Sunday, July 4th, 2010 at 1:40pm by Andrew, BZPower News Manager
[Source: Darth Vader]
On this day of fireworks and food, we have a review of an almost patriotic-looking set. William Furno, with his bright red, is just missing some white and blue to look like our nation's flag. Regardless, you should read on to see what Blog Leader Darth Vader thinks of this little Hero Factory set.
From the design of the box to the instruction manual, these are the first things you see before building the set.
William Furno, heroic leader of the Hero Factory Rookie Team, comes in a BIONICLE Stars container. No, it doesn't just look like one, it really is the exact same container with a new lid. Same color and everything!
It's the little things that make Hero Factory worthwhile, and this is one of them. It's nice to get the same canister as the last run of BIONICLE sets. It's like a nice little reminder that, hey, this is a new line, but it's steeped and grounded in the past.
On the front of our familiar canister, we have William Furno (not Blaze, as was once rumoured), striking a heroic pose in front of a minimalistic crosshatch pattern. To the top is the Hero Factory logo, proudly emblazoned in the same place we BIONICLE fans would assume to see "BIONICLE". The bottom left, side-right, and top left all have the set's name. You know, in case one reminder wasn't enough.
Who knows, maybe it wasn't?
There are some neat concept sketches of William Furno and his weaponry adorning the packaging, making a nice little background that really sells the "FACTORY" concept.
The back has an image of our new friend Bill leaping into action against the evil Rotor. (Who I hope is classic orange, because the keetorange of Bill here was an unfortunate surprise). A "From the makers of BIONICLE" logo sits on the back, along with a neat graphic of Bill's helmet, which is not-at-all actual size. Silly TLG.
There's the regular legal disclaimers at the bottom, and you know what? I think the legal disclaimers should be in a place of greater importance. In a world of entropy and chaos, the legal disclaimers alone remain our constant. Well, legal disclaimers and Desmond.
Oh, and Bill's signature on the front looks like a doctor's scribble. Which my handy handwriting expert informs me means Bill has an over-inflated feeling of self-importance. Probably has something to do with all that "OMG, WHEN WE PLUGGED HIM IN HE WAS MORE POWERFUL THAN ANY OTHER HERO EVER" thing on the Hero Factory website.
Half the fun is had building the set. How fun is it to build and how easy or challenging is it?
Remember the Matoran of Light? Oh, or the Agori? Oh, and the Stars. Yeah, the Hero Factory sets are those sets, but with brand-new molds all over the place.
Everything basically snaps and pops together, with a few armour ideas we've never seen before (which is neat), but basically in a way that makes the instruction booklet unnecessary (which is not neat). My brosef Smeagol4 sent me this set, and though I love Andrew with great amounts of love, I can't agree with him that I should resign myself to the simplicity of the Impulse sets. We've had more creative and innovative Impulse sets, and I'd like to see that return.
So, the moral of the story here is: If you've built one Impulse set, you've built them all. And new line, with new molds or not, Bill here is no exception.
Now that the set is complete, we can critique how it looks from every angle. New or interesting pieces can also be examined here.
For ease of use, we're going to break the next section down into two sections.
Like with the Ben 10 line, there's a tremendous and powerful upside to being a first-wave set in a brand new line.
Oh so many new molds. Oh. So. Many.
In fact, let me just tell you which pieces aren't new. That's easier.
- Glatorian hands
- Black new-style sockets
- Glatorian head
That's right denizens, we have brand new everything else.
(And there was great rejoicing.)
William Furno (AKA: Bill) contains a whopping nineteen pieces according to his canister. Of those, fourteen are from new molds. There are a total of eight new molds in this set, and many of them are lovely.
First, there's the weapons. Some sort of lave/fire sword/blade things (I could check the neat Hero Factory site again, but I figure you can do that just as easily, happy reader), they are molded with silver handles, and orange blades.
And they are awesome.
They're the same piece, so when he's holding them together they're not mirror-images, and that's slightly disappointing, but still, this pieces is awesome. I'm pretty much in love with it, as it reminds me a little of the blade Optimus Prime utilizes in the awful-yet-way-too-much-fun live action Transformers films.
Then there's the feet.
Molded with a different style of connection than any of the BIONICLE feet, when socketed, they offer a very realistic, albeit very shallow, range of movement.
But more importantly, they look rad.
Like, super rad.
(They remind me not just a little of Sonic the Hedgehog's shoes. Am I alone in this?)
They are even molded with little jet/turbines/roundthings in the heels, and I love that little detail.
The torso armour is brand new, and Bill comes with the Rookie armour, and not the Alpha team armour.
Which is 'kay. This one's really swooshy, and I'm down with swooshy.
Unfortunately, there are two connection points on the new chest armour, the axle on the back, which attaches to the new torso piece, and a small lightsaber beam/viking horn sized hold that the Hero Core plugs into. Which yes, does go all the way through. (Which is a very important plus!)
Lack of any other connection points makes me :( .
The helmet is probably the piece most of you are going to be interested in, and I don't blame you. It is an intricate mold that really shines. You can tell a lot of work went into it.
It's like Bill's wearing a hard-hat, plus a little microphone. He has stern-yet-heroicly shaped eyeholes, and they help give Bill some character (which he needs, poor guy's name is Bill).
The new torso piece grabs the Av-Toran/Agori torso pieces by the metaphorical neck, picks them up, strangles them, and then throws them to the ground with indifference.
Because it's awesome.
Possessing a curved spine reminiscent of the new Ben 10 torsos, this new torso is everything a one-piece torso should be. It's smooth, it has a neat curve, and has a pretty good set of connection points. The usual five ball-connections exist, along with three pin holes, and an axle hole following the spinal curve. There are two more pin holes along the shoulders.
My only complaint with the torso is that I hate the hip connections being on the same plane as the bottom of the torso. It's not very realistic (robots or not), and it ends up looking just a little goofy (you know, like the Glatorian hands do, wink-wink.)
The arms are also a new mold, and I didn't get any macro photos of them like I did the important pieces, because I think you can see them well-enough in any of the actual set photos. The arm/leg pieces are a nice step up from the Av-Toran/Agori/Stars limbs, because they're not stuck in that frustrating ninety-degree angle.
(And there was much rejoicing.)
Molded in such a way that the wrist can move in lots of directions, and the arm mold will fool the eye into thinking the arm is bend naturally to go along with it, these are pretty neat pieces. My only complaint is how they thin from the elbow/knee to the wrist/ankle. It looks fragile, and robs the already-thin limbs of any depth.
Covering the legs are brand new leg-armour things. They remind me of a cross between the rectangular Metru-era thigh armour, and the Legends-era ankle guards, but fused together. They sort of bell-bottom out towards the bottom, and add a nice aesthetic mark to the Hero Factory Impulse sets.
Lastly, there's the trans-neon-green Hero Core piece. It attaches to the torso armour via a small viking horn/lightsaber beam sized rod, and sits snugly inside. It is both easy to connect, and easy to remove. It is a pretty neat piece that does not lend itself to photographing.
I've touched on some things above, but there's a lot more to say.
First, Bill has some weaksauce arms. It's a nice mold, but I wish TLG had molded them in such a way that perhaps the Stars arm armour could also be utilized, because these arms are puny and sad and thin and and and and. It's a shame, because the Stars managed to mostly fix this problem, and in this one area, Bill is a design step-back.
However, he steps forward in a lot of places too.
Gone is the awkwardly thin torso. Gone are the ninety-degree limbs.
Bill is a powerful looking set. He has a broad, heroic, exaggerated chest, with broad shoulders, a small waist, and extremely stylized legs. It's a very pleasant aesthetic, even though I'm still not thrilled with the limb proportions. I just cannot get behind arms and legs that are the same length, giant platform shoes or not.
The new Hero Factory design aesthetic, however, is something I can get behind. It's smooth, it's sleek, it's aerodynamic, and it's lovely. As BIONICLE dragged on, I really felt that the pieces designed for the beloved line had become increasingly too complex looking. I've always favoured the simple, sleek Kanohi of 2001, especially compared to the busy and overworked Mahri masks, and the overall Hero Factory aesthetic, at least with the Heroes, seems to follow that aesthetic. There's a lot of elegance in this aesthetic, without any of the goofy extra-details that ruthlessly ruined so many pieces and otherwise took over the BIONICLE aesthetic.
Of course, for all the good, let's remember:
This is still just an Impulse set. With nineteen pieces, and no moving knees or elbows. For almost ten dollars.
Whoa, I think the BZP server just delivered the reality check to my review table.
(And it's expensive. Hope I don't have to tip.)
Then there's the colours. I was expecting the red, but I really thought in all of the images and even in the instruction booklet, that Bill looked like he was classic orange. I mean, yeah, I welcome any chances to get more Keetorange in my collection, but I was really excited about the classic red and orange combo.
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?
One of the neat parts of Bill here, is that his weapons were molded in such a way that they can plug into the back of his arms, and be used as wings. This looks both lame and awesome at the same time. And each time I look at him like this, it is a different amount of awesome mixing with a different amount of lame. Which means I'm totally down for this. I like tools/weapons that can be used in multiple ways, and this was a welcome surprise.
Otherwise, Bill here is about what you'd expect. He's capable of some neat poses, and his range of motion, where he has it, is pretty realistic. He's limited to less movement in his ankles than his Impulse predecessors, but the not-molded-in-awkward-ninety-degree-angles limbs make up for that. No longer must our Impulse sets be crouching or bending at the elbows in weird pantomimes of movement.
Bill's about the same height as Tahu Star, and they get along sometimes.
(I'm really struck by the very obvious aesthetic differences in the two sets, which are showcased really well in those photos.)
Anyway. What's it all mean, Basil?
Once it's all said and done, how does the set stack up? Should I get it?
What's to like?
- New molds galore
- Neat helmet
- Neat weapons
- Great design aesthetic
- Limbs not perpetually bent in ninety degree angles
What's not to like?
- Not BIONICLE (let's just get that out of the way here, because for many, this is the largest con)
- Lacks connection points in places where they would be very, very helpful
- Puny arms
- NOT ORANGE
- SERIOUSLY, I AM SAD
- Too quick of a build
Overall - this is uncharted territory, folks. I like the set, mostly. I am still opposed to the Impulse sets' quick build on principle, and the Hero Factory Heroes are not immune to this criticism. I am not interested in being told these sets exist for roleplaying, so a more detailed build would be inappropriate, because I think that's reaching and betrays the entire concept behind the LEGO Group and their products.
However, I also love the design aesthetic, the bevy of brand new molds, and the potential behind this line.
So, I'm going to say that if you liked BIONICLE, not for the bloated, unnecessarily complicated story it became, but for the potential hiding within a neat concept and simple, fun heroes, you'll probably enjoy Hero Factory. If you're a story nerd, I'm not sure. I guess that's your call. I'd recommend at least testing the waters. And I think Bill here is a lovely way to do that.
That wraps it up for our second Hero Factory review - hope you enjoyed it. Be sure to thank Darth Vader in the Talkback and ask any questions you may have there as well. As always, keep checking back from more reviews and news. But for now, enjoy your holiday!
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