going to pick Vamprah, since the lil bugger looks just like the silent Makuta, but alas, Vamprah is in another city.
So, we settled for a very uncomfortable looking Onua.
The connection is solid (imagine, LEGO pieces connecting to one another! :P), but once Onua gives Gavla the piggy-back ride, what then?
That, I suppose, is up to you. That's the beauty of toys. The limit is your imagination.
Once it's all said and done, how does the set stack up? Should I get it?
What's to like?
- Lots of new pieces
- Neat, characterizing mask
- She looks cool, I suppose
What's not to like?
- Six dollars for fourteen pieces?
- Lots of new pieces
- Lack of traditional building pleasures
- The connection feature is, more often than not, goofy
In the end, it really boils down to whether or not you would like to lose six dollars and gain fourteen pieces. Sure, there's a cool new mask. But the rest of the set is, realistically, very boring. Save your money, and instead of buying two Matoran, buy a canister set. You'll get three times as many pieces, at least.
Be sure to thank Darth Vader for taking the time to do this set review. Hopefully it was helpful and informative. Until next time, be sure to keep reading for the latest Bionicle news!
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