Friday, December 19th, 2008 at 1:51pm by Andrew, BZPower News Manager
Today I have the pleasure of bringing you our first 2009 Bionicle set review. They've been appearing in stores all over the place and our staff couldn't help but start picking them up. Today BZPower Global Moderator Toaraga shares his thoughts on the Glatorian Skrall. Read on to see what he thinks!
From the design of the box to the instruction manual, these are the first things you see before building the set.
What catches the eye when one is looking through the BIONICLE section of the LEGO aisle at the store in the city belonging to the country on this planet we call home is most likely one of the Thornax placements, the GLATORIAN logo, or the shield; this design is all located on the set known as Skrall. Personally, it's the shield that stood out prominently to my eyes. At first glance, it might appear that Skrall has four arms or hands because of the arm blades, but do not be fooled, for Skrall only has two arms, yet he can be most formidable. Behind Skrall is what appears to be some sort of canyon wall accompanied by stairs with what appears to be a pincerless scorpion at the top.
But enough about the front; you are probably wondering about the rest of the canister (or not). The top is not very extraordinary, but it does its job: protecting the innards of the canister, but considering it is the least seen part of the canister, it might be a good thing. There is some sort of ascending/descending pattern of circles in differing sizes, the significance of which I know not. I will mention that unlike previous canisters, it is impossible to put the lid on incorrectly due to the inner design, even if you just grab and close.
The back of the canister is full of images and text. There is a decent desert picture of Bara Magna, how to fire the Thornax and store Skrall, the BIO code, all that standard text that probably almost no one reads, and something rather interesting. There is an image of the hit point counter (that is HP to the uninformed), which goes to the game that is being introduced with the 2009 BIONICLE line (more on that later). I will say that the counter definitely looks better on the canister than on the set.
When you open and dump the container, you will see the usual expectations: an instruction manual (game rules included) along with a mixture of old and new parts. There are a grand total of fifteen new parts, including about half of the weapon, the head piece, hands, HP counter, and shield.
Old, possibly recolored pieces
Half the fun is had building the set. How fun is it to build and how easy or challenging is it?
The build is rather simple but the finished product has a seemingly complex design; of course, not following the instructions correctly will result in misplaced pieces or pieces that do not move accurately. (I will admit I did that by being one connection point off with the head... not that the accurate way is completely better.) There is not really much to be said about building, other than that the completed torso is not simply one piece but four. The legs and arms are fairly standard construction, but that can be good or bad depending on how you look at it.
Now that the set is complete, we can critique how it looks from every angle. New or interesting pieces can also be examined here.
The final product looks to be a cross between a Rahkshi and a Toa: Toa because of the design without the arm blades, Rahkshi because of the head, and mobility adds to the look of both. With the usual thirteen points of articulation, Skrall can be positioned into various poses, and his sturdy design allows for him to stand or even "sit" without falling over. It should be noted that he has limitations: the head cannot look up, and the hands that people have been wanting for so long do not allow for individual movement of fingers. Sure the hands are nice, but it is awkward for them to be infinitely close-fisted. Don't expect any high fives (or threes in his case) or hand shakes from him any time soon.
Did I mention the shield yet? Well, I should, for it is something that is so very interesting to look at, and it can double as a saw blade. Besides, it hides Skrall's awkwardly non-moving fingers.
Also of note is the hit counter, or "ankle monitor." Seriously, the placement of the thing is quite reminiscent of an ankle monitor, and the set looks much better without it. Not to mention, its colorfulness detracts from the overall red and black scheme of Skrall. Its sole purpose is for the game, so it is best left off when not playing.
Skrall notices his ankle monitor.
Skrall tries to remove his ankle monitor.
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?
Aside from his inability to open his hands or look up, especially when to my knowledge Mata Nui is expected to descend on Bara Magna, Skrall is a rather interesting set. With so much posing ability, people can easily reenact favorite moments that have not happened yet (it is still 2008 after all) or even create their own. In the case of those who do not actually play with the sets, Skrall still provides some great entertainment when he is posed right.
Skrall flexes his muscles.
Skrall is 100% Glatorian.
Skrall stops to think.
The Thornax is a nice little launching weapon; launching it is not anymore difficult to do than launching a Kanoka. I was able to fire it with varying degrees of distance; just be careful not to lose the Thornax, as there is only one in the set. The Thornax also has a tendency to fall out of its launcher, so be careful with that as well.
I said I would mention the game, so here it is. Simply put, you and an opponent take turns shooting the Thornax at each other, and the opponent loses points based on what is hit. The setup is meant for two players, but it is likely you could increase that number if you so chose. As mentioned earlier, you may just want to remove the hit counter if you are not playing the game.
Once it's all said and done, how does the set stack up? Should I get it?
What's to like?
- Hands, sort of
- Very poseable set
- Torso is more than one piece
What's not to like?
- Ankle monitor (game accessory)
- Fingers don't move, individually or even collectively.
- Head is limited in mobility.
- Price tag
I admit that despite its shortcomings, Skrall is not a bad set with its $12.99 price tag; granted, I am probably not likely to buy many sets at that price. It could be argued that the original Toa cost about half as much, but we should also be aware that most of them came with fewer pieces; then again, with only about a third of the set having new pieces anyway, I do not know if it is really worth it.
I will go ahead and recommend this set, but for such a price, you might want to wait a bit or even just see if you get this as a gift.
For more images, be sure to visit my Brickshelf folder, including a brief, imperfect animation of Skrall being built.
And that concludes out first of many 2009 set reviews, I hope you enjoyed it. Be sure to thank Toaraga for taking the pictures and sharing his thoughts on the set. Next up we're probably going to have one of the last remaining 2008 sets reviewed, but don't worry, there are plenty more 2009 reviews in the pipe too!
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