Review: Official Set - Matoran of Mata Nui
Finally, some new Matoran. Our next set of the 2003 Bionicle line brings us a new design for some familiar faces. Rather than choosing to release expansions or remakes of the 2001 Tohunga, LEGO® chose to revamp the Matoran designs and include some more features.
Each of the Matoran sets contains 25 pieces and are recommended for ages 7 and up.
The boxes for the Matoran are the same size as the ones we got for the Turaga and Bohrok Va, of course with different artwork. The front of each box shows an action shot of a Matoran in front of a Kohlii field background. Unfortunately, the images do not vary from set to set, they’re quite literally the exact same background and pose for every single one, which feels lazy. I know they were trying to start branding for The Mask of Light, but unique backgrounds, at least for the different villages, would have been better.
Each set includes a bag of pieces along with a Kohlii stick, instructions, and advertisement material. The instructions work just like the small sets we’ve seen in previous years where one side is the instructions and the other is a nice poster image. The advertisement material also includes a poster of the Rahkshi for 2003.
Once built, the Matoran stand taller than their predecessors, and include many more options for posing them. The feet include new pieces that allow them to hinge at the waist as well as rotate like an ankle. The arms are connected via ball and socket joints which allow for complete control of moving them around. The Kohlii sticks are a rather impressive mold and have two axles that attach to the Matoran hands in different areas, so the possibilities are seemingly endless here. The only objection to complete control of pose is the head, which is unable to rotate due to pieces at the shoulders blocking the head from rotating on the axle pin it is attached to.
Something that I can’t ignore here is that we don’t get Matoran from all 6 villages on Mata Nui. These six come together to represent Ga-Koro, Po-Koro, and Ko-Koro, and in later sets during 2003 we’ll get Matoran from Ta-Koro, which only makes up a grand total of 4 villages. Neither Le-Koro nor Onu-Koro have Matoran sets like these, and it’s a real shame. Le-Koro especially brings such a nice bold, vibrant color scheme to life and without it I can’t help but feel like we got cut short.
The play functions that these sets work in are for the most part really enjoyable but include some flaws. It’s harder than I would have hoped to have each Matoran swing their Kohlii sticks around by twisting an axle on their backs. The connection feels loose, almost like the set will come apart if used too much and hitting the puck around is a challenge to do consistently.
The packaging shows that there is a combination model once you collect all six of these sets, however official instructions were never released. I attempted to find some online or better images of the model but was unable to. The combination model was never something that ended up making an appearance in the storyline, so I wasn’t too worried about leaving it out this time.
Overall, these sets are a functional upgrade compared to the original Tohunga of 2001, and the ability to move and pose these models is exponentially better than the original ones. That being said I can't help but feel disappointed that we didn't get all six village variations. They're pretty nice sets, but I wouldn't put them way up high on your list.
If you’re looking to buy these sets for yourself, they are still relatively cheap. A used copy of these sets will cost around $9 while a brand new version will likely fall in the range of $15-20 for each Matoran. Since the difference is so low here between used and new I would put these as a set to grab brand new. Whether you’re starting a collection or just want the whole experience like it’s 2003 again, these sets are cheap for now brand new, but probably won’t be for long.
The Matoran of Mata Nui are by no means an incredibly special set, but they included some unexpected upgrades. The failure to allow us the chance to get Matoran from all six villages leaves me feeling a bit unsatisfied though.