20 November 2014

BIONICLE 2015: Kopaka

Posted by Admin

As part of our BIONICLE 'season', Scott Barnick (Aanchir) now turns his attention to some of the actual 2015 sets and how they compare to the originals.

Hello once more, New Elementary readers. Today I am here to bring you this site’s first true LEGO® BIONICLE set review! 70788 Kopaka Master of Ice is one of the larger BIONICLE sets for this upcoming wave, with 97 pieces and a $19.99 USD/£14.99 GBP price tag. This price might seem a bit steep for fans that are used to the prices of more traditional LEGO building sets, or even for BIONICLE fans that are used to Toa costing between $7 and $13 apiece, but this set’s price per piece is actually fairly consistent with many Toa sets of the past.

I already discussed a lot of the new parts in this set in my earlier posts about the 2015 BIONICLE range, but now that I have an actual set in my collection I can go into more detail. The set includes two large blades in White (Design ID 19992 | Element ID 6103076). These also appear in Silver Metallic [TLG]/Flat Silver [BL] in 70787 Tahu Master of Fire, and are designed so that the scalloped edges can join together. The set also boasts four of the new shell detail elements in White (Design ID 19087 | Element ID 6102790). This piece is also available in all of the other Toa sets and most of the Protector sets in either Silver Metallic or Warm Gold [TLG]/Pearl Gold [BL], but the white ones are exclusive to this set and 70782 Protector of Ice (who features three of them).

The Silver Metallic head (Design ID 19049 | Element ID 6102606) appears in all twelve Toa and Protector sets, but the Transparent Light Blue eye stalk (Design ID 19050 | Element ID 6102638) appears in only four other sets — the remaining seven sets use it in Transparent Fluorescent Green [TLG]/Trans-Neon Green [BL]. To be honest, a part of me wishes this set used Transparent Fluorescent Blue [TLG]/Trans-Medium Blue [BL] instead, since that color glows brightly under a UV light and Transparent Light Blue does not. The Dark Stone Grey gearbox frame (Design ID 19086 | Element ID 6102645) appears in all six Toa sets.

Also included is the Mask of Ice in both White (Design ID 19064 | Element ID 6102642) and Warm Gold (Element ID 6102644). The Mask of Ice is a redesign of Kopaka’s classic mask from 2001, the Kanohi Akaku (Design ID 32569 | Element ID 4143783). The Kanohi Akaku had the power of X-Ray Vision in the original story, hence its three telescopic lenses. The new Mask of Ice instead enhances Kopaka’s ice powers, but the telescopic effect of its lenses might still be retained, just as some later BIONICLE masks featured telescopic lenses without a corresponding mask power.

Aesthetically, the Mask of Ice is slightly smaller than the Akaku, and the lenses are slightly farther apart (also, the center lens actually has a hole so his eye color shines through, something no previous version of the mask has featured). The vents in the forehead have changed shape. The original Akaku’s forehead was a mostly spherical dome, while the new one has straighter sides and a roughly 45-degree slope to the forehead. This change might be inspired by the sloped forehead of the Akaku Nuva (Design ID 43855 | Element ID 4175715), an enhanced version of the Akaku released in 2002 and featured prominently in the movie BIONICLE: Mask of Light.

As a bonus I took a photo comparing the Golden Mask of Ice with a golden Kanohi Akaku from 2002. The golden Kanohi from the 2002 Krana packs (8559/8569) were colored Yellow Flip/Flop, a color which has no name on Bricklink and may not have ever been used for anything other than those six BIONICLE masks. Its name comes from the fact that it is translucent when lit from behind, but appears opaque and metallic when lit from in front. Warm Gold definitely feels like a much purer gold color to me, and more closely resembles the color golden masks have always had in key visuals, animations, trading cards, and comics.

The Skull Spider in this set features four Titanium Metallic legs (Design ID 20252 | Element ID 6106738), the same color as in all the other Toa and Protector sets, but its Silver Metallic body (Design ID 20251 | Element ID 6106710) appears only in the Ice and Water sets. The Skull Spider bodies in the other sets are Spring Yellowish Green [TLG]/Yellowish Green [BL], Earth Blue [TLG]/Dark Blue [BL], or Warm Gold.

There are just a couple of recolored elements in this set. This is the first set to include the 6x4 Shell C in White (Design ID 90650 | Element ID 6100088). Two of them appear in the set, and a sticker sheet (Element ID 6103072) features two white-backed stickers with black and metallic silver printing to decorate them.

I applied them with no reservations — they’re extremely ornate-looking with their metallic silver zigzags and triangular vents.

Also, this set features a Warm Gold 7x4 chest plate with detailed blue and white printing (Design ID 98603 | Element ID 6102654). The only other set to feature this design in Warm Gold is Tahu Master of Fire, whose chest is printed with a different red and orange pattern. The highlights of this design, for me, are the stylish metallic blue zigzags and metallic silver vents.

One part that surprised some BIONICLE fans when the first pictures of this set emerged is a Silver Metallic Guurahk tool (Design ID 44817 | Element ID 6100089), used for the head of Kopaka’s ice spear. As you might guess from its name, this is not a new part — quite the opposite, in fact. It originated in the 2003 set 8590 Guurahk, and its last appearance in sets was in the 2010 set 7138 Rahkshi. It was colored Silver [TLG]/Pearl Light Gray [BL] in most sets, but later production runs of 7138 did include Silver Metallic ones, albeit with a different Element ID (4622776). This is the only classic BIONICLE part appearing in the new sets, excluding basic Technic parts. It also appears in 70785 Pohatu Master of Stone as a dagger.

Not new to LEGO but new to North America are Transparent Light Blue 5M beams (Design ID 90609 | Element ID 6053679), 7M beams (Design ID 90607 | Element ID 6043681), and hands (Design ID 93575 | Element ID 6043685). These have previously appeared in the 2014 Legends of Chima constraction sets, which were not released in North America (presumably due to poor sales of the 2013 range).

Other useful parts that aren’t exactly new include two high-friction ball cups (Design ID 74261 | Element ID 6106472), used for the model’s hips. These are a fantastic tool for building larger or heavier constraction models without reducing their ability to hold a pose. It’s just a small 2x2 piece with a rubber insert, which can snap onto the end of any ball cup. Thanks to the rubber insert, the friction is much greater than you’d get from a standard ball cup. In my opinion, a constraction builder can never have too many of these!

Also useful are this set’s five Dark Grey 3M Technic beams with center ball (Design ID 98577 | Element ID 6001085). These are a great part for adding additional CCBS shells to a model, such as the shell on this model’s lower back and the four shells on its lower legs. Only one other set, 44022 Evo XL Machine from this year’s Hero Factory range, includes this many of this part, and while that set is a better parts pack (including nearly twice as many pieces for just $5 USD/£2 GBP more), this set is a more affordable source for this part in particular.

After building the Skull Spider, the building process for Kopaka himself starts with the torso beam. The first thing to be added is the gearbox. The yellow knob gear (Design ID 32072 | Element ID 4203493) drives the right “battle arm”, while the left arm’s ball joint is locked with a Medium Stone Grey Technic steering arm (Design ID 33299 | Element ID 4563045). Smaller eight-tooth gears on the right arm are used with a friction pin to add friction. This way, each arm has a full range of movement and can hold just about any pose, but only the right arm is connected to the function. If you do want both arms to be driven by the function, it’s as simple as removing the steering arm and adding an additional black knob gear (Element ID 4248204) from your collection.

Next in the building process come the legs, then the arms, then the head, then the armor for the chest and shoulders, and finally the mask and weapons. It is not a tremendously complex process, and an experienced constraction builder will probably be able to build everything but the torso just from looking at the pictures on the box or the cover of the instruction booklet. Before long the figure is complete and ready to do battle.

Kopaka is definitely a formidable figure, standing 26 modules (a little over eight inches or 20 centimeters) tall when completely upright, and featuring bulky armor on every part of his body. His gearbox is raised slightly compared to some of the other Toa like Pohatu, and his shoulders are two modules wider than the three smaller ($14.99) Toa as well. His shoulder armor is attached to his torso beam rather than to his gearbox, so it does not move with his arms; however, it is able to pivot somewhat so that it fits securely without limiting the arm movement.

Kopaka’s element of ice is apparent throughout his design, from his color scheme to his chest pattern to his armor design, which gives him a thoroughly “bundled up” look. Some fellow BIONICLE fans seem to feel like the gold armor is out of place for an ice character (particularly since traditionally, the gold and white color scheme was reserved for characters with the element of light), but I don’t think it hurts his design one bit. In fact, it really complements the Transparent Light Blue of his lower arms and legs.

The defensive design of his bulky armor, raised shoulders, and Frost Shield helps him maintain the appearance of a self-determined loner, in accordance with both his Generation One characterization and his new characterization in the 2015 reboot. It also makes the price a lot more understandable — although this figure’s height is no greater than some less expensive Toa sets from 2004–2008, he is nowhere near as lean or bony as many of those designs.

The Ice Spear and Frost Shield are great designs, both making great use of a 3x10 Flame in a co-injected blend of White and Transparent Light Blue (Design ID 11302 | Element ID 6029783) as elemental ice energy. The shield is definitely a non-traditional design, but it still feels very formidable. If you prefer a more realistic ovoid shield, it’s a simple modification — just flip one of the blades so that they are pointed the same direction.

In the original 8536 Kopaka set from 2001, Kopaka had a sword instead of a spear, but I think the spear goes great with his shield and helps him stand out more from Tahu, who was also traditionally a swordsman. At first it might appear that his spear needs an extra connector to stay in one piece without his fist holding it, but his character page on the BIONICLE website shows that you can link the two sections just by sliding the black half-beams one and a half modules back — a remarkably resourceful solution (albeit a bit wobbly) that I have never seen before in a constraction set’s weapon design.

To switch from Battle Mode into Adrenalin Mode, Kopaka separates the two blades that make up his Frost Shield and attaches them to his feet to form his Avalanche Skis. This is reminiscent of the set 8571 Kopaka Nuva from 2002, whose Ice Blades could separate into a pair of ice skates for his feet. However, while that ability left Kopaka Nuva unarmed, the new Kopaka keeps his spear even in Adrenalin Mode, and as a bonus it looks like it could function effectively as a ski pole to increase his mobility even further.

The instructions say to leave the black connector from the shield on one of the skis, but the illustration on the back of the box removes it and the bright blue pin/axle from the model entirely, and I think that makes the most sense. If you’re worried about those parts becoming separated from the model you can always leave them in Kopaka’s left hand, as I’ve done for this photo.

Removing Kopaka’s Mask of Ice and attaching the Skull Spider to his face turns Kopaka from an ally to the other Toa and Protectors into a pawn of the forces of evil. The silver metallic Skull Spider looks very cool on Kopaka’s face, matching the color and texture of his torso shell while still looking unnatural and alien thanks to its massive forehead/abdomen and pincers.

The back of the boxes invariably show the Skull Spider’s legs wrapped around the Toa’s head, but this is awkward at best — it’s almost impossible to attach the spider this way without removing the Toa’s head entirely, and the legs collide with his chest plate, giving his head hardly any range of movement and making the spider difficult to eject. I find that it is much more effective (and scarier too) to wrap only the back legs around his head and have the front legs dangle in front of his chest.

As with all the Toa and Protector sets, striking the back of the eye stalk will dislodge whatever mask or Skull Spider the figure is wearing. Combined with the battle arm, this adds an element of competitive play reminiscent of the original BIONICLE sets from 2001, with a goal of knocking off the opponent’s mask before they can knock off yours.

The box and instruction manual both advertise how Kopaka can “power up” with the golden mask of ice and pieces from the Protector of Ice. Instructions for this feature will be available on the BIONICLE website. However, in this case I have to say the end result is incredibly awkward. Kopaka loses his Frost Shield to attach the Protector’s blaster, and the Protector’s spinning ice saw blade is combined haphazardly with a rearranged version of Kopaka’s spear. Combination models have been a big part of both BIONICLE and Hero Factory so I can’t help but hope that there’s something more in store than just these “powered up” forms.

You can also see an ad for the upcoming LEGO BIONICLE app for mobile devices, but its contents are not abundantly clear from this photo. Is it just a viewer for the animated webisodes, or a game with animated cutscenes? There’s no telling just yet, but I’m sure we’ll hear more about it once these sets are closer to release.

Want a comic? Have a comic! This ten-panel, dialogue-free comic appears inside the front cover of the instruction manual, and a condensed version (minus the first and last panels) appears on the back of the package. It shows the Protector of Ice being attacked by Skull Spiders and Kopaka coming to his rescue and claiming the Golden Mask of Ice. The last panel shows the Protector rewarding him with the use of his weapons, giving a sense of how the “powered up” version might fit into the story.

This stylized visual language is very similar to the style of the new BIONICLE web animations for 2015, which seem like they might be taking cues from the Star Wars: Clone Wars microseries from 2003–2005. It’s a bold new identity for the BIONICLE theme, and one that I’m sure will inspire no shortage of fan art.

How does the new Kopaka compare to the original? Pretty well, if I do say so myself. As far as value is concerned, both the price and the piece count of the new Kopaka are nearly triple those of the original, but the price per piece of the new set is actually slightly lower — even without adjusting for inflation. The set even adds extra play value by including an antagonist (the Skull Spider) and a treasure for Kopaka to seek (the Golden Mask of Ice).

In terms of design, the new Kopaka retains the battle arm function and pop-off mask that the original introduced, but boasts thirteen points of articulation rather than just seven, and adds enough friction to the battle arm to hold poses where the arms are raised. He stands about four modules (1.25 inches/3.2 centimeters) taller, has much beefier armor, and has more human-like arm proportions.

Overall, I think the new Kopaka is an absolutely stellar set design. Not only is he brimming with personality, but he also has a great assortment of parts for building your own BIONICLE creations. I think he’s well worth his price, and a great first buy for fans that are new to the constraction category or the CCBS.

Our thanks to LEGO's Community and Events Engagement Team for providing the set.

70788 Kopaka Master of Ice and twelve other new BIONICLE sets will be available globally on January 1, 2015.


  1. (PicnicBasketSam)

    Wow, fantastic review Aanchir! I love how in-depth you went with this. I still don't care for Kopaka that much... maybe it's the gold jutting into the icy color scheme, maybe it's the huge armor and weapons. I just don't like having the shoulders jut out that much, part of the reason that Onua is my least favorite Toa: That chest is ridiculous! I think my money is better put towards the Jungle and Fire Protectors, Gali, and Tahu, which are the only ones I'm getting. Maybe Lewa.

  2. I love Kopaka's new mask for two reasons.
    1. It is the most obviously recognizable mask of the new wave.
    2. THE EYES. I CAN ACTUALLY TELL WHERE HIS EYES ARE. I STILL can't get it out of my head that the akaku's eye is the vent on the forehead.

  3. Are you going to do reviews of another BIONICLE sets here?

    1. Yep, I have five more sets to review, which I'll be grouping together into two more posts!

  4. What are the prices for the Protectors and other Toa in GBP also. I understand this set is £17.99, but what about the other price groups? :)

    1. I'm going to be honest with you. I... kind of guessed with some of the GBP prices, basing them on the prices for the current Hero Factory sets at the same price point. I meant to replace my "guesses" with final prices before the reviews went up but forgot about it. ^_^; Not very professional of me, I know! I am in correspondence with Kim Thomsen from the LEGO Group to find out the correct prices, though. If it turns out I'm wrong about them, I will ask for the reviews to be edited accordingly.

      If the prices do stay consistent with this year's Hero Factory prices, the Protectors will be £8.99 each, and the three smaller Toa and Lord of Skull Spiders will be £12.99 each.

    2. According to an earlier leak, the protectors are 9,99 GBP, the three smaller Toa are 12,99 GBP and the other three Toa are 14,99 GBP. Of course, the authenticity of this leak is questionable - but it did contain some other information that was not yet known at that time and that turned out to be true.

    3. @Aanchir
      Its fine, was just curious as trying to be sure I have enough to cover those sets along with the potential for the UCS Marvel Helicarrier and Age Of Ultron sets in Summer :P

      Hopefully that is the case as that knocks quite a bit off the sets and allows me to get a duplicate of LoSS in order to bulk him out a bit. Guess we'll have to wait till December or January to be certain

    4. I've finally gotten the correct GBP prices from Kim Thomsen, and it turns out that I was wrong about the prices. The leaked/rumored prices (9.99 GBP for Protectors, 12.99 GBP for the smaller Toa and Lord of Skull Spiders, and 14.99 GBP for the larger Toa) were in fact correct. I've sent an e–mail to Tim asking him to correct the article accordingly! Sorry for that oversight on my part!

  5. I personally was very sad when lego discontinued Bionicle for Hero Factory. Now that these new Bionicles use HF pieces im very torn. I'd like to start getting the new Bionicles but I really wish lego would use Bionicle pieces. Also wish they had made an Inika/ Mahri movie, I think it was the peak of the bionicle storyline. :) So, my question to you is: Do you like that these new figures are moving towards Hero Factory? Or, would you prefer to see classic pieces used on future Bionicle sets?

    1. Hey, sorry for taking so long to reply! I am honestly really happy with BIONICLE using this building system. Don't get me wrong, I loved the old BIONICLE aesthetic, but I found that it could be very limiting when building or drawing to keep so many elaborate textures from clashing.

      The Character and Creature Building System that constraction sets have been using since 2011 has a much smoother, cleaner visual language, much like classic LEGO bricks or even LEGO Technic beams and panels. The way the shells and beams are connected also allows for a lot of creative freedom, like you can see with Kopaka's shoulders in this set.

      I would not want to see a return to classic pieces. LEGO hit upon a good thing when they introduced this building system and I'd prefer they stick with it. I would not mind if they introduced more detail parts like the piston add-on in this set for decoration, though.