Review: Official Set 8557 - Exo-Toa
When we got and reviewed the Boxor set, I was really fond of the design concept: A mech machine that granted more firepower to the Matoran against bigger enemies. Well thankfully LEGO® liked that concept too because set 8557, the Exo-Toa, appears to be the Toa’s version of a Boxor.
The suit, which reminds me of an Iron Man™ suit, feels like an essential upgrade for the Toa that need to face off against the Barhag Queens during the 2002 storyline.
The Exo-Toa contains 360 pieces and is recommended for ages 9 and up.
The front of the box finally shakes things up for a larger set. Up to this point we’ve seen nothing but Po-Koro backgrounds for the models, but this time around the packaging shows the Exo-Toa in a cavern beneath the island of Mata Nui. There’s some light shining through in the background and the low-angle shot of the set really gives it a large figure.
Inside there are a total of 3 numbered bags, along with two instruction manuals and some advertisement material that teased the products of 2002. Just like the Boxor, the Exo-Toa has two different model options, each of which has its own instruction manual.
The first model option here is what I think of as the iconic one for this set. Out of the two models it’s the only one that we get to actually see appear in canon, and they play a big role in the 2002 story. They immediately pose a powerful stature and look like something the Toa would be fist pumping over once they laid their eyes on it.
There’s a lot of posable options with this model, but they come at a fault. Certainly the arms are very versatile thanks to their ball-joint connection, but the legs are deceptively the same way. The legs are able to bend and rotate at the hip joint, but doing this generally makes the model fall over because of the center of gravity shifting as well.
The amount of detail also sticks out to me, there are a lot of small things that add some more depth to the suit that make it feel much more machined. The color scheme is great as well, it fits right in with the Boxor, but the silver accents that are included drive home the fact that these are precious suits that are going to give the Toa great firepower.
The included play functions are quite nice, mostly contained in the arms. One arm punches and pulls, and really reminds me of a thicker version of a single Boxor arm. The other arm has a blaster cannon that can fire a powerful shot thanks to a spring-loaded assembly.
The way the suit opens up feels so natural to me and adds a layer of imagination to the set. The suit pops open by pressing a small “button” in, and then it pops open for a Toa to crawl in. This in my mind was a great choice to go with rather than an option that forced the user to take the suit apart in order to slip a Toa in. However, getting the Toa in is quite a challenge and takes at least a minute or two to get set up. Once the Toa is secured though it is a sight to behold. Suddenly the Toa look to be invincible.
The second model option for this set really reminds me of the Boxor set. It’s a smaller model that includes a much better mounting mechanism. Getting a Toa into this system is a breeze. The look is quite unique compared to the first model, which is important to sets such as this one where it advertises two separate models.
With the first model for this set, the lore is that the suit restricted the Toa’s elemental powers, with this variation I don’t get that sense at all. The Toa appear to be buckled in at the waist and have their arms free. There’s certainly more poses to put this model in because the weight shift when the legs are hinged at the hips do not cause the model to fall down.
The only real play function with this model is the blaster cannon that hooks up on the underside of the vehicle. To my surprise there is a good amount of aim you can control with this blaster cannon in the up/down axis, but it can’t rotate side to side.
The only thing that bugs me about this model is the front arms. With the first model there was so much going on with the arms, whereas for this one they’re pretty lame. I wish that the designers opted to make the front arms mimic the functions included in the punching arm of the first model. With all of the extra, unused pieces this certainly is a possibility, it baffles me as to why they didn’t go for it.
Overall, this is a really nice set and definitely cracks into the top tier of Bionicle sets so far. There’s a ton of new things to love in here, and your Toa will thank you when they go up against a tough enemy. The only holes lie in the ability to pose the models and the ease of inserting a Toa into the suit, along with the bizarre design choice of simplifying the arms in the second model.
When it comes to price what you’re going to find for the Exo-Toa is that in used condition the set will cost you around $60, while a sealed one will go as high or even higher than $150. If you ask me there’s no reason to get a new version of this set when you could instead get 2-3 used ones for the same price.
The Exo-Toa took a step up from what we got in the Boxor set while applying the same enjoyable concept to the Toa, and for that reason it stands a little bit higher on my list.