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Mutran & Vican

Bionicle Phantoka
by Artemis

Since there's been some querying on the forum, I've done some research - don't make a habit of this, people, I value my laziness - and discovered that "Phantoka" is Matoran-speak for "spirits of the air," although it doesn't refer to a single group, but to the combatants in the aerial battle for... whatever it was the Toa and Makuta were fighting for. Hey, don't push me, I need to save material for later reviews. Therefore, naming this series of toys Phantoka is kind of like having a toyline of RAF and Luftwaffe planes called "Battle of Britain." So now you know.

Deep in the heart of a hidden cavern, evil Mutran and his servant Vican guard the shadow leech hives. With claws, blades, spears, and armored wings, they are ready to fight off any attack.

I guess that makes Mutran a mad scientist - if these leech critters (tiny creatures that suck "light" out of you, turning you evil - I'm just full of information today) live in hives then they're kind of like bees, and apiculture is sort of a science. Which makes Vican his Igor, I suppose. These two are basically a Phantoka Makuta and Shadow Matoran, but since they were sold as a single set, we may as well review them at the same time.

Let's start with Vican, since as the Igor he doubtless never gets to go first at anything normally. For all intents and purposes he's the same as the other Shadow Matoran - head/mask, torso, arms, hands, legs, feet, all connected by balljoints - but he gets a few cosmetic tweaks that make him different, if you look closely. Both his hands and feet are extra pieces that plug into the regular "hand" ball-to-Technic-plug piece, and in the case of the hands they don't have a built-in plug, so you get extra plug pieces to connect them. He also splurges a little on his wings - normally the plug-in point for these is low on the torso, almost between the hips, but Vican has an extra section that attaches to his back, offering a new point for the wings to plug into much higher up. It makes them stand a bit further out behind his back, but I think the extra height makes it an improvement overall. Vican's mask is a recolour of Kirop's, with green instead of silver shaded in around the fangs, and his red eyes shine through brightly.

Now then, Mutran, who's obviously more complicated. Like Vican he's a bells-and-whistles version of the basic body type, a Phantoka-style Makuta with all the extras included. He has the usual Phantoka-Makuta body, with balljoint neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees and ankles, and the shadow leech Tridax pod in his chest, ready to be disgorged at the press of a button on his back, whereupon it'll pop open and release its cargo of little rubber leeches. They're kind of cute - they look like the kind of monster you'd find in Super Mario Bros. Mutran has a pair of wings, which swivel up or down, mounted on pegs which in turn swivel sideways, allowing the wings to be spread almost straight sideways, or tucked in behind his back, and his mask is a green recolour of Chirox (who is Kirop's buddy-partner, so the two masks match well). Since he's got the more complex Phantoka head in there, with the eyes a separate clear piece that fits into a grey head, rather than the whole head being clear - and since the mask sits quite a way forward of the "face" besides - his red eyes get almost completely lost in the gloom, making him look suitably dark and malevolent.

Mutran's big claim to fame above his fellow Makuta, though, is his hands and weapons. Instead of just a regular hand piece with maybe a blade stuck in it, Mutran has three claws mounted on each hand, the middle fixed and the upper and lower able to swivel. This lets him appear to "hold" his arsenal, which comprises a wicked-looking sword and a long spear with offset twin points. The sword is a one-piece blade with an extra plug attaching to give it a longer handle and allow it to attach to the claw, which has a round socket rather than an x-plug. The spear - also fitting into a round socket - thus is held loose rather than plugged in securely, but since the shaft is in two pieces it can be attached with the connector beneath the claw, so it won't fall out, and the upper and lower "fingers" can hold the shaft tightly enough that it won't move.

Like all Phantoka, Mutran has a connector piece on his back (on his butt, practically) to allow him to combine with his buddy - Vican, of course - who then rides him around like a pony. Don't judge them, it must get boring watching the leech hives. Unfortunately, unless you want to have Mutran clomping about with his hands full, he has to give up the cool weapons, and Vican doesn't have any way to hold them. Of course it's Lego, so you can do a little modification to get both weapons attached to Vican's hands more or less, but since they still wouldn't be in his actual claws, the way they are in Mutran's, it's not really a satisfying solution. Still, no great loss - they look better as a mad science team than a rodeo act.

As a whole, they're not that much fancier than any other Matoran/Phantoka pair you could buy individually - but they are a bit fancier, and since the Matoran and Phantoka are pretty cool as-is, this isn't a bad set to buy.

-- 03/17/09


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