Wertman 8 Bionicle Review: Skull Basher

Stand guard at the gate to the Temple of Creation with the mighty Skull Basher! The penultimate set of the wave, this is set #70793, consisting of 72 pieces.

72 parts is a decent number to have in a smallish set. Like with Skull Slicer though, it seems small when compared to some of the other sets in this wave. A lot of that number is used up on small technic parts, meaning there’s little there in terms of CCBS. With the exclusion of the trans-purple torso and the printed chest piece, there’s little here for MOCcists. Unless you love trans-purple, move on.

Included also are two masks; one of which is a Bull Skull Mask and a gold/trans-purple Mask of Earth. This is the exact same mask that’s in the Skull Scorpio set, which I guess is kind of a bummer, but this is a decent mask, so there’s little to complain about. It’s much more stylised in appearance and its large eyes and mouth make it more animalistic than the other Skull Mask. I personally prefer the texture and realism of the other Skull Mask, but I can respect this design.

The Mask of Earth is okay. The trans purple in this one doesn’t feel as well integrated as it is in the others, though the fact that the gradient stops right at the nose is clever, as it looks like Onua has a golden mouth-guard. The colour combination is a nice one; I just don’t think the blend is as well executed as it is on the other masks.

It does look interesting on Onua, though. Unlike on the other Toa, Onua’s trans purple is hidden beneath black armour, meaning the purple does stick out on his head. The way that the purple blends around his eyes looks sickly, in a good way; while the other masks look like powered up versions, this version does look like it is actually infected with something nasty. I think that may also be helped by the fact that this translucent colour is very dark, as opposed to the others. All in all, I’ve mixed feelings.

But you know who never has mixed feelings? SKULL BASHER!

In trend with the other Skull Villains, Basher has no armour on the back. However, one gets the feeling that he doesn’t need it, as that weird looking function on the back seems to cover up a good chunk of it, and it’s smooth enough that it can actually be considered coverage.

Closer inspection of this design is equally intriguing. Some will recognise that this is very much a similar design to the wings of the Hero Factory set Dragon Bolt, where it is more of a pump like system. Something that is interesting to note is that it uses a small hose piece as a spring. Considering this piece was not really designed for such a thing, the function is stiff and requires a little force when you use it.

When you press down on the pump, the arms will snap forward, slamming the two blades together.

Alternatively, because the Technic build is so loose, when you push the button to either the left or the right and one of the arms will swing inwards, creating a swinging motion. One of the biggest problems with the set because of this is that the arms are incredibly wobbly, the slightest movement can send the shoulders back and forth. This is incredibly distracting and can ruin the set for you. However, I found that placing a white technic rubber band at the base of the build not only helps to keep the shoulders more secure but adds more power to each swing. With this, it’s a fairly satisfying gimmick but without, it can be considered a poorly executed function.

The function aside, this is a fairly nice looking model. I am a little worried that after so many Hero Factory Villains that a set of this stature will start to become tired and generic. However, the interesting colour scheme and the skeletal elements, in my view, keeps it from being tired. The use of purple and gunmetal grey does create that dark, shadowy vibe without picking a more overused colour scheme like black and red, for instance. The silver and the trans-orange do well to contrast against that, and for once, I don’t mind the minimal use of trans-orange, as it is well placed and feels balanced at the top and the base of the set.

I also appreciate the better utilisation of the armour extensions on the shoulders. The fact that it is placed lower down the arm as opposed to on Skull Warrior makes it look like it is actually wrapped around the armour piece, and the fact that they are both the same colour makes it look like it’s the same element, which looks so much better.

The only real gripe with the look of this set is the placement of the arms. All of the Bionicle 2015 sets have the arms set back and outwards, and you are invited to take off the gearbox on any set and place it on the ball joints on the shoulders, to see that this provides some much needed bulk. However, seeing as this isn’t using a gearbox, the arms are set further back than usual and it is very jarring from any angle but the direct front. There is unfortunately little to be done about this, and I am grateful that the designers are experimenting with different functions, even if this one doesn’t work quite as well without a rubber band.

Basher’s weapons consist of two axes, which he uses to smash together with his function. I do like the mould, as it looks much more like an axe than those whatever-the-heck-those-were that Gali and Lewa used. However, here I feel that it is a little incomplete; the axel that is sticking out is inviting to be used; as it is now it doesn’t feel proper, as if it was just tacked on.

Again, the Bull Skull Mask fits nicely onto Basher’s face. For some ineffable reason I prefer it here than I do on Skull Scorpio, where it is more upright and matches the look of the model a lot more. Though the eyes are a little too narrow here, I appreciate how you can see the chin of the head underneath the slits of the mouth. Like with Skull Warrior and Skull Slicer, I’m not hugely into the chest print, though I can respect the uniqueness and level of detail of the design. This one is a little less cluttered than the other two, though the white, red and pink that show up I feel don’t help to complement what is otherwise a cool colour scheme.

Something that a lot of people have disliked about Skull Basher is his horns. I can definitely sympathise, but I don’t really see what alternative there is. The biggest thing about the horns is that they are so large and they stick so far forward. While I agree that it might be a little impractical, I would argue that having the large horns is his defining feature; It implies a very aggressive stance and it defines him from the other villains; I can assure you that he doesn’t look nearly as good without them or with smaller horns. Another problem that people have is that they are opaque purple instead of translucent purple. Again, I understand why that would annoy people, but I personally think it does better to emphasise the trans purple, which, being the only translucent colour that isn’t really bright, can disappear into a MOC. I get people’s concerns, but I personally think that he needs them.

One other concern people have about the horns is that because the horns are so large and are attached to the brain stalk, then whenever you hit them the mask will come flying off. I am here to tell you that it’s kind of true, but it’s not as bad as it sounds. Because the brain stalk is resting against the head, if you push down on the horns, then it will do nothing. However, if you push up from the bottom, then yes, they will fly off. Obviously if you slam down with your fist from the top then the recoil will knock off the mask, but in general it isn’t that sensitive, and in the same way if you touch the horns from beneath gently then it probably won’t come off. While it is something to bear in mind and probably not a great idea to pick this one up by his horns, It’s not as bad as people have made it out to be. It’s all about being gentle, really, which honestly is not a bad thing to be teaching little children.

I’m going to rate this set in three different categories; Toy value (how good it is to play with and pose etc.), Design Value (The design, including the colour scheme and how it was built) and MOCcist Value (The amount of good pieces).

Toy Value: 4/10 (It’s got all the standard stuff, though without a rubber band the function does hinder the set a lot and isn’t great.)

Design Value: 6/10 (The set definitely looks really nice with a really cool colour scheme, though it may or may not be a little too generic for your taste. The function I don’t think was well built, though, which hinders the score)

MOCcist Value:6/10 (Three points for an average parts count, three for a couple of really nice pieces.)

Mean Score: 5.3/10

Comments: It depends on whether you have a rubber band, really. Without it, I hated it; it still looked really nice but the arms were flopping all over the place and it was a big disappointment. With the rubber band though, I am starting to get used to and even enjoy the function, and it allowed me to appreciate some of the nicer things about the set. All in all, I still like it, but It’s definitely not my favourite by a long shot and I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would.

By the way, I noticed that I forgot to put these technic beams below the hands. I’ve put them in now though.

And here is how I suggest applying the rubber band. There are two in this photo for maximum friction, but the one buried down in there with the tube piece is the one that’s holding everything in place.


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