Once again, thanks to Huw for giving me the chance to review the summer 2016 BIONICLE sets for Brickset. This review will be about the only hero character in the Summer 2016 BIONICLE wave, 71312 Ekimu the Mask Maker, and is also the second character in the wave to get a new form the other being 71316 Umarak the Destroyer. Ekimu previously appeared in 70795 Mask Maker vs Skull Grinder in his Mask Maker form, complete with the alternate Protector mask which he wore whilst entombed in the City of the Mask Makers. 71312 represents a “powered-up” Ekimu, with Ekimu having used the Mask of Creation to make new, more powerful armour and get back some of his strength.
Measuring at 23cm high and 11cm wide when upright, Ekimu the Mask Maker is certainly a huge step-up from his previous form in terms of size, however from the impressions I got from pictures at the Toy Fairs, I felt slightly underwhelmed by Ekimu’s new form for looking quite generic at first glance and having an unbalanced colour scheme, so my expectations for this figure were a little lower than for Umarak the Destroyer or the Elemental Beasts. Ekimu the Mask Maker retails for £9.99/$14.99 and contains 94 pieces which is reasonable for a figure of this size. But how does this powered-up Ekimu compare to his smaller incarnation from 70795 and my expectations?
Once again, the box is in the typical G2 BIONICLE hexagonal style and is the size of a typical medium G2 BIONICLE set. The front of the box features Ekimu standing tall and heroic with one foot upon Umarak’s corrupted Hunter mask, with bolts of energy emanating from his Crystal Hammer and Crystal Saw Shield. In the background, 71316 Umarak the Destroyer can be seen striking an intimidating roar pose. There are no rendering errors on Ekimu’s box and you are just about able to put the real-life Ekimu model in a very similar pose to what is featured on the box.
The back of the box advertises the prominent features of the set, including the geared fingers, the rotating waist and the mask pop-off function. Unlike all the other summer BIONICLE sets, Ekimu the Mask Maker cannot be combined with any of the other sets. The comic on the back shows Umarak post-transformation and Ekimu going to confront him.
Parts and build
Ekimu the Mask Maker comes with a fair smattering of mostly CCBS parts with some Technic thrown in for the arm function, hammer build and for filling out the torso. Most of the CCBS parts come in Trans-Light Blue or Pearl Gold which may limit Ekimu’s appeal as a parts pack given the two colours have been fairly common in CCBS sets from 2013 onwards. Limiting Ekimu’s appeal as a parts pack further is the fact that only the two masks and Ekimu’s chestplate are truly unique to ths set, and these pieces have limited use in MOC’ing. The LEGO.com inventory for this set shows all the parts you can expect to get with Ekimu.
The exclusive and rare parts featured in Ekimu the Mask Maker (ignoring the Pearl Gold foot piece as it simply has a new Element ID in this set and is otherwise not rare, and the Trans-Light Blue 4M shell as it is only new in the newer minor variant 14533) are as follows:
Parts and recolours exclusive to Ekimu the Mask Maker:
- Titanium Metallic (Pearl Dark Gray)/Trans-Neon Orange Hunter mask
- Trans-Light Blue Mask of Creation
- Trans-Light Blue chestplate
Rare parts (appears in 5 sets or less):
- Trans-light blue crystalline shell
- Trans-light blue saw blade
- Pearl Gold curved shoulder armour (appeared in 7 sets but only 3 of those were readily available worldwide)
Notably, Ekimu’s chestplate, while the piece has garnered rather a lot of controversy for it’s excessive moulded piston greebling, limited connection points and MOC’ing potential, does not look too bad cast in Trans-Light Blue. The chestplate here has gold printing which can be slightly dull ccompared to the Pearl Gold used in the rest of the model but in the correct light looks good to me. It is this chestplate that holds a little Easter egg for BIONICLE fans – the runes on them are reminiscent of the Nuva Symbols from G1 BIONICLE. This isn’t the first time this particular Easter egg has featured - similar runes feature on the masks of the Uniter Toa’s masks, however this is the first set to feature all six symbols. I really appreciate little details like this that give a little nod to the original BIONICLE.
In my opinion this is the most interesting piece in this set as well as being the one with the best MOC’ing potential. This represent’s Umarak’s Hunter mask in it’s corrupted form, presumably after Umarak ditches the mask after being corrupted by the Mask of Control. The mask is cast in Titanium Metallic / Pearl Dark Gray blended with Trans-Neon Orange, a typical villain model colour combination and looks fantastic. It even makes a 71310 Umarak the Hunter palette swap possible. The only way I think this mask could be better is if the Titanium Metallic were black to provide even more contrast to the Trans-Neon Orange.
The Mask of Creation makes it’s third appearance in a set and it’s first appearance in Trans-Light Blue here. The mask as always looks wonderful and I appreciate that the mask was cast in Trans-Light Blue to perhaps look more crystalline, or appear to be pulsating with energy, however I think the Pearl Gold version of the mask is superior. Nonetheless, it is still a welcome addition to the current roster of G2 BIONICLE masks.
Construction of the set is relatively straightforward, not much different from a 2016 Toa build except with the addition of a 2015 Toa gearbox, this is the first time that both a waist gear and a shoulder gearbox have appeared together in the same set so in that respect it keeps the build from being too similar to the build of a Beast or a Toa.
The skeletal arrangement shows that Ekimu does have some slight asymmetry in the arms in that his hammer-wielding arm has a dark bluish gray 5M B bone, which I feel is not completely necessary. I would have preferred to at least have seen the B bone recoloured to trans-light blue as the darkbluish gray does interrupt the flow of the arm’s colour scheme. It also reveals some slightly odd proportions which I will touch upon later. Here you can also see the relatively simple internals of the Crystal Hammer structure.
The completed model
The first thing that strikes you about the completed model of Ekimu is “Blimey, that’s a lot of trans-light blue!”. That’s very true, the trans-light blue does dominate the colour scheme and I would have preferred to have seen more Pearl Gold, maybe restricting the trans-light blue to the weapons and the limbs to give a better feeling of a being surging with energy (like his form in 70795 in fact), however it does not look as bad as it does in photos. The completed Ekimu the Mask Maker is a surprisingly solid and complete model, with armour or Technic being placed in just the right position to cover up the vast majority of gaps.
Proportionally, Ekimu is mostly solid in this respect, though I would say his arms and especially his legs are too short in relation to his torso. I am not a fan of the proportions of the legs, while I think the thigh length is fine at a total length of 7M, the shins at 5M long are far too short in relation to the thighs. A 6M bone would have worked much better in this instance, though ultimately the legs would have been best if the thighs were 8M long and the shins 7M long. I can see why those lengths were not used here though as that would have required a recolour of the 5M shell and would have pushed the model outside the “medium” size/price bracket range.
Thanks to some clever armour placement and Technic filler, Ekimu looks pretty good from a side view, looking filled out and complete. Even the function gears do not stick out a lot from the model like they can do in many of the other BIONICLE figures.
The back is probably not Ekimu’s best angle, but even here the presence of a piston add-on shell helps to fill out, shape and complete this usually overlooked area of a BIONICLE figure which I really appreciate. Here you can also see how friction to the geared arm is provided, this friction system is akin to the friction system found in the gearbox of 70789 Onua Master of Earth. Whiile this friction system works very well and allows for a normal range of poses, it can work a bit too well and make the gearbox very stiff to operate especially if using it for the first time after not using it for a while.
Ekimu the Mask Maker can be put into a wide variety of poses thanks to sufficient friction coming from the joints and the gear functions. The shoulder and leg armour do hinder some poseability to a degree but most of the time it does not get in the way of posing the model. I do like how the shield is mounted on Ekimu, on the arm akin to a traditional shield as opposed to being handheld like it is on many Constraction figures with shields, as it allows some more natual shield defence poses to be pulled off. It does result in the shield sticking out quite a way from the arm, but it is attached by the best stable, legal technique available (you could mount the shield using this Technic pin and some cut rigid 3mm diameter hose but this is an unstable and illegal technique).
My one real gripe with this set however is the shoulder armour. While I do really like it from an aesthetic point of view, from a functional point of view it gets in the way of activating Ekimu’s shoulder gear function to it’s full effect regardless of how you position the armour. In order to be able to rotate the arm around fully it must be sticking out which I personally find a little annoying, especially when you want the function to allow Ekimu to squarely hit and smash masks off other BIONICLE figure’s faces.
For those who are curious, this is what Ekimu looks like wearing the corrupted Hunter mask. It certainly gives Ekimu a sinister vibe but the mask understandably does not go with the figure. I think Ekimu will stay wearing the Mask of Creation for a while.
Compared to the version of Ekimu in 70795 Mask Maker vs Skull Grinder, it is clear that, just like in the case of Umarak the Hunter vs Umarak the Destroyer, they are supposed to be variants of the same character. Ekimu the Mask Maker takes many design cues from it’s Protector-masked counterpart, most notably the shoulder armour that is used and the shield. While I prefer the general colour distribution of the smaller Ekimu, overall I prefer the weapons and the proportions of Ekimu the Mask Maker. It would however be hard to recommend one over another, especially since the smaller Ekimu comes packaged with Kulta, Skull Grinder in 70795.
Ekimu the Mask Maker to me is perhaps the surprise package of the summer BIONICLE wave. What I thought was going to be another relatively generic run-of-the-mill Toa build turned out to be a rather interesting build and the result of that build is a solid, complete-feeling and well-designed figure with only a few minor issues that are mostly very easy to fix. At £9.99/$14.99, it also represents excellent value for money for the size of model you get, especially in the UK. Rarely does a BIONICLE set surpass my expectations, but Ekimu the Mask Maker has definitely done so by quite a considerable margin.
While I would be hesitant to recommend Ekimu the Mask Maker as a parts pack, I have no problem with recommending it as a wonderful representation of the Mask Maker, in the case of the sum of the model is much greater than it’s individual parts. It also pairs nicely with 71316 Umarak the Destroyer. If you are a BIONICLE fan and only want to buy one set from this wave, I’d advise you give a serious consideration to Ekimu the Mask Maker.
A big thanks to The LEGO Group for providing this set for review, so it goes without saying that this review is an expression of my own thoughts and opinions.