15 December 2014

BIONICLE 2015: Protectors

Posted by Admin

Scott Barnick (Aanchir) comes to the end of his thorough examination of the return of BIONICLE.

Hello, New Elementary readers! Today I’ll be reviewing the last three BIONICLE sets I received from the LEGO Group: 70778 Protector of Jungle, 70780 Protector of Water, and 70781 Protector of Earth. The six Protector sets will each cost $9.99 US/£9.99 GBP when they are released on January 1, 2015. This makes them the smallest sets currently revealed for the 2015 BIONICLE range, but they still boast some very interesting parts and colors that will greatly boost their appeal.

The Protectors are wise allies of the Toa and leaders of the villages of Okoto, playing a role similar to the Turaga chieftains from the 2001 BIONICLE sets. Unfortunately, the BIONICLE website doesn’t have any information on their individual personalities and genders — just that their masks have been passed down through their families for generations along with the Prophecy of Heroes which foretells the coming of the mighty Toa.

The Protectors probably won’t be as central to the new storyline as the Toa, but part of what has always made BIONICLE so enticing is that it does include supporting characters like this. Unlike a lot of action figure franchises (including most LEGO constraction themes) that only feature toys of the main heroes and villains, BIONICLE villagers like the Protectors offer a sense of just who and what the heroes are fighting for, and demonstrate that even characters without extraordinary size and power can make a difference.

The Protector of Jungle includes 70 pieces (about average for the six Protectors), the Protector of Water includes 71 pieces, and the Protector of Earth includes 66 pieces. Without further ado, let’s take a look at some of those pieces!

As is to be expected, there are fewer new part designs in these sets than in the larger Toa sets. Each Protector comes with a shared Elemental Mask design (Design ID 19149) in a unique two-color blend. The Protector of Jungle’s mask (Element ID 6102775) is colored Bright Green and Transparent Bright Green, the Protector of Water’s mask (Element ID 6102781) is colored Dark Azur [TLG]/Dark Azure [BL] and Transparent Blue [TLG]/Trans-Dark Blue [BL], and the Protector of Earth’s mask (Element ID 6102766) is colored Black and Transparent Bright Bluish Violet [TLG]/Trans-Purple [BL].

I know some old-school BIONICLE fans are uneasy with the idea of all six characters having the same mask design, since masks in the past have often been used to give characters unique personalities. Other fans have embraced this, though, since the opportunity to get the same mask in such a wide range of colors was a popular aspect of the classic sets, and one that began to fall by the wayside after the LEGO Group stopped selling separate blind-packaged “mask packs”. I personally like it because it encourages the designers to give the models personality through their builds and color schemes rather than just through specialized molds.

In terms of shape, the masks are slightly reminiscent of the Kanohi Arthron from set 8911 Toa Mahri Jaller, a BIONICLE set released in 2007. The two-colored blends are very elegant and echo various co-injected parts from BIONICLE generation one. Also, the curved “horns” on the top of the masks feature molded geometric facets on the underside that cause them to refract light in interesting ways, like a cut and polished gemstone.

Each Protector set also includes a rapid-fire shooter, built from a Bright Yellow [TLG]/Yellow [BL] center part (Element ID 6100103) and a Dark Stone Grey [TLG]/Dark Bluish Gray [BL] outer ring (Design ID 18588 | Element ID 6100488). Like the click shooters carried by minifigures in some of this year’s LEGO Star Wars, The LEGO Movie, LEGO Hero Factory, and LEGO Ultra Agents sets, these rapid-fire shooters use 1x1 round plates as ammunition.

The center part connects to the outer ring with a similar connection to the wheel hubs on larger LEGO Technic vehicles. The component parts do not seem designed to be separated once they are attached, but I do not see this as a huge limitation since the parts seem much more useful together than separated. Six plates can be loaded onto the outer ring. By rotating an axle through the center section, a bump on the edge of that section’s front surface will hit each plate in sequence, firing it with a surprising amount of power.

There have been a lot of shooter designs in the BIONICLE theme over the years, but this is easily the most compact and versatile one to date, and in my opinion one of the most effective. It has no need for specialized ammunition or parts that are pre-assembled in a factory. Also, unlike this year’s click shooters, it is not limited to firing parts with a solid stud — parts with a hollow or recessed stud will do just as nicely, boosting the potential for custom ammo designs. Of course, the larger and heavier the ammunition, the less power it fires with.

The rapid-fire shooters are also included in certain LEGO Star Wars 2015 sets such as 75084 Wookiee Gunship, 75088 Senate Commando Troopers, and 75089 Geonosis Troopers. In some of these sets, the center section is colored Dark Stone Grey rather than Bright Yellow. Since there’s only one center hub per outer ring, though, there’s not really any incentive to mix and match unless an alternate color for the outer ring is introduced.

To provide conflict, each set also comes with a Skull Spider in a different color. The Protector of Jungle has a spider with an Earth Blue body (Design ID 20251 | Element ID 6106709), the Protector of Water has a spider with a Silver Metallic [TLG]/Flat Silver [BL] body (Element ID 6106710), and the Protector of Earth has a spider with a Spring Yellowish Green [TLG]/Yellowish Green [BL] body (Element ID 6106711). All three have four Titanium Metallic [TLG]/Pearl Dark Gray [BL] legs (Design ID 20252 | Element ID 6106738).

The Skull Spiders seem like a much more formidable foe to the smaller Protectors than to the larger Toa… though I think some fans tend to overstate the impact this size difference has on the spiders’ creepiness. Personally wouldn’t want to go anywhere near a spider bigger than my head or foot no matter how tall or powerful I was! Even a wolf spider the size of my palm gives me the willies. Maybe other BIONICLE fans are simply made of sterner stuff than I am!

Other than those parts, the only brand-new designs for the three Protectors are the Tr. Fluore. Green [TLG]/Trans-Neon Green [BL] eye stalks (Design ID 19050 | Element ID 6102639), Silver Metallic heads (Design ID 19049 | Element ID 6102606), and Silver Metallic piston detail piece (Design ID 19087 | Element ID 6102789). The head and eye stalk are in each of the sets, while the piston detail piece appears just twice in the Protector of Jungle and once in the Protector of Water. As always, the assembled head has an integrated action feature — strike the back of the head to dislodge whatever mask or Skull Spider happens to be attached!

Before I get into talking about recolored elements, something I observed this year is that the LEGO Group has taken steps to replace two of the basic Hero Factory shells. The change is very subtle. The original 3M shell (Design ID 90641) and 4M shell (Design ID 90640) had a very sharp corner on the reverse side. The new 3M shell (Design ID 10498) and 4M shell (Design ID 14533) have the corners flattened out slightly, perhaps to make them less painful to step on (because the “stepped on a LEGO” cliché is already getting old).

The reason I bring this up is because these molds are still clearly in transition — some of the 3M and 4M shells in these new BIONICLE sets are the new variety and some are the old variety. My copy of the Protector of Jungle even includes BOTH varieties of 4M shells — the old variety in Flame Yellowish Orange [TLG]/Bright Light Orange [BL] (Element ID 6102853) and the new variety in Transparent Bright Green (Element ID 6052226). Likewise, the Tr. Blue 3M shells in my copy of the Protector of Water are the old variety, but the Black 3M shells in my copy of the Protector of Earth are the new variety. Depending on when they’re produced, future copies of these might include different variants.

The Protector of Jungle features three key recolors: two of the aforementioned Flame Yellowish Orange 4M shells, which also appear in Lewa Master of Jungle, four Flame Yellowish Orange 4M beams (Design ID 90611 | Element ID 6102810), and two Silver Metallic 3x5x2 creature feet (Design ID 15976 | Element ID 6100892). The Protector of Water includes two Transparent Light Blue rotors (Design ID 46667 | Element ID 6091604). And the Protector of Earth features two Silver Metallic 3x5x3 rock detail pieces (Design ID 11268 | Element ID 6102834), four Transparent Bright Bluish Violet 5M “B” beams (Design ID 90617 | Element ID 6102836), and one Transparent Bright Bluish Violet half spike ball (Design ID 98578 | Element ID 6102835).

The Protectors also have a good number of other useful parts. Each one has a 5x6 torso beam (Design ID 98590 | Element ID 4667277). And the Protectors of Jungle and Water each have two 3M Technic beams with center ball (Design ID 98577 | Element ID 6001085). Both of these parts are amazingly useful in CCBS MOCs.

Also, each set has 13 1x1 round plates (enough to load and fire the launcher twice, plus the usual spare), but the most noteworthy in this regard is the Protector of Jungle, whose 1x1 round plates are colored Tr. Bright Green (Design ID 30057 | Element ID 6057034). Only six previous sets have included 1x1 round plates in this color, and none have had this kind of quantity at such a low price. Sadly, the Protector of Earth simply uses fairly common Medium Lilac 1x1 round plates (Design ID 6141 | Element ID 4566522), and not Transparent Bright Bluish Violet ones like I know many builders have been anxious to see in sets.

The assembled Protector of Jungle stands around 19 modules tall (just over 15 centimeters or just under six inches), similar to the Matoran and Agori villager sets of 2008 and 2009, but with a full 13 points of articulation (a first for BIONICLE villager sets) and 31 pieces, more than twice the piece count of many of those sets. The body is nicely armored from both the front and back. I have seen some criticism of the thickness of the torso when viewed from the side, but I find it still looks pretty decent. Minus the weapon, it isn’t the most unique-looking design, but the exciting color scheme and the Bright Yellowish Green [TLG]/Lime [BL] vines on the feet help give it a unique elemental feel.

The Protector of Jungle wields the Air Elemental Flame Bow, a very stylish weapon built from 28 pieces (including ammo). A gear towards the center is used to fire the 1x1 round plates. Even though the Transparent Yellow and Transparent Blue blend of the 10M energy bolt elements (Design ID 11302 | Element ID 6029331) does not match any other parts of the build, it does not particularly clash with them either. Pivot points on the weapon’s shaft and the points that connect to the hands allow for lots of great and dynamic poses.

One last note — his Tr. Bright Green parts look great under a blacklight!

The assembled Protector of Water is the same height as the Protector of Jungle, but with slightly shorter arms. The design feels a bit more petite, with thinner upper arms and smaller armor shells on the torso and legs. Sans weapons, the figure uses 36 pieces, comparable to even the most parts-intensive Matoran villager sets. The turbines, attached to the arms by ball cups and friction pins, have a great range of movement, and contrast very nicely with the bluish mask and armor. I wouldn’t have expected Transparent Blue and Transparent Light Blue to work well together, but they really do!

The Protector of Water wields the Elemental Torpedo Blaster, another nice two-handed weapon that seems extremely well suited to underwater combat and aquatic poses. Counting ammo, 24 parts are used in its construction. A gear on the back is used to fire the Transparent Blue 1x1 plates.

The Protector of Earth is one module shorter than the other two, and has one of the most unique designs of all the Protectors. The elemental blaster is mounted in the center of the torso beam rather than on a separate weapon, and black 3M shells are mounted on the torso beam’s shoulder joints to create a burly, armored chest. Some simple Technic and constraction parts are then used to add new shoulder joints, slightly higher and further apart than those of the Protector of Jungle or Water. Thanks to the custom torso with integrated chest cannon, the figure (sans handheld weapons) uses a whopping 46 pieces.

Since the Protector of Earth does not need to wield a separate blaster, the figure has a pir of simple throwing knives in one hand and a seven-piece Crystal Star Drill in the other. The Crystal Star Drill is a simple design, but an effective one — a gear between the drill head and the handle allows you to spin the drill head freely on an axle. Even with such a low piece count, its size is substantial, and the color gives it a lot of visual impact.

Each Protector’s instruction manual starts with a short comic of the Toa and their corresponding Protector in action (all viewable on the Toa’s character pages on the new BIONICLE website) and ends with an ad showing how you can use the parts of each Protector to “power up” the corresponding Toa. The instructions for these models can be found at lego.com/en-us/bionicle/build, though apart from some minor discrepancies between the official “powered up” forms and the way they are pictured in the instruction manuals, building instructions are hardly necessary for most of these. Rather than requiring complete disassembly like many classic BIONICLE combi models, building these “powered up” Toa is as simple as pulling some of the equipment off of the Protectors and adding it to the Toa (and also swapping their regular masks for their golden masks).

Lewa’s “Powered Up” form actually looks rather nice. It is basically the same as his usual “Adrenalin Mode” except with the Air Elemental Flame Bow in place of his swords. The Silver Metallic armor plating from the torso and right shoulder of the Protector of Jungle is also added to Lewa’s shoulders, and the vines from the Protector of Jungle’s feet are added to Lewa’s feet.

I dislike having to completely remove Lewa’s swords, especially since Lewa’s articulation is much more limited by the two-handed bow, designed for a much smaller figure, than either set’s articulation was by its original weapons. I suppose you can give the swords to the Protector of Jungle so he’s left less helpless without his usual equipment.

Gali has what might be one of the most elegant “Powered Up” designs, in part because she has to discard very little of her own equipment (she is also my favorite of the Toa designs to begin with, so I may be a bit biased). She wields the Elemental Torpedo Blaster, but the Shark Fins that she wears on her feet in Adrenalin Mode are instead held on the outside of her hands, supplementing the blaster as a sort of diving propulsion vehicle. The shells on her upper arms are switched for the Protector of Water’s turbines, and the bladed half of her Power Harpoon is placed through one of the attached ball cups’ top axle holes.

The non-bladed half of the Power Harpoon and the two shells from her arms remain unused, but Gali looks no less impressive for it. You can give those unused parts to the Protector of Water if you so choose, though the blunt T-shaped harpoon handle is no substitute for a proper weapon.

Since I do not have 70789 Onua Master of Earth, I can’t take a proper photo of his “powered up” form, but here is a picture from the digital building instructions. It is one of the least involved “Powered Up” designs, since you can’t really remove the Protector of Earth’s blaster without dismembering the figure. Instead, Onua merely wields the Protector of Earth’s Crystal Star Drill in his left hand (opposite the Earthquake Hammer he normally wields in Battle Mode) and wears the Protector of Earth’s rocky shoulder armor on top of the enormous shoulder armor he already wears.

In fairness, Onua is perhaps the last in need of an upgrade of any of the Toa, since he’s already built like a tank. The added shoulder armor, small though it may be, really enhances Onua’s silhouette substantially. And this is not a huge downgrade for the Protector of Earth, since he keeps both his blaster and his dagger. His color scheme suffers more than anything else, deprived of the lighter accent color that the silver shoulder armor offered.

Overall, I feel like the Protectors offer a great value by constraction standards. For ten dollars you get at least 66 pieces, including a fully armed figure and a Skull Spider for them to fight. The figures themselves are a substantial size in spite of their cutesy, slightly child-like proportions, boasting diverse physiques and even more diverse weapons. And the sets have no shortage of play value thanks to the pop-off masks and rapid-fire shooters. Thanks so much to the LEGO Group for providing these sets for us to review, and great work on the part of the design team for creating what might be the best BIONICLE villager sets to date!

70778 Protector of Jungle, 70780 Protector of Water and 70781 Protector of Earth will each cost $9.99 US/£9.99 GBP when they are released on January 1, 2015. Consider using our affiliate links to buy them (or anything); this helps support New Elementary!


  1. (PicnicBasketSam from Brickset and the LEGO MBs)

    Excellent reviews as usual, Aanchir!

    One weird thing I noticed: I thought they would send the three opposite Protectors to the three Toa you got, element-wise, i.e. Earth, Stone, and Fire. Not complaining of course-- Water and Jungle are great nonetheless.

    1. Yep! The Protector of Jungle is actually my favorite of the designs, so I'm glad to have gotten that one. Additionally, I'm glad I got some Protectors that matched the Toa I received, since that means that I was able to cover some of the "powered up" versions of the Toa in more detail.

  2. I was pleased to read that this completes the reviews of the new Diabolical sets! I'm looking forward to reading about proper LEGO elements again.

    1. Tsk tsk, Gary, such prejudice! Every part is a spaceship part...

    2. I'll be honest, I was completely expecting some people to react this way! That's part of why I chose to cover these sets in three reviews rather than six. Hopefully this way, some people will gain a newfound appreciation for BIONICLE (or at least, for why OTHER people enjoy it) instead of just feeling like the reviews of sets that don't interest them are dragging on and on and on.

    3. Bubonicle isn't my cup of tea either, but these are well-written reviews which I've enjoyed.

      I am now looking forward to our host expounding on parts that he'd like to see in the next LUGBulk.

    4. Haha. I did suggest a couple... will put what 2015 stuff I know of on Brickish, since you seem keen to search for them Iain... :D