Review by EVA_Unit_4A
-- WARNING --
According to the manufacturer, this product is not recommended for children under the age of 7 years as it contains many small parts which a child could potentially choke on.
This toy contains a hand-powered plastic projectile that can shoot over six (6) feet (2m) across a flat surface- Supervision by a Responsible Adult is Advised during play. Toy should not hit, be thrown at, or shot at people or objects as it may cause damage or personal injury.
On the Sentai Mountain, humans work side-by-side with intelligent robots in mines. They use large excavation machines to dig out, gather, and transport mined rock to the surface. Unfortunately, an error occurred in one of the machines, and it sparked a vicious rebellion. Robots turned on their human masters, and through the fighting a series of mysterious explosions blasted the mountain into two halves. The robots were eventually driven deep into the newly-formed canyon far below.
Peace was restored, and the humans began building long bridges to span the two halves of the tall mountain. But deep underground, the robots came together again, and grew quietly; rebuilding their mining machines into powerful Battle Machines with armor and weapons. Their surprise return ignited another furious war, which allowed them to take control of half of Sentai Mountain. The robots were about to take on the second half when they were halted by a secret human project: Exo-Force. The humans had quickly assembled a team of warriors, and built their own Battle Machines to counter the robots.
After a chaotic and desperate battle on the very doorstep of Sentai Fortress- the last surviving pocket of humanity on Sentai Mountain- against the robot army’s onslaught of innumerable Battle Machines and their ultimate Striking Venom project, Exo-Force was just able to drive back their inhuman enemy. But at a cost... With heavy losses in manpower and Battle Machine hardware, Sentai Fortress was now more vulnerable than ever to a second wave. While the robots are licking their wounds on their own side of the mountain, Exo-Force’s sensei Keiken ordered a small scout mission to an unspecified location at the top of the mountain. Uncertain of what they would encounter, the Exo-Force pilots came across the lost Golden City- a stone-walled fortress with highly-advanced technology accessible through the computer system in the tall & ornamental Golden Tower at its center. Hearing of their success, Keiken ordered all of Sentai Fortress to evacuate to the legendary city above them until they could rebuild themselves and prepare a proper counterattack against their mindless, mechanical creations... unaware that the robots also already know about the lost Golden City.
When Hikaru, Takeshi, and Ryo were tasked to find the Golden City, they were already pretty well worn out from the furious battle that had occurred only days earlier. The Supernova and Stealth Hunter Battle Machines damaged beyond repair in the battle, they had to fall back on the Grand Titan and Silent Strike respectively for the search, while Ryo vigilantly kept use of his small Uplink; Hayato had stayed behind to guard Sentai Fortress with the White Lightning. When the three finally found the Golden City and tried to get through its passive defensive field, their Battle Machines were hit with a powerful electric pulse which disabled them and fried all of their systems. Finally breaking inside, they eventually made it to the tall Golden Tower at the center of the city, where they found three advanced human-built Battle Machines in storage, waiting for them.
Hikaru claimed the large white and navy blue Blade Titan for himself. Spotting more-advanced armor and airspeed than his regular all-white Stealth Hunter built by Exo-Force, it stood patiently alongside the Blade Titan and Cyclone Defender in a storage bay for when the time would be needed for it to rise and defend the Golden City. But it has parallels with the Stealth Hunter in more than just function and color. The right arm carries a power sphere launcher just beneath it. The Battle Machine directs stored energy directly from its generator into an electromagnetic-bottle container which is then shot off. While it takes time to create the energy sphere (thus backed up by a less energy-hungry laser cannon), the results are quite spectacular when it smashes against an enemy Battle Machine! The left arm carries an energy blade similar to the laser staff used by the Supernova which was created by Exo-Force long after the Sky Guardian was built- power is transfer from the generator through a power link in the palm of its left hand. But it’s most obvious feature is its flight system, which is matchless anywhere on Sentai Mountain except perhaps by the robots’ Sonic Phantom. The two large gaping intakes on either side of the cockpit inhale cool, fresh mountain air and pass it directly to the power generator and then into four jet thrusters on the legs. And when used in concert with the maneuvering thrusters on its forearms and shoulders, the Sky Guardian can reach in excess of the speed of sound (770mph)! To compensate for the slipstream effect of supersonic air around it, the four long dragonfly wing-like airbrakes help to steer (or alternatively slow down) the Battle Machine; the air intakes themselves pitch up and down at different speeds as well to insure the flow of air into them is optimum and not turbulent, which could choke and stall the engines. There is one draw back to this, however. The amount of power needed to boost the Sky Guardian up to these speeds is a huge drain on the generator system. This renders all of its energy-based weapons useless when it is at top speed! So because transitions between high-speed travel and fighting are long for the energy-based weapons, four concussion grenades sit in a rack above the cockpit. But pair of radar-guided missiles also project outwards from the upper arms; this is the only weapon available to it when moving at supersonic speed. Like Exo-Force’s Battle Machines, the Sky Guardian uses a similar control system which mimics the movements of its pilot, so it was easy for Hikaru to adapt to the advanced design.
The Sky Guardian (back) shares similar torso & leg structure and construction method with the Blade Titan, and vaguely-similar traits with Hikaru’s original Stealth Hunter ride from the debut 2006 line, but that’s about it. The snap-rotation joint system which debuted in the “Knights’ Kingdom™” line (and was later used in the failed & much-criticized “Galidor™” line) returns to the “Exo Force” line. Made popular by the fact that not only did the figures have a very wide range of motion, but they could hold poses for extended periods of time which ball-&-socket joints couldn’t on larger figures; something that became more apparent in “Bionicle™” sets. The leg have snap-rotation joints in the hips, knees, and ankles which allow it to assume a wide range of motion for poses. The tubes that go from the thighs to the yellow outer thrusters are flexible silver Technic tubes that flex when the knee(s) are bent. Remember those ball-&-socket joints I was talking about...? Both arms use two ball-&-socket joints each. Both upper arms are built the same way, and are based on the lower torso parts from the Toa Metru sets (#8601-8606) from the 2003 “Bionicle” line. Each also has a thin navy blue wing (which is mirrored on the shoulders) that can both twist side-to-side and pitch up/down in similar fashion to the radiator fins on the Supernova from the 2006 line. The right arm mounts a LEGO weapon originally developed for the six evil Piraka sets (#8900-8905) from "Bionicle", called a Zamor Sphere launcher. When the solid ABS plastic ball (two are provided in this set) is inserted on top, and the piston in back depressed, the sphere shoots out with surprising force and range. But the interesting thing isn’t that it can shoot, but that the flexible rubber tube provided retracts the piston back into pre-launch position for quick reloading. However, unlike the “Bionicle” Toa Inika sets (#8727-8732) from the same year, the Sky Guardian does not have an attachable ammunition clip that holds more than one at a time. The hand on the left arm mimics the one seen in the Supernova and Cyclone Defender sets- having a post in the middle of the functional hand stabilize the weapon when gripped. The sword is actually composed of two pre-assembled parts: the typical yellow ABS that LEGO uses, and an inner transparent part that is more similar to flexible PVC. An energy effect decal is added [by you] to the right side-only, but it too is transparent and can be seen through to the opposite side of the blade. The upper torso has a new feature not seen before. The two chest sections can indeed pitch up and down, though they are typically displayed angled downward on just that first notch of the joint(s). The grenade launcher up top can also pitch up/down, but that’s just from the parts used to build it.
Lego Set #8103 comes with a new version of the Hikaru minifig different from the previous year’s: a new ‘flight suit’ of navy blue and gold, and he has the same two separate facial expressions (one painted on either side of his head) and light blue spiky hairstyle piece introduced in the “Exo-Force” line, which adds to the Japanese anime style of the series. When the head and hair are flipped around, Hikaru either displays a determined face, or a battle-cry expression, both with him wearing his signature ‘orange sunshades’ over his eyes. (This double-face design originated in the LEGO “Spider-Man™” minifigs from 2001 and 2003, but is now becoming more commonplace in themed lines like “City”, “Star Wars™” and “Batman™”.)
Normally, when a LEGO set needs specific details on a part, such as a control panel or flag, the image is printed or painted directly onto specific parts. “Exo-Force” continues on by using stick-on decals; something that was rarely ever used in the past. There is a small sticker sheet which provides allegiance markings, warning symbols & notices, and names- some of them written in Japanese text! Translations of the Japanese text are given on the sticker sheet, but do not go on the parts. This allows for a wider range of piece marking without LEGO having to create a completely different piece each time, and merges the “Exo-Force” and Japanese toy influence closer together. It does, however, have a small downside- because of the design of the decals, some of them cover places where other LEGO pieces can go, which limits how a decal-applied piece can be used or taken apart. There are no conflicts in Set#8103.
The common gimmick of the debut 2006 line was- aside from them all being giant robots (!)- the introduction of the LEGO light brick with clear fiber-optic cable, though this was seen through almost all of the sets. They also had instructions for building an alternate set with the same parts on their homepage. Alas, neither of these returns in 2007. Instead, LEGO brings us a pivotal part of the storyline: the EXO Codes. When entered into the computer in the Golden Tower, they allow the refugees inside the Golden City to access a special feature within the ancient technological fortress. Each 2007 “Exo-Force” sets has at least one exclusive EXO Code located on a flat 1x2 plate placed somewhere on the Battle Machine’s body. When entered into the Code Brick Central area of Exo-Force’s homepage, it gives you special access to new things online like exclusive background info on the set, stickers & wallpaper for your computer’s desktop, images to be used for real shirt iron-ons, IM avatars, and more! (Not to spoil anything, but the only really unique thing for each set you get access to is a 10-sec silent video clip of your set in action on the site!)
I’ll admit- when I first got the Blade Titan, I was fairly discouraged from buying this set. One of the big things was the ball-&-socket joints which appear again for the arms. I also wasn’t thrilled with the Zamor Sphere/plasma ball launcher, having seen it in the originating “Bionicle” line; it was also too similar to the disc launcher seen in earlier “Exo-Force” sets to be a big incentive (which- for those of you who don’t regularly read my reviews- I am not thrilled with). I’m not too sure I like this brand-new sword (I suspect it may have come from the “Knights’ Kingdom” line, but can’t confirm right now), though the different materials make it somewhat interesting. But what caught me by surprise was how the torso parts pitched around. Initially I though that the excessive movement in the chest was an error due to the selection of parts that LEGO used (which has happened many times before, no big surprise there), but it wasn’t until I saw the bonus material in the online Code Brick section that I noticed the air intakes subtly moving in the short CGI animation sequence. That was actually kinda cool! The four wings were a nice touch, though I wish two of them hadn’t been attached to the arms; it makes it difficult to pose them well sometimes if the arms are in a certain conflicting position. And it was nice to see the smallish tubes attached to the leg thrusters rather than just having them hang there all alone and be boring. If the ball-&-socket joints had either been replaced with the ratcheting joint design in the legs, or different ball-&-socket parts used, I might have liked it even more. Alas, I must give the Sky Guardian a slightly better than so-so recommendation.
[Oh, and, LEGO...? Please stop using ball-&-socket joints on these guys, huh? They’re annoying for a set this big, and they just wear out too quickly in the hands of kids. Stop it. Just stop it.]
|Posted 14 July, 2007 - 03:13 by EVA_Unit_4A|