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Who is your favorite Toa?

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PIRAKA STRONGHOLD Reviewed!
Posted by Richard on July 8, 2006 at 10:51 PM CST:
First let us start with the box, my only complaint of which is that its so reflective I cant get a well lit picture without some glare from the flash!, Below is with and without the flash.



As with most boxes this big, we get a flip open front to give us some more pictures and a better view of some of the elements where as the front shows more of a battle, we also have the backside showing an alternate model (with a very interesting spider creature I might add, is this another incarnation of the Fenrakk spawn spider? I?ve also got to speculate the spawn spider is the creature in PIRAKA OUTPOST). Sadly no instructions seem to be included to build any alternate models in the playests, perhaps they serve only to inspire? If you look at the left side on the back of the box, I?m guessing this picture depicts where the PIRAKA structures are on the actual island of VOYA NUI, and it implies, especially thinking about the lava boats in RACE FOR THE MASK OF LIFE (Not depicted), that these playsets are of events that happen along this volcanic river?Either that or it?s just to show you the other available playsets in a fancy way.



Next up here we have pictures of the Fenrakk spawn spider (the thing with the cart in the back), a zamor turret, and a little boat/vehicle thingy. The boat, well nothing special unless you?re interested in the older toa tools from last years playsets. The zamor turret is a nice touch, though simple. For realism I would have lowered it a ways (which is possible without adding more parts to it) so that it would be on level with the new minifigures. As is it looks too tall for them. The Fenrakk spawn spider is rather simple, same for the little cart it pulls. If you notice the chain doesn?t really pull the cart, instead we have a swiveling plus rod to support the cart from falling over while the chain is more of decoration. To keep the little whip with it and not lose it I plug it into the base of the chain, which is rather helpful. The AXONN masks are a great touch though my complaint is the mask doesn?t completely plug into the slot that holds them on the buggy but it holds on pretty well. The spider could have been better detailed in my opinion, compared to the KAHGARAK from TOWER OF TOA it just seems to simple. It also has that single shot zamor that swivels side to side. I think the reason it doesn?t have a ammo clip is due to the chain attaching to the launcher, otherwise it wouldn?t have a spot to plug into. A big annoyance though is the silver decorations on the back (the older toa tools) which wont stay on and easily pop off, plus you have to put the legs in sideways to get the rider in since the minifigures? stance is more than the two stud long path in which there is to stand on.



This particular set has all of the minifigures for the Inika and Piraka included, and I suspect the original boxes we saw were to throw us off, if they weren?t just the only available prototypes. These minifigures are simple great, you can easily recognize the faces of the Piraka and Inika, as each head is custom made to resemble their large scale counterparts. They took care to get the basic colors of the torsos and such right, you don?t see any blue in Matoro and all the hands are grey, but if the limb or torso was mostly white for the big guy that?s the color they went for with the mini versions. I wish that the hands were in the right secondary color, so we could use them for eyes on the vahki head parts, if not for the additional detail. You cant really compare them easily, but Thok?s minifig is the same offwhite as the full size Thok, while Matoro?s minifig is the true white, and if you can see them up close it?s a nice touch. The eyes are painted on the toa, while the Piraka have both teeth and eyes painted, as well as a detachable spine that plugs into the back of the head. The mini spines are just a little squiggly thing and don?t attach to the arms at all, on top of that you don?t get a unique spine for each one but that no real problem. You have to see them first hand to really appreciate the detail, though my one complaint is that the arms can potentially pop off easily. I haven?t yet had any trouble with this, but looking at it another way this means you can customize some of your own toa if you have spare parts, the downside being you are limited on the heads. I took a picture of Matoro and Avak holding their respective miniatures for comparison. Please note that the detail on the heads includes that "half damaged" mask on kongu.




"Have at ye!"

"What did the Piraka say to the Kardas dragon?"

Here we have some pictures from different angles of the main structure. The first are of the doors opened and closed. The different doors are pretty much half of what the set features for playability, with the architecture, a light up laser, as well as the zamor launcher and transport rail being the other half.





From here Ill start reviewing the set by it?s three main segments, starting with the big Piraka head. The main piece of this structure is of course the big blue head, with a stairway added to the front and teeth from the backside. I wish more effort went into the teeth, while with the right adjustment you can get a nice even placement or give them a more jagged imposing look, the connectors from the backside that hold them in place are too wobbly and don?t feel like they will hold up to well to continuously opening and closing them, plus you can only open them from the back, and after you put the figure inside you have to close the teeth again to take him out from the back. From the backside is also where the spine that connects the first and second structures together is located. The main piece of the spine is rigid with the ends having a little clicky hinge to allow you to adjust the two structures with. From the middle you have three big spines and a couple smaller ones. The bigger spines are comprised of two pieces, and depending on how you want the spines to look you get a nice level of adjustability with them. The spines also work together to create a Piraka theme for a Piraka operated building along with the giant Piraka head, but I think the spines should have been blue otherwise the building almost looks more like it was built around a giant dead fish of sorts.

The middle/main structure features a large front gate with a row of spines. The row of spines pattern is seen in several places on this set and seem to indicate a spiky style for preferences in living space for the Piraka who operate the facility. In fact a sliding door right above uses the spines to keep the doors from sliding all the way off when it opens to reveal some sort of zamor device. Also of notice, my box had an insert depicting a mistake in the main instruction booklet for this level of the floor. I don?t know how many boxes were shipped with the mistake, probably a lot. If you use common sense you should rather easily spot this mistake and figure out hot to fix it by looking a few steps ahead or at the box if you don?t have the insert showing the mistake. Built correctly, the doors slide open and closed smoothly but it?s hard to really put guys in there or add the zamor from the front to the little node it sits on, so it?s more likely there just for some more functionality, or to make another place available to shoot at with opposing zamor launchers. Though you can blow open some gates and doors I cant say I recommend it because you might blow off and lose one of those spikes from the door, plus the zamor device in the upper floor is difficult to pop together correctly should you knock that loose. The top floor of this structure features some bat wing like decoration, along with two big towers and a Brutaka mask with two red spikes popped into the little holes on the cheeks. The mask seems to be another target to shoot off since it?s not held down too well, and I could add the same thought to the Lewa blades and Guurahk staffs since they easily fall off when you attempt to handle certain doors and structures. An interesting feature on the backside is a swiveling rack with a know to let loose three zamors down the rack when the knob is turned. The swivel allows the rack to adjust a ways for when the third structure the zamor rail is attached to is moved. The little gear turns a knob that allows you do send the zamors through one at a time. You might be able to adjust it and hold more than three zamors. I wish it was built to hold more however, and while it is neat I wish they expanded the idea some more and had the rail do some more zig zagging or even be loaded directly into the turret, instead it merely rolls a few inches over for you to grab and load into the clip. I must also say that the zamor rail only works well on a flat surface, and you cant use the rail if you adjust the third tower too far behind the middle tower as it bunches up.

The last building has a different style and a smaller gate on the lower floor while the second floor has a light up brick with a magnifying glass to make a sort of laser. I hate how you lose a lot of the range that you could aim the laser due to the structure around it and the magnifying glass getting in the way. It could be that I didn?t adjust it right, but the magnifying glass does not help the light up feature that much. I will say the beam is bright to look directly into the light itself, so maybe it serves to muffle the brightness? Whatever it is, you get this big spotlight as the light projects around the magnifying glass, in fact you can make some neat shadow projections along the wall with it. Be careful to remove the tag from the battery?s underside so it will light up before you build with it. I cant say for sure but It looks as though the battery is replaceable by the screw on the underside. The top floor features the building?s zamor turret and is also where the zamors roll when you send them down the rail. As I said before moving this building too far behind the middle structure causes the rail to bunch up, however moving it forward of the building was accounted for (the swivel I mentioned earlier), and to prevent the bunching when moving forward there is a smaller plastic piece which one of the rails slides off from smoothly to extend the rail just enough. This had me baffled when I first saw this smaller piece to support that second rail, but I noticed how it worked once I was testing the adjustability along that spine holding the buildings together. Last of all to mention is that the spine holding this section on easily detaches as well as the rails for transporting it to another location, since you don?t want to try picking the whole thing up at once, trust me on this one.




Oh yes, the final part to talk about is a small section which is a set of gates for you to put anywhere really. It?s not as sturdy as I?d like, but its easily repaired if you want to shoot zamors at it and blast it open, plus the hinges allow some small adjustments. You can even align it push it down so the studs lock it closed. It also makes a nice little cell or dungeon if you close the two ends to make a sort of triangle with it.




Only after all the effort to get moderatley decent pictures did I realize the instruction manual list the stuff in the back for you!



My personal opinion, well I think people willing to add to it and experiment with the set will enjoy it the most, those of you wanting it to play with will get bored quickly I imagine. It makes a nice display piece and the miniatures are especially cool and detailed. Simply put I have mixed feelings for this set, at roughly $75.00 USD I might recommend you buy the older playset BATTLE FOR METRU NUI first, especially on sale if you can find it, but all that really matters is if you like it, I encourage you to put a lot of thought into your decision to or not to get this one. I wish the set had more to it, as I?ve seen other forts that had different features for each room and overall looked interesting. I think the design team didn?t really know what to put in this set to make the empty space behind the door useful without it taking away from the more mysterious aspect of the BIONICLE® world along with the budget issues to keep them affordable. So far the buildings look better than there are playable. Oh look, a gate! What?s behind it? Nothing!? Why even put a gate there in the first place? Hmmm?I guess that?s up to our imaginations. Other than those mixed feelings I think it's a good set, but it didn't live up to it's full potential.

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Oh what the hect,


"KONGU SMASH!"




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