Oh, yeah, the review.
(Titled too, just in case you didn't realize who I was talking about or who is doing this review)
First off, the journey to get Tanma. Today, I visited my third Lego store... the one in Washington. Yeah, the store's not actually in Seattle, but neither am I, and the bus system around here is good enough, as long as you have your university bus pass. Anyway, I didn't buy Tanma there... but I did go there. They had all the Phantoka Toa, Makuta, and Matoran on display. But the shelves were less well stocked. The sets I was looking for were Lewa, Tanma, and maybe Mutron and Vican. Well, Lewa was sold out (as well as Antroz... green and red do well), only the evil Matoran were available (and in small numbers anyway) and, despite saying they carry special edition sets on their webpage, this store does not have Mutron. He's a cool set, but I don't want to get him through WalMart or Shop@Home, so the Lego store was my only bet.
Anyway, because I had to do further shopping, I went to a Fred Meyers, which not only had Tanma (there was only one of him, though, and no Lewa) but also had all Lego sets on 20% off. (Woo Hoo!) So, presto, five dollars and a thirty minute bus ride later, I have Tanma ready to build.
(This one with the flash actually on! Yeah, it does bring out more detail)
First off, Tanma is large. I'll expand (ha ha, pun) on that later. Articulation isn't a strong suit of his. The prebent arms and legs can make some of his positions awkward. I know, most Matoran since the... well, 03 Matoran... have had those 90 degree prebent arms, but the increase in length on these makes it more noticeable. The new head works swell for articulation... except when Tanma bends his head back to look straight up, and then the back of his mask hits his jetpack. Oops. In articulation, he does not beat the amazing Voya-Nui Matoran in my book (well, I think they have the same # of points of articulation, but the length in Tanma makes him more unusual and not as proportionate as some of the Voya-Nui Matoran). Then again, he does beat out the Mahri-Nui Matoran, so gotta give him credit there. Another thing on possibility... the new joints are very sturdy, and look like they should last longer. Although if Tanma's new joints will survive the curse of the fragile lime green remains to be seen.
Okay, onto the pieces. As I mentioned, the legs and arms are new and different. The arms remind me of the Throwbot limbs of yesteryear (which are coming back with some of the Mistika, I believe). They're more decked out with pin and rod holes, plus the alternate ball and socket endings. I foresee set incorporations with these. The legs are a very interesting new design, but when stood up straight, the foot connector is a space back from the hip connector, so if you want to stand him up straight, he looks odd. Thus, you have to slant the legs forward a bit to make him look better. The legs have fair potential in sets, with a good collection of connection holes. But still... they won't work with the bendy knees of current canister sets, and they're a bit too big for the smaller MOCs, so I can't quite yet see how I'd incorporate them into a MOC (not that I've truly MOCed since the summer).
Moving on, you have the new body piece. Uh, okay, that is kinda new for Lego. It has potential, that's for sure, but a custom like that of the Mahri-Nui Matoran is never a bad thing. Without the jetpack, the back of the body looks kind of empty, but the front looks great. It may be following a trend towards single piece bodies again, but I can see uses in the MOCi9ng world. Hey, just as long as these aren't the bodies for all small sets for the next five years, it should be okay. Then, on the back of the body is the jetpack. Personally, I think it's a useless piece. Sure, it does have the slight image of a booster pack, but I think that's because I know what it's suppose to be. Otherwise, it looks like Tanma is carrying a strange looking backpack that pens up at the bottom so everything falls out. Thoroughly useless piece, as there are no real ways to connect to the bulk of the piece. It fills out his back, but I think Lego could've done better. (How, I don't know, I just think it could be better.)
OMG, a new mask for a small set! That hasn't happened since, like... the Turaga! (By new mask, I mean new design, of course) From the front, it sort of resembles Lewa Pantoka's new mask, as well as a bit of the Kaukau Nuva. However, from the side it looks more like a Kiril with a horn (see pict below.) The head is awesome. I've been asking Lego (well, not really, it's more like hoping for) to make a small set's head pose-able and with translucent eyes. They did it this time, and the head it awesome. It's very similar to a Metru head in shape, although I think the face resembles more of the old Mata heads. And there is a connection rod on the back of the skull too... for whatever you'd want to put there. I see lots of potential for using this in the future.
Now, the packaging...
(The Makuta will never think to look for me here)
I saw the pictures... I knew the new boxes were different. They have those silly plastic tops and bottoms, with a strap holding them together. And they're big too. Maybe not as wide as the Mahri-Nui Matoran, but just as tall and with greater depth. On, and tough plastic. Now, what surprised me was that there is no cardboard box... just cardboard sides in between the two plastic pieces. This is certainly new, unique, and big enough that Tanma can almost fit back inside like the canister sets of... well, back when canister sets could fit into their canisters. However, if this is the most cost efficient method of boxing sets is different... if plastic is so costly nowadays due to oil prices, then why stick more of the stuff on the top of the box? They're nice pieces, but since their not set compatible, I'll only want to keep them if I want to keep the entire box as it is. Well, yes, it seems like this one will weather more than previous boxes, but do I really need to store a small set when I can just throw it into a tub of other lego pieces and leave it there until my net MOC run. Hmm.
Oh, and more complaining on the issue of size.
(Pohatu: How am I ever going to get big enough to carry you?
Tanma: Eat a healthy diet of carrots and prunes. And maybe some energized protodermis and adaptive armor.)
Did I say I disliked the Mahri-Nui Matoran because they were almost as big as the Toa Mata? Well, I stand corrected... these new Avi-Matoran are as big or bigger than the Mata! In a fight between the two of them, I'd say Tanma would win (although, of course, sheer size isn't always everything, but still!) Tanma's legs are longer than Pohatu's, as are his arms, and his swords are about as long as Kopaka and Tahu's weapons (well, they were Lewa Nuva's first). It's just... I dunno, crazy that the small sets of today can shadow the canister sets of last year. (And although I don't have it with me, I bet Tanma can also come up to a Tarakava's chin, and those were expensive sets too!) Sure, Tanma can attach to the back of the Phantoka, but with a few piece additions, you could easily fit a McToran or Turaga to the back of. These Avi-Matoran don't need to wish to be Toa; just go back seven years and to Mata-Nui, and they would be mistaken for Toa like that. (And worst, the number of pieces Tanma has is about that of the gear assembly of the Toa Mata.)
I think this size increase is rather crazy, but the toyline needs to move on and not always make stuff exactly like that of years long past. Anyway, Tanma's size increase (and price increase) will also mean that he'll get more storyline time than other smaller sets of the past... because it'll be more worth it for Lego to advertise him as he'll bring in more profit than, say, a Turaga did. (Or maybe a better comparison would be Dekar, as the economies of 07 and 08 are probably more similar than 08 and 01)
Overall, was Tanma worth it? Well, kinda. Good mask and head, okay limbs, blah body and ehk jetpack. Too massive for a small set, but piece wise it isn't too bad. Not worth all the money, though. I think I'll hold off on getting other Matoran this year, unless I can snag Vican, who looks cool and has the whole shadow Matoran design. But if you want to spend your money on better sets, you should probably look at the canisters first.
(Is that long enough for you? I know y fingers are sore now... how are your eyes? Need glasses yet? Well, you will.)