While I was writing my full reviews of the six Toa, I realized that I was sort of skipping over several features that they all share in common because they are all common, so there was really no right place to speak about it except for everywhere (since I'm not a fan of "See my review on Harley Quinn's Unicycle for what I think of this piece" type writing, though I resort to that with some minifigures), but I ended up doing it nowhere. The exception was the boxes, which I really should have waited for this, because every Toa except for lucky Lewa got pretty much the same spiel. So, here we are, with a review of some of the common features of the Toa, and a ranking too.
What I think is the most immediately striking thing about the new Toa is their colorschemes. Even though some of them are poorly plotted (in my opinion) and rely too much on metallics, they really are striking and bright, unlike a lot of figures from before which had dull or dark and boring colorschemes (though not all of the Glatorian were so bad in that regard; mixing a brighter color with a darker one a lot of the time). When stood together, five of them look really good. Unfortunately, Pohatu's dark orange doesn't go with the others so well. His scheme is still really good (I think that he has the best distribution of any of them, for one thing) and I don't think that he would look as good as a figure if he were, say, bright orange or yellow instead, and I think LEGO did what best serves the set.
Secondly, the gearboxes are a big thing. Functions were a stable of earlier BIONICLE sets, but they sort of withered until they disappeared completely to be replaced by gimmicky launchers. It is fun to turn a gear and have the weapon slash (or whatever) through the air, though there isn't always enough friction, and, as mentioned in some reviews, it is more likely that a Toa's elbow or wrist will bend unnaturally when it makes contact with something stubborn enough (which, in some cases, is a lot of things), so that is kind of unfortunate. That seems to include the Toa's masks (especially the Skull Spiders) which, despite reintroducing a knock-off feature, aren't knocked off so easily. Actually, it seems downright impossible.
The Toa's masks have problems of their own. They tend to wobble a little bit, and most of them don't allow light through the eyes very well unless they are backlit. I find Tahu and Pohatu's to be the worse, with their beady eyes and elongated faces. The Skull Spiders are both the sturdiest and best allow the eyes to be seen. They kind of go unsung in my reviews, but they really are a well designed piece.
I think that is about all there is to say about the Toa as a group. It is good to have the Mata back, and I am pleased to see the variety that they come in. Personally, my ranking would go something like this:
That's just me though, and I do like them all except for Tahu, though even he turned into one that I really like after I made some pretty easy mods (shortened the legs, bulked up the arms, gave him some flamboyant shoulder pads). I think that, if you like BIONICLE in any way, shape, or form, and aren't too attached to the old theme to write-off these sets as "too different" (though I think there is an argument to make for the Theseus Paradox, and not just because I love to drop Minotaur references everywhere I can) there is at least one Toa for you.
So, which Toa is everyone's favorite? I wouldn't ask if I didn't actually want to know, so please comment!
You are not entitled to vote. You are not entitled to view results of this poll.
One vote has been cast since the poll was created on 16:43, 11 July 2015.
You know, I've never been the biggest fan of Fire. Elementally, at least, I like to be warm. I like it as a symbol for passion and warmth, but BIONICLE has generally depicted fire characters as loud and bombastic hotheads. Okay, maybe that's mostly Tahu, I didn't follow the story too much when the Metru and Inika took over, but the character left a bad taste in my mouth. Why am I telling you this? I'm not nostalgic to see Tahu again. With the other Toa Mata back, I wouldn't have it any other way, of course, but with Tahu the fire guy at the forefront of BIONICLE's marketing (as always) I can't help but feel that some views of this set are clouded. Of course, reasonable opinions differ, but for a lot of the praise I've seen, I don't think this set is so great.
I like the trapezoidal box designs used for most of these sets, it gives them a cool look. They aren't the canisters many people associate with BIONICLE, but I was honestly never the biggest fan of those. They took up too much space and, especially in later years, weren't sufficient for storing sets. Most of the masks on the boxart look strange, certainly not as good as in real life. Tahu's is possibly the worse. Like, I'm not even sure what is going on there. The masks just look so bad. The golden one, seems fat, and something about the red one is just extremely off. I do have to commend the posing, however. It manages to hide a good amount of the issues I have with this set. I don't quite like the boxart though; the blue sky doesn't pair well with the lava fall. I would have liked something more volcanic, or sooty. The bags fit inside of the carton no problem and take up enough room. The box does, however, feel a bit thin and could possibly be damaged easily.
The instructions are, thankfully, rather unremarkable. They are easy enough to follow if you are used to LEGO instruction manuals and pay close enough attention. There are no stickers.
Probably the best thing about Tahu's part selection is that he has six of the new piston add-ons (more than any other set so far). They are all in gold, which for my purposes is the least useful of the three colors, but still, they are cool pieces. Those swords which combine to create the lavaboard, which Kopaka includes in white, look really good in silver and are fun weapons. The only other parts which are particularly rare are the trans orange shells (which only came in the non-US Chima Ultrabuilds last year; though Protector of Fire and a System Chima set do include them now) and the exclusive red torso shells, of which there are three included. Of course, Tahu also has the usual parts which are appearing in the Toa sets: The new gearbox, head, eyestalk, and a skull spider. Additionally, he also has the Mask of Fire (or Hau, it's still the Mask of Shielding to me) in red and warm gold and an exclusive chest print. Though they come in a few other Ninjago sets, I also really like those golden swords. Small gears, friction add-ons, and loose ball joints are always good to have, too.
Personally, I don't think that Tahu is the best parts pack for MOCers. He doesn't introduce any new or rare colors like the other Toa, and his recolors are just limited to those torso shells.
By the time I got Tahu, I had already built the five other Toa. There really isn't anything special about him when it comes to this area. There is the gearbox, yes, same as the other Toa, and he basically uses the same design as Gali, just with wider shoulders, two moving arms, and mounts for his extra swords. The differences aren't too substantial.
When I first saw that Tahu would be red and gold, my mind immediately went to two places: Lhikan, and Stars Tahu. I like this move. With the insistence on using metallics all over the place in the reboot, Tahu's at least seems elemental. Gold is a fiery color. Though I do have issues with the way that the figure is armored, the gold does seem distributed fairly well. I like the transparent orange, too, but I don't think that it is placed quite so well. There just isn't enough of it, so it sort of feels out of place. I find it odd that they didn't give Tahu any trans orange bones when they did appear in the Chima sets last year (the trans light blue ones bled over into BIONICLE) and I think that it would have helped. One thing about the figure that I was expecting to modify but ended up liking is the silver hands and feet: They make it look like Tahu is wearing a suit of armor.
Speaking of the suit of armor, something that seems kind of interesting to me is that while other Toa (Pohatu, Lewa, Onua) have designs which reflect their environments and powers, Tahu and Kopaka's bodies (I'm not so sure where to lump Gali) seem to be more indicative of their personalities. I do have my own opinions on what they should look like, of course, but I'm not going to knock of points because it doesn't match my interpretation (though I will praise it if it does; thinking of Pohatu). While Kopaka looks heavily armored and very guarded, Tahu has this heavy warrior flair going on. That idea works for me, but the execution really doesn't.
Possibly my biggest issue with Tahu is his legs. What seems ridiculous to me is that while Tahu towers over Pohatu, their torsos and arms are the exact same size, yet Tahu's legs are (if I'm counting right) four modules longer. It doesn't help that he uses the same piece to armor his shins as he does his abdomen, because that just draws attention to how long his legs are. The shin armor is really the root of the problem, since it requires Tahu to use a friction extender on his foot (which raises his ankle higher than I would like) and just makes him look even farther off when he is posed. Removing the other pair of extenders on his thighs would make his legs the same length as Kopaka's (a set which works much better with this size, I think, but more in his own review), but the proportions would still be off. The thighs have their own issues, too. The way that the bone is designed, when it is paired with a friction extender, the ball joint for connecting armor is a module lower than where it would be ideally, leaving a large gap in the leg armoring. Tahu tries to fix this problem by using a pair of the piston add-ons on the side, but that doesn't really work for me. Using add-ons on the side of the thigh makes the hips look rather wide, and since Tahu has such a small waist (as do all the others; this isn't necessarily a con) it really draws attention to that, and not in a flattering macho "waist of a hamster shoulders of a gorilla" kind of way.
The armoring on his arms bothers me too. I like the "gauntlet" armor on the lower arm and I like the way that the pauldrons fold down over the shoulders, but that leaves a gap in the gold on forearm, ruining the continuity. Raising the pauldrons, though a bit of an improvement, still leaves the forearm as a distraction. It looks kind of silly to leave the lower arm so much thicker. Adding extra piston shells doesn't help, because that hinders movement too much and kind of ends up looking like overkill. I like the piston add-on when it is used creatively or adds to the look, but its placement here detriments the figure.
I really like the way that the extra swords are mounted. Though impractical, it looks cool to have them flaying behind Tahu and adds to his flair much better than the shin armor does. However, as soon as the gear on his back is turned, pretty much any pose that they are put in other than vertically up or down causes them to collide with his arms. The mechanism, itself, is a little sketchy, too. There isn't enough friction for the broadswords to stay in place very well. It could have helped to add an extra gear the same way that they did with Gali, or even use the balljoint technique that they did with Onua (just hidden under the torso). The rods on the gearbox also have a tendency to slide out because the swords are so heavy and they are not reinforced properly.
Okay, I've had enough of that. Tahu's chest print isn't my favorite, but it's pretty good, using some metallic pink lining and an orange background. I'm not sure what's up with the red paint since, as with Pohatu, it looks like gashes to me. I'm not sure what they were going for with that, since it looks neither alien nor tribal. It's not a huge detractor though. The mask isn't my favorite. I think I like what they were going for with the jaw, but it is so wide whereas other lines on the mask seem to indicate that the face is supposed to be thin. I'm not so sure about the brow, either, since the jaw is so exaggerated while it only pokes out a little, making the look seem a bit unbalanced. I don't know. It looks better from some angles than others. Though it's not quite as bad as it seems on the boxart, the mask does more or less look like the golden one does there.
Speaking of the boxart, it successfully manages to hide the following things about the set:
Silver feet (though I find myself liking those)
The gappiness created by the "bell bottoms"
Tahu's high ankles
Just how much the thigh covering makes his hips stick out
The break in the golden arm covering created by the pauldron and gauntlet
There is also a mint green Skull Spider included. It's a great color, and really looks out of place on Tahu (which is a good thing, since it is parasitic). The only issue is that there aren't any other CCBS pieces to use on a MOC that will work with it. That's not Tahu's fault. He's got 99 problems, but no mint green ain't one.
He actually doesn't look so bad here; the mask is definitely better. What happened?
Building Experience: The only reason that Tahu gets a three is because the gearbox is new this year. He doesn't do anything more spectacular than any of the other Toa, and at this price point, I would expect at least a little bit more.
3 / 5
Parts: LEGO loves red. Red is a common color. There is a lot of red to work with out there. Tahu doesn't bring much new to the table. He has character exclusive parts, of course, but those are character exclusive; not necessarily versatile.
2 / 5
Playability: Not too much better than the other Toa. His adrenaline mode is possibly one of the best, because lavaboarding was such an iconic and nostalgic part of the old BIONICLE. His poseablity isn't very good though, and he does have that issue with his arms falling out. However, since I'm so harsh everywhere else, I'll be more generous here:
3½ / 5
Figure: I think I covered this pretty thoroughly. The proportions look silly next to some of the other Toa and the armoring isn't very good. However, even I have to admit, when you place him on his lavaboard, those problems do dissipate, if only for a moment:
2 / 5
Value for Money: Volume of pieces concerned, yes, Tahu is decent, and what he includes is mostly useful, but honestly? I'm still a little uncomfortable with Toa being $20 sets, since they still feel more like canister builds and not Titans. Even then, Onua is a much better value for money, and even Kopaka includes a few more desirable pieces (while being a better figure). Despite being cheaper, Gali, Lewa, and possibly even Pohatu (certainly Protector of Stone) all have more to offer as both figures and part packs:
2 / 5
Overall: I'm sorry to say it, but I'm just really not feeling this version of Tahu. As BIONICLE's poster boy, I can sense that they put a lot of ideas into him, but it seems to me that they tried too hard to make him look like a larger than life, towering warrior hero, but he plays it safer more than other characters, and the execution just leaves the figure feeling unnatural. Tahu'll have his fans, for sure, and one of the spectacular things about this reboot is the variety that it offers, but as the guy who actually loves the unpopular Pohatu set, Tahu is the most disappointing figure. As a set which should embody the best aspects of the BIONICLE reboot, Tahu represents the worse. He is only for people looking to complete the whole team, or people who are fans of the character:
2½ / 5
Truthfully, I want to rate him lower, but I'm just not usually a very harsh person and that wouldn't be representative of the scores I gave.
Hello all! Today I bring you another BIONICLE2015 review, this time it's the flagship set: Tahu! At 89 pieces, this is one of the three larger Toa with the high $20 (USD) pricepoint. So, how good or bad is this set? Read on to find out! Before I start, I would like to apologize for the bad quality photos, my camera ran out of battery during the photoshoot, so I did have to improvise with my phone.
Box, contents and build
The box, like all of the other new sets, is a flimsly hexagonal cardboard box. The front has the bell-bottomed fire wielder riding the lava waves, and the back has him showing off his gear function. Yes, gears are back!
The instructions are oriented landscape instead of portrait, and feature the same image as on the front of the box. The inside cover has a comic that is an extended version of the one featured on the box.
A smorgasbord of new pieces are included in this set. These are:
The Mask of Fire and Skull Spider masks
The head and eyestalks
The armor clip-on piece that looks like an original mata torso (six in gold included)
The massive sword/board piece
I, personally, haven't seen these pieces before so I am assuming these are new, but I am not 100% sure. These pieces are:
A redesigned 8-tooth gear with additional ridges on the top/bottom
With these parts I'd like to go into a bit more detail. On the left is the chestpiece. Though it isn't new, it does have some excellent printing. I really like it, but I do understand why many people hate it. The only gripe I have with it is that it's asymetrical, but that's just my OCD tick :P. On the right we have the new Mask of Fire (FKA Hau). Initially, like most people, I absolutely hated it... until I had it in my hands. What seemed oversized and square turned out to be amazingly sleek and... well, perfect. Sure it's not as rounded as the original Hau, but it's an amazing revamp. It may look unattractive in photos, but trust me it's excellent.
The build is your standard constraction build: legs, torso, arms, finishing touches. Easy, simple, quick build that offers no challenge to experienced builders such as myself, however I'm sure it would be a challenge to the younger builders; I remember when I was 8 years old having trouble snapping my new BIONICLE sets' joints in place.
The first thing you build is a bright-green Skull Spider. I think that these Skull Spiders are amazing, they have amazing articulation for only 5 pieces, though I do wish that they would include more than one in each set. When the figure is armed with swords/axes/guns it seems like overkill. To me it seems like trying to destroy an ant with a tank.
Now for the main part of the set... TAHU! After 5 long years we have our precious Toa of fire back! This is the 5th version of the character to be released, and the 3rd that I have gotten (I also have the 2001 and 2010 versions). This iteration stands very tall, and towers over almost all of the figures released this year. The features that stick out the most are the two sets of swords: Small, gold ones and large silver ones that double as a surf board.
One of my favorite functions of this set has to be the swords. One set doubles as an awesome surf board, and the other doubles as wings.
The surf board swords clip together via ridges and are supported by a black connector piece. Two are included in the set and they are huge. If stood upright next to Tahu, they will come up to his chin. If Tahu wants to go surfing, the board attaches to his feet via two connector pegs. As for the other set of swords, when they are not in use Tahu can store them on his back. These are awesome, because each sword holder is on two joints, which means they have an incredible range of motion and can be used to make amazing poses. The sword holders are positioned on either side of the big yellow gear.
Ah, the yellow gear, the best function of the set. Turn that and the arms swing back and forwards! Now, unlike the original gear functions from '01, these gears have friction! The friction isn't exactly the best, but it will keep the arms from falling most of the time.
If you look under the gear, you'll notice something that Hero Factory never had: back armor! It's so good to finally have a figure that's complete on both sides and not just the front!
The final function of the set is the pop-off mask. The mask clips onto the side of the head much like a minifigure helmet visor, and will be sent flying when the eyestalk is pushed down. Once the mask is off it can be replaced by two things:
1: The Skull Spider. When the Skull Spider clings to the face of Tahu and takes over his brain the figure turns from hero to villain, and looks incredibly menacing.
2: (singing) The GOLDEN MASK. The supercharged version of the red mask included in the set. In the story, this mask is supposed to enhance and power-up Tahu. When he puts on his mask, he throws his gold swords on his back, splits his board in two and gets ready to kick some bad-guy butt.
I think the gold mask really works with the color scheme. I love the look of both sets of swords... the wings and the giant blades... awesome. As awesome as they are, my only gripe with the set lies here. When their separated, the instructions call for the swords to have the black connector parts showing, and that really ruins the look.
I hate how it breaks up the "sleekness" of the figure. Luckily, I've developed a solution!
Take annoying parts off.
Remove back armor
Add one clip to one of the two empty holes in the gearbox
Add the other clip to the hole in the connector
Attach to the unused hole in the back armor
Reattach back armor. You're done!
Other than those small gripes with the asymmetry, Skull Spider and swords I don't really have anything else to say. The set holds up really well to the original '01 version and is a great companion to the Protector of Fire.
If you're looking to get one of the new BIONICLE sets, and are willing to drop a little bit more $$$, then I definitely suggest this one. It has amazing value and looks awesome. What are your thoughts on the set? Express them in the comments!
5 / 5
70787 Tahu - Master of Fire is in stores worldwide.
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