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Barraki Takadox

Bionicle
by Artemis

So far I've been reviewing the 2008 Bionicles, the Phantoka and Mistika - but since they've been so much fun I went looking for any leftovers from previous series hanging around store shelves, and scored a handful of 2007 sets.

A schemer, Takadox is always seeking an edge over his enemies - and his friends. He is the most skilled Barraki at planning, seeing all of life as a game board and everyone in it as pieces to be moved how he wishes.

2007 was all about the ocean for Bionicle, with oxygen-masked Toas delving into the murky depths and battling sea monster warlords for... I don't know, something or other. They always find something to fight about. Takadox - a Barraki - is one of said sea monsters, and doesn't he look the part? There's a heavy presence of marbled plastic parts, from the silver shading into his foot claws to the ghostly white mixing with aqua blue on his armour segments to the shades of blue swirling through his mask - or head - with its thickly semi-transparent finish. In addition, Tak sports a precious rarity in any Lego line, clear parts - his upper legs, upper arms, and the wrist and ankle connectors are transparent blue, with the omnipresent internal Technic ports creating a complex look.

Further setting him (and his fellow Barraki, it seems) apart from the modern Toa figures is the lack of a purpose-built body - rather than the usual hips/shoulders/chestplate arrangement, Tak has a body constructed of less specific armour pieces mounted on a central J-beam, with balljoint pieces mounted at each end to connect the limbs and head. Regardless of the armoured back, and solid insectoid abdomen lower down, the construction produces a much thinner, more spindly look than your average Bionicle. Providing a bit of colour contrast are a series of bright red spines mounted all over the body - most of them are fixed, but the ones in the biceps, and on either side of the abdomen, need flat-topped plugs to fit into, so they can swivel around.

The Barraki evidently don't go in for masks, so instead of the usual Bionicle set-up, Tak has a framework based around twin mandibles mounted on his neck balljoint, atop which sits his elongated alien-esque head. The eyes are separate pieces, and clear red, but set against the blue sockets they fit into - red and blue not getting along, colour-wise - they appear a very dark, smoky shade, almost black if they're not under direct lights. The silver mandible pieces are a softer plastic than regular Lego, allowing them to be pushed closed without any risk of damage - they spring back open once you let go, of course, but it's a cute feature if you're playing with these things rather than just displaying them.

Articulation is the usual high standard for Bionicles: balljoint neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees, and ankles - as usual the housings of the elbows and knees limit their rotation, making them more like hinges with a bit of extra play in the other axes. The hands - praying mantis-style blades, rather - fit neatly into the hollow undersides of the forearms, concealing their serrated inner edges, which is a nice tough (if it was intentional). For what it's worth, the abdomen can be swivelled up or down as well; there's no single "right" position, so you can just leave it wherever it looks good in relation to the rest of the figure's pose.

Sadly we finish on a sour note, with Tak's weapon, the Squid Launcher. So far as I've been able to determine, it doesn't have a fancy name like other Bionicle weapons of recent vintage - and, sadly for Tak and his brethren, it doesn't stack up to the competition in any other way either. The idea is simple enough, basically a slingshot: the separate soft plastic "squid" is put with its head in the launcher's front, and the tail then stretched back so that when it's released it goes flying out and smites its foe. Except that almost never happens - if the squid doesn't just pop out of its housing when you pull its tail, it'll go flopping off weakly in any direction other than forwards when you fire it. Maybe there's a knack to it I just haven't mastered, but compared to the contemporary Cordak rotary cannon, or 2008's Nynrah and Midak blasters, which you could confident knock a target Bionicle onto its ass with first shot, it's a pretty unsatisfying weapon.

Still, if you leave the launcher off - and remove the two small clips from the forearm which serve to hold spare squids - Tak remains a creepy-looking and fun figure.

-- 01/24/09


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