my brother’s review of two of this year’s Bionicle creatures, I will be reviewing the two corresponding Toa. Incidentally, these are also two of the same characters I reviewed from last year’s range of sets. 71305 Lewa Uniter of Jungle has 79 pieces (6 fewer than last year’s 70784 Lewa Master of Jungle) and 71307 Gali Uniter of Water has 87 pieces (the same as last year’s 70786 Gali Master of Water). They retail for the same price in the United States, $14.99, although their price in Great Britain has been deducted from £12.99 to £9.99 (resulting in less of a price discrepancy between the two countries). So what value do they offer in parts, or for that matter as assembled figures? Read on to find out!
New PartsLet’s start with some of the most iconic parts of any Toa set: their Masks of Power. Last year I compared Lewa and Gali’s 2015 Masks of Power with their classic 2001 equivalents. This year, in turn, I’ll be comparing their new Unity Masks of Power and Golden Unity Masks of Power with their 2015 equivalents.
Some of the differences that stand out apply to all the Unity Masks of Power. The new masks have a crystal texture on the top of the head, which is emphasized with their two-color blends. Decorative runes also now appear on the new masks’ foreheads, including ones that old-school Bionicle fans will recognize as the symbols assigned to the original six Toa when they became Toa Nuva back in 2002. These symbols also appeared in promotional art on the LEGO Bionicle Facebook page last year, but this is the first time these symbols have actually appeared in Bionicle sets rather than just in the story. In some ways, the use of runes on these masks also echoes the runes on last year’s Mask of Creation and this year’s Mask of Control, which are said to be the source of their incredible power.
The elemental crystal motif from the Toa’s masks also extends to their weapons and armor. Lewa includes two elemental crystal blades in a blend of Silver Metallic and Bright Green (Design ID 24165 | Element ID 6150661), which he shares with 71300 Uxar Creature of Jungle, and two elemental crystal shells in a unique blend of Silver Metallic and Tr. Bright Green (Design ID 24166 | Element ID 6135119). Gali includes one elemental crystal blade in a blend of Silver Metallic and Medium Azur (Element ID 6150659), which she shares with 71311 Kopaka & Melum Unity Set, and two elemental crystal shells in a blend of Silver Metallic and Tr. Light Blue (Element ID 6150659). The color difference between each Toa’s blades and shells is presumably due to the blades being molded in polypropylene (which would make transparent colors look milky), but it is not too conspicuous due to the colors being more or less the same hue.
The new torso shell (Design ID 24193) has been somewhat controversial among Bionicle fans for its extreme level of detail and limited connection points (just one ball snap in the back). Pistons are one of the Bionicle theme’s most recognizable motifs, but this part is decorated with a grand total of 21 pistons. That’s more than some classic sets had in their entire bodies! And it’s hard to understand what functional purpose some of these pistons would serve besides decoration. The new torso shell is about six by nine modules, rather than five by eight modules like the torso shells on last year’s Toa.
For me, the new torso shell’s most redeeming feature is the decoration on the chest and midsection. Lewa’s (Element ID 6135599) and Gali’s (Element ID 6139118) are both Silver Metallic and feature decorations unique to these characters. Like last year, this printing is evocative of tattoos or body paint and reinforces the theme’s tropical island setting. It also features the same classic symbols that appear on the Toa’s new masks.
New recolors from the Lewa set include eight Tr. Bright Green Bohrok eyes (Design ID 41669 | Element ID 6133135), four Silver Metallic Vorox/Skrall armor shells (Design ID 85079 | Element ID 6016585), three Bright Yellow [TLG]/Yellow [BL] 3M Technic cross axles (Design ID 4519 | Element ID 6130007), and one Bright Yellow 7M Technic cross axle (Design ID 44294 | Element ID 6097398). Lewa also includes four Bright Green 4M shells (Design ID 14533 | Element ID 6108829), which only previously appeared in last year’s version of Lewa, and two Bright Green 3M Technic cross blocks (Design ID 42003 | Element ID 6097398), which only appeared in 42039 24 Hours Race Car.
Toa & Creatures United
Final ThoughtsOverall, I feel like the designers of these sets had a difficult challenge in trying to update Toa as well-designed as last year’s with a new, fresh look without losing what made them so excellent. I wouldn’t say that the new Toa in general meet or surpass the quality of last year’s designs. Even Lewa only barely comes out ahead on account of his extremely coherent and creative design. However, they are still great Toa designs in their own right, which easily measure up to many G1 Toa designs in terms of looks and functionality. Furthermore, the elemental crystal motif helps unify and enhance the Toa’s new designs, and the “unity modes” are perhaps the most elegant way of teaming up a Toa and a smaller character to date (far more so than the “power up” modes of 2008 or 2015). Whether this is your first experience with Bionicle, you’ve been faithfully collecting sets since the theme returned last year, or you’ve been a Bionicle fan for years, I would definitely recommend picking up at least one of these new Toa!
Stay tuned for my brother Andrew’s review of the Toa’s new adversary, 71310 Umarak the Hunter, and how this vile villain plans to use the power of the elemental creatures to his advantage!
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