Sunday, July 12th, 2015 at 2:38pm by Andrew, BZPower News Manager
It's time to wrap up our reviews of the summer 2015 LEGO Bionicle sets. Today Blog Leader DeeVee takes a look at 70791 Skull Warrior, representative of the undead horde Kulta the Skull Grinder raises to steal the Mask of Creation. Will this skeletal set be worth your while, or should you leave it buried on the store shelf? Read on to find out and see how you can win a copy!
From the design of the box to the instruction manual, these are the first things you see before building the set.
Official box image credit TLG
The tale that began with the winter wave of BIONICLE continues into the summer. And it does so in another thin, hexagonal, cardboard box. It carries the same distinctive "LEGO BIONICLE" header, with the Mask of Creation in the upper right corner. Taking center stage is Skull Warrior itself (or I guess one of them, itself?) It seems to be in some sort of discussion regarding Kopaka's mask, which seems to be losing its gold, while a hand from off-screen reaches for said mask. Huh.
In the background there are a bunch of Skull Warriors, so I get the distinct impression that this set represents an army of undead zombie skeleton archers, which sounds terrible for our heroes.
On the back is the mini-comic, as well as the legal disclaimers, the action feature blurbs, and a small image of Skull Basher, Skull Slicer, and Skull Warrior combining into something else.
It's a good box. I like the shape of these boxes, the design is pleasing, it's all nice. Enough about boxes.
Half the fun is had building the set. How fun is it to build and how easy or challenging is it?
As was the case with the winter Toa sets, Skull Warrior is a fairly straight-forward CCBS build with the addition of a gearbox. The most complex part of the build is the bow, but there's nothing too difficult there either, as it is a very similar build to the launchers used in the Protectors of Stone and Jungle.
Skull Warrior utilizes the small-toothed gears on its right shoulder attachment to provide the friction for the gear mechanism.
The most interesting part (vs the most complex from earlier) is the asymmetry, one of the first sets from the new line to really utilize the mix-and-match bones this extensively. The addition of the new, well, bone bones is fairly useful in that regard, as it does lend to a slightly different build. But let's not be fooled, there is very little you haven't done or seen in a BIONICLE or HERO FACTORY set at this point. With the other, more interesting, more adventurous, villain sets this wave, I'm not terribly surprised that one of them was more generic, but I'm still a tad bit underwhelmed by the build itself.
Now that the set is complete, we can critique how it looks from every angle. New or interesting pieces can also be examined here.
There are a lot of neat new parts in this here Warrior of Skull.
- New skeleton limb bones
- New CCBS armour add-on
- New CCBS torso add-on
- New blade
- The new Skull mask
Then the recolours:
- The standard short-width CCBS torso in silver
- Orange eye piece
- The stud launcher in trans-light blue
- The CCBS chest piece with Skull Warrior's unique printing
- And of course, the two-tone trans/opaque Kopaka mask
First, the new bladed weapon is pretty neat. I had low hopes when first images were released, as it seemed to harken back to the overly-detailed and complex random blades-upon-blades type of weaponry the original BIONICLE line favored. I am happy to say I was entirely one hundred percent off-base. The almost art-deco inspired lines on the new blade are lovely, and the hooks and holes in the design really work with them. It's detailed, but in a simple and elegant way, despite the more jagged appearance. I really like it.
The silver torso piece is a welcome change from the black and dark-grey torso bones we usually get, and it being in a lighter, but still tonally neutral colour should lend itself well to those using it for MOCs.
The silver skeleton bones are very interesting. They have a split as if it is the joining of two bones, much like the bones in the human forearm. This is nice, when it's used as a forearm. It takes a little suspension of disbelief for some folks when used in other places. I don't mind it. It's a nice piece, though the three holes for stress on both sides of the ball ending sometimes get stuck oddly in the socket pieces. They sort of "prefer" to be attached in certain ways, and posing them in the other swivel sections of the socket-ball connection can sometimes be awkward.
The new ribbed torso armour is neat. It has a simple descending diamond pattern running down the central column, with branching spikes, obviously meant to invoke ribs, growing from it. It has two small little spikes next to the double connector towards the top, these get covered up by the CCBS chest plate.
The eyes in orange are marvelous. Now we have three eye colours! Here's hoping for more down the line. The variety of colours the stud-shooters have appeared in since their debut with the winter BIONICLE wave and the Wookie Gunship are nice, and having them in trans-light-blue is also splendid. The light grey inset piece is also appreciated, the yellow would have been a bit much, I think.
The new rounded spiked add-on is a mixed bag. On one hand, the continuation of the almost art deco linework from the blade is welcome, and the piece looks jagged and eery. It has the feeling of something from a previous era to it. But it sort of juts out absurdly when connected to a shell. The new add-on from the winter wave snugly wrapped around the shells, and I don't think I'm alone in saying that was one of their many strengths. These stick out instead, and I don't think I'll be alone in saying I think that is one of the many issues with this part.
The chest print is okay. The chain just sort of seems to be hanging out, and the inner workings of the print seems to be confused as to body placement and what is going on underneath and inside. I welcome more printed parts like this, I just wish it was a better print than this.
But let's get down to the good stuff, shall we?
BIONICLE has always been about the masks.
Skull Warrior's skull mask is beautiful and eery and evil and I love it. It's quite possibly (and I would say most definitely) the most evil looking mask BIONICLE has ever produced. It has the skeleton nose holes, the brow ridge, and even an evil grin produced by a fused jaw and pneumatics. The ridges on the forehead are a great aesthetic call-back to the skull spider masks, an amazing piece of visual continuity.
The dual-tone blended trans/opaque Kopaka mask is, quite frankly, gorgeous. I had some apprehension about the area where the gold and blue swirls together, and it still sometimes looks a bit off, but the vibrant warm gold paired with the cool transparent light-blue is just visually arresting. It's wonderful. Plus, the mixture of the trans-plastic and the gold means the gold itself is actually translucent, and with a light behind it, the entire piece just glows. It's a wonderful thing. I don't have the other three, but of the four dual-tone masks, from pictures and the other reviews, I have to say I think this is the winner.
The gear system works as well as it did on the majority of the winter sets. It holds for a lot of poses, but some poses still want to pull the arm back down. My set came with an extra gear, and I wish it came with another pin to tighten the arm up with. It's irritating, but only mildly. It still works better than everything the original BIONICLE run tried. Gears and posing? Yes please.
Skull Warrior's asymmetrical build really works for the set. The armoured right shoulder stands in stark contrast to the empty and bony left arm. The effect on both the arms and legs is one of decayed and mismatched parts, and it is a perfect aesthetic for zombie skeletons.
The dark gunmetal armour offsets against the silver skeleton limbs (and inner skull under the mask) quite nicely, creating the perfect illusion that these are armour, and those are bones. The chest plate is silver, but when the printing is taken into account, I am convinced it is supposed to represent bone and not armour as well.
But let's talk about the orange.
The orange shells and details (on this set, it's the toes) have been a pretty strong point of contention in a good chunk of the community. I think we could all see why from the beginning, and I'll be honest, I'm still a bit baffled as to their inclusion from a marketing perspective. But having the set in hand, the orange and blue work REALLY WELL together. Blue and orange are complimentary colours anyway, and the way they work together is what truly brings the model to life. I've seen a few revamps that remove the orange, and I can honestly say I believe that's a mistake.
The orange simply WORKS.
It might be a thing you need to have in front of you, but when you do, it just lights up.
The bow is massive. It's obviously the defining feature of this set. I choose to interpret the stud shooter as the toy visualization of an actual bow, but that may just be me. Whether that's how you see it or not, it can only be said the bow is impressive, and one of the real first archery-leaning sets in the entire BIONICLE canon. I like it, though this is the one place where the competing colours, neutral as most of them may be, when stacked all next to one another look messy and awkward. I'd rather the connectors had all been the same colours, though I'm sure that may have ended up with too many parts not currently available and cost us something else.
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?
Skull Warrior comes with two weapons, and both technically involve an action feature. The bow fires at the twist of a gear on the shaft, and the blade is where the gear-function comes into play. Both weapons can be stored on its back, though I didn't properly notice the bow's connection on the back until after I had edited my photos, so that is not pictured here (it is, however, in the video! As is the proper blade hand connections, as there are none in the instructions and I improvised until made aware of the official bow-on-back-blade-in-hand photo by Scott. Oops!)
The two weapons really adds a nice variety to the set. It seems silly at first, but obviously if the opponent gets too close, you're not going to want a bow? These characters aren't Legolas, after all. Or Hawkeye.
If an enemy gets too close, the blade is molded with hooks designed to snag the mask and pull it off a character. I'm certain that, regardless of the comic, this is how Skull Warrior achieved the theft of Kopaka's Golden Mask.
And of course, provided you have them, Kopaka can wear the drained mask too.
Looks pretty good, to be honest. Though I bet a fully transparent light-blue mask would look even better (hint hint LEGO).
Skull Warrior has the standard articulation points, plus two toes on each foot. Be careful, the toe articulation can cause the set to fall over, as the bar connection can slide forward if too much of his weight is put on them. Hazard of being a skeleton zombie, I guess?
Once it's all said and done, how does the set stack up? Should I get it?
What's to like?
- Great skull mask
- Best of the blended masks
- Neat weaponry
- Good colours
- Does the skeleton zombie aesthetic well
- Just plain looks nice
What's not to like?
- My set has a loose gear, but your mileage may vary
- Sometimes he falls over
- Too generic
- Doesn't attempt anything new
- New add-on is large and obtrusive
Honestly, Skull Warrior looks great. It looks evil, it looks undead, it looks like it wants to steal your mask. But it also looks a tad generic, and maybe that's because there are so many of them. It does appear to be one of a horde, after all. The play features are common, and Skull Warrior doesn't have four-arms to make them more exciting.
I don't know. On one hand, I want to say it's too simple, and too generic, but I can't fault a set for doing all of the basic things right, and Skull Warrior does. It does all the boring things we've seen a few times already and knocks them out of the park, with a great, vibrant colour scheme, and cool masks. I like it. I really do.
Thanks of course to Pat for putting this review together. As per usual, your comments and feedback are welcome in the Talkback, where we'll do our best to answer them. Make sure you check out our video review to see how you can win a copy of the set, and keep checking back on BZPower for more LEGO news and reviews!
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