Now that we've seen finalized images of all the BIONICLE Stars, it's opinion time.
First, a quick overview of the Stars. They're a line of canister sets, although they are sized more like the small sets of the past two years. I don't mind this, partly because it gives characters like Tahu more classic proportions, and partly because I don't really see what difference it makes.
The Stars contain exactly six new molds. It's considerably fewer than previous canister set lines, but about the same number as last year's small sets.
Each of the BIONICLE Stars sets contains one yellow-gold piece to be used as armor for Tahu. I'll list which set comes with which.
Tahu, being both a red set and a classic character, is likely to get a lot of attention (and sales) as one of the new BIONICLE Stars. I, personally, am impressed.
Three of the new molds for the BIONICLE Stars appear in the Tahu set: two of the new feet in red, three of a new armor piece (two in red on his shoulders and one in orange on his torso), and a new mold of the Kanohi Hau, essentially the same as the original but slightly elongated and attached by a plus-rod. The new armor part is interesting, although I'm slightly skeptical about its usefulness (having only one attachment point) and about the merits of its use in orange on the torso.
Other interesting/new parts include a red Av-Matoran torso and a blended Ackar blade using red and transparent orange plastic. The Ackar blade that acts as his fire sword is a nice touch, although I'm less impressed by the inexplicable silver Nuva shoulder armor piece used to guard the hilt. It would make more sense in red, I think, and I wouldn't see any need for it at all if not for its appearance as the special gold piece for the Skrall set.
Tahu's gold piece, by the way, is his Hau, which brings back just as many fond memories as the red version.
Gresh, the second hero set, contrasts with Tahu as a very recent character.
Gresh contains three new molds: the foot piece in lime and a lime armor piece exclusive to him (although similar in functionality to that which appears on the other Stars and, ironically, as his gold piece). I like the stylistic consistency this has with his helmet, although some of its styles set it apart from the Gresh set that appeared this year. The foot piece is also a little more appropriate here than on Tahu, I feel-- after all, it fits with his armor style and resembles his feet in the original set, whereas Tahu could have just as easily used an Av-Matoran foot for even greater nostalgic value.
Gresh contains three older parts in new colors: a dark green Av-Matoran torso, a purely lime version of his helmet, and silver versions of his tools (similar to their original form in The Legend Reborn, although this is likely a coincidence). He also has lime green eyes rather than orange eyes like his 2009 form. This is probably both a way of cretaing more consistency in his color scheme (although I abhor insistence that eye color match non-transparent color scheme elements), and a way of color-coding the "good" and "evil" Stars sets (which I am more sympathetic towards).
It's also noteworthy that there is a large gap between the set numbers for Gresh and Tahu and the set numbers for the other Stars. Why? I do not know-- in past occasions, this sort of separation occurred only for the Phantoka and Mistika, and the split was quite clearly along good guy/bad guy lines. Could this be evidence of future BIONICLE sets occupying the intermediate set numbers? It's highly questionable, since the gap is between 7117 and 7135-- a very large gap with unknown purpose.
EDIT: It turns out much of this gap is occupied by old LEGO Star Wars stuff. I guess LEGO just wasn't able to find a chunk of six consecutive numbers they liked or something. Regardless, it's not 2010 stuff in that gap, BIONICLE or otherwise.
Takanuva appears in a form somewhere between his previous two. Although he appears as a good guy and Toa of Light (and the set, thankfully, does not call this into question), his gold has been replaced by silver, dark gray, and white. It's obviously a marketing decision, meant to maintain the "importance" of the special gold armor for Tahu. But what does it mean for Takanuva's sales?
Takanuva contains two new molds: two new feet (in white) and one new armor piece (Tahu-style, in white). He also has another of these armor pieces in gold.
Interesting new parts include four Tanma-style legs in white, as well as Nuva shoulder armor in white (not a new piece entirely, but new to BIONICLE and new in the way they are attached to his shoulders). His mask appears in silver rather than gold, and he wields two staves of unknown story origin.
The Skrall set is tied with Gresh as having the most recent original incarnation. This Skrall, however, varies from the original in that lime, not red, is its secondary color.
Skrall's only new piece is the new foot piece, which it contains in black. It has two older parts in new colors, though, such as a black Toa Mata Kopaka sword (which works marvelously with his helmet and armor styles) and his golden piece, a yellow-gold Toa Nuva shoulderpad. I'm unsure if the 2x3 connector blocks on his shoulders are new in lime. Still not entirely enticing, but it at least keeps the Skrall from being a total letdown compared to his Stars brethren. The feet strike me as a good choice.
The Skrall uses an interesting torso style which will also appear on the Rahkshi (which we'll get to eventually). I've replicated this using my own parts (specifically, Fero and Atakus), and was mildly disappointed. Although a conventional posture is nothing essential to a Skrall, it still seemed unnecessarily far forward (although, admittedly, with a backwards torso style his head would otherwise be terribly sunken into his torso, Strong Mad-style).
Marketed as a "Piraka", this set actually depicts the Skakdi warlord Nektann, and I have to say I'm impressed with my first glance at this character. He's distinctly different from the Piraka sets we knew, while still maintaining a Skakdi appearance with his face, spine, and weapon.
The only new parts appearing in Nektann are his face/spine, of an impressive and creative design, and the golden armor piece for Tahu. The face and spine are intriguing, fitting over a Glatorian head piece, attaching to the torso with a Phantoka Toa Nuva style 3x3 connector block, and attaching to the arms directly with plus-rods. It also, intriguingly, emerges from the two sides of the head rather than the back of the head like the spines of the Piraka. The fact that his massive maw is dark blue rather than gleaming glow-in-the-dark white is not as much of a letdown as I was afraid of, thankfully.
Old parts in new colors include Tanma-style and Solek-style leg joints in dark blue. His tool in preliminary images was shown as a Vezok harpoon, which despite causing confusion with good reason seemed like an appropriate Skakdi tool. I am ambivalent concerning his new tool, a combination of an Antroz claw on one side of his hand and a Mahri-Nui Matoran blade on the other. The lack of stylistic consistency between these two parts is disappointing, and the overall shape produced is less Skakdi-ish than it might have been if a Piraka weapon were used or, for that matter, if the Antroz claw had been used on its own.
Nevertheless, I am fairly happy with the BIONICLE Stars version of the Skakdi species, and think it does justice to this new character.
The last of the Stars, a Rahkshi, was a great surprise to me, given the complexity of the Rahkshi design. I believe it was managed stunningly, even with the use of the dissimilar Agori torso.
The Rahkshi's only new piece is its head/back/spine piece, which is jointed in various places and blended from yellow-orange plastic for the head and back and silver plastic for the spine. The spines of this new Rahkshi, a Rahkshi of heat vision (I'm resisting the urge to call him "Samuel L. Jackson"), are knifelike and simple, but varied from the existing Rahkshi spines to my satisfaction.
Older parts in new colors include a yellow-gold Gahlok-Kal shield (acting as the Rahkshi's golden piece and as a shield for Tahu), a dark bluish gray Solek limb, two dark bluish gray Tanma leg joints, two yellow-orange Shadow Matoran feet, and a 2008-style y-joint in transparent orange (acting as the Rahkshi's head, in the same way as the original Rahkshi used an old-style y-joint)
I'm impressed by the choice of limbs, which echoes the original Rahkshi's anatomy. The feet are less explicit in why they were used-- I would think one of those new foot pieces would better echo the Rahkshi foot structure, although the bestial look would be compromised.
Overall, designers tackled many obstacles in designing this Rahkshi set with an Av-Matoran frame, and I'm very impressed with the outcome.