Saturday, June 8th, 2002 at 3:29pm by Jon, BZPower Co-Owner
This is a review of the "8558 Cahdok & Gahdok" set which is, at the time of this review, only available via LEGO's Shop@Home service, and at select LEGO outlets.
So without further ado, let's get right to it....
The the most superficial part of any LEGO product, but the one that often determines whether or not the set is a success or failure.
The box for Cahdok & Gahdok (together known as the "Bahrag," although there's no mention of that in this package) is really dramatic. There's nothing quite as eye-catching to the LEGO demographic as a couple of beasts with mouths full of teeth roaring at you from the shelf.
The back of the box really seals the deal, showing that the two creatures actually engage in battle, and can disable one another, and there's also a picture of the alternate combined model; something akin to a giant big-mouthed Daddy Long-Legs spider.
Those gaping maws of the Bahrag inspire you and conjure images of the first Jurassic Park film (you know, the good one) of the two Velociraptors stalking the kids through the kitchen. And what could be more fun that a couple of blood-thirsty Bionicle monsters with that kind of ferocity? Keep reading and we'll find out.
WHAT'S IN THE BOX?
So you've bought it and taken it home (or at least made it to the car), punched the perforated tabs and dump out the contents. What do you get for your money?
It's what you would expect:
Parts in plastic bags
Glossy 2002 Bionicle Booklet
LEGO Catalog Offer Postcard
Cahdok Model Construction Manual
Gahdok Model Construction Manual
Now before you get disappointed that there's no alternate model booklet, rest assured that like Ragu, "Hey, it's in there..." The Cahdok manual is extra-thick (also, strangely enough, like Ragu), sporting full construction diagrams for the Bahrag Spider combined model.
I didn't get around to building it, and probably never will. The model looks weak and somewhat thrown-together with the parts available (shades of the Master Builder Set come to mind). Yes, it's got big teeth, but the rest of the model looks uninspired. But since it's just the alternate model, I won't hold that against this set.
Here's where we start to cut to the heart of the matter. You didn't buy this box for all the glossy booklets & creative artwork. You want to know about the LEGO bricks & bits that are included, and what (if any) new & interesting parts you'll find inside. Here's also where I'll talk about any new and/or interesing pieces that you will encounter.
This set sports a whopping 630 pieces, but much of that is Technic pins & axles. There are also lots & lots of Technic beams, both bent and straight as well, and enough red & blue Bohrok bodies for pretty much any MOC of that color you might have dreamed up.
Keep in mind that the two Bahrag are almost identical except for coloration. Literally, the only difference between the two are head decoration -- Cahdok has dark grey flippers for ears, and Gahdok has dark grey tube antenna. Take away the headgear & color, and you wouldn't be able to tell the two apart.
I know how majority the AFOLs (Adult Fans of LEGO) felt outraged when Bionicle was labeled with the Technic logo (a feature that is suspiciously absent from the 2002 line, now), but this set is Technic through & through -- there's nary a standard brick to be found in the box.
Bionicle fans will of course note the addition of the Pahrak claw in two new colors: both red (above) and blue (not pictured).
Other interesting parts (not new, but interesting) include the aforementioned dark grey flipper, a 3-stud-long Technic pin with a bushing on one end, and the very cool new click joints. I believe these made their debut in the recent Star Wars sets, but they're put to very good use here to make the Bahrag legs very, very poseable. The Bahrag's legs bend at the knee and at the ankle, plus the ankle rotates 360 degrees -- so you'll have no trouble finding dramatic poses that actually support the model's weight.
You'll see the click-joint receptor (top, second from left) in blue, red and dark grey in this set.
What can you expect while putting this model together?
This set smells like the Boxor... And in case you're not familiar with my opinion of that set, let me assure you, that's a good thing.
Though I don't have any behind-the-scenes knowledge, I'd be willing to bet that the same person or persons in the LEGO Labs who designed the Boxor are responsible for the Bahrag model design as well. It has the same feeling of well thought-out connectivity. There don't seem to be any parts that are there "just because" -- every part feels deliberate and necessary; leading in the end to a solid model that, even if you never played with it, you'd be proud to have sitting on your shelf.
That being said, let me also mention that this two-figure set suffers from the Curse of the Bohrok -- lack of creativity from figure to figure.
(Hang on, I'm about to digress...) When I first cracked open my original Bohrok, I was thrilled. The first one I built felt like a masterpiece of design, then the second seemed a bit redundant, then the third was like deja vu, and around number four or five I started to feel robbed. Why should I have to buy six figures that are 98% identical (save for claw design & overall color)? I want some variety in my bad guys! The Toa have variety, albeit slight, but there's variety nonetheless. But I never felt robbed buying all six Toa, becuase although they were built on the same basic design, there was enough variation between them to keep things fresh. The Bohrok had none of that variety, and Cahdok & Gahdok again suffer that fate. (Hey, look! I got back on the subject!)
Building Cahdok was pure bliss. The design, as I said, is outstanding and in the end you have a great piece with lot of play value (which I'll get to later), but after about the fourth page of Gahdok, I started getting that old Bohrok feeling again. Why did I have to pay $60 for two identical models? Why not some variety between the two -- just enough to make them feel like two separate entities?
So building this set is both good and bad. If you felt the least bit upset at the repetition in the Bohrok, then you'll likely feel it again with the Bahrag -- but the fun of that first one just may be enough to offset the sting. In retrospect, I think it was enough for me.
Before I move on, any review of this set would be incomplete without focusing for a moment on the Bahrag jaws. I am convinced that the whole design for these guys sprang from someone fiddling around with a white Onua claw and a pair white Bohrok teeth and realizing that they'd make great upper & lower fangs. The jaws of these models are a sight to behold, and a joy to build. I didn't count, but there are probably more pieces in a Bahrag head than in an entire Bohrok! It's big, it's intricate, and it's really cool! This was the one part of Cahdok that I didn't mind building again after just having finished Gahdok. I predict that this claw/tooth scenario will spark many imaginations and become the centerpiece for MOCs worldwide.
Just look at those fangs!
So you've got the model together, but is it more like playing with a block of wood or an interactive toy?
Here's the part of the review where I will ease up a bit on my criticism of the redundancy between the two figures in the set. If I were given run of LEGO, I probably would have released these two guys individually, but I understand why they're together. One could argue that because they are battling toys, variation might give one "player" an advantage, and while I'm not buying that reasoning, I will accept it and move on.
By themselves, they have great design and very cool gun-trigger mouth action, but they don't do anything. Together, they're a self-contained game! (I won't get into the storyline problem presented when you pit the two of these monsters against one another instead of against the Toa, because we all know about that, don't we?)
First of all, I should go back and elaborate on the striking mouth full of razor-sharp fangs (did I mention how much I like the Bahrag heads?). The models are held by the backmost beam, and squeezing the next beam like a gun trigger sends the Bahrag's head lashing out with mouth wide open. Releasing the trigger snaps the head back into place with mouth closed.
The object here is grab the pin assembly that keeps your Bahrag functioning. I know it sounds confusing, so here's a closer look.
The pin assembly can be seen in the lower-left of this photo of Gahdok, with his legs removed for an easier view. As you can see, the removal of the pin assembly allows the dark grey two-beam/two-ball structure to snap up into the body cavity of Gahdok. That beam juts right up into the striking mechanism and renders him unable to attack until the assembly is replaced.
Of course, the pin assembly has an overly-long axle (8-studs long, to be exact) which is exactly what you aim your attacking Bahrag's ravenous teeth for. If you can grab ahold of that pin assembly, the beam will snap up, and you win the round!
But hold on -- that's not all. In case you hadn't been able to tell so far, the Bahrag have seemingly worthless, spindly, Pohatu-ish, T-Rex-ish little arms.
Placed right at the front of the torso, well behind that big ol' head, they couldn't possibly reach anything worthwhile or cause any damage, right?
That's what I thought, until I spotted yet another marvel of design. Those wimpy little claws can be strategically placed over the grapple axle of the pin assembly to guard against it being pulled out by the other Bahrag!
As you can see in the scenario above, Cahdok is protecting his pin assembly with his claws. They're positioned in such a way that the claws can be placed directly over that grapple axle. Thus your attacker now has three objectives: first get your claws out of the way, then try for your pin assembly, all while protecting his own.
As you see, there's more to the Bahrag than meets the eye.
Here's where it all boils down to whether the model is worth your money and time or not.
Okay, so I've somehow managed to both praise and malign this set, and sometimes in the same breath, so does that mean I think it's incredible or shameful?
Looking back at the Cahdok & Gahdok set as a whole, I'm going to have to admit that the positives just do outweigh the negatives. Yes, I wanted more variety between the two models; and yes, I compared them to the Bohrok. But in the end, I just can't escape the feeling that, despite the fact that they're nearly identical, they make a great pair.
They look cool sitting on my desk, they'll look cool sitting on my shelf, and to top it off, there's a lot of entertainment value packed into those big-toothed chickens!
It's a big chunk of change to drop on one box, four times the cost of the Boxor, which is a great set. But while the Bahrag may not be four times as good as the Boxor, I'd have to say that they've earned my new top spot as the best set of the 2002 line.
So save up your allowance, I'm going to have to strongly recommend you pick this one up.
Oh, and did I remember to say how freakin' cool those Bahrag heads are?
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