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Jetrax T6

Bionicle Mistika
by Artemis

You know how they say you don't really value something unless you earned it? It must be true, because having just had a bunch of kick-ass battle vehicles dropped in their collective lap by fate, the Toa Nuva blithely left the keys in the ignition, resulting in Vultraz finally being no longer necessary as the only Makuta who could provide a ride into town when the Brotherhood felt like picking up some pizzas and Coke.

Makuta Antroz has hijacked the Jetrax T6 and now flies it against the Tow Nuva!

That'll teach 'em to just leave their junk lying around like that. Still, fate - which provided the T-series vehicles to begin with - probably intended the bad guys to wind up with the Jetrax, to judge by the fearsome array of spikes on the front of it. Not that anything to do with Bionicle is especially safe-looking, but at least the other two vehicles in the line tend more towards sleek hulls and streamlined wings; this one's practically made of vehicular manslaughter.

The Rockoh, at 16" long, was a pretty big vehicle, but the Jetrax dwarfs it. From its ramming-spike-adorned prow to the guidance fins trailing off the back of the pilot's seat it's a full 21½" long, and in attack mode it's almost 17" wide (even its "compact" mode is 10" across), making it damn near one of the biggest entertainment products I've ever paid for, not counting lapdancers - at a glance around the room, all I can see that's in the same league are a couple of really big Lego sets like the Radiant VII, the Clone Wars gunship and AT-TE (the action figure ones, not the Lego ones), and the Rockoh and Jetrax's colossal cousin the Axalara T9. For a typical child - not one of the uber-spoilt ones, that is - the Jetrax is properly in the "only for birthday or Christmas" category, but trust me, they will not be disappointed once they get the wrapping off of it.

The vehicle's big claim to fame, play-wise, is its centre section, where the big chunky engine turbines live. At the press of a button housed snugly between them they slide out sideways and rotate about 90°, bringing their silver-armoured backs upright, while at the same time a pair of sizeable serrated death-cleavers spread further out to each side. The button is actually atop a rod which runs through the center of the vehicle, coming out (when pressed) at the bottom of the firearm-like handle the Jetrax is intended to be held by during play - press the rod back up from beneath, and the whole engine/wing assembly retracts back into sleep mode. Since the handle is one of the vehicle's resting points when you put it down, a neat feature is that if you "land" it with the wings spread and apply a bit of gentle weight (the Jetrax's weight alone won't do it) the wings retract themselves.

It's not just a simple lever, either - both the engines and the homicide blades change their angle as they extend, and the mechanism to achieve this is impressively complicated, and even builders well-versed in Technic sets should find it a satisfying construction. The rest of the Jetrax is more straight-forward, being basically a matter of building the frame out of Technic beams and then bolting on armour and blades until it looks sufficiently lethal.

The Jetrax is the most heavily armed of the T-series, with three Midak skyblasters: one slung under the nose, the others beneath the engines. All three are the same pieces used by the Toa and Makuta figures, so there's nothing fancy or complicated about their operation - load them up with four sphered each, and they're ready to go.

At the rear sits the pilot, Antroz - unlike the Rockoh and Axalara, which are ridden like horses, crouched forward, the Jetrax has a reclined pilot's seat; it's surprising how much this alone sets it apart from its cousin vehicles. A wireframe canopy covers the seat, hinged at the back to open for access, and on either side of the seat are two decorative laser blasters, as well as jet more spikes.

Antroz himself, like his Toa counterparts, has undergone some changes thanks to his adaptive armour altering itself to suit being behind the controls of the Karda Nui equivalent of a strike fighter. Gone are the heavy wings, the blades for hands, and the Tridax pod; gone also is most of the black in his colour palette, with the lower arms and legs now crimson, and no colour shading on his mask (which, like Rockoh's Pohatu, now has fins on it - it seems to be the thing to have for Bionicle pilots). Plus his thigh and bicep armour has changed design, his feet are feet instead of claws... in fact, unless you look closely at the design of the mask's face, you'd be a bit hard-pressed to tell that this is Antroz at all. Out on his own he's a rather plain-looking Makuta.

Still, he's not meant to be out on his own - he's meant to be snug in the cockpit of his stolen death-mobile, and that looks fearsome. The Jetrax is up in the elite area of Bionicle sets, where only the hardcore fans (and/or their generous parents) venture - but you get a damned fine vehicle for your money.

But wait, there's more! Lego being Lego (even Bionicle Lego) you can of course take it apart and make whatever you want with it, but Lego themselves have provided a second set of instructions, via their magazine. This isn't one of those combiner things where you need several sets - using only parts from the Jetrax, you can also built the Destral Cycle.

This powerful cycle was originally constructed by Avok for use in exploring the rocky terrain of Odina. It was captured from the Dark Hunters during a battle with Brotherhood of Makuta forces and is now the favorite vehicle of Makuta Antroz. Powered by sound, it can attain incredible speeds and its forward armor is specially reinforced for smashing through the doors (or guards) of enemy fortresses.

Well, take one look at it and you know what you're dealing with - it's a motorbike. Rather Terran for a Bionicle vehicle, but I guess bikes are cool the universe over. Since it's using the big circular turbine pieces as wheels, it's got enough for three - the turbine heads go together to form the impressive front wheel, and the four pieces (which were originally wheels anyway) that form the engine bodies get paired up as tandem rear wheels, making the vehicle sort of like a Harley crossed with a snowmobile. Besides that, like the Jetrax it's just a matter of building the frame and sticking on evil-looking armour - between all the jagges spikes, serrated edges, and bone-like beams, the Destral looks like something Johnny Blaze would have in his garage.

I must say, though, that I didn't find the cycle nearly as satisfying to build as the Jetrax - there are a few parts of the construction process that are somewhat inelegant, resulting in quirks like the front armour, between the front wheel pylons, not really being bolted down securely and thus moving about when you bump it, and the frame holding the rear wheels together being worryingly tight, putting stress on some of its connectors that I'm not really happy with. As a toy, too, it's no great shakes - the wheels turn (stiffly, in the case of the rear ones, which are jammed in so close that frequently turning one causes the other to turn backwards as they touch) but there's no steering, no mobile parts like the Jetrax's wings, no weapons (although an empty Midak is used as an internal component, it's not intended to be functional)... it's far more a display model than a toy. It looks good, but in all honesty, even though display is all I do with my Bionicle sets, I like that they're capable of more.

Still, the Destral doesn't require anything you don't already have in the Jetrax set, so it'd be pretty rough to condemn the set on that account. It may have its flaws, but it's a good example (in principle) of how these Bionivehicles can be dismantled and rebuilt in new forms just like regular Lego sets, in spite of the considerable difference in techniques.

-- 06/01/09

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