Thursday, August 29th, 2013 at 8:20pm by Andrew, BZPower News Manager
[Source: Nuju Metru]
We've been on a review tear lately! Today we go back to Hero Factory, when BZPower Forum Assistant Nuju Metru shares his thoughts on Frost Beast. Will this icy villain chill his way into your cold heart, or will he be left warming the peg at the store? Let's read on to find out!
From the design of the box to the instruction manual, these are the first things you see before building the set.
You'll have to forgive me right off the bat; I'm prejudiced against Hero Factory's resealable pouches (I mean, hey, by the name of them, they sound like part of a tupperware kangaroo). They're not canisters, I think that's what bugs me. Instead of a solid, sometimes-interactive container for your set, we're given a glorified ziploc these days... Maybe they save plastic, I guess that could be a redeeming quality. So I'm adverse to the mildly crinkly packaging, sue me. I'll try to overlook it as I discuss what's in the packaging.
Frost Beast, the product of the day, is running out towards us in all his white-and-blue glory, blade bared. It's the typical dynamic posing, designed to draw attention to the product and cloak the set's shortcomings, whatever those might be (we'll discover them later in the review!). The clashing red and greens of the background/brain elements of the package also demand a glance, which I'm sure is intentional. I might be mistaken, but I think the color scheme of the packages is identical to that of the first wave of Brain Attack sets, which seems a little odd if it's the case. Normally each product line has its own scheme, last I checked... Then again, I haven't been keeping track of Hero Factory lately. Compositionally, the pouch design uses space well, and looks cohesive despite the wide range of colors that appear on it.
The back of the box-that-isn't-a-box is done up in the same colors as the front - green background, red accents, with blue and white figures - but demonstrates a lot more than the front did in a smaller space. We're shown that Frost Beast and his companion set, the umpteenth Stormer, can be combined into a mega-Stormer with frosty wings. A box in the bottom-left of the display space (the bottom third of the pouch being occupied with a jungle of legalese) uses Frost Beast's face as the 1:1 display part, also showcasing that yes, this guy belongs with a rubbery brain. There's also instructions about how to plug in the included Hero Core's code online for in-game rewards (which, it seems, can also be used through the App Store and Google Play).
Opening the pouch, we're given the regular fare: two bags of parts, an instruction manual, and a few loose elements. Once we crack the baggies, we're left with a pile of white and hues of blue, as well as the normal connecting/Technic colors. A few parts jump out, but those will be looked into later. No more dawdling; time to start the ABS clicking experience!
Half the fun is had building the set. How fun is it to build and how easy or challenging is it?
Frost Beast comes together, like most Hero Factory sets, very quickly and easily. The set is designed with a focus on play rather than building, after all; the construction feels like more of a formality than anything at this point. But the build is also a great way to assess the structure of the set in question before its completion, which I personally enjoy. I'll point out my thoughts on all that later. Here's the Frost Beast build, incrementally.
Now that the set is complete, we can critique how it looks from every angle. New or interesting pieces can also be examined here.
Before looking at the set itself, let's examine parts of interest.
Frost Beast's face is a new mold; it's a pretty cool (punny, eh?) and angular part, though admittedly difficult to use with much aside from a rubbery brain. Speaking of the brain, I'm pretty sure that it's new in blue. In a similar shade is the serrated blade part. It's big, and only has one connection point; nevertheless, I'd love to see it employed as something other than a blade, if anybody could think of fun uses. Both the blade and the white spiked armor parts are new molds from the Chima constraction sets, and new in their respective colors. The newest Hero Factory head part - featureless, with right-angle axle points and a hinge point for the heroes' face shields - is also new in trans-blue this wave. Then there's the gorgeous trans-light-blue armor parts - we're given 3 and 4 length ones - and the Animal Planet claw in the same color. Incidentally, there's also a T-shaped Technic connector, which at some point changed mold (not that I know when that was; I only noticed now), though its connection points have remained the same.
Onto the set, proper. Frost Beast is on the shorter side for Hero Factory medium-sized sets, though he makes up for his stature with wide, burly shoulders. This is achieved by the extra ball joints built onto the upper part of his torso. He has a slight hunch, characteristic of the villains of this wave, due to the spine of his brain. One of his hands looks comically small for its oversized blade; the other is comically large, adorned with awesome icy claws. Despite anatomical asymmetry, Frost Beast is aesthetically balanced; all the colors go together well, and are distributed excellently. The repetition of motifs like the double-spiked plates and those frost/fur elements lend him a sense of unity. The trans-light-blue is, as I said, gorgeous, and distinguishes Frost Beast from past ice villains. We haven't seen a transparent color used dominantly on a white character since Matoro Inika; it's very nice to see it back.
Frost Beast suffers from the typical Hero Factory hollowness from the back. His case is particularly evident, since most of his shell parts are angled forward, and most of his armor shells directly contrasts what's beneath them. The usual black skeleton is easy to see. Something hard to see from this angle, but an important design point, is the shortness of Frost Beast's forearms; their position hardly makes a difference when posing him, especially on the claw side where the huge hand makes the skimpy, naked forearm look hugely disproportionate. I'll also note here that the brain spine inhibits Frost Beast's head poseability, which I'd assume is a problem with most other Brain Attack villains (Frost Beast is my first and only one so far). The end of the spine also frequently detaches unintentionally from its axle hole, as does the soft claw part that makes the butt of Frost Beast's sword. Rubber, I shake my fist at thee!
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?
Frost Beast, unhappily for us all(?), contains no fun gimmicks. He has no launcher, flippy-visor, handcuffs, or even Stormer's flickfire missiles. All you really get is the name of the line: a "brain attack." The brain, though cool in a detached state, will leave Frost Beast with a lonely, empty head, and doesn't really come off him without moving his faceplate a little. He looks better with it in.
This set is, from a play standpoint, pretty average; you can pose Frost Beast, you can display him, you can grant him temporary flight powers when you launch him off a second-story balcony (not a method of play endorsed by reviewer). He looks very cool in about two positions, and somewhat cool in about three; the rest don't suit him. Frost Beast, top-heavy as he is, will either look silly (in a bad way) or fall down in many active poses. His short arms, attached to pose-impeding shoulders, aren't as expressive as could be desired. I think the main part of Frost Beast's play value comes from the pieces he includes, to be frank, many of which stimulate my MOCing mind...
Once it's all said and done, how does the set stack up? Should I get it?
I'll take my pre-wrapup space to confess that I was lucky enough to get Frost Beast for free - thanks Andrew! - and thereby admit that I can't speak to whether or not I was happy with a purchase, or regretful of the amount of hypothetical money I slapped down on this guy. I can only talk about my impressions of the set after he'd arrived. Here they are:
What's to like?
- Trans-light-blue parts!
- Other nice recolors of cool (there I go again) elements
- Aesthetically balanced - integration of bright red is great
- Complex shoulder armor is a welcome touch
- I've always been a sucker for white BIONICLE, er, Hero Factory, stuff... ice ice baby
- No gimmick?
What's not to like?
- Not enough trans-light-blue parts, NEVER enough
- Mostly run-of-the-mill (albeit useful) parts
- Anatomically imbalanced - huge claw vs. puny fist
- Complex shoulder armor prevents poseability
- For the most part, design is standard
- New mold parts are mostly hard to integrate elsewhere
- T-Rex arms
- Tupperware kangaroo packaging
- No gimmick?
A lot of the cons above stem from my unfortunate lack of excitement towards this set, rather than gaping flaws. It feels like many other Hero Factory sets did and do. At the end of the day, Frost Beast is a mediocre set, less valuable than his component parts. But, of course, some of those component parts are just lovely. See?
And so concludes another BZPower set review - I hope you had fun! As always, be sure to thank Nuju Metru in the Talkback as well as ask any questions you might have. You can expect more reviews to be on the way, along with other LEGO news, right here on BZPower.
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