Who makes the shadow leaches? Who mutates the shadow Matoran? Who is just a rip off of the black Phantoka and his Matoran counterpart? The answer is the duo Mutran and Vican, the newest Lego set I purchased via Shop At Home! (Mostly because I won't step foot in a wal-mart) Anyway, I got these two because they're apparently cheaper to get than a Makuta and Matoran separately. Unfortunately, shipping makes up the difference, but I also got a cool Nuparu shirt too, so it's worth it.
Now for a review.
Well, this was my first Makuta and Shadow Matoran sets, so I can't necessarily compare these two to their canister counterparts. But they're not too glamorous. Vican, although he has a few extra silver pieces than the others, is just an average Shadow Matoran. The body screams to be used in MOCing (something I won't be able to do for a while) and the limbs are kinda okay. But the wings aren't as good as I thought they'd be, and the claws just don't work for him. Translucent head and mask are good, though. He has some nice pieces, but that's about it. Makes an interesting playmate for Mutran, but I'm not looking for that at my age Sorry.
Mutran... well, he's my first real look at a Makuta, and I'm not very impressed. Oh, where to start? Well, for starters, the legs and arms don't work together. I can see him with the same arms, but he'd need thicker legs... maybe Inika legs instead of Rahkshi. And if they wanted to keep the legs... fine, but shorten down the arms, or at least get rid of that bulky Piraka armor on the shoulders. Both could work, but together they don't. The body piece is quite impressive... not sure how I'd MOC with it, but it works well in holding the shadow leaches. The opening chest thing is fun, but not as amusing as, say, Pohatu's propellers. A step in the right direction, Lego, but you needed more of a leap to appease me. (You know, the fan who's growing out of the sets and only buys a few... oh, wait, they ignore me, I forgot). The shadow leaches themselves are nice... first collectible since the kraata that stick to something (I believe... and I don't count the Cordak in this assessment). The head and wings... the wings are oddly placed and kinda a weak attempt to include them in the set. I'm not sure what exactly they should've done, but they don't look all that great. The wing pieces themselves are really cool though... are these brand new pieces or were they borrowed from some other set (like a dragon from one of the Castle or Viking sets) and recolored. Anyway, I like them and can see potential use for them... much more than I would for Hahli's wings. The mask itself is okay, but waaaaaay too long. I mean, we've seen masks that extend way over the head, but this one is riddiculas. Plus, the way it's angled (it has this odd setup, so the mask is kind of angled down when placed on the face) leaves too big of a gap over the head. It's different, but the other Makuta may still have better design than him. Onto his hands... I love the Mantax claws, which really give him spiked hands. There's no real way to attach a sword or spear, which makes holding his weapons awkward. But the claws do work best on their own. I like the weapons (I am especially fond of Hewkii's war blade, which I now have two of) but I think Mutran can leave those in my pile of bricks, waiting to be MOCed with, rather than take them with him on display.
One other note that was brought up in the BZP reviews... the Makuta heads do not stand sturdy because of the design of the body piece. Well, I found a way to make it work!
All I needed was a friction pin (a +o one, of which I had a spare in black from the good old days) and one of those +oo+ pieces (ones I use on my custom Matoran, also used on the Mahri-Matoran's bodies.) I pulled the gray pin used to hold Mutrans neck in, and pushed it through the +oo+ piece and back through the hole to reconnect the neck piece. I then used the +o friction pin the hold the +oo+ piece in place at another connection piece lower down on the body piece. (If you don't understand what I'm trying to say, look at the picture and figure it out for yourself) This effectively holds the neck in one place... no more tilting for him. On the downside, it gets in the way of his chest-claw release bar, so dropping his shadow leaches becomes more difficult. Furthermore, the extra pieces block the eyepiece when Mutran tilts his head back while flying. That, and the pieces themselves stick out a little too much. But this is just my custom fix... not ideal but it solves the initial problem.
Overall, is this set worth it? I think the main question is, are the Makuta Phantoka worth it, as Mutran is only minorly different from them. Well, they're new, but they aren't my favorite baddies of recent years. Hopefully, the summer Makuta will blow me out of the water... I'm already thinking of picking up Krika and Bitil when I can. The plus side of Mutran is that he comes with some pieces that I won't get unless I buy a Makuta: a new body piece, wings, chest launcher and a orange rock thingie with shadow leaches inside it. Mutran also comes with a lot of cool silvery pieces (the coolest of which are Hewkii's war-blade and one of his shoulder blades, as well as SIX Mantax claws!) I also got two new masks, which also are tinted with lime green, which is always a cool color (although a fragile color... Tanma's leg joint broke today when I was having him fight Vican.
) And the best part is, you get a slightly more beefed up Makuta and Shadow Matoran for a couple of dollars cheaper than if you bought a canister Makuta and Matoran. Woot. (Of course, to do this without shipping, you have to make a trip to evil Wal-Mart or make a lucky find in a Lego store) I'm satisfied with the set, because I'm not planning to get any other Phantoka Makuta. But is it a super great buy... nope.