Review: Official Set 8539 - Manas
The final set from 2001 is upon us: The Manas. The Manas are the Makuta’s final guardians in the Toa’s way, and this set looks to back up the claim that they are the most threatening of the Rahi.
This set includes a brand-new feature, remote control functions. Going in I wasn’t too sure how well these would work, but if I learned anything it’s that LEGO® knew what they were doing. Dropping the age back down to 8+, this set contains 442 pieces, which of course are not as many as Muaka & Kane-Ra, but the added electronics make up for the part difference.
We receive an easily identifiable new view of the Po-Koro/Po-Wahi region that we’ve been seeing on the previous Rahi boxes. This one includes a cave in the background which we’re to assume the Manas crabs came from. The bottom left of this front cover graphic looks like it’s starting to shift into the lava background shown on the Nui-Rama packaging. I couldn’t find one myself but something tells me there’s a large portrait shot off all the Rahi and the backgrounds stitched together as one big promo.
The contents of this box are nothing too much new aside from the electronic components. There’s 4 bags, two for each of the models, two instruction manuals, advertisement material, and then the unbagged parts. The unbagged parts consist of 4 treads, 2 “hubs” that are the body of the Manas, and 2 remotes.
Right off the bat the first thing I want to say is that if you’re building this set yourself, build both of the Manas at the same time. They’re identical builds for the most parts, and this is an easy way to drop the build time. That being said it is an enjoyable build. It revolves around building smaller sections and then snapping them into the main body “hub”.
After finishing the 59-minute build, I have to say, these are hands down my favorite base models, and it’s a pretty big gap above Muaka & Kane-Ra. The added features from the RC functions and just the look of the Manas really made an impact to me. They are as close as we’ll get to a real-moving Bionicle, and I’m even more jealous of those that were lucky enough to have these as kids in 2001.
The RC functions are built around a 3-channel system. The remotes pair with a Manas crab that is set to the same channel as it. The remotes also have an “ALL” channel that allows users to control all manas from one remote. The controls take a little bit to get used to, but once it all clicks they’re an absolute blast to control.
The play function is fantastic, but definitely takes longer than the other Rahi to knock the opponent’s masks off. I really don’t mind this because as the lore says, these are the most difficult Rahi to defeat.
The combination model for this set is the Mana Ko, which is as I like to think, a literal tank. The Mana Ko attacks anything that moves and can spit out a sludge that disintegrates anything it touches. Lore aside this model simply goes above and beyond what I expected. I thought the electronics would limit the creativity of such a combination model, but this is genius work here. The arms and bottom treads function independently of each other, which in my mind gives way for two people to control this beast at the same time.
The inclusion of a head for the Mana Ko was a brilliant choice and gives this model a much better look than if it were just a larger version of the base models. The only limitations for this model is the ability to turn. The turns are a bit bumpy because of the additional weight but moving straight forwards and backwards is honestly smoother than the base models.
After building Muaka & Kane-Ra I thought things couldn’t get much better. Well, that idea lasted long. The Manas flat out blew me away and I felt like a little kid discovering the island of Mata Nui for the first time again.
If you’re interested in purchasing this set, my recommendation is to get on it as soon as possible. This set is rather expensive, and it’s only going to keep getting more valuable. Used copies of this set currently sell for $160 while new/sealed ones sell for $300+. Unfortunately the nature of the RC components actually makes a case to buy the Manas brand new to guarantee that they work, but it’s still a hefty price tag. However, if you’re thinking about them or have them on a list, just go buy them now. You’ll save yourself a good amount of money compared to the probable future costs.
I’m so glad this was the set to wrap up the 2001 line, I can’t imagine a better way to finish it off. We’re on to 2002.