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by yo go re

As you know, the story of Mata Nui has ended, and Lego has gone back in time to the ancient island city of Metru Nui. Of course, the heroes are still based on the same six elements: fire, water, air, stone, earth and ice.

Nuju Metru To those who meet him, Nuju might seem aloof and unfriendly - his task of guarding the knowledge and memory crystals is a lonely one, and he has never been skilled at showing his feelings. But Toa Nuju believes strongly that success comes from working together and he is willing to respect Toa Vakama's Leadership. Toa Nuju is a seer with great experience at interpreting omens of the future - and he has little patience with people like Toa Matau, who only want to think about today.

The Toa Metru have a drastically different construction than the heroes we've seen before - while the Toa and Toa Nuva shared the same torso, the Toa Metru have fully new bodies, larger and much more poseable than before.

Nujus Lego's Bionicle line just keeps getting bigger. Yes, there are ever-increasing numbers of sets and more fans all the time, but that's not what I mean: the actual toys are larger. The original Toa were about 6 1/2" tall, but the main characters keep stepping up in size so that we now have 8" Toa Metru. And yet these guys were the little tiny Turaga in the original line? It seems that Nuju is just like your grandpa: he shrank as he got older.

Last year the Rahkshi became the first Bionicle figures with knee joints, and now the Toa Metru add elbows. The original set of six moved only at the shoulders, hips, ankles and wrists, and while Nuju maintains all those joints, he also has a balljointed neck, making him one of the first Toa who can look side to side.

Nuju's body, like all the Toa Metru, is a brand-new style. While it's closer to the Throwbot and Roboriders that preceded this line, the new scaffolding-like body seems to have lost the "Bio" part of the "Bionicle" name. There are two gears embedded in his chest to make his arms swing, allowing him to attack the Morbuzahk.

symbols To help fight off the plant plague that is threatening his island home, Nuju comes with a pair of odd-looking axes. To be honest, though, they look more like spike-covered paddles than axes, but it's okay: as with the Toa Nuva, the Toa Metru's weapons serve double duty as fashion accessories; Nuju's axes can snap onto his feet to become some sort of odd cross between snowshoes and crampons, two very different types of footgear with two very different purposes.

Snowshoes are thousands of years old, possibly used by the people crossing the Bering Strait into North America. Snowshoes work by spreading weight over a larger surface so the wearer doesn't sink into the deep snow. As used by the Indians of North America, the snowshoes were made from pine branches and designed to immitate the paws of animals that lived in the area to be covered: otters or beavers near rivers, bears and foxes deep in the woods, etc. Some were more than two meters long, but it was only around the turn of the 20th century that snowshoes developed the infamous "tennis racket" look that cartoons have sold us for years. Modern snowshoes are quite advanced, but they still work on the principle of spreading weight around.

Mmmm, pointy... Crampons are just the opposite; where snowshoes distribute weight, crampons, designed for ice, focus it. A series of spikes attached to the bottom of a boot, crampons dig into hard-packed ice for traction. The first evidence of crampons can be found in the carved frieze upon the Arch of Constantine - the "seculatoriae" (spy shoes) were probably used to move safely on difficult terrain. For the next few centuries, four-spiked "grappettes" were used by hunters and woodsmen to avoid slipping. In the late 1880s, crampons began to appear in mountaineering. Viewed by purists as a crutch for weaker climbers, crampons nevertheless quickly replaced the old strategy for conquering icy slopes: chipping rough-hewn steps out of the ice.

Ko-Metru Anyway, Nuju's weapons are a mix of the two: large and broad, but with spikes all around the edges. Whatever the case, they certainly have a very "snowbound" look to them, which is all we really needed. As axes, they help him climb the icy spires of Ko-Metru, the western district he oversees and protects. The Matoran of Ko-Metru are scholars and seers, studying the history and culture of their great city.

Matatu Metru Since the Bionicle story is not focussing on collecting masks any longer, Nuju's kanohi plugs quite securely into his face. The mask has a slightly domed look, almost as if formed by the blowing snow, and a large telescopic eyepiece sticks out the left side. In his days as Turaga of Ko-Koro, his Matatu kanohi gave him telepathic and slight telekinetic powers - as a Toa, he has the same powers, but to a greater degree.

I wasn't crazy about the Toa Metru when they were first revealed: beyond the weird scaffolding bodies, they all looked like the same construction; the original Toa had variety in their construction that helped sell their personalities, but the Toa Nuva wiped that out. However, the Toa of Metru Nui have more variety than it might seem, and the new poseability gives them more play value than any Bionicle sets before. Nuju and the rest of the Toa Metru have won me over.

What's your favorite version of the Toa? Tell us on our message board, the Loafing Lounge.


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