First Look: Kopaka And Melum
Posted by on January 30, 2016 at 12:01 PM CST:
Reminder: Click the thumbnails to see the full sized pictures! Sorry that the thumbnail sizes are all over the place, our system is set to keep the aspect ratio correct instead of distorting the picture to make it a proper 80x100
Of the January 2016 sets, Kopaka And Melum comes in the largest box of all. Theres not much I can tell you that you cannot see on the box, but I can point out a couple things. First, you do not see the side of Kopaka's gun/shield, which would have a sticker visible on it. You also may not be able to tell that the blue part of his two-colored sword is not transparent, but more of a solid light-blue.
If you look at the top of the box, you will see two symbols. One is a thow-back to the first Generation Toa Nuva. Aside from some minor differences in style, each of the Toa are using their original Nuva symbols(For reference, here is Dave's Nuva Cube MOC from 2003).
The other symbol, I do not recognize, but it reminds me of a simplified version of the decepticon insignia from Transformers toys. I suspect if it's not been revealed already, it's relevance will be made known soon enough. Each Toa, creature, and the villain set in this wave shares this particular symbol on their box. The creatures each have their matching Toa's nuva symbol on their box, while Umarak has another unidentified symbol I can only assume is relevant to Makuta or his own abilities.
Inside The Box
You will find two bags of parts, the instruction manual, and a sheet with two stickers on it for his gun-shield. I have spread out the parts according to the bag they came out of.
The Finished Model
Once complete, you will have Kopaka, the shorter elemental creature going by Melum, and the gold and transparent blue mask variant. This does not include a small number of the tinier spare pieces included with the set. Since I do not use stickers on my personal LEGO purchases, you will not see the appropriate stickers on Kopaka's shield.
This latest incarnation of Kopaka is looking a little skinny, but he has grown roughly a head taller in size thanks to his new skeleton pieces. As with each of the 2015 Toa sets, every character is built just a bit differently to help make them more unique. Since these guys don't have a gearbox on their backs, and a new torso without shoulder connectors getting in the way, the arms and shoulders have been designed with a little more creativity.
In Kopaka's case, his upper arms are the most complicated of the batch. I find them to be well constructed despite the strange arrangement of pieces and questionable colors that make them stand out more than they should. While the arms themselves are okay, there is a huge problem with how his shoulder socket is attached, but I will get to that later.
For the most part the new Kopaka is kind of bland and generic. I'm also not fond of the dark blue armor plates which seem to clash with everything else on him. I like the gun-shield, if only because it gives an excuse to add a stud shooter to Kopaka. It doesn't look half bad, even without the stickers, which I will admit would make it look much better.
Kopaka comes with a wheel that clips to his leg to store additional studs to shoot. This is an especially nice tough since last year's characters came with plenty of extra ammo, and nothing to store it in. You can even pull the wheel off and stuff another six shots onto it (if you have extra studs for it) to hold 12 spare shots in total, or 18 altogether with the blaster loaded.
If I have one gripe, a large MOC of mine uses the same wheels (although transparent versus gray, if those pieces are just more fragile?), to hold studs in place to act as compound eyes. The pressure of the six studs have actually cracked that wheel piece apart over time, so maybe loading them up to twelve, or possible just the six, is a bad idea in the long run? Hopefully the molds have been adjusted to account for this.
I'm not especially fond of the sword, which seems out of place, and too generic compared to swords of other CCBS sets. Kopaka has generally wielded a sword, and the shorter one is easier for him to handle, but I think it just doesn't suit him. It also doesn't help that every set I've opened with two of those sword pieces has one that's curved just enough to make the sword look crooked.
One more feature to cover, which each of the new Toa have, is a sort of docking port built onto his back. This allows Melum, the Creature Of Ice (or other elemental creatures If you choose), to attach to Kopaka's back and "power him up". Each of the Toa are using the same fancy new technic armor piece to cover up the gaps in his back and act as the connector. This armor piece has been cleverly placed to look like pistons going into his neck when viewed from the back or the front, which adds to the whole "Biomechanical being" look.
The Action Feature
Also common to every new Toa set is a special torso and hip piece that snap into eachother. When an axle and gear are run through it, you can turn the axle to make him swing back and forth. Without the gear and axle, the piece has enough "Clutch Power" (Yes I just learned this in the LEGO Brickumentary), to keep his pose when standing upright.
When the gear is installed, it swings the character horizontally, so you can turn him left and right. The torso piece has a stopping point where the teeth end, so you can't turn him a full 360 degrees once in place. If you overturn, you'l occasionally push the gear out of alignment and have to tighten it again. As constructed, Kopaka's sword is held in place in a position more suitable for vertical chopping, which is contrary to the horizontal swinging of the mechanism. Kopaka's articulation however, allowed me to position the sword without reconstruction to optimize for the horizontal swing.
The gear itself is positioned on Kopaka's rear end, which makes sense when you consider that Melum would block access to the mechanism in their united form. In an attempt to make the gear easier to grab, they have used one of those weird four pronged cogs. I wish they would have used a regular gear, since I find the cog uncomfortable to grab an turn. I suppose I can at least thank the designer for not making it bright yellow. Baxor from our forums refers to this as a D'oh gear, because its apparently there just to tell you "Your supposed to turn me!"
Kopaka's (Glorious) Mask
Kopaka's new mask is a big improvement over the old one. Of all the new Toa, his is also the only one that permits a touch of customization by allowing you to plug a stud of your choice into the telescopic eye socket. Among the crystaline protrusions, there is also a cleverly hidden Nuva symbol in the textured patch just above his left eye. Most of the other Toa have their symbol on the middle of the mask, but Onua and Kopaka's are on one side of the brow or the other.
Kopaka's Horrible Construction
While his arms felt pretty solid, the sockets that the arms attach to are very poorly attached. The socket plugs into that black piece with one red axle, and from the other end into the torso by another red axle. Any time you move the arms, you put stress and leverage on those peices and they wobble. It doesn't help the situation that I have a bunch of the same black connectors in a number of other colors that have started to crack and lose their grip, without any apparent abuse on my part. I feel like playing with it over time will inevitably break the ones used in Kopaka.
Kopaka's Ko-partner is the elemental creature of ice. He is fairly simple in design, and boasts what I consider the least imaginative design of his fellow "Creatures". While the mechanism is a nice touch, it's all he has going for him. His construction, like Kopaka, is a bit questionable. His arms and mechanism attach to the armor piece on his torso, which is in turn connected to the body and legs by a single peg.
To be fair, the way the mechanism and arms are attached to his head and legs prevent it from detaching, but it wobbles left and right just a bit. The mechanism itself holds together pretty well, and the gears have not once popped off during play. There are a few ways you could reinforce the connection to stop the wobble, but it might impair his ability to attach to a Toa, or get in the way of his leg articulation, which is already a problem.
Speaking of which, another poor design trait is his incredibly short legs. His are the shortest of the six, with the exception of the water creature which is a legless fish. It makes it very difficult to pose him because the feet are further restricted from sitting flat on the ground due to to a lack of proper knees. While the other creatures also have no knees, their slightly longer legs make all the difference needed to pose them properly.
Melum's Action Feature
When you lift Melum's tail up, it pulls his arms back about 90 degrees horizontally, allowing you to push it back down and attack with a hugging motion. The gears have enough clutch power to hold the arms in place, so they don't flop around very much when you play with him.
Kopaka's Unitor Form
Each creature's belly acts as a docking port to attach to a Toa. The dock is universal, so you can attach any creature to any Uniter Toa. I don't know if the official story allows for them to swap and mix powers, but it would be neat if Tahu could wield the water creature to shoot steam blasts. It certainly adds some interesting play elements if you have a good imagination and aren't paying attention to cannon.
Besides attaching to a Toa's back, the creatures heads are designed to cover the toa's mask like a helmet. It does not actually attach to any point on the mask or head of the toa, it just kind of gets posed overtop. I have to admit, with the helmet on and Melum's arms posed over Kopaka's shoulder, he looks upgraded. You are limited to Kopaka's head looking forward in this mode, because the helmet doesn't line up as well when he looks in other directions.
I feel like the Kopaka And Melum set short-changes buyers, and it doesn't help that the star of this two-pack has some significant construction problems. Worst of all, despite having a beautiful mask(my favorite of the Unitors), Kopaka just doesn't seem like Kopaka.
For the MSRP of $24.99 USD on Shop.LEGO.com, Kopaka is essentially a 15 dollar set, while Melum could be considered 10 bucks. There appears to be no benefit to stuffing them together as a single larger set, and in fact seems to come with less since other creatures come packaged with a shadow trap and have more details.
Parts Of Interest
Now that I'm done with the completed model, I'll try to cover the new parts, and other things that caught my interest. If I've skipped over anything you want to know more about, feel free to send me an email or ask about it on our forums.
New Chestpeice, "NuvaPlate"
The most obvious new piece is the chest plate. Compared to the previous chest plates, it is much larger, roughly the size of last year's two piece chest plates, an is probably attempting to simplify the design and use less plastic and pieces. Each one is custom printed for their respective Toa, having the Nuva symbol printed as a tiny square in the center. The smooth parts of the armor look like they've been hand-painted by the villagers of Okoto, as if to glorify the meaning of the symbol.
I like how it's not just one big plate of smooth angles, but he has no less than 15 piston shapes molded in. This gives him the look of being "grotesquely muscular" for lack of better words. I think it would have looked better with just a third of the pistons, and perhaps more of the crystal details from other pieces.
These aren't new, but I feel compelled to note them. They are marked with a two and a three on the underside. I wish they had opted for a symmetrical shield with the stud launcher in the middle to give Kopaka a more imposing shield, and so you could have the matching mirrored versions of these parts for MOC building.
New Technic Armor
These are my favorite new pieces aside from Kopaka's mask. They work very well as technic pieces and CCBS armor. They have a sort of neutral design, and wrap around the sides of the bone pieces to reduce gaps. I would have liked at least a couple more of these to be in the set, perhaps in the color white, and place of his dark blue forearm plates.
While it is supposed to be an animal's head, the designer should be commended for balancing it's appearance to be neutral enough to look like armor as well. The patterns along the head also help it blend in over the wearer's head when a Toa is in Unitor mode. It is hollow underneath, giving you plenty of space to fit it over something. There is a spot to attach details like a horn, as well as the bars in the back to clip things on to. The socket for the ball joint to attach to is all the way in the back, but thats necessary so the head can reach over far enough to latch onto a Toa's mask.
Every creature has the same shape of head, though three come in silver, and three come in gold, with the back end of the head having the transparent color to match their respective Toa. The piece is not entirely symmetrical, as the feathery/crystal portion is not mirrored.
New Torso, Upper Body
The new torso piece forgoes the shoulder connection points that previously just stuck out and looked ugly on last year's Toa. This new part adds a connection point for the swiveling hip piece. I would be careful about sticking the stud launcher's swiveling part in there because it looks like it would be nearly impossible to remove. The hip piece below at least has a wider base so you cant connect it to the tile launcher, which I imagine a curious child might try.
New Torso, Hip
This would be the piece that snaps into the new torso so your Toa can have legs. Once attached, I don't know if it can be safely removed. I'm sure someone will find a use for it without plugging it in.
It's a shame these aren't transparent to match the rest of Kopaka better. They might as well have been, because this particular shade of light blue is a pretty close match.
Black Rubber Super Grip Sockets
These seem like overkill given how much resistance they provide, but every Toa has them on the joints connecting to their hips and ankles. For some reason they are now filled with black rubber instead of the clear color. I wonder if it's to signify they have more or less grip than the older version?
Gold/TransBlue Crystal Plates
These match the fused crystal look of the new masks. The ratio of solid-to-transparent plastic varies significantly between Toa. They blend in well with most of the smoother CCBS armor pieces they cover, and don't leave much of an annoying gap (save for Melum's clawed hands). While I like the design, they don't suit Kopaka very well. Thankfully the design team tried not to overuse it.
Double Sided CCBS Plug Adaptor
This piece kind of acts as an adapter for the tinier CCBS plugs to attach to a technic plug.
Trans Blue Short Claws
These are about half as long as the Skull Spider legs, but still long enough to be useful for grabbing onto things.
Gears On A Stick
These should be pretty useful for custom action features on a MOC.
New Eye Piece
Last year's toa seemed to have a problem with the masks popping off during play. It didn't help that the big lever sticking out of the back of their heads was such a big target and even made it hard for some Toa to look up. This new piece forgoes the long lever in favor of a set of ridges for your finger and nails to grip. In one of Baxor's set reviews on our forums, he noted the new piece makes tiny adjustments to the front end as well, so it can pop off certain older masks better.
These help make Kopaka's shield look like an armored piece of equipment, and seems to add some electronic looking details. It has more of the hand painted dark-blue colors that match the details on his chest piece.