Set Review: 70790 Lord of Skull Spiders
Thursday, November 13th, 2014 at 10:29pm by Andrew, BZPower News Manager
I've heard rumors that people have been enjoying our Bionicle 2015 reviews, so why not give you another? Today we're taking a look at 70790 Lord of Skull Spiders, the only bad guy who gets his own set in the first wave. Will this creepy-crawly lure you with its gold mask and wrap you up in its web? Or will you use your elvish blade and phial of starlight to fend off its attacks (oh wait, wrong theme!)? There's only one way to find out - you'll have to read on!
From the design of the box to the instruction manual, these are the first things you see before building the set.
The packaging should be becoming old hat by now. We've got our hexagonal prism of thin, environmentally-friendly cardboard encasing the treasured ABS. Adorning its monolithic surface on the front are the Bionicle logo, the nefarious lord, and the expected name, age range, and set number information. The spider is posed to look pretty nasty, perched in its web and guarding the gold skull spider mask.
The back is a bit bare. There's a 1:1 scale image of the gold mask and a couple callouts highlighting the action feature of the set. Below that is a comic like we saw on the Toa sets. I love the art style still and the decision to include a bit of story in the sets.
Half the fun is had building the set. How fun is it to build and how easy or challenging is it?
The building process is very Technic-heavy and reminds me a lot of the 2001 Rahi like the Nui Rama, only updated with newer pieces. There's no core CCBS limb pieces, so pretty much everything is Technic or tacked onto it. I found it very engaging and worlds apart from the simpler builds of the Hero Factory sets or even the new Toa. I definitely enjoyed it and it got me excited for the set.
Now that the set is complete, we can critique how it looks from every angle. New or interesting pieces can also be examined here.
As implied above, most of the pieces here are Technic, with quite a few liftarms included. Black is the primary color along with some transparent-orange highlights. Of course some of the Technic pins and axles come in a variety of colors, but there's nothing too distracting. The CCBS pieces consist of armor shells, chest armor, a small torso, and the new spike claws from the 2014 Hero Factory sets. There's also a bunch of liftarms with ball joints attached, basic sockets, and some claws. It's a good variety, especially for people looking to beef up their Technic collections.
The highlight of this set is the gold skull spider mask. While not as fancy as the 14k gold version you can get by entering the Battle for the Gold Mask Contest, it still looks very wicked and it's nice to get the mask in a fourth color. Also unique is the CCBS chest armor with the Lord of Skull Spider's face printed on it. The printing job is sharp, with beady eyes and fangs dripping with venom. Very evil!
There's some nice Technic pieces in here too. Among the ones that jumped out at me are: the trans-orange Technic beam, the bar with axle connector, and two (relatively) new pin types. One is a half-length pin with a two-length axle and the other is a full-length pin with a one-length axle. These look awesome and I want more of both of them. Lots more!
So there's some useful pieces and a fun build, but how is the overall set? Frankly, I was disappointed. The other new Bionicle sets I've reviewed and seen seemed very solid and 'covered up.' The Lord of Skull Spiders seems rather bare and emphasizes function (play features) over form. The handle on the back is rather unsightly, as are the bare Technic beams that connect to the torso. The top of the body is also oddly shaped, with the trans-orange armor shells looking a bit tacked on. Overall, compared to the other Bionicle 2015 sets I wasn't impressed.
The other half of the fun is in playing with the set. How well does the set function and is it enjoyable to play with?
The overly-Technic appearance could perhaps be forgiven if it enabled some awesome playability. Unfortunately, the set only has six points of articulation, one on each leg. This greatly limits the poseability of the spider lord.
When you squeeze the handle on the back, the two pairs of legs snap together, causing them to pinch if correctly positioned. The back of the box indicates that you can pick up the gold mask with this feature, but in practice I found it very difficult to achieve. The action feature is also not very good at knocking masks off, as there's really not a lot of force behind the snapping mechanism. It's probably nostalgia, but I feel like the 2001 Rahi had a good amount of strength behind their action features. Regardless, it just doesn't seem like it works as well as it could.
Interestingly, the Lord of Skull Spiders is the only set from the first wave of 2015 Bionicle sets that doesn't include a good guy and a bad guy. It's not a big issue, since having conflict in a box is more of a new thing than the norm, but it does decrease the playability. If you have another set though, like a protector, the action feature becomes useable and the spider lord can wrap up its victim and encircle them in its web! Let's hope a Toa comes along to save them. There's certainly fun to be had with this set, but I feel like it's in spite of the play features rather than because of them.
Once it's all said and done, how does the set stack up? Should I get it?
What's to like?
- Bionicle is back!
- Fun and engaging build
- Good variety of Technic pieces
- Gold skull spider mask
What's not to like?
- Ineffective play feature
- Very limited poseablity
- Bare/exposed appearance
- No good guy to fight
From the initial pictures, I was hopeful for this set and excited when I got my hands on it. Maybe my expectations were too high, because I was not overly impressed with it. For your $15, you're probably better off picking up one of the smaller Toa. Unless you're a completist or really want that gold skull spider mask, you can probably skip this set.
Thanks everyone for reading, and thanks to LEGO for sending us the set. Of course you can leave your questions and comments in the Talkback, where I'll do my best to respond. We've only reviewed four of the 2015 Bionicle sets so far and still have nine to go, so keep checking back for more, right here on BZPower!
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