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Siegfried

Review: Hero Factory 2011 (First wave)

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After about ten years of Bionicle TLG decided a refresh was needed, and Hero Factory was founded. But I must confess that as the Heroes went I was very unimpressed.

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I bought most of the 2010 Hero Factory Villains as to me they were interesting, varied and good value. (I especially like Corroder.) But the 2010 Heroes were made of too few parts, had no elbow or knee movement making them look rather stiff when being posed, and were made up of over specialised elements. As many said they were much like the Stars line, which I personalty only bought one of... and felt a bit ripped off over it too.

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In the end the only Hero I ended up with was the simplified Furno who came with the Furno Bike set. But thankfully I'm not talking about that line! This new line is very deserving of the "2.0" title; it's a complete rethink in terms on construction technique. It's also a much better value line, and even TLG seem to think so as in some catalogs they are saying "Up to 50% more elements in each can"!

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The emphasis on pins/axles has shifted to ball joints; many of the heroes have none at all, and the others have just one or two. (The Villains are not as drastic as this, but more on this later.) A whole new line of ball-jointed panels was made just for this line. The variety is quite impressive, and I intend to try to find uses for them in non-HF MOCs.

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It's very nice to see a return to true elbows and knees. It's been a on/off feature for years, and as a V2 line goes, the 2.0 heroes are far superior an upgrade than, for example the Toas to Toa Nuvas.

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It's interesting to compare XPlode and Nitroblast. Nitroblast for one has more pieces (57 to 45), but he also looks more substantial, especially in the arms. The Villains so far seem to have more pins/axles in them and I thought at first that it was because they were assembled first (some sets have old pieces) but when I noticed this part...

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...it became clear that TLG don't intend to make pins "illegal" HF parts. (Studs still seem to be though.) It's going to be interesting seeing the pin/axle count of the next line.

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Getting back to looks, it's less clear who looks better from the rear. XPlode's back looks better but his arms look odd.

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Gundam Virtue! What's he doing here you ask? Well it's interesting to...

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...compare joint techniques. Notice the holes? Since adding these holes to reduce joint shock is nothing revolutionary, it does make you wonder why they took so long to add them. I believe this feature first appeared on the first HF line with one small hole on each ball joint.

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Final thoughts:

No score this time, but it is nice to say I like this new direction. My interest in the Bionicle waned in 2005 when the mechanical/Technic link started to decline and, while I have loved some since (like Thok from 2006), for the most part I haven't bought much since. Hero Factory (and Von) re-sparked my interest and with this new line it could stay that way. With a new focus on the ball joints and other connections Hero Factory can stand alone on it's own merits. Long live LEGO Action Figures, long live Hero Factory!

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For more Hero Factory fun, be sure to read my other 2011 reviews! :grin:

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...and now as an extra bonus here's some behind-the-scenes footage from the making of these reviews!

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Preston: Hey look guys, I'm the tallest!

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Natalie: Yeah, but I bet you can't dance!

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Furno: This is going to kill my new image.

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Von: I... must.... resist...

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Von: Stuff it.

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[scuffle scuffle scuffle...]

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Natalie: Don't move or I'll start doing the moonwalk right here.

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Von: I'm back!

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Von: I'm Going!

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Von: You guys are so hot right now.

P.S. Sorry that this review is so late; I started work on this in late November but I started a new job and moved house at that exact same time so it was hard to find the time. But four months later it, and my Hero Factory 2011 reviews, are complete! :sweet:

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I definitely agree that Hero Factory wave 2 really makes the change from BIONICLE far more meaningful. BIONICLE originally came out under the LEGO Technic branding, and it wasn't until 2004 that it became a separate brand unto itself. However, BIONICLE sets still used a lot of Technic building techniques, even if you could see how it was gradually moving away from its parent system.

When Hero Factory came out, a lot of people complained about how it was just "BIONICLE with a different name". And while the overall style had diverged from BIONICLE's (with smoother and more refined-looking parts rather than the raw mechanical look of many BIONICLE parts), the building style really was nothing to be proud of. And the villains, who had some distinct advantages over the heroes as far as unique builds were concerned, were often stylistically inconsistent, blending the BIONICLE aesthetic with the newer Hero Factory aesthetic in a sometimes unusual way.

Cue the second wave of heroes and villains, which finally made good on our expectations of a line different than BIONICLE. Finally, rather than being a Technic-dependent theme, the theme was more of a unique brand with some Technic elements (much like today's System sets). The Hero sets returned to about the original height of the Toa Mata (the original Toa sets), and nearly the same piece count as some (Pohatu was, of course, an outlier).

The first-wave parts often had a smoother and more versatile aesthetic, but this wave made the parts genuinely more versatile. Using every part from three of my Heroes, I've made three entirely different-looking heroes, just by rearranging armor, colors, and accessories. The villains also demonstrate the versatility of the new system-- rather than being so vastly different from the Heroes, they now use the same building style and many of the same parts (I look forward to seeing a solution to the head problem, though-- Fire Lord's use of a Glatorian head feels dated and fails to take advantage of that head's "glowiness", making it fairly pointless).

Overall, when Hero Factory first came out, I was occasionally tempted to get some of the villain sets for the pieces (the Ben 10 thigh pieces in particular went one step further than most Hero Factory wave 1 parts as far as versatility was concerned), but overall I saw the line as an opportunity to quit action figure themes for good and give my wallet some much-earned relief. Now, the second wave has drawn me in again, and to an even greater extent than BIONICLE originally did (I originally became attracted to BIONICLE sets by the story, not the sets, and I mostly was compelled to buy the sets because I was a huge LEGO fan and wanted to investigate pretty much anything "new" or "different" LEGO tried out).

I am not too attracted by the wave 3 sets yet, but perhaps that's because I just started buying the wave 2 sets and need to wait a while before the new-sets bug is ready to bite. I'm mostly attracted by the hero characters we missed in Wave 2... I'm afraid to think that it's because I still have that "complete my collection" obsession from back in the BIONICLE fandom. I justify this to myself with the knowledge that I'm used to BIONICLE's release pattern, where a full year tends to separate the releases for different versions of a single character, and I just haven't yet worked up the interest in a character I already have. The villains of Wave 3 are a mixed bag-- so far my favorites are Raw-Jaw and Waspix for their adherence to the "streamlining" I love the theme in general for. But still, I have plenty of things to look forward to: for instance, the Hero Recon Team program which is just a month away. The fact that LEGO can still release sets and programs that get me this excited is perhaps why it has such a lasting influence on my life and finances.

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Its interesting to see you views, and I have to say, I pretty much entirely agree. Dare I say, I prefer the building system to BIONICLE? The joints themselves are deffinatley a lot better, and the armour being connected to the ball joints was also a great idea. I really can't wait to see how this line matures.

I also am buying the Furno Bike now because the 2.0 Furno looks great on it so it's too good to miss in my books. :laugh:

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Its interesting to see you views, and I have to say, I pretty much entirely agree. Dare I say, I prefer the building system to BIONICLE? The joints themselves are deffinatley a lot better, and the armour being connected to the ball joints was also a great idea. I really can't wait to see how this line matures.

I also am buying the Furno Bike now because the 2.0 Furno looks great on it so it's too good to miss in my books. :laugh:

On a related note, does anybody know whether a 2.0 Hero can fit properly in the pilot's seat of Drop Ship?

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...compare joint techniques. Notice the holes? Since adding these holes to reduce joint shock is nothing revolutionary, it does make you wonder why they took so long to add them. I believe this feature first appeared on the first HF line with one small hole on each ball joint.
Could it be that they were patented and the patent expired? Well, I don't know but that's plausible since Gundam toys seem to have been around for long enough to make it make sense. It is obvious now, but I don't recall anyone in the fandom suggesting it or finding out that's the way the gundam toys work.

I just wish these bowling ball joints appear in the system joints as well.

A lot of things about this wave are great, the look is a lot more compatible with system. The new build system is more 'flexible'. Even piece counts are much better than what Bionicle and HF 1.0 were delivering. My only rant would be the way the heroes look from behind. I just wish that in August, once my store gets 2011 sets, they bring the 2.0 wave and not just the 3.0 one (like they did last year, they didn't bring the stars :( ).

Edited by vexorian

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Could it be that they were patented and the patent expired? Well, I don't know but that's plausible since Gundam toys seem to have been around for long enough to make it make sense. It is obvious now, but I don't recall anyone in the fandom suggesting it or finding out that's the way the gundam toys work.

I just wish these bowling ball joints appear in the system joints as well.

A lot of things about this wave are great, the look is a lot more compatible with system. The new build system is more 'flexible'. Even piece counts are much better than what Bionicle and HF 1.0 were delivering. My only rant would be the way the heroes look from behind. I just wish that in August, once my store gets 2011 sets, they bring the 2.0 wave and not just the 3.0 one (like they did last year, they didn't bring the stars :( ).

The bowling-ball joints will probably appear in the System joints if it proves necessary. But since the System "sockets" have been redesigned, LEGO probably plans to wait and see if it's necessary before redesigning the System "ball joints". In fact, only the socket pieces have been redesigned this year: all the parts containing the "bowling-ball joints" are brand-new designs, and all older ball-joint pieces (for instance, the Hordika and Glatorian neck pieces in Fire Lord) have been left alone.

Meanwhile, I also wanted to point out that some other parts had a slightly-similar style before. The heads/skulls of the Piraka sets had a single hole on either side of the ball joint. These are the first sets to have this particular three-hole pattern, though.

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Some time after 2005 the Hordika neck mold was changed to have a small hole in one side of the ball, and the Glatorian neck has the same thing. The wave 1 Hero Factory torso also had a tiny hole in each ball, and the Hordika lower legs had one on the ball that attached to the foot, though I don't know if the intended purpose was the same.

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Some time after 2005 the Hordika neck mold was changed to have a small hole in one side of the ball, and the Glatorian neck has the same thing. The wave 1 Hero Factory torso also had a tiny hole in each ball, and the Hordika lower legs had one on the ball that attached to the foot, though I don't know if the intended purpose was the same.

I guess you're right-- I should have checked before posting! In that case, all of the Hero Factory wave two parts with ball joints have at least one hole. Now all we need is a better head design for villains. No, I'm not satisfied with the Glatorian head after seeing how poorly it works for Fire Lord, and no, I'm not especially pleased with the wave 3 villains' habit of using an armor piece with the helmet directly attached. From the photos we've seen it just doesn't seem to work (for some reason, this bothers me immensely while Jetbug and Nitroblast's head-attached-to-Y-joint doesn't bug me so much).

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Some time after 2005 the Hordika neck mold was changed to have a small hole in one side of the ball, and the Glatorian neck has the same thing. The wave 1 Hero Factory torso also had a tiny hole in each ball, and the Hordika lower legs had one on the ball that attached to the foot, though I don't know if the intended purpose was the same.

I first noticed the small hole on Pohatu Phantoka's Hordika neck pieces, so I've always thought that the change came with the "updated" socket pieces.

It's interesting to see that the three-hole design has been used in other toy ball joints before. The holes apparently also help reduce variation in ball sizes caused by the plastic shrinking after being moulded - 0.1mm differences would probably affect the strength of the joint.

I have mixed feelings about the holes especially now that there are six per ball - on colours aside from black they are quite obvious and draw attention from other parts of the model when they shouldn't. However, they allow the joints to perform well for longer, and they might save us a few cents on plastic. :laugh:

On a related note, does anybody know whether a 2.0 Hero can fit properly in the pilot's seat of Drop Ship?

They should do, because they have similar dimensions and the 2.0 Heroes can be articulated to fit better. If a standard Hero doesn't fit, the range of bone pieces should allow you to make a Hero that does.

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On a related note, does anybody know whether a 2.0 Hero can fit properly in the pilot's seat of Drop Ship?

REALLY LATE. But no, 2.0's look awkward inside dropships.

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