Hello all! Baxor here, reviewing 71311 Kopaka and Melum Unity Set. I will approach this review a bit differently, dealing with the first two sections and the New Elements section so I can discuss the set as a whole. Then, with the Aesthetics and Cool Stuff, I will separately discuss Kopaka and Melum.
Kopaka and Melum
Stats: 71311 Kopaka and Melum Unity Set contains a total of 171 pieces. 45 of those pieces belong to Melum, and the other 126 or so belong to Kopaka. This makes him the third largest of all the Toa by sheer number of pieces. It is the only set of the January 2016 wave that has stickers.
Also, here's another interesting bit of trivia: Last season, there was also a 'Unity Set' of a kind. It was the Mask Maker vs. Skull Grinder set, and it too contained 171 pieces.
Elements: Plenty of interesting elements here. Two Elemental Shard-Sword elements, four Elemental Armour Shard pieces, four silver-grey Uniter Pieces, and the Creature Head piece. It contains plenty of TECHNIC® pieces, though not quite as many as others, the new Spine Piece. It contains two white Bohrok eye piece, too.
New Elements: There aren't really any new elements here that I haven't already discussed. Read the New Elements section on my review of Ikir, Creature of Fire, for a bit about the new pieces. As for visuals though, here they are:
Elemental Armour Shard
A Glatorian Era Armour Piece used on Vorox and Skrall
Creature Head Piece
Toa Uniter Spine(as discussed in the Gali, Uniter of Water review)
Aesthetics: Aesthetics are O.K. From the front he looks like a small, white version of Terak, Creature of earth, even down to the hands. They are the exact same thing, with two differences: number of parts, Melum has only two claws, while Terak has four; and colour, because Terak's hands are black and his claws are trans-purple, while Melum's hands are white, and his claws are ice-blue. As I said, besides that, everything is the same, right down to the Elemental Armour-Shard piece on the back of the hand.
Melum and Terak Comparative
Colour scheme is fine, though my continued gripe with these creature sets is the problem of TECHNIC parts. While I do like TECHNIC pieces, and the fact that these creatures contain a Gear-System (except for the fact that they're DohGears), I don't generally like the central concentration of colour. Particularly, I don't like the use of stone-grey TECHNIC parts. Honestly, Melum's colour scheme is probably the 2nd or 3rd best (Terak's is good, and while I don't own Akida, her parts actually work well with stone-grey). The fact that his Uniter piece is silver-grey helps a lot with that factor. From behind, it doesn't look very good, but most of the Creatures only look good from the front, so it's not as if this is uncommon.
Cool Stuff: :-( . What's even sadder is that I don't generally use emoticons in the first place. Alas, the only 'cool' thing about Melum is his DohGear, which, as everyone knows, totally went out of style in the 90s (kidding!). But seriously, this is at least as useless as the Hordika Gear Mechanism. I honestly didn't, and still don't, understand the purpose of this Gear Mechanism. Perhaps I'm just using it the wrong way, but trust me, I don't just collect BIONICLE®, I actively play with them, and I have yet to find a point to this thing(yes, a guy in his late teens still finds time to play with his BIONICLEs. Anything wrong with that? Nope. Not a thing). Honestly, if you think I'm wrong, please correct me, but from what I've seen, I don't think it does anything other than go back and forth.
My Opinion of Melum: Has the single most – get that, the most – disappointing gear system I've ever seen between Gen 1 and Gen 2 combined. I would like to make the judgement that this is perhaps the second worst set in Gen 1 and 2 (Master Pohatu would take 1st for that), but I didn't get into BIONICLE until 2007 because my parents thought it was a Satanic Cult*. I didn't get my first set until 2008, and so I've had to backtrack a lot, and, while I have examples of other sets, I don't have a fair enough sampling to judge Gen 1. None the less, it is a pretty sad set.
I digress, but I believe you get my point.
Another major aspect I have yet to discuss is articulation, or, in Melum's case, the extreme lack thereof. Particularly, I speak of Melum's legs. The picture below should outline the problem fairly well.
As you should be able to see, he doesn't have any knees. “But Baxor,” you may say, “The other creatures don't have knees either. Shouldn't they have the same problem?” The answer is no. This has to do with ball-and-socket joints, and particularly the ball. Melum uses a stubbier piece for the legs than the other Creatures do, one which allows significantly less free surface on the ball-and-socket joints. The spreading of legs, which generally helps the others maintain things like balance, is hard to achieve.
On that note, generally, Melum also lacks balance. This is mainly due to the size of his hands and arms, but is not helped by his lack of articulation. As I've already mentioned, Terak, Creature of Earth, and Melum share a lot of general aesthetic characteristics. Terak has the same issue but his is amended (mostly, but not entirely), by the fact that his legs are longer. Melum just simply cannot produce the same balance which Terak achieves by spreading his legs, as shown below.
Also, there are EXPOSED BALL JOINTS!!! I can't honestly stand these, and I don't know why. They made the Toa of last year look strange, and they mess up the colour scheme here. Can't LEGO© just make a Gear-System without exposed ball joints? Maybe not, but I would like to see them try a little harder.
* I'm exaggerating a little there, but they did think it wasn't a very good thing to get into, and they did think it expressed some negative spiritual aspects.
Single Rating: 1/4. A harsh rating? Yes. An honest one? I believe so. If they had marketed these as separate sets, I would have probably not bought Melum (Eh, who am I kidding, I would have. But, I wouldn't have been too happy about it . . . )
Aesthetics: Wow. I have few words to describe the awesomeness. Given that 'a picture is worth a thousand words,' I'll put up some pictures:
First, I think that it's awesome that they made a gun for Kopaka, in addition to his Über-swag sword. While I think that the combination of sword + gun is a bit arbitrary, for some reason, it is also just really cool. I'll go into the weapons a little first, and then get to the figure itself.
For this wave, LEGO decided to give only three figures – Onua, Kopaka, and Umarak – stud-firing weapons. I don't know why this is, but I can say that their choice has apparently worked very well, particularly in the aesthetics area. I think that Kopaka's is a very unique type of gun, and I like how it fits into the hand. The hand-guard was a good addition, as it makes the gun seem larger (in other words, more like something a 7 foot tall Toa would be carrying), and the stickers certainly complete it. I love the 'plating' displayed by the stickers, and in particular how well it fits with the printed chest-plate.
At first, when I saw the promotional pictures, I thought that the sword was a bit too wide, but when I actually built it, I truly thought it was the best weapon of this year. Onua's is a close second, but beautiful meld of colour scheme, proportions, the bony elements used on the hand guard, and even the minifig-sized spear used in the centre make this a great weapon. I honestly don't have any complaints about this weapon, except the fact of the Glatorian hands, which is a far larger topic than I should/need to, cover here. Just know this: the sword is great.
Kopaka is just amazing. I mean, I can't exactly articulate it all. Between colour scheme (great distribution and awesome metru-blue addition), the aforementioned awesome weapons (there's a gun!), the unique two-pieced mask, and everything, it's great. However, there are two gripes that I had, one of which I had with Gali, and the other of which I had with Onua.
The first one is an issue I had with Onua. It has to do with arm attachment issue. On Onua, I felt that the issue was purely a structural one; the arms were attached to the torso in a rather flimsy manner, and were not reinforced (LEGO building rule #1: You ALWAYS layer your 2x4s for extra support). This I feel could be an issue of structural integrity, but I think it will take far longer than Onua's to effect the model as a whole. While I think it's unfortunate that the arms are attached by only a single red axle, it actually holds on to the torso fairly well (Onua's does too, but it a lot more obvious).
The second issue is one of proportions, and it is one I had with Gali's Uniter version. It has to do with the fact that the thighs are bigger than the calfs. This isn't such a bad problem, because it adds a certain muscularity to them, and generally it works pretty well. The problem is that the thighs are also larger than the feet, so a couple of positions you can put him in look kind of awkward.
Cool Stuff: Nuttin' here beyond the firing gun. However, there is something I must admit is rather interesting. This has to do with a bit of the printed chest. I refer to these two painted lines.
What I think is so interesting about these lines is that you can turn Kopaka's figure at different angles, and they will appear either silver-coloured or copper-coloured. I just think that this is a rather interesting print job, and I like the work that, in general, has been put into these new chest plates. It reminds us of this: LEGO cares, they know what we want, and they put a lot of work into what they think we'll love.
My Opinion of Kopaka: In general, I like the idea of the stud launcher, though I don't use it often (it's heck to clean up and reload). I think also that using a gun gives the theme an interesting element of modern meets traditional. Kopaka, quite literally, holds old tech in one hand, and modern tech in the other.
Single Rating: 4/4. This set is aesthetically immaculate. I can't say that I've seen a better set anywhere in Gen 2, and it is only worse than a few of the Gen 1 Titans (actually, pretty much all of the Titans were better, but they were smaller sets.) Even with the issue of arm structure/build, I think that his appearance, and weapons completely make up for it.
My Opinion as a whole: Aesthetically, both of these sets are great, but when you get down to things like the Gear System and Kopaka's arm attachment, there are some things which are simply hard to forgive. I don't feel that Kopaka's arms have the potential to be structurally unsound in the way that Onua's do, but I feel like the axle could loosen up and cause some problems, or at least annoyance. I really kind of feel like this set was made a Unity set for one of two bad reasons: (a) Melum had too few pieces to be marketed as a separate set(quite possible. He had only 45 pieces, whereas the other Creatures have piece numbers in the 60s to 80s), or (B) they wanted to have a set in the 25-30 dollar price range. I think that the former is far more likely, and I honestly suspected it from the moment I heard that they would have a Unity set with Kopaka and his creature*.
In general, I don't think that the idea of a set with two figures is a bad idea. I thought that the Mask Maker vs. Skull Grinder set last wave was wonderful. However, I do dislike the idea of a Unity Set. As I mentioned, I don't know LEGO's exact reason for making this a Unity Set, but I personally just wish that they'd make the sets separate. But then, that's just my opinion.
*Funny, but slightly off-topic story. When they first released the names of the January 2016 sets, I mis-read the name as the “Kopaka and Melum Entity Set”, and was not corrected on the name until the sets were being sold. I, being an optimist, thought that they had made a set like the Mask Maker and Skull Grinder, featuring a 'good guy' and 'bad guy', and was intrigued about what the 'Melum Entity' was. I can be a bit dyslexic/thick-headed sometimes.
Rating of the Set: 3/4. I admit, I really don't like Melum in general. His Gear System is the pure definition of a DohGear, serving no purpose in the least. This almost got a 2/4 (the average between the two ratings), but because the definition of that rating is that only a collector would care to buy it, I rated it upwards. Even though I am a collector, I can say that I honestly would have bought the set in general, hence the 3/4. As I have already said plenty of times Kopaka is just awesome all around in appearance, build, weapons, and so on. But the arm connection, like Onua's, is just not stable. I think this is disappointing, because, of all the Toa, Onua and Kopaka are my favourites aesthetically, but are some of the only ones with potential structure issues.
Please remember to post your comments, as well as any suggested sections that I should add. Till next time, this is Baxor signing off!
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