16 January 2023

LEGO® review: 40581 BIONICLE® Tahu and Takua

Posted by Ben Davies

LEGO® BIONICLE® has had a surprisingly turbulent life cycle for a LEGO theme. It initially debuted in 2001 and ran until 2010, supported by comics, novels, and films. In 2015, the theme would receive an ill-fated reboot, which lasted only until the end of 2016. Despite these ups-and-downs, BIONICLE still has an avid following among a certain sect of LEGO fans.

Later this month, BIONICLE once again rises from the ashes in the form of 40581 BIONICLE® Tahu and Takua, which will be available as a gift with select purchases over the $100 / €100 / £90 threshold between 27 January and 9 February, 2023.

Products in this article were provided by LEGO®; the author's opinions are their own.
41581 BIONICLE® Tahu and Takua
219 parts
27 January 2023
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While the original Toa from 2001 came in distinctive plastic canisters, 40581 is packaged in a standard cardboard box. Despite this, the packaging designers have repurposed many of the original design assets from 2001, which goes a long way towards emulating the feel of the theme's earliest years.

Inside the box, pieces are split across two sets of numbered bags.

At the start of the instruction booklet, the builder is greeted by a brief message from Greg Farshtey, who authored numerous BIONICLE comic books and novels during the theme's original run. Unfortunately, Farshtey's name is erroneously spelled as "Farstey" in the booklet.


Only two exclusive elements appear in the set, in the form of decorated curved slopes used to recreated the character masks:
  • Slope Curved 2 x 2 x 2/3 with Tahu Mask Print in Bright Red (6422728 | 15068) 
  • Slope Curved 2 x 2 x 2/3 with Takua Mask Print in Medium Azur (6422729 | 15068)
Image of Rare Elements in 40581 BIONICLE® Tahu and Takua
Several rare elements appear throughout the set:
  • Tile Special 1 x 2 with Sloped Walls in Bright Red (6394880 | 99563) (Fifth appearance) 
  • Technic Brick Special 1 x 2 with Pin Hole and 1 x 2 Plate in Bright Red (6385920 | 73109) (Fifth appearance) 
  • Tile Round 3 x 3 in Black (6376695 | 67095) (Fourth appearance) 
  • Tile Special 2 x 3 Pentagonal in Sand Yellow (6406356 | 35341) (Second appearance) 
  • Plate Special 2 x 6 x 2/3. With Four Studs on Side, One Support Wall on Bottom in Medium Azur (6332108 | 87609) (Fourth appearance) 
  • Slope Curved 2 x 2 Inverted in Dark Azur (6382585 | 32803) (Second appearance)

Building Process

The building process is divided into two stages, corresponding with the numbered bags. The first section sees the construction of Takua, an Amaja Circle featuring Mata Nui and Makuta stones, and a base that Tahu can be mounted on for display.

During the second stage of building, focus switches to construction of Tahu and a stone slab that can be mounted to the previously-built base so that Tahu can be displayed lava surfing.

Finished Model

Despite Takua's diminished form never receiving an official release in a set, it remains the appearance most closely associated with the character as a result of his role in 2001's Mata Nui Online Game (MNOG). Accordingly, the designers have attempted to capture the flexible limbs and oversized feet associated with the earliest Matoran characters.

The character is equipped with a backpack, a direct reference to MNOG. He also features a Bamboo Disk like the original 2001 promotional figures, though it is depicted here using a Tile Round 3 x 3 in Black (6376695 | 67095). 

Takua is also accompanied by an Amaja Circle, which were used by Turaga on Mata Nui to tell stories. In this small rendition, the Mata Nui stone is represented by an Egg in Brick Yellow (6264077 | 24946) while the Makuta stone is depicted with several unaligned stacked 1 x 1 Plates in Dark Stone Grey (4210719 | 3024).

The most prominent part of the set is, of course, Tahu. Due to the limited number of constraction elements still in production, Tahu has been assembled out of system parts on an articulated frame made of Mixel joints. In fact, the only constraction element shared with 8354 Tahu from 2001 is the Technic Ball Joint in Black (4290713 | 32474), which is once again used as a chest decoration.

Compared to the original 2001 model, the 2023 Tahu is notably shorter. Despite this, the designer has done an admirable job trying to capture the details of the original at a reduced scale. Moulded mechanical details on the original model have been reproduced using special plates, while the angles are emulated using a variety of curved and sloped decoration elements.

While this rendition of Tahu may not have the play features of the original, it has been designed to allow Takua to hang from Tahu's back, referencing 2003's BIONICLE: Mask of Light film.

While a supporting model, the display base is also worth mentioning, as it has been designed with the express purpose of posing Tahu in the act of lava surfing, as he was often depicted doing during the early years of BIONICLE. While a bit unnecessary, it's a nice touch that I'm sure fans of the theme will appreciate.


The largest issue with the set is the masks, and the use of printed curved slopes to depict them. While this approach works well enough for Takua's Kanohi Pakari, which was a relatively flat design to begin with, it does not translate to Tahu's Kanohi Hau, which originally featured a much more detailed mask sculpt that a print on a single surface fails to adequately capture.

Despite this issue, the set fulfills what it set out to do: provide a tribute to the original generation of BIONICLE. While likely to be controversial, the use of Mixel joints and hinges allows for the figures to be easily posed, and despite a totally different building system, the characters are still instantly recognizable to BIONICLE fans.

READ MORE: LEGO® 80044 Monkie Kid's Team Hideout reviewed by Caz Mockett

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  1. Good review! While certainly no replacement for a traditional constraction set, I think this is a great little tribute to the Bionicle theme. The characters and details chosen show that the designer clearly cared about the theme and some of its earliest icons. "McToran" Takua and the Amaja Circle in particular are iconic elements of the theme's early media that nevertheless never found their way into sets at the time.

    I'm quite impressed with the mask prints, particularly the two-toned "glow" of the eyes. The sculpting of the figures is okay—it looks playable and evokes the physique of the characters nicely, but I would have appreciated perhaps some bar elements used to evoke the classic piston motifs of old Bionicle parts. Still, that might have been hard to achieve at this scale.

  2. Looks like a tall Mixel to me. But hopefully it will make enough people happy to offset at least a few of the people it infuriates.

  3. As funky as these little dudes are, I did find myself browsing the lego shop to see what I could order to get me to $100. And considering doing it twice to give to a friend.

  4. Hmm, in Swedish "sekt" mostly refers to what English people would call "cults". Might possibly be appropriate.

    Anyway, there's been so many GWP's recently, despite post-Christmas' economic toll on many people, but at least US$100 for this feels more motivated than US$250 for 40583 Houses of the World 1. (40583 has more parts, but still...)

    And as for Bionicle itself, I guess its convoluted storyline could be an advantage, as much as a deterrent. I looked up some Bionicle comics once, and despite having read superhero comics for 20-30 years, I was utterly confused about what was going on, and who I was supposed to root for...

  5. "Despite Takua's diminished form never receiving an official release in a set [...]"

    Takua released in 8595 Takua & Pewku

    1. "Diminished" refers to the "McToran" form, which Takua had never received an official release for, although it was buildable from existing pieces. The 2003 versions, including Takua, are of the "rebuilt" form of the Matoran.