BIONICLE 2016 Summer Set Guide
Posted by on June 24, 2016 at 11:35 AM CST:
I've put together a guide going over the basics of each of the new summer sets, accompanied by some thoughts I have on each of them. Click on the name of each set, or the thumbnail above it's name, to see it's picture gallery.
Before we go into the specifics of each set, the four villains of this batch share a common face design. They each have a wide gaping mouth and a mask designed to compliment the jaw. Three of the villains share the same mask/face, while Umarak features a mutated version of the Mask Of Control. Each of the masks stretch sideways to cover the pieces that hold the lower jaw in place. While it looks cool and gives us one more "mask" piece to collect and use for our own custom characters, the end result of adapting a new head type onto old elements makes it harder to play with.
You would think a character with a gaping jaw would want to be able to close its mouth, and maybe bite onto a victim. Attempting to close the jaw pulls the eye piece up and ejects the mask from the face. This makes it hard to move the head. As much as I like having more masks, I would have preferred something akin to the Hero Factory Attack From Below villains which featured large articulated jaws.
The headpiece specific to the smaller villains also leaves a chunk of the underlying structure exposed, so using it in a MOC gets trickier. Umarak The Destroyer's face, which is based on a mask, does cover the face properly. I think I would have liked to see each of the three villains come with a similarly corrupted version of their respective opponent's mask, and not simply the recolored two-tone "drained" mask. Since the mini comics that accompany these characters show swarms of the smaller villains, I guess that would not have been conceivable that each of the horde have a mutated Toa mask.
One last common "feature" I should point out, despite looking mostly like the same old Hero Factory parts with minor new elements, each set comes with a respectable and varied amount of technic pieces that are not easily spotted on the box. I recommend checking out the parts for each of these sets if you plan to make MOCs with them.
71312 Ekimu the Mask Maker
*Rotating hip Mechanism
*Hammer Arm Swinging mechanism
*Drained Umarak mask
Ekimu returns this year as a taller character with two action features. In addition to the torso twisting mechanism of the Toa Unitors, he features the arm swinging mechanism of the first batch of G2 Toa. This means that he can swing his right arm vertically down upon his opponents, or swing his entire body, hammer an all, horizontally into an opponents side. The shield can do more than block, you can position it so it's saw teeth face the opponent for a close range blade strike. Unlike his smaller form packed with the Skull Grinder last year, the shield is not free spinning, however his new design mounts it to his fore-arm, freeing up his left hand to hold other things.
His construction is a little strange, with the arms and gearbox attached to the light gray piece visible through his transparent chest plate. This makes his upper body a tad wobbly, but it's not so bad as certain "Creature" sets earlier in the year. I wish they opted for black pieces just under the transparent chest plate, the gray ones are just too noticeable through it. They also made his upper right hammer arm dark gray instead of transparent blue, unlike his otherwise symmetrical left arm. I'll at least give them credit for using a ball and socket to hold his hammer arm in place. I think by now we all know those gears on blue friction pegs aren't going to do the job.
71313 Lava Beast
*Rotating hip mechanism
*Flip out blade
*Corrupted Tahu Unitor mask variant
The Lava beast is one of the least interesting villains of this batch, both in features and bad construction. Of the three other bests, I found that his hands were the least effective to grab and hold the bonus mask he comes with. Each of the other villains also come packed with two shadow trap parts that are apart their bodies, and I think it hurts the Lava Beast's value that he only has the one piece, seen attached to the back of his neck.
Despite his simplicity and bad construction, he is fun to play with. He has two blades fixed onto each hand, one of which is locked into position, and the other flips forward when you turn turn the larger of the two gears. it might not be very complicated, but swinging the second blade in and out is very satisfying. Combined with the rotating waist, his weaponry is very practical. As he swings back and forth, the blades pointing in reverse would strike an opponent behind him, in addition to having a wide melee strike range in front of him. His questionable lower legs have not come loose while playing, so my only complaint is that they look ugly.
His badly attached shoulders can easily be reinforced if your inclined. The gap between his chest plate and shoulders easily accommodates a 1x5 technic beam with a blue peg on both ends and a black peg in the center, and I found this was enough to eliminate the wobble that had me concerned with his durability. I'm not fond of the weird extension that his head and shadow trap part sits on, but it makes his head the easiest of the villains to manipulate. You can just grab and move the shadow trap to pose his head without causing his face to fall off.
71314 Storm Beast
*Individual and combined arm swing attacks
*Articulated tail with giant mouth/shadow trap parts
*Corrupted Kopaka Unitor mask variant
The Storm Beast looks a bit bland to me, but he has the most interesting play feature of the smaller villains. As you bend the tail up and down, or side to side, a pair of skinny connectors on smaller ball joints makes the arms move in turn. Swinging the tail left and right makes one raise and the other lower. Bending the tail down makes both arms raise, while lifting it lowers the arms. Despite the arms being linked to the tail, they are attached to the shoulders by a ball joint, and can be posed independently of the mechanism.
The tail itself is not a bad play feature on it's own, and probably the best use of a shadow trap in these villains. Its not overly complicated other than how it is attached to the arms, but it has enough range of movement to make me happy. It could in theory use the tail to snatch an important object, like a mask, right off of the ground and keep it out of reach of an opponent. It's also flexible enough to flip the teeth of the jaws just a bit forward of the legs, where it can taunt an opponent with the captured object or pass it to it's hands and vice versa.
Storm Beast has the biggest "hands" of the summer villains next to Umarak The Destroyer. He also has sacrificed his wrists, so his claws are attached to what is technically his lower arm. Of the smaller villains he seems to have the best hands for grasping objects, and even has a thumb that adjusts on a second axis. I have alot of trouble trying to keep his claws on, and thats not counting the times I had him slash at an opponent. This could prove to be an issue for some buyers and parents, if you do anything but stick him on a shelf you can expect to be looking for lost claws.
71315 Quake Beast
*Horizontally swinging arm punch mechanism
*Shoulder mounted jaw/shadow trap
*Corrupted Onua Unitor mask variant
I think I'm going to call this my favorite of the summer villains, and not just because it features my favorite color. I have a bit of a grievance with the packaging, as I feel it misrepresents just how well armored the arm is. Everything in the picture is there, though the camera angles make it look better than it actually does. In addition, the character has large blades coming out of his shoulders that are too tall to fit the picture space of the box. They actually "pierce" the background and pop back out of the top of the box, but the lighting effect made me think they would be silver and purple. In actuality they are green to match the transparent green around his body. My complaint in this regard is probably mute because I ought to have noticed they were green in any of the pictures shown online before I ordered him.
Getting to the set itself, the Quake Beast is an interesting combination of asymmetrical design. He uses a G2 gearbox mounted horizontally to give him a powerful right-armed punch with his purple armored fist. The range of motion that the mechanism has is quite impressive. It is so wide in fact, that the designer gives you a mini crank handle to turn instead of a gear. Built correctly, the crank moves your fingers out of the way when you swing the arm backwards, and gives you plenty of room to pull it up to swing the fist forward.
Just behind the purple half-mace that makes up his fist, are two green spikes, better known as Bohrok eyes. These are actually free spinning, and I imagine that means the spikes double as a sort of buzz saw. Because the construction is not perfect, you might have to adjust the first to allow them to spin properly, since they sometimes rub against the limb that holds the fist in place.
The left arm is nothing much, but I love the tiny trans purple claws that give him some ability to hold lighter objects. I had little issue stashing Onua's mask in it. To further compliment his asymmetrical design, he has shadow trap parts mounted to his shoulder, which is a suggested method of securing his opponent's captured mask. The jaws can be adjusted up, down, and sideways just a bit too.
His head is attached in a flimsy manner, with pieces I fear will break over time if not handled with care. The scrawny left arm is also somewhat flimsy in it's manner of attachment, but the parts involved are better suited to the stresses of play than those used in the neck. Like the Lava Beast, he has plenty of room to work with to reinforce the neck, though every solution I've run through in my head looks a little too noticeable for my liking, so I haven't bothered photographing any solutions.
Another couple oddities in the design, the topmost piece of crystal armor on the shoulder tends to smack him in the back of his own head, particularly if it's facing forward or to his right. And for some inexplicable reason, there are two stud pegs mounted into the transparent green wheel his punching arm is attached to. My only guess is that they are used in the combiner, and just stuck there to help keep the pieces together.
71316 Umarak the Destroyer
Please note, his chest piece is supposed to have stickers on it. I prefer not to use stickers on sets I personally paid for.
*Snapping claw hands
*Rotating hip mechanism
*Wears a physically "mutated" Mask Of Control variant
I've been holding off on reading and watching the official story content because I've been trying to interpret the story through the sets and their packaging. In this case, the details seem to suggest that villains have been corrupting some of our hero's masks, as most of the villains are coming with what appears to be poisoned versions. The Quake, Lava, and Storm beast each have hidden their opponent in the background without their masks on, in a pose suggesting they are recovering from something. In the forground, the villain stands, holding their masks. It looks like Ekimu decided it was time to give the villains a taste of their own medicine, and on his box, stands triumphantly upon what I assume is a ruined version of Umarak's original mask. In the background, a large beast who we know as Umarak The Destroyer appears enraged.
This brings us to the set Umarak the Destroyer, who now wears a version of the Mask of Control. It has apparently mutated him into a hulking beast with a semblance of his older self, including some details like the chain seen dangling from his right shoulder in his original form. The mutation has seemingly fused the mask to him, merging the horned shape of the mask with his own horns into something new. I would have liked the lower jaw to be gold, and maybe have transparent green or gold pieces connecting the horns to the head, to better complete the look.
His action features include hands that snap open and closed, operated by turning a green bohrok eye on the edge of each hand, complimented by a swiveling torso like Unitor Toa each have. The torso swivel works pretty well with his clawed hands, though I find the usefulness of the snapping claws questionable. They only seem to make it harder for him to grab anything. (If given control of set design, I would have sacrificed the snapping hands. Instead I would extend the jaw's opening a bit and mount a stud launcher behind it. Then, a knob in the back would make studs shoot out of his mouth.)
I'm also curious about the odd choice of parts supporting his feet in the back. It seems to limit his ankle's feet from adjusting up and down, but at least it augments how wide he can stand and keep his feet flat. I'm not fond of how they attached his head either, but it does hide a large gap. I feel like it could use something to reinforce it, luckily he has more than enough room inside his hallow torso to attach a custom reinforcement. I also find the stud axle running through his back with a half spacer holding it in place to be strange. It seems to be there to support the gray ribcage piece covering up his back. Pushing on the top of the gray ribcage in turn pushes the axle inside the body, defeating the purpose of it being a supportive element. If you replace the half spacer with a full size spacer, it would work properly for this task. Better yet, you can shave off two pieces by just sticking in a regular black or blue peg. The fact that it's so obvious to me makes me wonder if there's some other purpose to it.
Like Quake Beast, he also has a few unused stud pegs. One is placed in each foot, and a third peg in the middle of his back. Maybe these are there for the combiner model, as I speculated on with Quake Beast? One final detail that aggravates me the most, his shoulders plug into his body by a single peg, with the end of a longer axle preventing the limbs from flopping back and forth. Maybe this is was intended as a play feature, so the mighty Toa could sever his arms during the fight?
If you have any particular questions about the sets, I can try to answer them for you in the forum topic for this article. I plan to update this article later with new information, so any feedback I receive might be added into the article as well.