Onua Nuva Review
This is a review of the "8566 Onua Nuva" set which will start arriving in retail stores in a couple of months. BZcommunity.com would like to thank LEGO for providing us with an advance press kit including this set for review.
I should point out that since this is my first Nuva review, I will be including some comments that relate to the Nuva in general, but I will keep the primary focus on Onua Nuva when possible.
So here we go...
The the most superficial part of any LEGO product, but the one that often determines whether or not the set is a success or failure.
It's probably pretty hard to go wrong with the proven success in packaging for the Toa and subsequently the Bohrok. The transparent canister encircled with artwork and having a lid (or in the case of the Bohrok, the entire can) that serves a purpose other than just to keep the pieces in.
There are some interesting items to note about the Nuva canister, though. First of all, and probably least of which, is the new design for the lid.
Deviating only slightly from the original Toa canister lid, the Nuva lid again provides for six head/mask assemblies encircling it, but this time, rather than a toa face in the center, a decal is removed that reveals three holes in the very center of the lid. Two are of the plus-rod variety, one on either side of a standard technic-standard pin-hole.
Perhaps the most interesting revelation this new can provides is the meaning of the six symbols Bionicle fans have been banging their heads against the wall trying to decode. Each of the six symbols seen on the cube in the back of the Bahrag & Exo manuals seems to correspond to different Toa Nuva. In this case, here's the symbol for Onua Nuva:
So already, before we've even opened the can, we've got another piece of the Bionicle puzzle in place. Thanks, LEGO!
WHAT'S IN THE CAN?
So you've bought it and taken it home (or at least made it to the car), punched the perforated tabs and dump out the contents. What do you get for your money?
Bionicle fans will be pleased:
41 Pieces, Including Lots of New Pieces
Onua Nuva Model Construction Manual
Toa Nuva Mini-Comic
The mini-comic is really a combo comic/catalog, because only the first couple of pages are comic artwork revealing the arrival of the Nuva. The rest of the book is artwork of all of the Nuva, and a general 2002 Bionicle catalog (Exo, Bahrag, etc.), and some general plugs for Galidor & the rest of the LEGO product.
Also, the mini-comic artwork decodes the remaining cube symbols so that they can be associated with the appropriate Nuva.
All in all, a nice addition, and one that seems to now be a regular inclusion in Bionicle figures.
Here's where we start to cut to the heart of the matter. You didn't buy this box for all the glossy booklets & creative artwork. You want to know about the LEGO bricks & bits that are included, and what (if any) new & interesting parts you'll find inside. Here's also where I'll talk about any new and/or interesing pieces that you will encounter.
Whichever Nuva is your first, you're going to be treated to a bevy of new pieces that have never before been in any LEGO sets. Each Nuva has some pieces that are exclusive to that figure, and some are universal, so here's what you can expect from Onua Nuva.
Let's start with what will likely be the biggest new Bionicle collectible this year, bigger even I am guessing than the Krana, the Kanohi Nuva (or Kranohi as they've been nicknamed). In this case, Pakari Nuva:
The new Kanohi are quite interesting, and once I have a few more in hand may even deserve their own individual review (or at least analysis). The first thing that will strike you, is that it's enormous. Take a look at the Pakari Nuva next to the original Pakari:
Additionally, the Pakari Nuva has a slightly longer pin with notches on either side where it inserts into the Toa mouth. This makes the Kanohi Nuva seat much more firmly on the Toa Nuva, thus harder to knock off. This bit of technical design fits nicely with the advance in the storyline, since the Toa Nuva are a stronger, more powerful evolution of the original Toa. Of course, it should be harder to take away the source of their special power. Very nice touch.
Next, is the Nuva armor.
This may be the most controversial new part of the Toa Nuva. I'd heard some discussion saying that it looked kind of fruity, and others thinking it looked cool. I must admit that I was a member of the former, but after laying my hands on it, I'm now somewhere squarely in the middle. On Onua particularly, the silver pieces really complement the black/dark gray color scheme nicely. I'll withhold judgment of the armor until I can see it integrated onto the other Toa Nuva.
The other new piece that will play a pivotal role in many future MOCs is the new limb piece. In some of the Nuva is is an arm, but in Onua it's a leg. But the early press images were a big deceiving...
Despite what you might have thought (and definitely what I had thought), these limbs do not bend at a joint in the middle. They give the appearance of an articulated joint, but that's not the case. In Onua Nuva's defense, an articulated knee may well have been overkill. His legs are very poseable and I think that if his knee bent it would actually give less stability. I may not feel the same way about this limb used as an arm, but in this case it's exactly what's called for.
And then there's the part exclusive to Onua Nuva, the blades:
I call them blades because I think that best characterizes the two roles they can play. As either rollerblades for his feet, or chainsaw blades for his hands (more on this later). They're also molded in the same silver/chrome color as the Nuva armor.
What can you expect while putting this model together?
There's not a whole lot to discuss here. The set sports only 41 pieces, and if you remember how to assemble a Toa, then you can probably put Onua Nuva together without the manual to about 98% accuracy.
With the advent of the Galidor line, and a comment from ToyFare magazine back in mid-2001 (which dubbed Bionicle, "LEGO's home-brewed action figure line") fresh in my mind, I wondered if the Nuva may be less Toa-ish and more action figure-ish. I was pleasantly surprised and am glad to say that while that may be partially true, LEGO has not strayed so far from the Classic Toa design as to alienate what made them great in the first place.
Not a whole lot has changed about Onua, except for the changing of pieces, and the fact that Onua's head is now attached through his torso armor. This was done quite ingeniously, so as to give him the ability to tilt his head to either side, giving him much more expression in his poses. You'll recall that the first-wave Toa lacked any head articulation at all. Another nice step forward here.
In this example you see that Onua Nuva's head is tilted to the right. That's not any sort of modifcation or trickery, that's built-in articulation. (Also note that in this example I've removed Onua's blades so you can more clearly see the angles of the body.)
So you've got the model together, but is it more like playing with a block of wood or an interactive toy?
Some of the construction of Onua Nuva is going to bleed over into this section, and that's because a big part of playing with this figure is modifying him depending on the play scenario.
You essentially have two basic assembly options, and then a posing modification that can be done to disable Onua's signature double-arm motion activated by his back-gear.
The first option, and a very cool one, I must say, is to assemble him with his blades on his hands.
This is the assembly I prefer, and the one Onua Nuva will have when he assumes his place on my shelf. With those jagged chainsaw blades in his fists, I almost don't miss the trademark claws! Just as with Onua Classic, twisting the gear on his back will animate both arms in a counter-synchronized slashing motion.
The other choice is to place the blades on Onua's feet, as rollerblades...
Okay, so while I have to give this an A+ for creativity, it gets a C- for appropriateness. I just don't picture rollerskates as attire for an awe-inspiring hero. It's more like what I'd expect him to wear on his day off cruising the Mata Nui hills.
Also, this exposes what I find to be a bizarre excuse for hands. I didn't buy these ball joints as hands for the Bohrok, and I still don't buy them for the Nuva. Maybe it's just because I miss Onua's claws... Can you say MOC?
And then there's the modification from the back of the manual which describes how to cripple Onua's animated arms and make them poseable.
Without boring you with details, basically this involves removing one of the gears from Onua's shoulders, and placing it on a #3 axle under his large back-gear, thus immobilizing it. The left arm is then reattached with an axle/pin.
This does the job fairly well. The left arm becomes very poseable, but the right is rendered essentially paralyzed from the shoulder down. You can rotate the limb in the socket, but the shoulder is immobile.
Here's where it all boils down to whether the model is worth your money and time or not.
First, I must admit my bias -- Onua was my first Toa; in fact my first Bionicle purchase, so I have a particular affinity for him. But that being said, I believe I can safely set aside my bias and still say that Onua Nuva exceeded my expectations.
I'm a bit suspicious of anything being changed slightly and repackaged. I recall my days of collecting action figures when a company would do a slight repaint and re-release the figure for another round of sales. I thought I smelled that sort of deal cooking when the Nuva were announced, but I don't feel that way now.
Of course, LEGO is a for-profit entity, and they're sure to clean up on this second round of Toas, but it's not a quick rehash of the same product, it's an inventive new take on a familiar theme to meet the demand.
Onua Nuva, and the Nuva in general, are different enough from their Classic counterparts to be considered unique figures and worthy of your dollars.
I have no doubt that these figures will be another big hit and money-maker for LEGO, and will help to propel Bionicle into yet another successful year.
And that's great news for all of us!