Friday, 4 December 2015

Older and Skully

The return of the LEGO® BIONICLE theme in 2015 appears to have been popular, as have the articles about it written for New Elementary by two of the Barnick brothers. I've been slow at posting this review of five summer releases by Andrew Barnick, so the sets are perhaps old news to some, but Andrew's thorough examination of the available parts and the new characters is always a welcome analysis to have!

The sets in the 2015 winter wave of Bionicle featured a dearth of foes for the Toa to fight besides the omnipresent Skull Spiders, so a wave consisting almost entirely of larger villain sets was in high demand. While the Toa sets from the winter wave were all based on characters from the classic theme, the figures from the summer wave all represent brand new antagonists. I’m happy to say that these sets don’t disappoint, either in terms of their builds or their vast selection of new and recolored parts. Read on to get a taste of what these sets have to offer!

New Part Analysis


In the Bionicle theme, new molds are a huge factor in making a new wave of sets stand out from what’s gone before, and the new parts in these sets certainly don’t slack in that department.

The summer Bionicle range features three new mask designs. First and foremost is the legendary Mask of Creation (Element ID 6115790 | Design ID 20477), which appears in Warm Gold [TLG]/Pearl Gold [BL] in Mask Maker vs. Skull Grinder. This mask was the first mask revealed when the Bionicle theme’s return was announced last year, and it’s represented here in crisp detail, with square rune-like symbols lining its surface and an elaborate “crown”. The second new mask is the aptly named Skull Mask (Design ID 20476), which looks, appropriately, like a mechanical human skull. It appears in Silver Metallic [TLG]/Flat Silver [BL] (Element ID 6114358) in Mask Maker vs. Skull Grinder, and in Titanium Metallic [TLG]/Pearl Dark Gray [BL] (Element ID 6115785) in Skull Warrior. Finally, the Bull Skull Mask (Element ID 6114369 | Design ID 20478) appears in both Skull Basher and Skull Scorpio in Silver Metallic (having also gotten a limited release in Tr. Fluor. Green [TLG]/Trans. Neon Green [BL] as an exclusive giveaway at San Diego Comic-Con this year). Compared to the standard Skull Mask, it has a narrower, more alien appearance, which does look slightly like a bull skull when placed flat on the ground.



Five of the masks from the winter wave sets get new recolors in these sets. The first four are blended versions of the Toa masks from the winter wave, which represent the Toa’s golden masks after the Skull Army has stolen them and drained them of their elemental powers. Kopaka’s Golden Mask of Ice (Element ID 6114412 | Design ID 21153), blended with Tr. Light Blue, appears in Skull Warrior. Lewa’s Golden Mask of Jungle (Element ID 6114401 | Design ID 21150), blended with Tr. Bright Green, appears in Skull Slicer. Onua’s Golden Mask of Earth (Element ID 6114461 | Design ID 21156), blended with Tr. Br. Bluish Violet [TLG]/Trans-Purple [BL], appears in Skull Basher. And Pohatu’s Golden Mask of Stone (Element ID 6114475 | Design ID 21162), blended with Tr. Fluor. Green, appears in Skull Scorpio. All four of these masks look incredible, either on their respective Toa or on the villains they’re packaged with.

The fifth recolored mask is a new Warm Gold/Tr. Light Blue version of the Protector mask (Element ID 6115685 | Design ID 19149). This mask is worn by Ekimu the Mask Maker in Mask Maker vs. Skull Grinder, and represents the mask he was laid to rest in after losing his Mask of Creation and slipping into a deep sleep.

The five new sets in this range share only two new weapon molds, but both are extremely attractive and offer a unique new play experience for the sets. The Silver Metallic “hook axe” (Element ID 6114372| Design ID 20479) appears in Skull Basher, Skull Scorpio, and Mask Maker vs. Skull Grinder. It has four connection points, is slightly flexible, and features a hook-like protrusion on the rear, perfect for yanking the masks off of Toa and Protector sets. The Silver Metallic “hook sword” (Element ID 6114379| Design ID 20480) appears in Skull Warrior, Skull Slicer, and Mask Maker vs. Skull Grinder, and similarly features a barbed edge that can snag on the edges of masks and yank them off figures’ heads. While it only has one connection point, it is designed with the ability to pair with many Hero Factory and Legends of Chima weapons using the 3x2x1 Technic Cross Block (Element ID 6022718 | Design ID 11272), though that part is not featured in any of these sets. Both weapons feature angular, art deco motifs, which are a first for Bionicle parts and something I’d love to see more of in the future.

One of the most plentiful new parts in these sets is the new 5M “Skeleton Bone” (Element ID 6114326 | Design ID 20474). This part, which so far only comes in Silver Metallic, lacks the center ball of traditional 5M bones, exchanging it for molded detail that resembles a pair of bones similar to those in the forearm of a human skeleton. Their use in these sets isn’t limited to just forearms, though—every limb on the new villains uses at least one of these bones to create a spooky skeletal motif.

At the same time, these new skeletons are far from just skin and bones. Every set except Skull Scorpio uses a new Titanium Metallic shell detail element (Element ID 6114328 | Design ID 20475) to add bulk to these skeletons’ bony frames. The design of this part features the same art deco motifs as the aforementioned weapons, and protrudes off a typical shell more than most past shell detail elements. While that means that it doesn’t “wrap around” a typical shell as effectively as other shell detail parts, it does allow for this part to fit comfortably on even large torso shells in either orientation, a feature most similar parts can not lay claim to. This element pulls a lot of weight when it comes to making sure that these bony sets don’t seem like pushovers for the Toa—they’re thin and gangly, yes, but also heavily armored and armed to the teeth.

All five sets feature a brand-new 7x7 torso shell (Design ID 20473). This part features a descending diamond pattern across the center, with rib-like spikes extending outward to the edges of the shell. The part appears in Tr. Light Blue (Element ID 6114320) in Skull Warrior, Tr. Br. Green (Element ID 6114322) in Skull Slicer, Tr. Br. Bluish Violet (Element ID 6114323) in Skull Basher, Tr. Fluor. Green (Element ID 6114321) in Skull Scorpio, and Tr. Fluor. Reddish Orange [TLG]/Trans-Neon Orange [BL] (Element ID 6114324) in Mask Maker vs. Skull Grinder. The variety of colors this part appears in, combined with its unique shape and dimensions, should make it an interesting part for MOCs.

Four of these villain sets feature printed chest plates, like the Toa from the winter wave. However, in contrast with the elegant tribal-looking designs from those sets, these villains’ chest plates are much more menacing. Skull Warrior’s Silver Metallic chest plate (Element ID 6114577 | Design ID 21165) features organic bones that transition seamlessly into pistons. Skull Slicer’s Titanium Metallic chest plate (Element ID 6115546 | Design ID 21278) features a whirring maw of saw blade-like teeth. Skull Basher’s Titanium Metallic chest plate (Element ID 6115529 | Design ID 21276) features ribcage-shaped armor plates and pneumatic tubing. And Skull Grinder’s Titanium Metallic chest plate (Element ID 6115669 | Design ID 21296) features copper-colored gears, pistons, and chains.

Parts Breakdown


These sets feature a huge number of new and rare parts, so I’ve organized them into bulleted lists for ease of reading.

70791 Skull Warrior




New parts that are unique to Skull Warrior include:

  • One Titanium Metallic Skull Mask
  • One Warm Gold/Tr. Light Blue blended Mask of Ice
  • One Tr. Light Blue 7x7 torso shell
  • One Silver Metallic printed chest plate

New parts that Skull Warrior shares with some of the other summer sets include:

  • One Silver Metallic hook sword
  • Five Silver Metallic 5M skeleton bones
  • Two Titanium Metallic skeleton shell details
  • One Silver Metallic 7x9 torso beam (Element ID 6115891 | Design ID 90626)
  • One Tr. Fluor. Reddish Orange eyestalk (Element ID 6102640 | Design ID 19050)
  • One Tr. Light Blue six-shooter (Element ID 6100096 | Design ID 18588)

Other rare parts in Skull Warrior include:

  • Four Tr. Fluor. Reddish Orange 3M claws (Element ID 6021344 | Design ID 92220)
  • Two Silver Metallic 3x5x2 “beast feet” (Element ID 6100892 | Design ID 15976)
  • One Medium Stone Grey [TLG]/Light Bluish Gray [BL] six-shooter trigger (Element ID 6097090 | Design ID 18587)

70792 Skull Slicer



New parts that are unique to Skull Slicer include:

  • One Warm Gold/Tr. Br. Green blended Mask of Jungle
  • One Tr. Br. Green 7x7 torso shell
  • One Titanium Metallic printed chest plate
  • Six Tr. Br. Green 5M “A” bones
  • Two Tr. Fluor. Reddish Orange Skull Spider legs (Element ID 6111272 | Design ID 20252)
  • One Tr. Fluor. Reddish Orange 16M chain (Element ID 6114250 | Design ID 60169)

New parts that Skull Slicer shares with some of the other summer sets include:

  • Three Silver Metallic hook swords
  • Six Silver Metallic 5M skeleton bones
  • One Titanium Metallic skeleton shell details
  • One Silver Metallic 7x9 torso beam
  • One Trans. Fluor. Reddish Orange eyestalk

Other rare parts in Skull Slicer include:

  • Two Silver Metallic 3x5x2 “beast feet”
  • One Silver Metallic Skull Spider Mask (Element ID 6106710 | Design ID 20251)


70793 Skull Basher



New parts that are unique to Skull Basher include:

  • One Warm Gold/Tr. Br. Bluish Violet blended Mask of Earth
  • One Tr. Br. Bluish Violet 7x7 torso shell
  • One Titanium Metallic printed chest plate
  • One Silver Metallic 24 mm corrugated pipe (Element ID 6116017 | Design ID 21164)

New parts that Skull Basher shares with some of the other summer sets include:

  • One Silver Metallic Bull Skull Mask
  • Two Silver Metallic hook axes
  • Four Silver Metallic 5M skeleton bones
  • Four Titanium Metallic skeleton shell details
  • One Silver Metallic 7x9 torso beam
  • One Trans. Fluor. Reddish Orange eyestalk

Other rare parts in Skull Basher include:

  • Two (plus one extra) Medium Lilac [TLG]/Dark Purple [BL] teeth (Element ID 6058227 | Design ID 87747)
  • Two Medium Lilac 8M tails (Element ID 6047508 | Design ID 87846)
  • Two Trans. Bright Bluish Violet “B” bones (Element ID 6102836 | Design ID 90617)


70794 Skull Scorpio



New parts that are unique to Skull Scorpio include:

  • One Warm Gold/Tr. Fluor Green blended Mask of Stone
  • One Tr. Fluor. Green 7x7 torso shell
  • Six Titanium Metallic 8M spider legs (Element ID 6111290 | Design ID 15107)

New parts that Skull Scorpio shares with some of the other summer sets include:

  • One Silver Metallic Bull Skull Mask
  • Two Silver Metallic hook axes
  • Four Silver Metallic 5M skeleton bones
  • One Silver Metallic 7x9 torso beam
  • One Trans. Fluor. Reddish Orange eyestalk
  • Two Trans. Fluor. Green 4M “A” bones (Element ID 6078390 | Design ID 90611)

Other rare parts in Skull Scorpio include:

  • Four Trans. Fluor. Reddish Orange 3M claws
  • Two Silver Metallic 7M “beast talons” (Element ID 6102809 | Design ID 15362)
  • Two Trans. Fluor. Green 3M shells (Element ID 6061058 | Design ID 10498)


70795 Skull Grinder



New parts that are unique to Mask Maker vs. Skull Grinder include:

  • One Warm Gold Mask of Creation
  • One Silver Metallic Skull Mask
  • One Warm Gold/Tr. Light Blue blended Protector mask
  • One Tr. Fluor. Reddish Orange 7x7 torso shell
  • One Titanium Metallic printed chest plate
  • Two Black tribal flame pieces (Element ID 6114248 | Design ID 18395)

New parts that Mask Maker vs. Skull Grinder shares with some of the other summer sets include:

  • Three Silver Metallic hook axes
  • One Silver Metallic hook sword
  • Four Silver Metallic 5M skeleton bones
  • Four Titanium Metallic skeleton shell details
  • One Silver Metallic 7x9 torso beam
  • One Trans. Fluor. Reddish Orange eyestalk
  • One Trans. Light Blue six-shooter

Other rare parts in Mask Maker vs. Skull Grinder include:

  • Two Silver Metallic 3x5x2 “beast feet”
  • One Medium Stone Grey six-shooter trigger
  • One Trans. Fluor. Reddish Orange 3M “A” bone (Element ID 6046498 | Design ID 90612)
  • Two Trans. Fluor. Reddish Orange 2x3x2 hands (Element ID 6046528 | Design ID 93575)
  • Four Trans. Light Blue 3M “A” bones (Element ID 6043677)
  • Two Trans. Light Blue 3M shells (Element ID 6029234)
  • Two Warm Gold Chima shell details (Element ID 6075042 | Design ID 15369)
  • Two Warm Gold 4M shells (Element ID 6092885 | Design ID 14533)
  • One Warm Gold piston shell detail (Element ID 6102752 | Design ID 19087)
  • One Warm Gold ornate carriage wheel (Element ID 6058138 | Design ID 15744).

Set analysis

While they may share a lot of their new elements with one another, the Skull Army makes for a wonderfully interesting and diverse cast of villains. All four of the $15 characters include Trans. Fluor. Reddish Orange accents, which both unify them as the minions of Kulta the Skull Grinder and help to make the other colors in their color schemes “pop”. Each set brings a unique function to the table, some of which have never been seen in Bionicle sets before.

70791 Skull Warrior




Skull Warrior is by far the most basic villain this year as far as his build and function are concerned, but that doesn’t make him a bad set by any means. His Trans. Light Blue and Trans. Fluor. Reddish Orange color scheme is extremely eye-catching, his asymmetric design keeps his build from becoming boring, and his choice of two weapons (a stud-shooting bow for ranged combat and a long spear for close-quarters combat) makes him well suited to various types of action play. His weapons are even designed so that whichever weapon he isn’t using at the moment can be mounted on his back—a handy feature, to be sure.

70792 Skull Slicer


Skull Slicer might initially look less interesting than the other Skull Villains due to the relative lack of armor shells as well as his lack of a new or unique mask (reusing the Skull Spider mask seen earlier this year), but he still has a great parts selection thanks to his plethora of weapons and new bones. Function-wise, he uses the standard gearbox seen on all of the Toa and several of the other Skull enemies, but mixes things up with gearing that allows all four of his arms to move in unison (with both right arms and his lower-left arm rotating one way while his upper-left arm rotates the opposite direction). This is a wonderful function, though his “mask grabber” chain weapon can easily get tangled up with his arms if you swing them too quickly.

70793 Skull Basher


Skull Basher is by far my favorite of the new villain sets, with a gorgeous color scheme (Medium Lilac, Trans. Bright Bluish Violet, and Trans. Fluor. Reddish Orange), a wonderfully imposing symmetrical build, and one of the most novel functions I’ve ever seen in the Bionicle theme. He eschews the typical gearbox in favor of a complex function block built from Technic and System parts. When complete, the button on his back can activate two distinct functions—by moving it from side to side, Basher swings his arms independently, while pushing the button forward swings both arms forward in a “bashing” motion that earns him his name. A small piece of corrugated pipe provides suspension that returns his arms to their original positions, though they do tend to wobble from side to side a bit. Skull Basher also features two gigantic horns, which, being attached to his eyestalk, can be hit to send his mask flying.

70794 Skull Scorpio


Skull Scorpio is one of the most divisive sets in the current range. Unlike the other humanoid Skull enemies, Skull Scorpio features a more Technic-based build that trades articulation (his six legs are mostly rigid) for a unique look and function. Skull Scorpio’s tail features a trigger that can be pulled to swing his tail forward and snap the two axe pieces shut in one quick motion. This function is perhaps the best of all the new sets at stealing masks, but your mileage may vary as to whether that justifies the cobbled-together look of the model as a whole. Personally, while I acknowledge the set’s flaws, I’m happy with its Kafka-esque aesthetic as well as the satisfying effectiveness of its function.

70795 Mask Maker vs Skull Grinder


The largest Bionicle set of 2015 features Ekimu, the legendary Mask Maker, facing off against Kulta, the evil Skull Grinder and leader of the Skull Army. 



While the set as a whole is significantly larger than other sets this year, the included figures are not necessarily comparable to classic “titan” sets—Ekimu is only slightly larger and more complex than $10 sets like the Protector of Fire, while Kulta is about the same size as the $20 Tahu but significantly leaner (being a skeleton and all).

Kulta’s build is somewhat unique but overall not atypical for one of this year’s Bionicle sets. The most unusual part of his build is his extra-long torso build which uses Technic turbine pieces to achieve a beefier look for his shoulders. Both of his arms are geared to swing alternately, with a hook sword in one hand and a gigantic Mask Stealer Staff in the other.

Ekimu is similar to how he originally appeared in the web animations, with an extremely attractive Warm Gold and Trans. Light Blue color scheme. His build is largely similar to the Protector of Fire from earlier in the year, but Ekimu adds a gearbox, dramatic shoulder armor, and both knee and elbow joints. Both of his weapons are quite unique and distinctive, with his hammer featuring a Trans. Light Blue six-shooter on one end, and his spinning shield combining one of the ornate carriage wheels from the Disney Princess theme with a large sawblade piece to create a weapon that looks both elegant and dangerous.

While each of this year’s Bionicle sets includes some sort of additional mask, only the legendary Mask of Creation in this set gets a brick-built display stand. This stand is not nearly as effective as I’d anticipated, with the mask only attaching loosely to the stand and having a great propensity to flop forward. A more secure connection can be achieved by replacing the top four Technic parts with a single 2x2x2 cross block (Element ID 4610371 | Design ID 92907), like the one used in Ekimu’s hammer. While I appreciate the inclusion of a stand for the Mask of Creation, I have no idea why the set itself opted for a more complex but less effective method of attachment given the options available.

Final Thoughts


If these new villains are a sign of what’s to come as the Bionicle reboot begins to diverge from the classic theme’s roots, I couldn’t be happier. These five sets offer more diversity and unique functionality than any other dedicated wave of villain sets in years past, and their new parts surprised even me with their novel art-deco aesthetic and spooky skeletal motifs.

I can’t wait to see what else the Bionicle design team has in store for future years—just the thought of it sends shivers down my spine!



Our thanks to the LEGO Community & Events Engagement Team for providing these sets. Consider using our affiliate links to buy them (or anything); this helps support New Elementary!



2 comments:

  1. Wow! That "hook axe" is SO cool! I don't know if it would be possible to stick 2 of them together, but you might be able to make an interesting lightning bolt assembly or something like that out of them! Very neat.
    --Chaz Fairbanks

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great write-up!I really want to get my hands on that new sword/blade piece. You mentioned it being able to attach to other parts via a TECHNIC cross-block, but I fail to see how this could work. Might you link to an example?

    -Dan "legomaster1378" Savard

    ReplyDelete