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    Set Review: 71309 Onua - Uniter of Earth
    ReviewSunday, December 6th, 2015 at 10:46pm by Andrew, BZPower News Manager

    The 2016 Bionicle reviews are continuing today with a look at one of the Toa: 71309 Onua - Uniter of Earth. Once again, Onua is one of the larger sets in the winter wave, and he certainly looks like an imposing figure. Is he a worthy successor to his 2015 incarnation, or is he better off buried among the rubble? You'll have to read on to find out!

    Presentation
    From the design of the box to the instruction manual, these are the first things you see before building the set.

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    Onua's packaging style is very similar to Terak's, just with a larger box. It's also rather sturdy, unlike the 2015 sets, which is a welcome improvement. Underneath the Mask of Control-themed Bionicle logo we see Onua in his element, drilling away at some rock. In the background on the right we see Terak attacking a pair of shadow traps and on the left are some intriguing symbols that look like they represent the creature and Toa combining. It's certainly a vibrant package that will stand out on the shelf.

    On the top of the back of the box, Onua's three main play features are highlighted - the pop-off mask, the stud-shooter, and his swinging hips. Below that they show off the combiner functionality with him and Terak. Then we have the comics making a return to the back of the packaging, which is a welcome presence; here we see Onua and Terak teaming up to get Onua's gold mask and keeping the Mask of Control away from Umarak. Finally, there's a 1:1 scale image of the golden mask and the Buildable Figures logo, which seems to be the cool new thing for this year's constraction sets.

    Building
    Half the fun is had building the set. How fun is it to build and how easy or challenging is it?

    Onua weighs in at 143 pieces, 35 more than his 2015 incarnation. A lot of these parts are dedicated to his back, where the attachment for uniting him with Terak is, and his hammer. Both of these are fairly Technic heavy and somewhat intricate builds. Apart from those, the rest is pretty basic constraction building that most of you are quite familiar with. He should be together in under fifteen minutes unless you really take your time.

    Set Design
    Now that the set is complete, we can critique how it looks from every angle. New or interesting pieces can also be examined here.

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    It seems that LEGO has redesigned the eye-stalk piece for 2016. From the axle connection forward it's almost identical to the 2015 version, but the back is significantly shorter than it was previously. This leaves it compatible with the 2015 heads, but makes it much harder to accidentally hit and pop off the mask. I find this a welcome change, and figure that LEGO must have received quite a bit of feedback to make this possible.

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    Next up is a new hip piece in gunmetal. The connector on the top is very similar, but not identical, to the six-shooter one. I didn't try seeing if they were compatible for fear of not being able to get them undone, so I don't know if they can swap or not. Regardless, in addition to the aforementioned connector, there are two ball joints and a Technic pin hole on the front and back. I'm not sure how much reusability this part has, but it certainly seems like it will work well with...

    71309 Onua Uniter of Earth Review 09 71309 Onua Uniter of Earth Review 10

    ...the new black torso piece. The bottom of the piece has a connector that fits the above hip piece, with a gear directly above it. There are two ball joints and a plethora of Technic pin and axle holes. I find it interesting that with this piece LEGO has given up on including shoulder ball joints on the torso, instead leaving it to Technic connectors to make it possible. I think this gives the torso piece a lot more utility, although the gear at the bottom may detract from that somewhat.

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    We get a new piece of torso armor this year too. The printing is very intricate and I love that the 2002 Nuva symbol is featured prominently in the center. Aside from that, I honestly feel like the armor is a bit too busy, with a lot of ridges and texture making it seem overly intricate. I much prefer the previous torso armors that we've seen. I would be interested in seeing this without the printing though.

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    We get two versions of the Mask of Earth in this set, one molded in black and silver and the other in gold and trans-purple. Comparing the mask to the 2015 version, we can see that there are a lot of similarities. The mouth region has all of the same shapes, the vents on the sides are there, as is the vent on the top with the crossbar. This definitely comes across as an evolution of last year's mask. I also love the Nuva symbol and other intricate patterns on the one side, which I almost missed until I had reviewed the photos I took. It does get away from the 2001 Pakari shape a bit, but I'm glad we can easily see the progress made from last year's version. I think the two color combinations look great too, although part of me would have preferred solid black and gold versions.

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    In addition to the new parts we have some nice recolors. We get the 5M and 6M bone pieces in Transparent Bright Bluish Violet for the first time, as well as the 4M shell (also seen in Terak). The new gold and trans-clear armor attachment was also seen in Terak, as was the gold armor piece used to unite the two models - check out our review of him for more details and pictures. Finally, the trans-purple skeleton armor was seen in Skull Basher in 2015, making this the second set that piece is available in. All in all it's not a bad selection of Technic pieces, constraction elements, and new and recolored pieces.

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    Finally we have the completed set. Similar to Terak, I feel the trans-purple and gold compliment each other well, with the black serving as a neutral background. Onua is a pretty solid set from all angles, with his back being filled in nicely with some Technic bits that also serve to keep the side view from looking hollow or gappy - kudos to the designers! One of the legs has a Technic assembly used to hold spare ammo for the six-shooter that fills it in nicely, but the other only has a Technic half-pin which I find odd. The drill hammer is quite imposing and feels like a logical evolution of the 2015 hammer. I especially like how a Technic coupler was used to attach the left hand to make it easier to pose and how the head swivels, allowing you to easily face the drill or stud shooter in the desired direction. To me, Onua feels like a well-designed model that looks great from virtually all angles. My only slight complaint is that the arms are asymmetric, with one using two trans-purple bones and the other using one trans-purple and one dark grey. I'm not sure why this was done, but it's not very noticeable, which makes the decision even odder.

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    When images of Onua first appeared, I know a lot of people commented on the dissimilarities between the 2016 and 2015 versions. The Uniter is almost a head taller, which takes away from the squat nature of the Master version a bit. Since the Master also used the extra-wide torso armor, the Uniter also looks significantly narrower as well. On the flip side, they both have very similar color schemes featuring four of last year's gold armor pieces and purple or trans-purple shells. They both have the extra shoulder armor and wield a large hammer too. So while his stature has changed, there are still a lot of noticeable similarities. The Uniter Onua has changed a bit, but I think it's safe to say that he's still the same Toa.

    Playability
    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?

    71309 Onua Uniter of Earth Review 25 71309 Onua Uniter of Earth Review 26 71309 Onua Uniter of Earth Review 27 71309 Onua Uniter of Earth Review 28 71309 Onua Uniter of Earth Review 29 71309 Onua Uniter of Earth Review 30

    As the back of the box indicated , Onua has three main play features. If you turn the gear on his lower back, he can spin back and forth at the hips, wielding his hammer-drill against all who oppose him. It's not often that we get waist articulation in a constraction set, so it's kind of nice to see it here. Next, the hammer-drill can flip around switching between the six-shooter stud launcher and the drill. It's a fairly basic feature, but I like how you have to turn the drill to shoot the studs. Finally, as with the Toa from 2015, you can pop the masks off by tapping on the back of the eye stalk. The new piece makes it harder to do it accidentally, but if you're trying for it you won't have a problem. I feel that's it's a pretty good variety of play features.

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    One of the more advertised features requires you to have both Onua and Terak, the Creature of Earth. The latter can attach to the back of the former, creating a 'powered-up' or 'united' version of Onua. In this mode, Terak's head fits perfectly over Onua's mask, and I take back my criticisms of the head that I gave in Terak's review as a result. The creature's feet do a good job of filling out Onua's waist, and the claws look kind of like giant shoulder pads. Terak's play feature even works in this mode, as does Onua's swiveling hips. I really like this bulked-up version of Onua, especially how the head and the mask fit together.

    71309 Onua Uniter of Earth Review 35 71309 Onua Uniter of Earth Review 36

    Of course if you have Onua and Terak it means you also have a shadow trap, which allows for some role-playing fun. In this 'ultra-mode,' the shadow trap doesn't stand a chance against Onua's mighty hammer!

    Final Thoughts
    Once it's all said and done, how does the set stack up? Should I get it?

    Pros
    What's to like?

    • Quite a few new parts that are rather sweet
    • A good selection of recolored pieces as well
    • Solid design with few gaps or empty areas
    • Mask and body are clearly an evolution of the 2015 version
    • Combiner feature works really well
    • Lots of other play features

    Cons
    What's not to like?

    • Friction joints make posing difficult
    • Slight asymmetry in arms

    The 2016 version of Onua is a great set from a design, playability, and parts perspective. When you combine him with Terak, things get even better and the playability increases substantially. I think the set is a great value, especially if you're looking for transparent purple and gold pieces, and it would be a great addition to any CCBS fan's collection. For $20, it's a hard set to beat.

    Thank you all for reading and watching our review - I hope you've enjoyed it! If you have any questions or comments about Onua, please leave them in the Talkback where I'll be glad to answer them. This is just our second of twelve Bionicle 2016 set reviews, so keep checking back on BZPower for more and all of the latest LEGO news!

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