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Bionicle Mistika
by Artemis

Okay, we've looked at the Matoran, but they're like the USS Enterprise's Expendable Ensigns - sure you need them to keep the place running, and get their faces in the way of exploding consoles, but no one cares. So let's move on to the bio-mecha-whatevers important enough to get their names in the main credits.

With two powerful foot-mounted jet rockets, Nynrah ghost blaster, and Mask of Water Breathing, Toa Gali rules the low-lying, muddy waters of the Karda Nui swamp. But will all her power be enough to stop the Makuta?

How do Bionicles tell male from female? Maybe they don't really need to - they're all Lego, so it's not like they have sex (although I gather some of them have flirted - fairly chastely, of course - in some of the less strictly overseen tie-ins), or even genitalia. Maybe they're like Hutts, and just pick whichever gender they feel like. Heck, we've all had days like that.

Anyway, I've chosen Gali as the first Toa of the Mistika... sorry, the first full-size Bionicle... to review, since she's the first one I bought (besides a Toa Terrain Crawler, which isn't really a proper Bionicle anyway). Obviously it was because she's a girl (confusion on the issue notwithstanding), but she's also a pretty good representation of what you get when you shell out the extra couple of bucks to get one of the proper plastic-capsule-packaged Bionicles instead of the little Matoran.

Your current standard-size Bionicle is based on a universal framework, developed a few years back - rather than being built of standard Lego blocks, or the repurposed Technic parts the first Bionicles were, these babies are constructed from a specific line of Bionicle bits, which join together using a mix of Technic-style plugs and balljoints. Lots of balljoints. Gali's nothing special in this regard, so she's got a three-axis balljoint neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees, and ankles. Somewhere, Todd McFarlane just had a seizure.

Despite the common frame, there's a lot of room for individualization in even a standard Bionicle (we'll get to more fancy stuff with the insectoid critters later on). There are a variety of shins and forearms (which are interchangeable - Gali has the same components for both) as well as feet and upper bodies. The standard components, upper arms and thighs, are adorned with a selection of armour plates, which again come in a variety of styles - in Gali's case, the shoulder armour is quite unusual - and of course everyone's got their mask, with Gali's being a no-nonsense knight's helmet sort of thing, with one eye covered with some kind of enhancement, and a pair of swept-back blades as a kind of crest. She also has a unique adornment for her weapon, the standard Nynrah ghost blaster used by all the Mistika - Gali's has a laser sight, represented by a crosshairs with a lightsaber blade stuck into the front of it. Besides the targeter and shoulder plates, Gali also has rocket boosters attached to her feet.

The Nynrah is the action feature of the toy, an air pressure powered missile launcher - hold the weapon by the front, shove the pump at the back, and the lightweight winged dart goes flying a respectable few feet. Besides the extra targeter, the Nynrah can be disassembled, separating the pump from the frame of the weapon if you'd rather have a sleeker, less obviously action-feature look. Gali has two of the darts as ammo, with the spare fitting into any open cross-plug port (such as the unused one on the bottom of the Nynrah). The weapon has two "handles," cross-plugs set into either side of it, allowing for two-handed wielding, but since it's such a light launcher it can be "held" in one hand, without the weight dragging the wrist joint down. Of if you have a spare cross-to-cylinder plug, you can just attach it to her back, as if slung over the shoulder.

Like all the Mistika Bionicles, Gali has a twin plug attached to her back allowing her to carry around a Matoran - since there isn't a new Matoran series to accompany the Mistika, they re-use the Phantoka ones, with Gali getting Tanma according to her packaging. The whole "buddy system" for Matoran and big guys looks dumb enough as is, but since Tahma doesn't really belong to Gali, their colours and mask styles don't match, so you're really better off leaving the little guys with the Phantoka where they belong.

It's difficult not to like Gali - she's cheaper than a regular action figure, bigger than them at 8" tall, massively articulated, and besides her standard components she's got a few nifty unusual parts, like the shoulders and targeter and rockets, that'll expand your options if you collect a bunch of Bionicles and feel like improvising. With that as my introduction to the range, it's no surprise she wasn't alone for long.

-- 01/14/09

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