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Review: #70793 Skull Basher
Posted by Richard on August 3, 2015 at 12:16 PM CST:
The Box



Aside from the larger box containing the Mask Maker VS Skull Grinder set, all the villains use the impressively engineered box the smaller Toa used back in January. I could dedicate an entire article to this packaging before getting to the character printed on it if I wanted. I do miss the canisters that could be built into MOCs, but at least these can be folded completely flat for storage if you were inclined. As a side benefit, more of our money is going into the set we bought rather than a container (95% of us I'm guessing?) disposed of.

Visually, the character dominates the packaging, and represents the character very well, even showing off the shoulder gap I hate. I find this very honest after the Protector Of Earth packaging led me to believe he had two halves of the big trans purple mace, instead of only one.

If color is a big deal to you, my monitor (or perhaps the camera?) throws off the shade of the purple parts. It looks more like a true purple on the monitor than the almost-blue purple of the actual set. If color is important, avoid the online stores and find a local shop to see the physical box first. I found that the box accurately represented the purple and most other colors, though the quality of the printed chest piece in the picture is much cleaner looking than the one I actually got.

Appearance



Every villain in this batch has a skeletal theme, and each one does it differently. As a group, the amount of variation is impressive considering they are all undead skeletons of some sort. Skull Basher is the most generic looking at first glance, which may be a reason for the absurd horns, to keep him from being overlooked.

He has the darkest colorscheme of the batch, which emphasizes his bone limbs in different ways than the others. This might just be the result of not having as many brightly colored pieces to distract your eyes. All four splits in the bone limbs are visible from the front too, which I find looks better than on the other villains. Someone on the design team also had the brilliant idea to make the ball joint frame the same silver color as the bones. Where you can see it sticking out of the armor, particularly from the front, it just looks like part of the skeleton.

He also has a nice rounded look with the four big armor pads. Being smaller than Skull Grinder, who has the same basic armor placement, he manages to look better somehow by being smaller and more condensed inside the big armor plates, if that makes sense.

Long Skull mask



When I saw this, I wondered if it was designed to look like a skeletal version of Onua's mask. Its actually taller, so probably not. I'm curious if this is actually a mask in story, or if its supposed to represent the skull/face of the skeletons brought back to life. If it is a mask, I imagine it was made by Makuta to control the skeletons. Then again, he wields the mask of control, so maybe he's just using that to command the skeletons from afar.

The story aside, Skull Basher and Skull Scorpio share this mask shape and color. Its one of the smaller masks released so far, just a bit taller than Onua's mask, though skinnier than it is. It also has a neat technique to give it a kind of two-tone appearance. The mask has a sort of pitted texture covering most of it, which creates a matte finish. The top of the head is smooth however, creating a glossy look.

Onua's mask variant



Its neat to see the inclusion of accessories for older characters included in the newer sets. It kind of brings them up to date with the progressing story. Since you cant just buy a mask pack anymore, this kind of legitimizes having swap-able masks in the first place. Unfortunately each set comes with just one additional upgrade mask, there are only five villains, and one of those masks is the Mask of Creation. This means two hero sets get left out, in this case Tahu and Gali. I wonder if a promotional is in the works to remedy that?

Things I hate

Purple is my favorite color, so I'm glad to see it used at all. I've read comments from the LEGO® Company in the past where they suggested they could try to use more of it in BIONICLE sets, back before they canceled it. I'm guessing Skull Basher is another step towards fulfilling that promise/demand.

The big purple horns they used however, do not fit the set very well. Skull Warrior has a skeletal looking bow in a foggy trans-blue, that could have been molded into an appropriate purple for Skull Basher. I'm curious why they didn't, as it looks perfect for the bone theme and is almost the exact same size. I also wonder why they didnt use trans-purple instead of trans-orange armor? Ill bet the set designers tried to get the skeletal horns, but ran into production limitations. Maybe they even got forced to use a surplus of that piece to get rid of it? Same for getting trans-purple armor, Ill bet they had a limitation to solid purple(but not transparent) like the new Onua, and opted just to use the existing trans orange which would conflict less with the colors.

Of course, the absurdly big horns get in the way of the action feature, so I wonder why they didn't opt for some other parts to meet the budget. They could have slapped purple talons on his ankles or more orange claws on his toes. They might even have used the talons on certain minifigure pieces to connect them to his feet, and avoid using more bright pieces if that was a problem. Just another curious thought to add to my list of questions for the set designers I suppose...

Another problem is the gap in the arms. When they are at rest, they sit roughly two studs further back than any other set. The arms also come a bit loose when using the mechanism, so every now and then you have to push them back in properly. Because the spring is not tight, the arms also tend to flop back and forth.

The Glorious Action Feature!
Or, things I like



Skull Basher moves his arms together when you press on the red rounded plate on his back. The gap I complained about actually affords him a wide range of motion, so the sacrifice is well worth it. The weight of the axes do throw his arms out of pose after a few swings, especially when they hit an opponent or clash into eachother. It should be noted that since his arms don't swing vertically on a gearbox like other sets, they tend to hold their pose much better.



And the mechanism gets better! You can push the button side-to-side instead of straight in, and one arm will retract while the other punches forward. This lets him attack with one arm or the other instead of both. It looks realistic and gives him much more variety. My personal favorite is to remove the axes entirely and just punch opponents with his bare fists. Skull Basher officially became one of my favorite BIONICLE sets of all time when I punched Tahu in the back of his head, and his mask flew a good 12 inches from his face.



The mechanism uses a few clever building techniques. If you've seen some grabbing claw mechanisms, its basically one of those, except the piston that holds the spring is not rigid. This is what lets the arms swing left and right instead of just opening and closing. The use of system parts seems a little taboo to me, and I worry they may even be too fragile or pop out easily for use in an action figure, but they work surprisingly well.

The spring is one of the set's biggest surprises. Its actually a short piece of tubing that until now, has been used strictly as decoration in BIONICLE sets. If its ever been used functionally in a different theme, I've never seen it. I hope the piece will stand up to use as a spring, especially since I have so much fun with this set.



The rod that holds the spring in place is just as unexpected. A regular axle rod might have given the spring too much friction to decompress properly, so another piece just as unorthodox had to be used. Its the same thickness as the pieces that go into minifigure lightsabers, but longer and can attach to a stud on one end.

The red circle on his back is actually attached to the stud end (though centered between the four studs of the button and not on one of the stud's buttons.) with the rest of the piece pushed all the way through the tubing and just slightly into a peg hole in his ball joint frame. Because the piece is skinny, this allows it some movement inside the peg hole, which is partly responsible for allowing the arms to swing left and right as well as forwards.

Parts Of Interest



Skull Basher includes a number of interesting parts, including a lot of smaller technic pieces. I personally like all these small pieces more than the gearboxes the other Hero and villain sets use. He has a great variety of decorative pieces as well as a good amount of technic, making him versatile for the price.

Just so I don't repeat myself with every new part, each one felt sturdy and well designed. Many of the new pieces looked like they might have questionable durability, but unless you step right on them I don't see them breaking under normal circumstances.

Below, I've listed everything I found interesting that I haven't talked about in other parts of the review.

Corroded armor



The new armor pieces have a nice gloomy look to them, thanks to the weathered edges and dark colors. Like most new Hero Factory style armor, they attach by the two mini plugs into one of the smooth plates, which themselves attach to the bare limbs. They are actually symmetrical, which may not be evident at first glance. The lines are also very nice and suggest to me they would look good on a hero if colored to match. Underneath the curved shell, you have a good bit of work space for more complicated joints in your custom creations.

Bones



I find these pieces very comical in the sense that I was calling them the skeleton or bone system before CCBS caught up to me. Now they actually are bones. At first I assumed they were just an excuse to use less plastic. They certainly appear to use less than limbs of the same length, and you cant put armor plates on them. On the other hand, they look cool and even have some practical uses. Because they are skinnier, they can squeeze into some builds easier. Plus, they would be less likely to get in the way of legs and arms with more complicated support structures. Thankfully they made them in silver, which is more versatile than white for MOCing, but I would like to see them in black as well.

Chest plate



Four of the villains have a chest piece of this shape, each of which have a unique graphic to the character wearing it. The graphic carries the skeleton theme on and apparently tries to give him the look of exposed ribs. I wonder if its trying to reflect the style or atmosphere of the respective villain? The graphic looks like a well fortified frame for a strong warrior. Since he comes with a mask variant for Onua, (Who I'm assuming he is the correct opponent as a resut) it would make sense to be well fortified with an opponent that strong.

Its also good way to encourage buying a villain to get the matching mask for your favorite hero, or buying the hero who matches your new villain. If that wasn't the reason behind it XP

Skeletal Ribs



Another piece contributing to the skeletal look, this one is transparent instead of silver. I love the way they look, though I have to try not to think about how the anatomy must be different in the BIONICLE universe for this to work. I wonder if its supposed to look like energy is filling in the missing parts of their skeleton? Maybe energy is radiating from their bones, or perhaps some characters just have some sort of crystaline skeletons?

I think they missed the opportunity to use these as armor plates on Skull Grinder, since he seems kind of bland for being a bigger villain. I think they look great as shoulder armor, though it looks best with the pointer tail end facing the ground.

Skull Axe



I love this axe piece, it looks cool and it has some interesting engineering in it. For one, the hook on the back is there to grab and pull masks from the hero's face, not that its arranged to take advantage of that with Skull Basher. Second, the neck of the axe is designed to absorb force with a sort of spring. Maybe its there to keep kids from pinching the axe closed on the handle and breaking it?

PURPLE!



Its hard to get purple BIONICLE and CCBS pieces, so these are noteworthy in that regard. What purple I have is mostly in shapes that are challenging to use as well, so lets keep bugging them to make more XP.



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