Wednesday, February 11, 2015

REVIEW: LEGO Bionicle Protector of Stone

Previously on That Figures...
Last month we took our first look at the new LEGO sub-line, the returning/rebooted Bionicle range, with our Review of the Protector of Jungle. If you missed it, then we'd strongly suggest you take a look at the Review, as there will be points we'll be touching upon in today's Review which will make a lot more sense if you've read our earlier post. That's not to say this Review is simply going to be about comparing this figure to the Protector of Jungle but rather that things will make a lot more sense if you read both Reviews...

Protector of Stone
The Protector of Stone (not to be confused with the completely different figure, Protector of Earth) is another of the ''entry level'' Bionicle figure sets. Like the other Protectors, this figure retails at the $10 and features around 60 pieces.

Assembly is a simple process and, after a few minutes of clicking and snapping, you'll have completed your constraction figure of the Protector of Stone.
The figure's overall look is great. I like the combination of brown and semi-transparent yellow (the mask transition works particularly well) but the asymmetry of his shoulders is a little odd, with one being brown and the other silver. Although with that said, the silver shoulder is also where the built-up armor plate sits, so it's not that odd, plus you can always switch shell pieces around should you so wish.

Like his jungle-born cousin, the Protector of Stone features a remarkable range of articulation. The ball-joint system works superbly, being fluid enough to allow movement but firm enough to hold whatever pose you see fit to place him in.
That's down to the great design of the articulation rig. Unlike the Hero Factory toys of the last few years, the Bionicle joints are free of the ridges and restrictive plates that interfered with the movement of the figure.
As you can see, strip off the shoulder and chest plates and remove the helmet and the figure still has a reasonably ''bulky'' look, yet it's also incredibly pose-able and quite graceful. I spent hours posing him in a variety of cool Martial Arts stances and the figure's over-size feet make for a great base, allowing him to balance on one foot with ease.
Unfortunately, there are a couple of problems with the Protector of Stone that stop him from being quite as awesome as the Protector of Jungle.

My first issue is that the figure's back is exposed. This was one of my major pet hates with the Hero Factory toys and I was disappointed to see that the improvement made with the Protector of Jungle to fix this issue isn't something that's present in the entire series.
I'm hoping the LEGO Store will have some shell pieces in their Pick a Brick wall, as I'd gladly spend a few bucks to have the spare parts to fix this.
Then there's his weapon, the Elemental Sandstorm Blaster (or the Pitchfork from Hell as I term it.) Whilst the weapon has the same simple-but-brilliant Gatling gun-style effect as the Protector of Jungle's accessory, it's pretty ungainly and doesn't sit as well in his hands as the other's weapon. It's a shame there's not a joint or moving piece in the Blaster to help accommodate it in the figure's poses, as it can make his stances a little ''stiff'' or unnatural-looking. I also found that the blue ''grip'' at the weapon's base was more likely to remain stuck in his hand than it was to come away clean when removing the accessory from his grip. But the firing mechanism works well and it's a cool bit of engineering.
Like the Protector of Jungle, the Protector of Stone has a kind of ''configurable'' feel to him. I was pleased to see, for example, that the set included spares of his shoulder spikes, meaning you can replicate the spiked shoulder pad look on his ''off'' side. And of course the Skull Spider (see below) can be used as a new mask, allowing you to create new and interesting MOC builds. Unlike the Hero Factory toys I get the sense that LEGO wants us to combine multiple figures and parts to create our own figures and that's a definite plus in my books.
The final component in the set is the Skull Spider. As you can see it's virtually identical to the one that comes with the Protector of Jungle but this time around we get an additional leg/spike, which can be used to create a Skull Spider Scorpion. And as mentioned above, the ''body'' doubles as a second mask for the Protector.

Final Thoughts
My first experience of the Bionicle line - the Protector of Jungle - set the bar pretty high. And sadly, whilst the Protector of Stone is excellent, he's just not quite as excellent as his leafy cousin.

That's not to say the Protector of Stone isn't a great figure or construction set, because he most certainly is. The figure's incredibly high level of pose-ability can become quite mesmerizing and I found myself losing an hour just trying out poses and stances. Yet for all his flexibility, he's also a figure that's built to be played with. The pieces stay together well and there's no danger of parts coming off - although I would advise a degree of caution with his weapon, as it would be quite easy to lose the tiny energy studs it's capable of launching a long distance.

Speaking of the weapon, the Protector of Stone's Elemental Sandstorm Blaster feels a little unwieldy and getting him to hold it in a ''comfortable'' pose wasn't as easy as the Protector of Jungle's accessory. Again, this is a minor point and one you won't even notice unless you've posed the Protector of Jungle with his weapon.

It's also s a shame  that the Protector of Jungle is able to ship with a ''sealed'' back but the Protector of Stone does not. I know it's all about juggling cost versus design and that some corners have to be cut to include other elements but looking at the set I don't see - extra Spider leg aside - what's in this set that forced LEGO not to include an additional shell piece to complete his torso.

But that's all the comparisons done with and now it's time to move onto the positives - of which there are many.

This is a great-looking figure, with a neat color scheme, a cool, firing weapon accessory, a neat little enemy to battle and a level of pose-ability that puts most other figures to shame. You get all of that for $10, plus you can further customize and combine the figure in the super-fun tried and tested LEGO manner.

If you're a LEGO fan looking for something a little different from your usual City sets or you're somebody who digs robots, then you'll be sure to find a lot to like in the Bionicle series. And although I would recommend the Protector of Jungle over this figure, that's by no means a harsh criticism of the toy. The Protector of Stone is awesome. It's just the Protector of Jungle is marginally more awesome.

A great, super-fun build that results in a really cool action figure.

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