Saturday, September 11th, 2010 at 11:55pm by Andrew M, BZPower Reporter
The Hero Factory Villains have been on store shelves for some time now, but the BZPower staff has been so busy with other news coverage and duties that we have been remiss in reviewing them, save for Pat's excellent combing of Corroder. Today I shall attempt to rectify this general absence; in fact this review was filmed back in July but various events have postponed its publishing. You might noticed I said 'filmed' - yes, not only is this a traditional review, it also sports a video! Check it out and see if it's worth the wait, and if 7148 Meltdown is worth your money.
From the design of the box to the instruction manual, these are the first things you see before building the set.
Though we Bionicle expatriates may consider Meltdown analogous to a 'canister-level' set, he and his brethren are actually housed in cardboard boxes, opting the route of tradition Lego paraphernalia. Amusingly, this represents the final stage in a complete role reversal between the impulse and canister levels of sets: the impulse lines, which were initially in small cardboard boxes, are now in canisters; and the 'canisters' are now in boxes. Perhaps we should reverse the nomenclature.
The box itself is standard fare. It shows an imposing CGI render of Meltdown, impressively posed in a sinister manner. Toxic fumes rise from his radioactive sludge tubs, his globular zamor stands loaded and ready, and a lime tentacle of acid sprays toward the viewer with prime foreshortening, as all the while a glowing, hard eye stares menacingly from beneath a yellow visage. The villain is posed within an azure, futuristic city and logos are minimally placed in requisite situation at the top and bottom borders of the box. It is undeniably eye-catching, enough so that I chose this one from the Toys 'R' Us shelf rather than any of the others. Rating: effective.
It is worth noting that this appears to be a new box size among Lego product: it is roughly half the girth of a 'titan' box, far thinner than our usual. It is larger than a Bionicle canister but significantly healthier for our environment and attic space.
THE BRICKS - WHAT'S IN THE BOX?
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 interesting pieces that you will encounter.
Meltdown and the other Hero Factory villains are not quite as well-endowed as the heroes in terms of new-mould pieces, but they certainly still grab a number of useful bits. New main torso piece is consanguineous to the heroes,' being a new-for-2010 mould and definitely one of the better torso bases we have seen. In fact, I may come out and say it straight: it is the best torso base in Lego build-able figure lines to date. It has a slew of connection points, great availability for pose-ability and expansion, it is aesthetically great, and its curvature suggest a genuine humanoid spine. Meltdown's, like Jimi Stringer and Preston Stormer's, is black. Another interesting piece in the same hue (and also a new-for 2010 mould) is the thigh piece, a very solid, armoured version of the dogbone socket. This mould was previously seen in those Ben 10 sets whose existence Lego now denies.
The next colour featured is classic yellow, which should excite many a MOCist, and also everyone who is good and decent on this earth. For the first time, Glatorian ankle armour is released in that colour, which is a treat. Also recoloured to classic yellow are four of those bending claws that sprouted in Bionicle back in 2007, and a metru leg (not pictured). The final two interesting pieces in this colour are new moulds: Meltdown's forearm and face.
The arm pieces, which are to have stickers applied to their surfaces, are peculiar yet very open to creative use. Unlike most pieces used as limbs, they do not conform to an identifiable 'limb shape' and thus are far more useful for different MOCing purposes. They feature connection points for both pins and plus-rods, in differing connection directions. Already I am cooking up an idea for a micro-scale spaceship using this piece as a base element.
The face is a fun new piece and can indeed be used in that same manner as a (post-2002) Bionicle mask. It is that of a terrifying cyclops, enraged and howling from his spike-toothed maw. The aesthetics are smooth, but quite detailed.
Rounding out our colour trinity is a perennial favourite, lime-green. There are in fact four shades of that verdant hue contained within Meltdown's elements! First is the Nocturn-tentacle, featured in the standard Lego shade of lime-green. The rest are varying shades of translucent lime. A zamor sphere is included that is a fair degree darker than its predecessors - in fact it seems more like translucent classic green than lime. Undeniably lime, however, are the two section of tubing, which are in fact clear with lime innards. This produces the convincing effect of slime being pumped through a hose. The final and most vibrant of the translucent pieces is the toxic waste tub, which is almost searing in its green brightness. I look forward to seeing these pieces put to fun use; it features plus-rod connections on its bottom. Note that the yellow symbol featured is but a sticker and can be removed.
BUILDING EXPERIENCE AND SET DESIGN
What can you expect while putting this model together? And once it is complete, how does it look?
The set I was reminded of most while building Meltdown was Nocturn. This is a good thing: Nocturn was the best Bionicle set of 2007 (I'd go so far as to say that fabulous fishman was the best Bionicle set of 2005-2007). Both constructions are not overly complex, but feature enough variety and flavour to shake things up a bit. Meltdown's build is not a typical bout of canister-level drudgery: there are some fun connections here and there, and I actually legitimately enjoyed constructing it.
Obviously this is not to say it is a truly cathartic build, like a masterpiece model or the large Bionicle sets of 2002 (which rank among the best Lego sets ever produce, in my very un-humble opinion). Meltdown, however, doesn't aim for such status: he is an accessible set for kids of many ages that is fun to build and play with. There is no need for this set to be overly complex; the level of building pleasure, like the third bear's porridge, is just right.
Once completed, Meltdown looks undeniably cool. He is a big almost insect-like toxic sludge monster. He's gonna come in and mess you up! And he'll probably also poison you and your entire family and make you die of cancer many years down the line. It's very depressing honestly.
But seriously, Meltdown fills the aesthetic role of evil villain quite expertly. I almost must give special praise to the colour distribution - Meltdown's base is black and his extremities are yellow. Furthermore, that classic yellow really gives him an eye-popping vibrancy. This is a toy that you NOTICE! I'm especially enamoured with the toxic sludge tubs, which look hilarious perched upon Meltdown's shoulders. The attention to detail with the hoses running from those to his spraying weapons is a great touch.
I have only two qualms with the design. The first is minor: I wish wistfully for some manner of cap for the toxic sludge tubs (which, I reiterate still look awesome), or that they were mounted on a balljoint, because as it is they are forced to capsize when Meltdown moves his arms. This logically would cause his sludge to slosh all over, wasting his only ammunition! Poor Meltdown - emoticon sad!
The latter is from a toy design standpoint: his elbows are awkward. They aren't constructed like actual elbows and thus pose-ability is inhibited somewhat. They still retain a fairly free range of motion, however, but I wish it were slightly less awkward.
So you've got the model together, but is it more like playing with a block of wood or an interactive toy?
Meltdown lacks any gear- or lever-driven action functions, so the majority of his playability stems from being able to pose him. The set features eleven points of pose-ability and claws that can manually snap, so placing the creep in various fun poses is possible. He also features a launcher for his toxic sludge bubble, aka zamor, though the set only includes one. I think Lego should have included more ammo, for the benefit of buyers who are not sitting on a backlog of zamor spheres.
All this boils down to making Meltdown a bundle of fun for role-playing excitement, which is what most will buy him for. Pit him against Jimi Stringer, for instance, but be aware that off-set they are best of friends.
The Hero Factory building system is entirely compatible with Bionicles, which also lends to the traditional Lego form of playability: MOCing and inter-set interaction. Even the face is compatible with Bionicle sets, a la Kanohi masks, as Tahu demonstrates below:
Once it's all said and done, how does the set stack up? Should I get it?
Meltdown's worth a purchase. While Corroder may appeal to the MOCing crowd with his slew of useful pieces, Metldown is more rounded for the various demographics. He certainly doesn't lack good pieces, being granted with the interesting bricks detailed above as well as two of those angle-connectors and much more; that and the classic yellow will make him drool-worthy to the MOCists, for starters. But his cool looks and villainous theme will appeal to the casual and character fans, as well as the children looking for a nasty Bad Guy to fight their heroes. Finally, its enjoyable build can net general fans of build-able figures. Meltdown features a little bit of something for everybody: all he's missing is major storyline significance, so far.
What's to like?
- Enjoyable build
- Classic yellow, and good colour scheme
- Lots of fun pieces
- Looks rad!
What's not to like?
- Arms are a little awkward
- Only one zamor
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