Better 08 Pics, Analysis, Reaction, And Predictions
Posted by bonesiii , Oct 18 2007 · 49 views
Today the Bones blog presents a four-tiered feature on the official & approved 2008 set images seen in this article. First, enlarged and lighting-fixed images are used here that make judging each piece and the overall set easier. Second, my in-depth objective analysis of the sets is included with each image, as well as my own in-depth subjective personal reactions. Fourth, at the end I will make my customary predictions about how these are likely to sell. If nothing else, I hope the improved quality of these images helps you better make up your own mind about these sets.
All of the following is spoilers, so read at your own risk.
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Firstly, the "Analysis" sections below are written as objectively as possible. Any traces of my own bias you see in these, please point them out and I will try to remove them.
Secondly, the "My Reactions" parts are totally written from my own personal tastes. Feel free to skip those sections if you like, although I do make some observations in there objectively that aren't mentioned in the analysis. I spend time on it partly just for my own sake, but also because I do tend to resemble most fans in a lot of what I like, so perhaps my reactions can be used to roughly gauge how these might play with most fans. But please take that with a grain of salt, because it is really just me, and of course there are some things I differ from most fans on.
Thirdly, please do not link to or describe leaked images, as too many keep doing when discussing these official images. Suffice it to say, the leaked images were apparently prototypes, which is why you shouldn't go by leaks anyways (well, one reason; it also doesn't help that they're illegal).
Analysis: The Nuva are now able to get the storyline spotlight for 2008, something most BZPower voters have supported (see here), and storywise this is not technically a transformation, but (apparently) simply new weapons, tools, and armor, as this was what Greg told us would be discussed (though whether this was approved as the explanation has not been revealed).
The Nuva sets update these characters to the "new" style that evidence indicates most fans prefer, as opposed to the older, more Technic style that LEGO originally assumed would be most popular (and that has proven not to be the case since 2001). So right off the bat, when we compare these to the older sets, these are likely to play much better with most fans. Also, we see the better standards of articulation at work here, and much more varied use of pieces, less clonism, etc. They play up differentiation from their old forms much more than the 2003 Nuva, but interestingly their masks and tools resemble their old ones much more so than the Inika compared to their Matoran forms or the Mahri to Inika. Projectiles return with something like looks like a mix between the Cordak launcher in shape, and the Zamor launcher in what it fires.
Due to the move to the new style, this will likely be a set group with intense reactions; strong liking by those who prefer the newer style, and strong dislike by the minority who prefers the older style, especially those emotionally attached to the Mata/Nuva03's exact forms and style. Very few fans in the main fanbase now remember 2003 or these characters, and even on BZPower most support this move, so overall the negatives to the "Newva" are minimal.
My Reactions: I'm very excited about these sets overall, because I disliked strongly several features of the older sets, both Mata and Nuva, such as the chunky bodies, the gears, the lack of knees and elbows, the gears, the less cool style of some parts of the body design, and the gears. I'm happy to see the more Mata-esque mask designs. The Nuva were a good attempt at "coolifying" the masks, but only a few of them really struck a chord with me (mainly the Miru, and Kaukau). These masks are much more in line with the 2001 Kanohi, the Mahri's Kanohi, and other similar "cool" designs.
I was hoping for a few more new pieces than we see here, but old pieces in new colors are cool too. The best part of that is that now, seven years in, Bionicle has finally built up a good collection of varied pieces for legs, arms, feet, etc. This makes it much less expensive to reduce clonism today than in 2003 (for example), and is something I've been looking forward to for a long time. Still, almost all of the limb and feet pieces are recycled (possible exception being Pohatu's arms).
Got a bone to pick with the projectile weapon, though -- it's the same problem as the Mahri's Cordak Launchers. To me, the weapon isn't very stylized in appearance. To me, that is very important. There is evidence that most fans don't care since it's a gun, and certainly many real life guns are similar in that design. So it might not be a real problem, but my question is, why not coolify it anyways with a little with Bionicle-style pistons, serrations, etc. on the sides? The Zamor launcher, or both styles of Kanoka launchers, or to an extent the Squid launchers were good examples of cool looking launchers, IMT, and I miss that in Cordak and these weapons. Theoretically, that might make it even more attractive to most fans. However, it is much cooler looking to me than the Cordak Launcher, so it's a step forward.
Analysis: Kopaka's mask is the most recognizeable, with the lens concept included. He is very true to the style of the Nuva, maybe more so than the other two, in the smoother limb design and the more plain metallic design of the wings, much like the plain metallic design of the 2003 armor. He also has what appears to be a sword, much like how Kopaka Mata had one sword (although in his Nuva form he had two). The blade might be attached to the weapon like a bayonet; not sure. His feet are the first Hahli Inika feet in white, as I recall.
My Reactions: He's my least favorite of the bunch, but still miles ahead of the 2003 forms. Mainly, I just didn't like that old metallic plainness all that much; I wanted him to be more original and less "true" to the older form. I love wings in a Toa, hoped for them for years. And the wings definately fit his style of cold strength. Airplane wings fit him much better than, say, Hahli Mahri's wings which were more "feathery". But I would have liked more "coolification" with these wings. Also, his mask isn't that attractive. Plus side is that it resembles an Akaku, but minus is, again, it's not that "cool" in the way I see coolness. The use of red in the laser thing seems very out of place on this set. And the feet have always been my least favorites ever since they first appeared in Hahli Inika (I believe). Best parts seem to be the sword/bayonet, the arms and legs, and the presence, at least, of wings. Personally I'd rather spend my money on Hahli if I want a winged Toa, though.
Analysis: Again we see a lot of similarities to his older forms, in this case especially to Lewa Nuva. The mask has the same lower cheek things as the Miru Nuva, and the mouth area is very close to that. The top resembles the Miru Mata more closely. Lewa Nuva used to have two Katana until a Piraka broke one -- and this Lewa has one sword, again an interesting similarity given that these are apparently new tools the Toa get. He features the first use of jets (aside from Vakama's Kanoka launcher). And he brings a mostly new color scheme to the table for Toa; lime green instead of Mata or Metru green, balanced with gray and metallic colors. And his feet are the first silver Mantax feet.
My Reactions: Lewa and Pohatu are sortof tied for my favorites of the Newva. Overall, I like the style of Lewa best. He's the most coherent of the three, his lime balanced perfectly with the gray and silver, the jets providing the perfect balance to all of that, the sword stylish and sensible, the weapon free in his other hand, again, sensibly. Kopaka's pose makes his sword/bayonet seem clumsy and his face doesn't fit that well with his body, and Pohatu's eyes are hard to understand and his tools seem awkward -- none of those problems exist with Lewa. (Pohatu comes close mainly because he's orange, and I'm bonesiii.) Lewa is a perfect example of what "cool" means to me in a Toa, and quite possibly to most fans too.
I love the jets -- not just a little, but I think these are the best jet pieces LEGO has ever made, that I can think of, including System jets. Reason being the two-pronged look of the top end, mixed with the wider and roundish lower end; they just look so cool! The sword is awesome, very much like his old Katana, but coolified.
And the mask -- it's perfect. It looks exactly like what the word "mask" in Bionicle means to me; slightly curvy enough to tell this is something molded from a Kanoka disk and worn on the face, not the face itself, coherent, not just round, and with some serration things going on. Plus what seems to be "visors" as a bonus. The one possible downside is that it looks a lot like Lesovikk's lime Faxon, but personally the strong resemblance to both forms of Miru nullifies that as a problem, whereas L's mask looks more like a lime Kaukau.
Really the only downside IMT to Lewa is that he's not orange.
Analysis: Yet again we see a strong resemblance to his former forms. The Kanohi is almost identical to a Kaukau Mata, with the top turned into a visor. He's got a wide build, though unlike his previous forms it is not inverted. His last tools were double-clawed hand tools; these seem to be able to actually fold in like claws, and again there is one per hand, just like Pohatu Nuva. In color scheme he modifies Hewkii's yellow concept into orange, which might make more sense, and possibly might play better with most fans. On the one hand, yellow is perhaps more eye-catching and stone elemental energy has always been yellow, plus tan stone is one of the most common colors and tan is simply gray-ified yellow. On the other hand, orange is closer to red, the most popular color, also eye-catching, and closer to Mata brown, which is simply dark orange. It's also very close to Hewkii's yellow, which had a slight orange tint to it. It may very well be a perfect compromise -- one that increases interest both with many of the rare older fans and with the majority alike.
The tools are apparently some sort of helicopter-like blades, so in addition to closing like a claw, they might rotate, giving Pohatu his method of flight to match Kopaka's wings and Lewa's jets. However, I can't quite make out a method of rotation; the only hinge I see is the sideways one to make them snap like claws, so that might not be true. His body also seems to be built something like Kongu Mahri's. The front half of his arms appears to be a new piece, and it might be part of the tools; that stick thing by the elbow might be connected to the helicoptery things to spin them. But that's just a theory.
My Reactions: He. Is. Orange. Rad cool, man, my favorite color of all time. The mask with the visor is very cool, too, if a little less coherent than Lewa's. It's a little cooler than the Kakama Mata, and a lot cooler than the Kakama Nuva. His feet are my all-time favorite Toa feet, because they are bar none the most "coolified". Spikes are the key. The shoulder-mount for the weapon is good, not new, but still good. And the style pieces on the limbs are my favorites of those. What takes him down a little to me is that he's less coherent. The blade things look awkward, the visor color isn't balanced anywhere else, and the shoulders are maybe a little too wide. Or, I should say, for shoulder that wide, the arms seem too small (but that might be the pose). And I don't like the front of the arms, as far as I can see. Looks too industrial, not cool enough.
In terms of recognizeability, LEGO could have switched Lewa's and Pohatu's feet, as Mantax feet look a lot more like Pohatu's old feet addons. But then Pohatu would be second best in terms of coolness, so I can understand and appreciate the reasoning, and I can especially appreciate my favorite Toa feet being orange.
Analysis: We know next to nothing storywise about these characters, except that they are batlike, and there was a bat-related teaser pic this year that many are connecting to these sets. Setwise, we are seeing some of the most uncloned designs ever, with a lot of "coolified" style (putting the term in quotes because whether it comes across as cool is, of course, subjective; my understanding of most fans' tastes is that they see it that way) and a lot of innovation. The nonclonism even goes so far as to give two Phantoka feet, and one something more like an insect leg. They seem designed to come across as "spooky" or "creepy" as villains, a common theme with bats, of course. The canisters look very rocklike, another similarity to the teaser image people are talking about.
My Reactions: It's a lot harder to judge these sets than the Newva thanks to lower quality images, but there are lots of things I can tell for now. What stands out to me are 1) the wings ROXOR, 2) the faces are varied and cool; Antroz' resembling a coolified Krana or a mask, Vamprah almost humanoid, like an alien, and Chirox almost skeletal (you can guess my reaction to that). Also interesting is the sphere where the belly would be. Not sure what the deal is with it, but I guess it's a weapon they would release while flying sorta like a WWII bomber. Certainly innovative, although perhaps a little awkward, not sure. It's interesting to note that there doesn't seem to be anything else like a projectile with the Phantoka. Perhaps a pin in the back pushes it forward like a Zamor launcher, though, who knows.
The rest is so varied it's better discussed with the individual sets. Overall, though, the Phantoka prove to me that Bionicle can still put out innovative canister villains just as much, if not even more so, than in the past. I can't think of any villains since the Bohrok that have been this "out there" in terms of cool innovation. Possibly the Vahki, but then they were so clony, it got watered down. Rahkshi, Piraka, and Barraki are very very Bionicle, and Visorak are maybe a little more "out there", but these are even more unique and unusual. Perfect villains to face the Newva too, in that they are very Rahi-esque, with enough variety to conceivably be different species.
Analysis: Antroz features a red and silver (or possibly white, like Pridak?) color scheme, very triangular wings, some sort of blades (again, something like Pridak's?), and clawed feet. The feet are apparently the tri-claw Piraka feet, but might possibly be the new bi-claw piece in the smaller villain sets and Chirox; hard to tell at that angle compared to the canister's plastic overlapping the image. The face is perhaps the oddest in Bionicle yet, very remniscient of a krana or a Kanohi with no forehead. The red appears to be Mata red, not Metru red, though it's hard to tell for sure, especially considering the lighting in the original pics was so much darker and these are the brightened images here. The body, legs, and arms aren't visible clearly in these images.
My Reactions: Aunt Rose. Sorry, can't help but notice the name resemblance. Antroz is the most beast-like in appearance due to his face; looks with this lighting like a giant mandible mouth or something; very cool. The claws are very cool, though apparently an old piece (an old favorite IMT). The wings are a good example of how I like wings -- they're stylized, but not feathery. Something more like this would have been nice in Kopaka, even without the bat shape of the inner-upper part. I like the bomber-belly (if you will) in Antroz; the red matches his color scheme well, and the size of that sphere looks intimidating as a weapon. (Incidentally, I wonder if it reloads storywise?)
Analysis: Not as much can be said about him as the arms and/or wings are still distorted on the sides of the canister. The wings or blades seem to be the long and skinny type, but I can't be sure. His head features a more distinguishable face than Antroz, somewhat humanoid, possibly with some kind of fangs (as the name might hint as well). Most notably, his legs are insectoid blades rather than feet, somewhat like a Visorak leg mixed with a Vahki staff in four-legged mode. I'm assuming Vamprah can walk with his arm-blades and leg-blades like a spider, but can't be sure because I can't make out the arms. But otherwise it would impossible to balance him, so something along those lines is probably the case.
My Reactions: Vamprah is to me the creepiest of the three, with the face and legs. The face almost looks like a Kanohi, again. All good points, and I think the wings/blades look cool but I can't tell for sure. I don't like the red of the bomber-belly with his blue; it's the only place red is used in this set. Blue would have been more coherent.
Analysis: Chirox features a skull-like face with what seem like fangs, a color scheme of black and silver (and possibly white?), skinny arms with blade weapons, Nuparu Mahri style pieces on the legs, the new two-toed feet, and apparently his bomber-belly has just fired in this image, which is what the half-and-half sphere below him with the green things coming out is.
My Reactions: First. The. Face. Is. A. Skull. With. Fangs. I am in skeleton heaven. Of course, not 100% sure skeletal is the look they were going for, but I see it in there. So I happy. The wings look the best, the feet look the best, and the body looks good sans weapon. I'm even not really minding the skinny arm as it does fit with the skeletal theme. And fangs. Downside... again, I don't like that the weapon is red. At first I thought it -was- loaded in his belly but was simply black -- that would have been far cooler, a black weapon. But ah vell. Still, overall he's the coolest of the three IMT. He also seems the most intimidating; whereas the others might be creepy or beastly, if I ran into this guy, I might really cower in real fear. Except of course that I'm a skeleton too. Anyways. Also, side note, but the tone of gray on the canister is perfect. I love that color. Not sure the arm has two halves, though, which I don't like, but that's hopefully just the pose.
Analysis: Before I begin, here's a pic of all three side by side. I bothered to make it, might as well include it somewhere. The 2008 Matoran seem to be much more oriented towards new pieces than 2007, with new legs, arms, body, and masks. The feet are all Mata feet, and the tools are old tools from various years. They appear to have only fake knees and elbows, though I can't be sure given that this is only an image. They do have working necks, apparently, though. And again the colors are lime, white, and orange.
My Reactions: These are my favorite Matoran sets since the Mctoran 2001, which is saying something, because I was beginning to think LEGO couldn't surpass them. I love their masks, their colors, the choice of old tools, and the Mata feet even seem to fit perfectly. The body piece seems very cool, as do the stylized arms and legs. The masks are all based roughly on the Toa Newva masks, interestingly.
What I loved most about the Mctoran was their coolified arms with serrations, along with the hunchback design, gear-free design, and the fact that the arms were longer than the legs, ape-like, and the heads big compared to a tiny body. All of this has been imprinted on my mind as "Matoran", and all these other forms since have gotten away from it. I don't think that's been a wise move, at least if most fans are anything like me (and they often are). But the Mctoran had no balljoint articulation and their feet were not that cool. These bring back arm serrations, they bring back body to head ratio, they are gear-free, they're hunchbacks, they have all of this, plus articulation. And, even what is there is coolified beyond the Mctoran, with the body especially, and the Toa Mata feet are far cooler IMT than the Mctoran feet.
If the limbs don't have bendable knees and elbows, though, that would be dissapointing. Mctoran-worthy Matoran with knees and elbows would be awesome, but it doesn't look like that is the case. They're certainly better than Bohrok limbs (though those were cool too), but bendable joints are an important aspect of sets, to me. Of course, they're just small sets, so not that huge a priority. Also, the arm serrations still aren't as pronounced as with the Mctoran, which is dissapointing. Overall, so much of these sets I have been hoping for for so long, thinking I'd never get, that I still have trouble believing it's really coming next year!
Analysis: Tanma features Lewa Nuva 03 Katana. His mask resembles Lewa Newva's mask, but it stylized differently and has no visor (that I can see). His arms and legs are different, the arms at a 90 degree angle with a highly noticeable serration, the legs looking somewhat like the Toa Metru shoulder armor.
My Reactions: I like these arms the best as they're the closest to the serrated Mctoran style. The Katana is a perfect choice for the green set, the mask is an even cooler variation on the theme of Lewa Newva's mask. The knees look great, like a much cooler version of the Mctoran leg style, albeit with smaller feet compared to the rest of him.
Analysis: Hewkii Mahri swords, a variation on Kopaka Newva's Kanohi, and four identical limbs with slight serrations and pistons characterize Solek. Again, the legs appear locked into a 90 degree angle.
My Reactions: This mask is what I would have liked as Kopaka's mask, maybe with a lens added too (sans the red laser). I could still coolify it, but within the Mata style, it's very cool as is. There's less serration on the legs, which to me is a downside, but the design is cool. The Hewkii swords are an excellent choice; one of the best tools out there, just like the Katana, IMT. In this case I'm very glad the designers didn't go with a "borrow from the Nuva" theme on the tools, as neither Kopaka form's swords were all that cool (although a silver Kopaka Mata sword might have been interesting -- no idea if that mold even still exists).
Analysis: Unlike the other two, only his arms feature the primary color orange; the legs are gray. Again the arms have some serrations; I can't tell if this is a new piece, or the same as Tanma's legs at a new angle. The legs appear to be Tanma's arms, but again, not sure. The mask is yet again a variation on the Newva mask of this color, looking much like the original Kakama in this case, even more so than Pohatu's new mask. And finally, Chronicler's staffs are his tools.
My Reactions: Orange. Too bad the legs aren't orange, though, since that piece (if it's Tanma's arms) is my favorite out of the bunch. But great mask; maybe the most 2001ey of all these Kanohi and a lot like something I might design for the Paracosmos. Chronicler's staffs always rock; again I'm glad there's no Nuva-borrowing going on there. There's something confusing going on with the shoulder, though -- it seems way too high up to me. And there might be something attached to the back, or that might just be part of the background, can't tell.
Analysis: It's been a long time since Bionicle has featured small villains; the last I can recall is also the first; the Bohrok Va. Considering how much more advanced these are than the Va, these are a first. They appear to be essentially Chibi Phantoka, each with a variation on the faces of the corresponding Phantoka (just like the Matoran and the Newva's mask similarities). They use the same body piece and leg pieces as the Matoran, and two of them use the same two-toed feet as Chirox. All three appear to have the same bat-wing pieces, that resemble System bat/dragon wing pieces LEGO has made before. And like the Matoran, they each feature an old bladed weapon, one in each hand.
My Reactions: Very cool. The Va were... well, their heads were alright, but that was it. They were cheapie extras, but these are real quality (IMT) sets that happen to be small. The wings are even clearer than the Phantoka's to be wings, although they look a little too small to really help in flight much (but this is Bionicle physics of course). The two-toed pieces and the spider-leg pieces work really well in them, and the tool choices are excellent. The faces I have mixed reactions to, but will save that for later. And the canisters are a nice chibi version of the stone look in the Phantoka canisters.
Analysis: Kirop features Matoro Mahri claws, two-toe feet, and apparently Photok's arms as both arms and legs (and at this angle, it appears Tanma's legs must be this piece as well). The face looks the most batlike of all of these, apparently with four fangs just barely discernable at the bottom.
My Reactions: My fav of all three. The bat-ear look with the fangs is great, the black wings fit the color scheme best, the weapons are perfect (and perfectly coherent), and for a villain the limb choice looks perfect. I love the two-toed piece, especially in a small set like this. And the face reminds me of mimes or those bad guys in Zelda... um... the one with the fish.... Windfish? Anyways. Red eyes are perfect. It's just a great set. I think those wings could be bigger, though. And I keep mixing his name up with Chirox, but I'm learning, I'm learning...
Analysis: Gavla features a blue and black (or possibly dark gray/silver) color scheme, with either white or silver at the top of the head. Again the feet are the two-toed pieces. The limbs appear to be Tanma arms. And the tool is the green Visorak's pincher.
My Reactions: Again LEGO is hitting the mark perfectly with the coolest old tools to choose.
Analysis: Again we see the spidery formation of legs, and in this case it's clear that the arms form the other two legs. Takanuva staffs are held by Tanma arm pieces in the front, and apparently the back is the same, though it's hard to tell. Again the batlike wings come out the back, and the face resembles another Krana-like shape just like Antroz's. The red also, again, appears to be Mata red, not Metru red, but, again, might just be this pic.
My Reactions: This is what a Krana should have looked like, IMT. All those spikes sticking off the sides rock. Spikes are the key to cool. Interesting that the spider design is in red, whereas with the Phantoka, it's in blue. I wonder if white, orange, and lime Phantoka and small sets will have some of this spider design? Again, I wish the wings had been colored; red in this case, not just black again. Takanuva staffs -- again, the best of the best of tools are being used here. Again I feel like the set designers are reading my posts. This guy ranks very close to Kirop to me, close to being best, with Gavla a little behind. Mainly, it's because both Kirop and Radiak are coherent, overall, but Gavla's head does not fit with the coolness of his weapons. Also, Radiak and Gavla's black wings aren't as coherent as red and blue would have been, but Kirop's black wings are coherent with other black in him. Remember the importance of coherence -- it isn't just pure cool shapes that make up the whole of "coolness" IMT.
Big Box Set
Analysis: Obviously, the name and mask bring up many storyline questions. I think it's safe to say for the moment that Toa Ignika wears the Kanohi Ignika and leave it at that here. This set is much like Toa Takanuva, in that it presents old pieces (like a Titan set would) to construct a Toa and a vehicle, with a new piece for an elite mask, and sells in a box. The main difference is that this Toa includes the same projectile weapon that the Toa Newva have.
In this case, we see a standard Toa Inika/Mahri/Newva style body and limb design, decorated with bladelike shoulder armor and Nuparu leg armor that also looks somewhat bladelike. The bladelike theme is repeated in the Hewkii Mahri staff and several places in the "hoverboard", matching the bladelike ridges in the also-silver Kanohi Ignika on his face. There's a Piraka torso, Rahkshi legs as limbs, and Toa Metru feet. In the hoverboard there's a Jaller Mahri sword, two Brutaka swords, and two other swords I can't make out.
Also of note is the color scheme -- largely silver, but there is also some yellow. Same yellow featured in Hewkii Inika/Mahri and other sets like Keetongu.
My Reactions: THIS is cool incarnate. Blades/Spikes, serrations, great blade-like shoulder design (a key to coolness I use often in my own MOCs and such), a great staff weapon, a hoverboard... Not just any hoverboard, a cool one with sharp streamline front with a three pronged design, and wings. Wings apparently even slightly bent forward. Perfect design for a hoverboard. Perfect example of an ubercool, coherent set. This rocks.
Only real downside is the lack of new pieces. Of course, that's standard fare for box sets anyways so no surprise. The main new piece, the Kanohi Ignika's 2008 form, is familiar but still coolified a little, in the way it's pinched in at the cheekbones a little compared to past forms. And regardless of being coolified since its last form, it was already one of Bionicle's coolest masks. I would have increased the spike/ridges on the top though.
I've had a tradition of making informed predictions for many years now about how sets, mainly canister sets, will come across to the fanbase and how that will affect sales. My approach has proven correct in almost every instance as sales results come in, most recently the Inika and Piraka. For the moment, my predictions on the Barraki and Mahri are still waiting results, so I'll rehash that. The Mahri should sell roughly as good as the Inika, possibly down due to some flaws in coolness with some body designs and Cordak uncoolness, but also probably up due to their higher degree of nonclonism than the Inika, better (more "Bionicle") masks, and of course, the Cordak are "guns" which is guaranteed to earn major point. The Barraki should sell even better than the Piraka, due to less clonism and very strong cool designs of heads, bodies, tools, etc. What might bring them down is that overall many are not as "out of the box" as something like Visorak or Bohrok, and their coolest parts aren't as intense as something like Piraka spines or Rahkshi spines (except Ehlek -- but he is lacking limb styling pieces).
So here's my thoughts on 2008's sales prospectus.
First, there is a high level of coolification throughout many of these sets, and so that right off the bat is going to grab attention on the shelves. The strongest sets in this respect, to me, are the Phantoka. We are seeing the most stylization and the most "spikes" and such in these sets, and they are also highly innovative. Much like the Bohrok or Visorak, they are a new shape to Bionicle, and much like the Rahkshi or the Piraka, they focus on style over mere practicality. They seem somewhat biomechanical with the style of their faces and in two cases, the toed feet, as well as the wings. In addition, they are very non-cloned, so interest in buying all three (for now) will likely be strong. All of these make them stand out as something worth buying, rather than just another canister set. These are the first villain sets I've seen aside from some of the Barraki that combine all of these positive factors together in each set and roughly balance them out perfectly.
I predict that for villain sets, these will sell very well. Possibly even surpassing the Piraka.
Second, the Toa Newva. I have issues with some aspects of them, especially those issues mentioned with Kopaka. Judging purely based on Lewa for the moment, I see the same balance of cool, coherence, and a high degree of innovation, with a very cool color scheme, and a better-than-Cordak launcher. Lewa, I think will sell well. Pohatu will probably look a little clearer with higher-res images from the magazine, and a better pose with Kopaka that shows off his sword/bayonet, or whatever it is, may also cast him in a more positive light. Both, especially Pohatu, are at least equal to the Toa Mahri in level of cool. Kopaka could have gone a lot beyond it than he did. Pohatu could have been more coherent. The weapon could have been far more cool and stylish. Kopaka's feet could have been better. Body armor could have been cooler (just like with the Mahri), with spikes or the like. Things like this seem to make them look less like the noble heroes that fans want, in my understanding, and a little more like machines, especially Kopaka. So there are some negatives that I think might hurt them. Overall, though, they are very cool.
I predict the Newva will sell roughly like what the Toa Mahri will sell (which should be about like the Inika, which was very good). I worry the Newva might not go as high as they could have gone in success, though.
Small sets. These are strong in coolness, the Matoran with possibly better Kanohi than the Newva, the small villains miles better than the Bohrok Va (Phantoka Va?). Tricky to judge small sets, but I predict these will sell decently. Most likely the Matoran are the strongest of the two kinds, with so much similarity to what was cool about the original Matoran. There really is no context in which to judge small villain sets, though, other than the Va, so that prediction is less certain. Given that these are high quality cool sets, it's a safe bet that they'll far surpass the Va. By how much, I have no idea, because villains rarely sell as well as good guys.
Toa Ignika. This should sell a lot like Takanuva in 2003, which was a strong seller despite that year overall being down, and quite likely a lot like Lhikan and Kikanalo, though there is no Rahi here. I.e. this one should teach big box sets how to leave shelf. Main possible weakness is lack of new parts, but since the old parts that are included are the best of the best, it shouldn't be too much of a problem.
Overall, as you can see, I expect 2008 to be very up for Bionicle. Will it be the best year ever? That's a question I'm not going to touch, as it is really purely subjective, though I'll be interested in how that question plays late in 2008 or in 2009. But I think it's safe to say it will be up to par, at least, with 2006 in sales. I think it will be a hard year to beat in years afterwards.
Well, hope you enjoyed this or found it useful. Please comment any questions, corrections, disagreements, agreements, whatnot.