Tuesday, December 8th, 2015 at 6:29pm by Jason, BZPower Reporter
It's time to dive in to another 2016 Bionicle Set Review, and today BZPower Reporter Xccj goes beneath the surface to look at Akida, Creature of Water. This aquatic animal will be the new companion for next year's Gali, but is she worth the swim or is she rather washed up? Read on or watch the video review to see for yourself.
From the design of the box to the instruction manual, these are the first things you see before building the set.
The front of the package shows Akida swimming through an underwater environment, and already she's confronting an aquatic Shadow Trap. The background has some really nice detailing in it, including a preview of Gali facing some Shadow Traps in the background, as well as the new gold mask she's after. The top right corner also showcases Makuta's mask of control, which seems to be the new mask logo for this wave.
The back of the box shows us a view of Akida and Gali's sets, as well as their combiner character. Also shown are some of the action features for Akida and the Shadow Trap, as well as a full size image of the new headpiece. There's also a logo for Buildable Figures in the lower right corner, similar to how LEGO advertises the Star Wars CCBS (Character and Creature Building System) sets. Finally, the top of the set shows the reuse of Gali's Nuva Symbol, taken from the original line, as well as a second symbol that seems to be associated with the creatures. It's a nice throwback for sure.
Half the fun is had building the set. How fun is it to build and how easy or challenging is it?
The build is actually quite interesting, as Akida is mostly designed using technic parts. I appreciate this build, and it's certainly a throwback to some of the classic Bionicle Rahi sets with its action feature design. But it's also not too difficult to put together either, so it should still be good for younger builders.
Now that the set is complete, we can critique how it looks from every angle. New or interesting pieces can also be examined here.
Akida comes with 120 pieces, plus a fair amount of extras, which is quite a lot for a $9.99 USD set. However, this is inflated when you realize that 24 of those pieces are the trans blue studs, so the rest of the set is built up of 96 pieces. That's still a good amount, although again most of them are technic, with only a few CCBS limb pieces included. Notably missing are shell armor pieces, the new crystal armor, and the new duel molded weapon, which most of the other creatures have in some capacity. Akida does without those; she really is a technic-heavy set.
She does come with a fair amount of rare pieces. The first one that jumps out to me is the dark azure fins. This element was introduced as a wing piece in the 2008 Bionicle sets, but its use here as a fin is great, and you get five in dark azure for the first time. Also new in its color is the orange curved spike piece, previously seen in some of the Chima sets and Skull Grinder. Some other parts that only appear in a few other sets are the trans light blue six stud launcher, trans light blue short CCBS limb joint, trans light blue 4L liftarm, the orange tooth element, the blue Exo Force arm, and the black spider leg. Plus, you also get some of the newer technic pieces, which have appeared in a lot of sets but they're still relatively new.
This set does include a couple of new molds. You get two of the Shadow Trap jaw pieces in gunmetal gray. They're a neat design, with each one having an axle connection, two half pin connections on each side, and two clip bars. They mesh together really well, and work for the Shadow Traps, but could also be neat if used as armor, like on Umarak. You also get the new armor piece in silver. This has a lot of intricate designs in it that call back to classic Bionicle, but what's also interesting is that all the connection points on it are technic; there's no socket connection to fit onto CCBS. This reminds me of many of the armor pieces from the 2006-2008 era of Bionicle, and it's fairly widespread in the 2016 winter of Bionicle, so you're sure to get a few.
Finally, we get Akida's new headpiece. It transitions from solid silver to trans blue on the back. There's some nice detailing on the front, with a symbol on the forehead that almost matches the symbol on top of the box. The eyes are also molded in, but it is unfortunate that they don't stand out more. The top of the head ends in a crystal-like pattern, similar to the crystal shells found in the other 2016 Bionicle sets. There are two clip bars on the back of the head, and a bar one positioned at the nose for additions to the mask. The inside also includes a socket connection for the neck. Like the Protectors of 2015, all the Creatures share the same mask / headpiece mold this year, but in different colors, so the silver and trans blue is unique to Akida.
The full set consists of Akida and the aquatic Shadow Trap. Akida is certainly interesting as she's an aquatic fish-like creature, which is very different from the usual humanoid or quadruped creatures we're used to seeing in Bionicle. Since she is built more to swim, a nice little stand is provided in the set to display her on. I thought was a nice addition, since she would look a bit boring lying flat on the ground.
The Shadow Trap is mainly the two jaw pieces connected together with legs. Each Creature set this year includes a Shadow Trap, but they have different leg designs, which is a nice way to diversify them. This one uses the blue Exo Force arms and black spider legs to give it spindly legs. I suppose they can also be bent down to represent jellyfish tentacles, if desired. One side of the trap features a trans red eye, while the other includes a propeller for easy movement underwater. There are also some hand clips on its front legs, although they don't seem like they'd be very effective at grabbing anything. The click hinges that connect the two jaws together allow it to be positioned at various angles to show the jaws opened or closed. It's a basic function, but I still prefer it to the Skull Spiders, which were pretty much just masks with legs.
Akida is definitely an interesting character. She has fairly limited motion, as only her neck and tail have jointed connections. Her two stud launchers are on click hinges, which allow for some motion, and her side fins are only connected via a pin. I would've prefer it if the side fins had also been connected to a ball joint to allow for a little bit more free motion, but instead we're limited to a technic connection. In this way, she's far less posable than other humanoid or animal creatures with more jointed limbs, so I can see that being a drawback for some people.
The head is slightly problematic because it seems so empty. This is because Akida's head is used as a helmet for Gali when they combine, so there's a clear practical purpose for it to be hollow. However, it still just seems unfilled on Akida. Personally, I would've preferred to have some sort of lower jaw element, similar to the Kaiju seen in the 2014 Hero Factory sets.
Overall, Akida does pull off the fish-like look, and the character feels very swooshable when you fly her around while pretending she's swimming. The colors also work great; there are a bunch of shades of blue, but they complement each other well, and the few orange highlights nicely contrast against it. To be honest, I'm not a fan of the clunky stud launchers positioned on her back, which seems to interrupt the flow of the set in my opinion. But LEGO likes to include their projectiles in sets nowadays, so it's just another thing to deal with.
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?
The primary action feature on Akida is the lever on her back. If you tilt up her back fin, it rotates her side fins and stud launchers down. It's a simple but effective function, although it seems a bit odd to move the stud launchers from a forward firing position to a downward firing position. (This probably has a more important role when Akida combines with Gali, but on her alone it looks odd.) As always, the six-stud launchers are your projectile action features. You can twist the propellers on the back and send the studs flying. It's an easy way to lose the studs, but you get plenty of extras, so it'll be a while before Akida runs out of ammunition.
As mentioned previously, the Shadow Trap also has some functionality where it can open and close on its prey. Plus, it gives Akida an antagonist to add some conflict into the set. Can the Shadow Trap ensnare the creature in its jaws, or is it just doomed when Akida fires her stud launchers? It's not much, but it's about the same level we saw last year with the Skull Spiders, so I can't complain.
Akida really is the first fish-like creature we've seen as the primary model in a set. We did see some aquatic Rahi in the 2002 Master Builder set, like the Takea shark and Ruki fish, as well as some other undersea critters in the 2007 Bionicle playsets. But it's clear that a lot more thought went into Akida's design, and she certainly looks better than the others with her more modern design. However, I think she looks more natural when you remove the stud launchers, if that's a modification you can live with.
Finally, Akida can attach to Gali's back to form a neat combiner characters, but I'll be covering more of that in the review of 71307 Gali, Uniter of Water, so stay tuned!
Once it's all said and done, how does the set stack up? Should I get it?
What's to like?
Good selection of parts
Nice to have a technic build
Also cool to get an aquatic fish design
Colors match up nicely
I'm glad they went the extra mile and added a stand
Shadow Trap is a neat addition
What's not to like?
Not a fan of the dual stud launchers
Head feels empty
Fins on side have limited mobility, would've preferred a ball joint
Function works, but seems a bit pointless
Less posable compared to humanoids or quadrupeds
For what she is, I really like the way Akida turned out. There are some disadvantages to being a fish character that we're not used to seeing with CCBS, such as with limited possibility, but the stand helps put Akida on display quite well, and she's fairly swooshable like a ship or submarine, and has a great color scheme. I'm still not a fan of the stud launchers, which I think interrupt the flow of the set, and I would've liked it if the head had been filled in a bit. But I still like that we got an aquatic character, and the Shadow Trap makes a nice addition too. For a $9.99 USD set, I think Akida is worth it.
71302 Akida, Creature of Water, and the rest of the 2016 Bionicle sets will be hitting stores in January 2016.
Thanks again for reading and / or watching another BZPower Set Review. Like and subscribe to our Youtube channel and stay tuned for more reviews on the rest of the 2016 Bionicle sets, including 71307 Gali, Uniter of Water.