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Review: 71311 Kopaka and Melum - Unity set
Go big or go home, right? Taking a cue from last year's Mask Maker vs Skull Grinder, this winter wave's largest set is a dual pack, featuring (fittingly) the Ice characters of the wave: Kopaka and Melum. Are these two cool, or should they have been left to chill?
Update 12/14/15 8:03pm PST: Turns out Kopaka is 25 dollars! The review has been updated to reflect the finalized price point.
Funny story, this set was so big, it didn't even fit in the package LEGO sent me! They had to remove the contents from the box to flatten it, and include everything separately. So yeah, he's a big sucker. But hey, at least their collapsiblity works as intended.
Kopaka and Melum stand battle-ready on the front, with a picture of their combined form (erroneously mirrored, which seems like a pretty big oversight...) to sell the "Unity" aspect, one of the core features of the waves.
As the most expensive set of the wave, Kopaka contains a fair few pieces; not the most, unfortunately, which might put some off from purchase. At 171 pieces, Kopaka and Melum actually have a piece less than Umarak, though they cost the same.
But, what he lacks in quantity, he certainly makes up for in quality. Kopaka's got most of the new tricks and tools of 2016 in his arsenal, plus a few old ones; the new blade parts, the spinning torso, and new masks galore. A couple of new Technic bits that I haven't seen before as well, including an interesting geared axle that I can definitely see being used in fun ways.
Also, the dreaded STICKERS make their return. I've found stickers to be a very much "love 'em or hate 'em" item. Translated, you either suck at putting them on and they're bad, or you're did it well so they're fine. I generally fall in the former category, but I didn't do too badly this time. So they're fine!
Unlike the last dual pack we had, Kopaka and Melum starts you off with the smaller of the two models first: Melum, Creature of Ice. While it does feature a standard CCBS "small" torso bone, Melum quickly deviates from your standard constraction build with an interesting Technic backpack. All creatures of this wave have some kind of action feature; while I haven't gotten to Terak - Creature of Earth yet myself, I have it on good authority that their features are different, despite them being identical. ;)
Melum's instructions make him look like some kind of bird (of which we also have some varieties to come!), but in the end, he's some sort of bipedal arctic vole. Can't quite place him, but he certainly is adorable, and the Technic gearaxle (Trademark pending) lends itself to a cute function.
Kopaka starts off with the fantastic waist articulation function. I'm a bit sad to see the gearboxes gone so soon, but this is a pretty solid replacement all around. It's actually a bit of a shame that the new torso bone HAS to work with the waist piece; seeing the pieces have separate functions could have been an MoCers dream, but given the complexity you find elsewhere, it makes sense that the designers would want to make this one process more efficient.
Building Melum reminded me that it had been a while since I'd seen a true Technic constructing experience; namely, that my fingers hurt. I'm probably just out of practice. Need some more callouses. Kopaka, similarly, has a lot of axles and liftarms on his frame; even his legs, which are primarily CCBS parts, include a... ammo wheel? Yeah, that's an ammo wheel. A really weird choice; as a story buff, I can't say I DISLIKE that sort of attention to detail (really sells the worldbuilding) but from a design perspective, it seems rather random compared to last year. Then again, I solved my extra stud problem by just double-mounting them. LEGO, hire me.
The legs also incorporate one of the new armor pieces on the lower legs. I'm torn on this new bit. One the one hand I love the detailing, but in the end it's just a module too deep, and throws the perspective off on things. Then again, considering Kopaka's shins last year...
Arms for the poor... wait I already made that joke
While he kept things pretty tight with your standard bony legs, Kopaka features some neat custom arms. I like how the custom limbs (so far) for this wave have all been different; they use a lot of the same parts (I imagined the straight Hordika neck at the onset of 2005, then we finally got it FOUR years later, and only now are we truly seeing its worth), but there's a variety in both construction and attachment, and really sells the actual "building" experience.
Oh yeah... those studs were actually for something. Kopaka, along with a few other 2016 sets, brings back the stud shooter from last year. I definitely don't mind; it was a neat piece that evolved from some cool projectile concepts, so it would be a shame to let it languish after only a year. Giving Kopaka a gun is an odd decision; especially considering his Master form weapons, which were primarily defensive, Kopaka's definitely more battle ready this year.
That said, I actually really like the gun as a weapon choice; one thing the reboot has been consistently excellent at (and there are a lot of those things!) is finding weapons that match the Toa's personality. I was a bit worried that Lewa Uniter might represent a step backwards in that regard, but he seems to have been a fluke. The huge Midak Skyblaster didn't work for Kopaka. But this pistol? Yes. Cop Kopaka is yes.
And a sword, too, to replace the shield. Maybe he's relying on Melum to be his bodyguard, but this Kopaka loses a lot of the bulk of last year's iteration in favor of an agile, warrior class.
The new masks are all well and good (consistency in the eyepiece side, important!!) but the real meat and potatoes is how these two sets act together. The Unity aspect is a huge push for this year; rather than just the odd weapon mixing from 2015, these sets are designed (or at least, intended) to be compatible down to a T. Thankfully, Kopaka and Melum pull this look off very well. Already a warrior, Kopaka gains some much needed mass to withstand those chilly tundra battles. Melum sits securely connected, and the "crown" he bestows upon Kopaka looks pretty darn neat with all the gold accents.
The Brass Tacks
Let's get the negatives out of the way first; is Kopaka and Melum Unity set worth the actual price tag you're paying for it? Debatably. No shadow trap, a slightly diminutive creature, and parts that don't quite equal their sum total. Thankfully the actual price acknowledges these missing elements, but even with that, it's still a lesser overall package than you'd find by getting a Toa and Creature separately.
However, is it a good set? Yes. Kopaka may be radically different, but he's got a definite attitude that's matched by his build, and a lot of fun things to play around with. And the Unity feature, for these guys, is absolutely tops, one of the best (if not the actual best) of the line. So if you're looking for the full value, I'd say give him a miss. But if you like the convenience, or are just a sucker for Ice sets (which I didn't used to be until last year!) the final result won't disappoint you.
|2016 Set Reviews (1HY)|
|Review #1||By Dorek||By Dorek||By Dorek||By Dorek||By Dorek||By Dorek||By Dorek||By Dorek||By Dorek||By Dorek||By Dorek||By Dorek|
|Review #2||By SPIRIT||By Cholie||By SPIRIT||By Swert||By SPIRIT||By KZN02|
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