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- This set was provided to BS01 by LEGO, but the opinions of the set are those of the reviewer.
Review: 71316 Umarak the Destroyer
The literal big bad of all 2016, Umarak returns as a ferocious monster for the heroes to contend with. Is he truly unstoppable, or will he, himself, be destroyed?
Umarak continues the BIONICLE 2.0 tradition of having a hexagonal box. I was expecting the largest set to have a more traditional, square/rectangular box like Mask Maker vs Skull Grinder from 2015 though this isn't the case; perhaps it's because Umarak sits at a lower price point (despite having a higher piece count; doing good LEGO!), maybe it's because there's only a single character featured, or maybe they just want to unify the design aspect more. Whatever the reason, he's got one of the largest hexagonal boxes around. A down, but not quite out, Ekimu struggles valiantly in his backdrop.
As mentioned, Umarak has a very high piece count, in fact the largest of the reboot so far. Lots of trans-neon green, a departure from the Hunter's use of trans-apple green. A dreaded sticker sheet also sneaks its way in, but more on that later.
In terms of new pieces, there's the beast jaw, the crystal armor piece, and a mutated form of the Mask of Control. Thankfully the mask is supposed to be a larger part of an overall head design; as a standalone, it's just not super great, especially when compared to the original mask that it's based on. The fangs are cool (replacing the "beard"), but the weird crystal protrusions on the side don't do it any favors; even if it wouldn't necessarily be visually consistent, it would have been better off without being blended, either in trans-neon green OR gold.
UtD starts the build off with the beloved gearbox piece, but in what I think is a first for the piece, actually isn't used as a gearbox! Instead, it just forms the basis for Umarak's torso, being used to shape the direction of the build rather than dominate it. I've been waiting for something like this since the piece was first introduced, and while it might not be flawless (a bit too much empty space internally to create bulk) it's certainly proving versatile.
Though the gearbox might have found a heretofore unseen usage, the torso piece is sort of out of luck in that once you attach the swivel waist, it can only be one thing; I'd love to see how they adapt that in the future, but that'll have to wait for then. Good thing it's a super neat function to define the year, enabling posing opportunities and just generally being something fans have wanted to see done properly for years.
The torso has a curious stud-tip 3L axle running through it, held in place by a bushing. Once you add the torso shells, the meaning becomes clear; it's a stopper to prevent the back torso shell from moving around too much. I love these little techniques because it shows that the designers are truly paying attention; you see it occasionally, on sets like Dragon Bolt (Hero Factory shoutout!) or Lord of Skull Spiders, and it means they understand the difficulties their systems can impose and that they can work around them. That said, I think there was probably a way to do it that involved fewer pieces, but maybe that axle is integral to the combi-model somehow.
The torso shells, front and back, combine to form a dastardly looking ribcage. It could have possibly made Umarak look a little TOO empty, like the Skull villains, but very much works in this case, and shapes the torso well.
There's also a pair of shoulder pads using Shadow Trap parts, based on designs from the Hunter - right down to the little chain on the right-hand pauldron. The chain feels superfluous (or, at least, like the parts could have gone to something else) but it's nice to see these echoes of the character he used to be.
A large assembly of liftarms forms what amounts to a neck for the set. It's impressive how well it integrates, since it's just a right-angled slab of Technic.
But much of that is obscured by the set's centerpiece, the chestplate. Here's where the stickers come into play. I'm actually pretty proud of myself for how well these attached, but they do have little bits sticking out that are hard to apply, so I'll empathize with people that are frustrated by the whole thing. The pattern is pretty cool, though, craggy textures and a bit of slime leaking out. The torso plate has the odd effect of obscuring the chain links, but I guess that's okay? Makes the chain seem even more unnecessary, but ah well.
Umarak the Destroyer uses both beast feet types for SUPER stability, hooking into the back with a bone in a way that vaguely resembles the titan pistons from 2006-2009. This leads to what is probably one of the most baffling design choices; instead of using a bone with a free ball joint at the end, UtD uses one with a locked joint, meaning that it can only move from side to side. The part exists in its more free-range-of-motion form (seen most recently in Pohatu Uniter!), so to see the fixed joint here is remarkably strange. While it doesn't hamper range of motion completely, it's easy to see that using the other piece would have resulted in much more flexibility.
The rest of the legs are suitable, anyway. The liftarms used create a bit of a gappy leg scenario, but it's very much a callback to Umarak the Hunter, so I don't mind. And the Bohrok eyes are cleverly inverted, so it's a neat final design.
There's a fair amount of pieces remaining, though, and Umarak uses those for those monstrous mitts he calls hands (or claws or whatever). These claws remain relatively stable (despite their weight) through the use of a very basic gear function, similar to what Lava Beast uses for his flaming wings. I'm assuming the Bohrok eye on the outer edge is meant as a lever of sorts to direct the function, but it's a bit of wasted space when most people will just be moving the fingers around on their own. That aside, though, the hand is very streamlined, if a bit gappy once the armor gets put on.
The hands also unfortunately connect to locked joints of upper arms. I don't usually fault sets when they do this these days; the set designers have, for the most part, figured out that more posability is good, and the locked joints are only used when the weight would otherwise not be supported, as is likely the case here. However, Umarak's hands are also angled sideways (since there's no real "wrist" to speak of) preventing them from reaching their full potential as pincers.
And finally, there's the head. Umarak lacks anything fancy for his maw and just attaches the joint (trans-neon! a blessing) straight to a (straight) Hordika neck joint. Here's where an extra small joint would really have come in handy; black, trans-neon green, whatever, it would have made it far easier to pose and move the head in a satisfying fashion. But they probably wanted to emphasize the mask knocking off game, which is a shame, since it's partially based on the jaw piece, which is awkward and ungainly. That whole design sticks out like a sore thumb, even if Umarak's size sort of compensates for it relative to the beasts.
Despite suffering from what I can only assume is severe arthritis, Umarak the Destroyer can still be put into a number of excellent poses. It's a visually engaging set, with bright colors representing slime very well, and the tiny bit of gold on his head looking far better than it has any right to on that color scheme. The design is very primal, but at the same time, he rarely looks anything if not intimidating, towering over the rest of the sets. Honestly, I would say the box actually does a pretty lousy job of showing what he really looks like; alternate poses are much more accurate.
The Brass Tacks
Umarak is definitely a win for the line; the design is so intrinsically "BIONICLE" that it's a solid appeal to both old and new fans. A well laid out color scheme plus a keen attention to detail in reflecting elements of his older design result in a well thought out and ultimately fun to play with set, and he's the largest single figure the line has seen to date. He's definitely not without his flaws; the most severe of which is a lack of articulation. It's hard to see how the hands could have necessarily been designed to have more flexibility, but the locked joints on the heels, as well as the stiff neck, are things that seem like they could have been rectified even on the budget. But at a lower price point than Mask Maker vs Skull Grinder from last year, Umarak has got a lot of value, and it's definitely worth picking up.
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