Wednesday, December 16th, 2015 at 7:17pm by Benjamin, BZPower Reporter
Buddy team-ups are the best, right? Jaller and Takua. Norik and Iruini. Vakama and Roodaka? And now we have Kopaka and Melum, who apparently as so good bros they must come in a single set together. Ice and more ice, ready to save the day. Today's set review is Kopaka, Uniter of Ice, and Melum, Creature of Ice, who of course unite for more epic team-ups. Read, and watch, on for the full review.
First, a special thank you to The LEGO Group for sending us the first wave of 2016 Bionicle sets ahead of time so we can review them for you all. As for the set, it comes with 171 pieces and will retail for $30 USD. It contains what would normally be marketed as two smaller sets, so we are led to believe that Kopaka is worth $20 like last year and Melum would be $10 like the other Creature sets. As you will see in the review, that is being a little optimistic considering the quantity of parts in the box (or lack there of) and designs of the set overall.
From the design of the box to the instruction manual, these are the first things you see before building the set.
The box is bigger than other Bionicle sets we have seen with the hexagonal design, which is to be expected with the amount of parts it has. The Mask of Control is in the corner along with the usual logos and notes along the box's edges. Kopaka and Melum look flashy front and center, both in action poses ready to fight whatever evils may lurk. In the corner we see that they can combine for extra strength, but oddly the render of Kopaka's mask is mirrored, showing the lens on his left eye. Only the mask though, as he is still holding his weapons in his proper hands.
The back of the box shows all kinds of things you can do with the set. The comic ribbon tells a bit of story, where Kopaka and Melum must unite to fight Umarak. Play features the box highlights include Melum's claw action, Kopaka's gatling gun, and his articulated waist. His new eye-brain also allows for the mask to pop off like last year's sets.
Half the fun is had building the set. How fun is it to build and how easy or challenging is it?
The instructions start with Melum, Creature of Ice. Some of the new gears we get lend themselves to his build for some action and playability. This first bit of Technic building is only the start for more later on, and is a fairly easy beginning. Pretty soon the final parts are the ball-joint system we all know, resulting in a tiny creature with big claws.
Like Melum's build, Kopaka starts with some Technic designs in his torso. The new mold that snaps into the articulated waist, which is seemingly permanent unless you pull the parts apart hard enough, does not have the ball joints on the shoulders to attach arm sockets to. Some Technic parts later and we have a body ready for limbs to be attached, without any extra frame exposed and unarmored.
The Technic builds do not stop there, though! Kopaka's upper arms are built with a sequence of straight ball joint liftarms and armor, and his shield combines panels with the gatling gun. The instructions are pretty straight forward, so any young kids who have done some Bionicle builds before should be able to handle these builds.
Now that the set is complete, we can critique how it looks from every angle. New or interesting pieces can also be examined here.
There are a lot of new parts with Kopaka and Melum! It is a mix of new molds and new colors on old molds, with a handful of two-tone pieces. The swords with the solid light blue blade molded into the silver hilt are my favorite, but I also love the crystalline look with the gold and trans-light blue armor that affixes to the shell armor. Some new silver parts look like Barraki armor. There is a new eye brain, which is pretty much just a shorter version of last year's piece. We also see the return of the three-tipped Glatorian armor, silver in this set. Everything else rounds out the set for a good variety of new and old molds in various colors. Unfortunately, the torso armor is one big greebled piece with one connection point, providing very limited use.
For a little guy, Melum sure packs a punch. He is well armored and quite sizable between his head and claws. But aside from his claw function (see below), he doesn't do much. He can be posed in some action shots, but the gears working together and some short arm movement prevent this being done efficiently. Finally, as can be said with any Creature, the hollow head is off-putting. All of these problems can be solved through clever positioning in your display, but they detract from the overall set.
One thing that must be addressed is that Melum is the only Creature not to come with a Shadow Trap. This is disappointing for two reasons: First, all the other Creatures do, so it feels like this $10 portion of the set loses value. And second, there is no bad guy for Kopaka and Melum to fight, something the other Creatures have to offer like last year's Skull Spiders provided.
There is a lot going on with Kopaka's design. The dark blue really pops against the white, but it is sparse. The gold thigh armor stands out, but that is because there is no other gold on him. The custom-built upper arms are nice, but they are lacking in armor and muscle. His shield is made of two different panels, but we do not have the opposite sides of those panels. The stickers look cool, but they are stickers instead of printed on. His mask is a cool white/grey blend, but how well will that lend itself to future MOCs?
As a whole, Kopaka is pretty neat. He can be posed in all kinds of cool positions. The articulated waist provides for a neat play feature that does not get in the way. Taking in his entire build, flaws and strengths together, he shines in ingenuity and change while keeping the Bionicle feel. The extra round of armor on his thigh is a nice touch, too. He is condensed compared to Kopaka, Master of Ice, but I will accept this normal-Toa size now given the cool sword and other pieces he has. Unfortunately that means he doesn't deserve a $20 set classification like the set is trying to justify, and when it comes to price and pieces that is a big factor.
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.
Melum's play feature is his double-time claw slashes, or a nice big bear hug. It utilizes the new gear parts well and is simple yet effective. He also poses well, after dealing with the gears moving everything.
Kopaka's most prominent play feature is his articulated waist, which is attached to a gear and allows for a back and forth attack motion. He can strike with his sword and then block with his shield. He also has the gatling gun for long-distance attacks, along with the extra ammo stored at his side. Aside from that, he also has lots of potential in posing and looking cool.
Of course, the Unity Set would be incomplete without actually uniting. Like last year's little guy/big guy pair, the Toa can power-up with some extra help. This time, however, no parts need to be removed or added. Instead, Melum just attaches to Kopaka's back, hooks in with some extra armor and mask features, and is good to go. For extra effect, the gold mask is presumably found and utilized while this is happening.
Once it's all said and done, how does the set stack up? Should I get it?
What's to like?
Lots of new parts or newly utilized colors.
Cool new masks.
New gear-waist articulation function is clever.
Combines for a power-up.
What's not to like?
No bad guy.
Doesn't feel like a $30 set.
Some odd color choices.
So apparently Kopaka is left-handed now? Anyway, the Kopaka and Melum Unity Set is a nice combo that seems a few dollars more than what it should really be. Admiring the set for itself though will show a cool little creature that can saddle up with a well-built Toa, even if Kopaka has some design flaws in color and limb thickness. The set has a slew of new and cool parts and once built looks great on display. The play features will make him a nice addition to a toy collection, and the parts, especially the masks, will add some creativity to a building collection. In the end, it always comes down to your own value for a set, but Kopaka and Melum has a lot of it where it counts.