Thursday, May 30th, 2002 at 12:25am by Kelly, BZPower Co-Owner
This is a review of the 8557 Exo-Toa, scheduled for release in the United States in June (along with the Bahrag set), and in the UK in September. The Exo is currently available in Singapore, and this particular set was purchased through eBay from a Singapore seller.
It’s eye-catching, certainly... this big hulking figure posing beneath the BIONICLE logotype. The back of the box displays some of the moving parts, along with the alternate model (a very stylish looking raptor thing which Tahu can ride). Inside we have three bags full of pieces and two instruction booklets, the main booklet being 68 pages long, the alt model booklet 52 pages. There are no other contents of the box.
Oddly enough, the packaging contains no piece count. But a quick count from the instruction manuals show the main model consists of approximately 360 pieces, and the alt model about 250.
Although the storyline for Bionicle to date indicates each Toa gets their own Exo, the instructions specify only Tahu and Tahu Nuva are compatible with the Exo-Toa. In fact, Pohatu and Onua do not fit at all. There are also larger images of the now-familiar Toa Nuva – one assumes the Toa Nuva will all fit, but there is no sure proof of that. And there is one other puzzling addition of protodermis...
This set contains almost no new piece shapes, but does sport several familiar pieces in new colors. If you’ve seen the new Star Wars Super Battle Droid set, you’ve seen a good deal of this model. The Roborider feet are showing up all over the place these days, and this set consists of no less than eight of them. Six of them are formed using the new “metallic” process first seen on the “gold” and “silver” Kanohi, although the effect is much more interesting and appropriate here than on the masks.
Bionicle-specific pieces include: 2 grayish Gali claws; 1 black Bohrok headplate; silver Pahrak hand; arm pieces; and two orange Bohrok “eyes”. Other notable pieces are two of the new click joints, which offer a wide range of movement both swiveling and rotating. The Exo’s left arm also ends in a cannon, somewhat of an anachronism on the primitive island of Mata Nui, where the most sophisticated projectile weapon up until now has been a flung disk.
The color scheme is primarily black, gray, and silver, but there are welcome splashes of orange, which do a great deal to break up what could have been a monotonously dark palette. The mixture of silver pieces with flat gray and black also lends interest to the overall theme.
Putting this set together is great fun. It follows the best of the Technic line where you follow the instructions, place two subassemblies together, and all of a sudden see where it fit in with the whole. The instructions are clear, as LEGO instructions usually are, and the entire set went together in a little over an hour. The only pieces which presented any difficulty were two white posts inserted vertically at the shoulder blade area. They stick up slightly, and do not settle flush as you would expect. I spent some time wiggling the pieces back and forth, finally taking it apart to see if it was supposed to go flush. Ouch.
Playing With It
Now, the important part: how is it to play with? This is, undeniably, one of the better Bionicle sets to goof around with. It incorporates other sets (Tahu); it has a wide range of motion; it’s complex; it looks good with or without a Toa sitting in it; it shoots and jabs; and best of all, it just looks cool.
One of the better parts of the movie Aliens was Ripley’s fight with the Mother Alien while wearing an exosuit. LEGO has (knowingly or not) virtually recreated that scene with the Exo and Bahrag. This Exo is a worthy successor to the movie version, albeit without the tail. The Bahrag sets had better be plenty powerful to best this adversary.
The finished model is massive for a Bionicle set. It towers above the Toa and diminutive Bohrok, and makes the otherwise solid Matoran Boxor look dinky. The arms swing freely and have a large range of movement, much as the Toa themselves have. Although the legs don’t bend at the knees, and it can’t pose like the similarly-themed SW Super Battle Droid, the Exo is very stable and makes up for its lack of mobility with upper-body versatility.
So, is it worth it? Absolutely. Along with the Boxor, a worthy set in itself, the Exo-Toa is not only an interesting plot advancement in the ongoing Bionicle saga, it is a well-engineered and fun-to-handle LEGO set.
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