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The Toa Mata
The Original Toa
About this creation
So here we have the Toa Mata, or, as they were known for the entirety of their IRL run, simply, the Toa

These are the original six, released in 2000/2001, discontinued late 2002/early 2003.

Back then all we knew of the Bionicle storyline was that there was a tropical island in an "endless ocean", and that it was under the control of the evil being, Makuta (back when there was only the one). It had been ruled by the Makuta for 1000 years, until six legendary figures (the Toa, obviously) washed up on the shore in canisters to vanquish Makuta and awaken the Great Spirit

Nowadays, we know that this was the island of Mata Nui, that the inhabitants were originally from Metru Nui, that the Great Spirit was really a giant robot, etcetera, etcetera.

However, in 2001-2003, with the Toa and the Toa Nuva, the Bionicle story had both that engaging mystery and simplistic sense of wonder that made it so successful.

I come here today to offer to those unfortunate enough not to have been born, or who were too young, in time to see these legendary figures.

I'm not exactly reviewing these sets, and I'm not exactly simply boasting that I have them all. I'm doing a bit of both.

So, without further preamble, let's go:


Toa Tahu, to start with. The hot-headed Toa of Fire and leader of the Toa Mata, Tahu wielded a single flame sword (the other object, which people always get confused about, is his hand. Lego decided that those would make good hands, and I must say, they look cool). He wears the Kanohi Hau, the Great Mask of Shielding. This is the form he was meant to return to in 2010, but of course, he got a horrible Agori build. 2001 Tahu featured the standard Mata Cog Mechanism (MCM), with the cog on the back rotating the cog linked to the arm. This was a playability feature, so the the arm could be used to knock the infected masks of the Rahi, the villains of 2001. For those of you who are thinking "wait, masks are held on by axels connectors, they can't be knocked off!", the original masks were held on by studs.

Here we see his canister. Unlike every other packaging that Lego has subsequently used for their constraction figures (excluding the 2010 HF Cans, back when HF sets came in cans), these canisters actually have a purpose in the story, hence why I never threw mine out. In the story, the Toa Mata were placed in these Toa Canisters which were stored inside the Codrex (you know, that big silver sphere from 2008). When the Mata Nui Robot (MNR) crashed into the planet Aqua Magna and sank below the sea, these canisters were launched from the body. They were meant to home in on the Kini Nui, the small extendable "temple" that was the only part of the MNR that was meant to breach the surface of the water. However, due to a malfunction of the MNR's camouflage system, a whole island was created, and due to a malfunction of the Kini Nui, the canisters guidance systems were dormant for 1000 years, until Takua activated the Kini Nui using the Toa Stones that the Toa Metru had placed there. The canisters then floated to the shores of the island of Mata Nui, and their lids blew off (each canister and instruction booklet had some lovely stills of this happening). The Toa Mata, having spent almost 100000 years in the cans, had started fallen apart. Their components were blasted out onto the beaches, and they assembled themselves.

Tahu was a particular favorite of mine, being "the Red One"

The Toa Mata's big quest for 2001 was to defeat the Rahi and find the Great Kanohi Masks of Power. There were six masks that each Toa needed, and they each came with the one they were wearing, leaving five each for them to find. IRL, these masks could be found in packages, unimaginatively called "Kanohi Packs". Much like the Minifigures of today, these were packages containing two random masks, and you never knew what you were going to get. In the story, once each Toa had found all six masks, then they would receive a Gold version of their Original Kanohi. IRL, these were randomly inserted into the Kanohi Packs, and it was pot luck if you got them or not. I was fortunate enough to get all but the Miru (Lewa's mask) in gold. So I bought the Miru on Bricklink.

The Gold Masks had the powers of all six masks multiplied by ten.

Kopak was the Toa of Ice. He was a cold, calculating Second in Command, and, ironically enough, a good friend of the boisterous Pohatu. His build is almost an exact copy of Tahu's

His Canister featured a silver lid, which made it the most generic of the six, as the silver was exactly the same colour as the rest of the can. I mentioned earlier that these canisters were one of only two series of cans that had story-purpose. The other series was the 2010 HF Cans, which, in their story, were "Hero Pods", used to deliver the Heroes to the desired location. Most Bionicle fans don't realise that this is Lego's subtle nod to the original Toa, and was (I believe), and attempt to help ease the transfer from Bionicle to Hero Factory.

Kopaka with his Golden Akaku

Gali, the Toa of Water and only female on the team, has significant sentimental value, being the first Toa I ever owned. Her build is one of two to feature a three-cog mechanism, with both arms swinging when the rear cog is twirled. Also interesting to note is that the Kanohi Kaukau, Great Mask of Water Breathing, is transparent in all but two of it's incarnations, the Silver and Gold versions. Gali has no weapons. Those hooks are her hands

Her canister is the most beaten-up of the six, being the oldest one I own, and having survived two moves.

The Golden Kaukau

Lewa was the lithe Toa of Air, most renowned for his famous "tree-speak". His build is very similar to the Tahu/Kopaka standard, save that his left arm is mounted on an axle to socket converter that allows free spinning.

His canister features a metallic green top. Yes, that is left over glue from the price sticker in there. Yes, it annoys me too.

His golden Miru, Great Mask of levitation. The only one I had to order of Cracklink

Pohatu, Toa of Stone! An old favorite of mine, Pohatu had the most unique build. The torso had the standard Kopaka/Pohatu build, but it was spun on it's head to allow him to kick this:

This boulder, a two-part piece, which flew the the air with remarkable speed and accuracy when the rear cog was turned on Pohatu. It hit my mother often.

His canister featured a metallic tan top. Interesting colour

His Golden Kanohi Kakama, Great Mask of Speed. Interesting to note is that Pohatu had no weapons. Those things on the ends of his arms are hands.

And we come at last to Onua, the Toa of Earth. Quiet, wise and calm, Onua is good figure. He shares his cog mechanism with Gali, and has a hunched form.

Yes the Onua hunch. Probably the reason a lot of people thought he was a bit of a dumb idiot. It added variety, but I'm not sure it was a good look.

His canister featured a metallic black top, and was cylindrical.

His Golden Pakari, Great Mask of Strength, actually looks pretty good. Onua also has no weapons, merely claw-like hands to dig with.

My final verdict of these sets can never be impartial, as these six figures defined my childhood. But I shall be as impartial as I can:

Toy-wise, these were great, and certainly a good way to get the generation they were targeted at hooked on a nine-year-long story. They had a lot of piece, averaging about 32 parts in each set.

If these were released now, however, they would flop. The cog mechanisms are tricky to build if you're a five to ten year old whose grown up playing attention-span-destroying video games. The possibility is minimal, and without the appropriate opposition (the Rahi sets), then they make for poor things to play with. Alas, while we all disapprove of it, the new HF build system is the best thing for this new generation of children, where simplistic skeletons can be snapped together without even reading the instructions, and when confronted with any other HF set, can be mercilessly bashed against anything, and then snapped back together.

Overall, I think the Toa Mata are now only truly valuable in the eyes of collectors. They are not something to be given to future generation.

I shall shortly be composing an article about the hypothetical return of Bionicle, the futility of it, and the direction I believe Lego is going, so if you have enjoyed this read, and agree with some of the opinions voiced in it, be sure to read that upcoming article.

Those are the Toa Mata, the six figures that started it all. I hope you enjoyed reading that as much as I enjoyed building the figures.



Comments

 I made it 
  December 16, 2013
Quoting Pinipig Bomb Not only did this succeed in dropping a fairly large nostalgia bomb on me, this was also somewhat informal. Up until I read this, I didn't know where or why the Toa Mata arrived on Mata Nui. Thanks for the brief Bionicle history lesson xD
I'm glad you found it helpful
 I like it 
  December 16, 2013
Not only did this succeed in dropping a fairly large nostalgia bomb on me, this was also somewhat informal. Up until I read this, I didn't know where or why the Toa Mata arrived on Mata Nui. Thanks for the brief Bionicle history lesson xD
 I made it 
  November 8, 2013
Quoting Kevin Yoo This is great! I really liked the Toa Mata when they first came out.
Thanks!
 I made it 
  November 8, 2013
Quoting Commander Spencer, Ultimate Bionicle Fan Nice, but the Mata canisters weren't the only ones with story significance. The Bohrok Canisters could be used as the nest bubble things. If you put together two Metru lids, you can make a Matoran Pod, which is what Teridax put the Matoran into. Piraka Canisters were made to resemble the canisters in which the Piraka arrived in.
I understand your point about the Bohrok canisters, but it wasn't exactly the same style of story incorporation. The Metru-lid thing was more of a cute ad-on than anything else, and the Piraka actually stole the Mata canisters from the shores of Mata Nui. Sorry for all that. Thanks for dropping by.
 I like it 
  November 8, 2013
This is great! I really liked the Toa Mata when they first came out.
 I like it 
  November 7, 2013
Nice, but the Mata canisters weren't the only ones with story significance. The Bohrok Canisters could be used as the nest bubble things. If you put together two Metru lids, you can make a Matoran Pod, which is what Teridax put the Matoran into. Piraka Canisters were made to resemble the canisters in which the Piraka arrived in.
 I made it 
  October 31, 2013
Quoting Evan Botkin Wow...I got the email for this and at first I thought: Oh cool he did revamps! Then I saw the picture and I was like: What no revamp? OK Maybe he just wanted to show them off? Then I started reading...It's all so sentimental to me... I never actually owned any of Toa Mata but I was a huge fan of it and owned all the Toa Nuva. It is kind of sad now that we know all that stuff about the Mata Nui robot and all. Personally I prefer the original Toa and Toa Nuva and I also like the Toa Metru. Most everything after those two sub-themes is just kinda.....anyway, I find it interesting that your first Toa was Gali while mine was Gali Nuva. Anyway, this was really awesome just to look back on it and remember the "Good 'ol days" and I will definitely read your upcoming article so whether you post it here or wherever please let me know. Thanks for posting this :)
I don't think i got around to reading this comment in full when it was first posted, so I should apologies for that. I'm glad you enjoyed looking at this page, and i'm glad you agreed with my sentiments.
 I like it 
  September 25, 2013
Wow...I got the email for this and at first I thought: Oh cool he did revamps! Then I saw the picture and I was like: What no revamp? OK Maybe he just wanted to show them off? Then I started reading...It's all so sentimental to me... I never actually owned any of Toa Mata but I was a huge fan of it and owned all the Toa Nuva. It is kind of sad now that we know all that stuff about the Mata Nui robot and all. Personally I prefer the original Toa and Toa Nuva and I also like the Toa Metru. Most everything after those two sub-themes is just kinda.....anyway, I find it interesting that your first Toa was Gali while mine was Gali Nuva. Anyway, this was really awesome just to look back on it and remember the "Good 'ol days" and I will definitely read your upcoming article so whether you post it here or wherever please let me know. Thanks for posting this :)
 I like it 
  September 25, 2013
Nice collection! Unfortunately I wasn't into LEGO at the time of Bionicle - the toy that saved LEGO (literally)
 I like it 
  September 25, 2013
All of this i guess is assembled snippits from the comments you left on my reviews :P Nice little nostalgia trip. I can't knock Bricklink though, considering that's where I got the Toa Mata last year :P (I was alive at their release, but I never got into the theme until the Nuva)
 I like it 
  September 25, 2013
This is incredible. I was a proud owner of a rather large collection of Bionicle sets, including a kopaka in both versions (even the second toa generation) and this brings back memories. Thank you!
Reaper .
 I like it 
Rajskil LoR
  September 24, 2013
I miss the old plastics, they were so dull compared to the new ones, they felt more alive to me, not like 'BRIGHT RED FURNO' more like 'Hey, my name is Tahu, guess what, I'm red'
  September 24, 2013
Oh, you're lucky, having all the Toa Mata AND all their gold masks. Nice bit of nostalgia. :)
 I made it 
  September 24, 2013
Quoting Rajskil LoR I miss the old plastics, they were so dull compared to the new ones, they felt more alive to me, not like 'BRIGHT RED FURNO' more like 'Hey, my name is Tahu, guess what, I'm red'
Very true. This generation will never know the feel, and unique sound, of a handful of Kanohi clinking together in your palm. The old Gold is a big seller for me. I love the dull but not lackluster appearance of it.
 I made it 
  September 24, 2013
Quoting Kookie Devourer Oh, you're lucky, having all the Toa Mata AND all thier gold masks. Nice bit of nostalgia. :)
Very lucky. Luck was the key element
 I made it 
  September 24, 2013
Quoting Stormjay Rider My thoughts: <bleeped> bias. I see very little uses for the truly complex structures you wish for--they stick out terribly. Plus, the story is too simplistic compared to the darker and more suspenseful secrets discovered during the later years. Besides that, and this is my own bias, I don't like island themes in general, and prefer the more modern setting (especially the Karda Nui arc.) Also, you forgot that the Inika pods and Bohrok canisters had story use, as did part of the Metru canisters.
The Bohrok Canisters sort of, the Inika ones sort of. The Mata Cans were really the only ones where Lego went out of their way to say "These are part of the story!" I guess we just have a personal difference in theme preference
  September 24, 2013
My thoughts: <bleeped> bias. I see very little uses for the truly complex structures you wish for--they stick out terribly. Plus, the story is too simplistic compared to the darker and more suspenseful secrets discovered during the later years. Besides that, and this is my own bias, I don't like island themes in general, and prefer the more modern setting (especially the Karda Nui arc.) Also, you forgot that the Inika pods and Bohrok canisters had story use, as did part of the Metru canisters.
 I made it 
  September 24, 2013
Quoting Toa Infernum Ah, the Mata! My experiences with them were all with my older neighbor who had them all. They had such a great mysterious but simple look, and so much character! I also loved the purpose of the canisters... the lack of any purpose AT ALL with the new baggies is one of the most annoying things about HF in my opinion.
Mmm, the baggies annoy me no end. They serve no purpose, and you can't get into them without scissors. Very irritating
  September 24, 2013
To be honest, I agree with Stormjay, aside from the dislike of islands. The sets just don't look as good as sets nowadays, and the gear mechanism was pointless unless you had any of the Rahi (and it made the arms hard to pose). And the sets had so little posability too...
 I like it 
  September 24, 2013
Awesome! I have all of them to, but I'm missing some parts to Pohatu, Tahu's mask, and Onua's head and mask.
  September 24, 2013
Ah, the Mata! My experiences with them were all with my older neighbor who had them all. They had such a great mysterious but simple look, and so much character! I also loved the purpose of the canisters... the lack of any purpose AT ALL with the new baggies is one of the most annoying things about HF in my opinion.
 I made it 
  September 24, 2013
Quoting A. Sargent Toa Mata! Good conditions.
Thank you, I try to keep them well maintained
 I like it 
  September 24, 2013
Toa Mata! Good conditions.
 
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LEGO models my own creation MOCpages toys shop The Toa Mata


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