Not My LEGO® (Blog or Die! Entry #11)

Accepted entry for the “Article” category.

Author: Cameron (-Primus-)

Word Count: 1,737

Not MY LEGO®

 

My therapist says that it’s good to talk about things that upset me, and Keith is still running his contest so I figured I’d take this opportunity, constant reader, to tackle a beloved topic: Whether BIONICLE is LEGO? And, given that answer, what even makes something BIONICLE? I intend to address these questions throughout this piece, and hopefully in a manner that Rutherford finds “structural” 😉

Now, the obvious answer to the first question is “OF FUCKIN’ COURSE IT’S LEGO, IT’S RIGHT THERE ON THE BOX.”

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(Image courtesy of The LEGO® Group, somewhere)

However, this is apparently not enough to distinguish the line as “LEGO” to at least a handful of AFOLs. I guess they can justify that stance by the fact that it doesn’t exactly match the patent that LEGO had originally filed for their interlocking brick system?

(images courtesy of US Patent US3005282 A)

I do not think that’s a very strong foot to stand on; however, as most of the “LEGO” produced today doesn’t match this exact interlocking brick system, especially the clip & bar system or the Technic systems (let’s not talk about ZNAP. I’m sure we can all agree on that one). Additionally, a lot of actual “not LEGO” mimics this interlocking system, so it’s possible to have a collection (let’s say, bought in bulk) that has parts that truly are not LEGO, yet look like the traditional interlocking bricks. Therefore, the interlocking brick system argument seems pretty weak, unless said AFOL thinks that pretty much all LEGO today is not actually LEGO. In which case, they’re letting nostalgia cloud their opinion on what is truly LEGO, which is also not a good foot to stand on when the argument comes up. Get with the times, gramps!

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(ACTUALLY NOT FUCKIN LEGO, image courtesy of Mega Construx)

Do note all of the INTERLOCKING BRICKS in the set I posted above, made by an actual competitor to LEGO and not LEGO. Again, being made of bricks doesn’t make something LEGO, especially in today’s day and age. Therefore, not a solid argument. Welcome to the era of mixel joints and curved slopes and clips and bars, actual LEGO®. To ignore that LEGO has changed since your childhood is a great way to be intentionally obtuse.

Now that we’ve established that, I’ll touch on the next big reason why BIONICLE is LEGO: without Bionicle, Lego probably would not still be a company, or, at the bare minimum, definitely would not be the company it is today. Back in the early Aughts (that’s what people are calling that decade, right?) LEGO was in pretty dire financial straits. Sales were on the decline, and it was becoming increasingly more difficult to compete in a market that catered more to action figures than castles and spaceships. So in 2001, Lego introduced something groundbreaking: Buildable action-figures. And, as far as I can tell, that shit sold like hot cakes. Licensed themes also contributed to the revival of the brand, but to ignore the integral part Bionicle played in tapping into a market Lego was struggling with would be asinine. Maybe the distaste for Bionicle comes from jealousy over the fact that it was the bestselling brand Lego had in its stable for a number of years? That’s a Wikipedia link but there’s a bunch of sources there that back up that claim. Hell, I’ll even save you a click and include a screencap from that article:

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(source: Wikipedia, link above. Probably other more reputable sources too)

No Bionicle, No Lego (or at least, no Lego as we know it right now). Also, people are probably jealous of how successful it was and how it took focus off of their themes for a while, which is understandable. However, being jealous doesn’t make something not LEGO, it just makes you crotchety 😉

Finally, maybe people consider Bionicle “NOT LEGO” because of the fanbase? A weird conclusion to leap to, but I can understand it. We are definitely our own little microcosm in the overall community, with different portions of the community liking different aspects of Bionicle. A lot of the fans are very much into the story line, and some even make their own. Some take it further and build MOCs that fit into their storyline, and if I’ve learned anything from Werewolff’s article, most people can’t be assed to look into a storyline. So I can understand the lack of appeal there. It seems to be that the most popular Bionicle builders in the system community are ones that eschew story and focus on build (which can be said as well for the most successful System builders). Finally, and probably the biggest issue, is that most of the fans are teenagers or young adults, which gives the theme a “kiddie table” type stigma. As an older member of the Bionicle Community, I can definitely see why other AFOLs would want to avoid that. But there are plenty of younger and annoying members in other segments of the community (don’t get me started on the “clone-kiddies”), yet you don’t see anyone calling Space or Post-Apoc themes “NOT LEGO.”

I think I’ve beat that horse into the ground by now, constant reader. I think it takes a great amount of leaps to come to the conclusion that the theme is not Lego, and a majority of those leaps are emotional at best. I can understand not liking the theme as it does not appeal to you, but to say it isn’t Lego is inaccurate and a bit rude to the people who are fans of the theme.

So, the next question is, what even makes something Bionicle? Is it something that uses Bionicle parts (and by Bionicle, I mean Bionicle/CCBS/Hero Factory/Ben10 parts)? Is it something that sticks to the themes of the storyline? Is it the fact that its built by someone who’s known as a Bionicle Builder? I think that it can be a combination of the above. This is probably the question I will struggle with the most, as it is the most esoteric one for me. So, I figured I would use MOC examples and describe whether I think they are Bionicle MOCs or not.

First, Enstau, Toa of the Photo-Effect by Deus Otiosus:

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(image credit: Deus Otiosus)

My verdict on this MOC? NOT BIONICLE. I’ll explain. I think without the name and the mask, this MOC could be perfectly fine as a classic space mecha. Sure, Deus made care to mimic certain aspects of the original Toa in this MOC, which is commendable. The main point to me is that it doesn’t use the system that was established by Bionicle at all. It is not a “Constraction” MOC. 1 Bionicle piece and some naming does not a Bionicle MOC make. Plenty of “regular” AFOLs use 1-2 Bionicle pieces in their MOCS and that doesn’t make them Bionicle MOCs or MOCists, so why should Deus’ inclusion of the blue Hau make this a Bionicle MOC? Sure, it tries to maintain the shapes of the original sets, which is nice. But it doesn’t use the building system, and it’s constructed like one would construct a regular Lego Mecha. Had he used ball and socket connections for at least some of the joints, I would consider it a Bionicle MOC. To me, Bionicle has grown past the story of the “Toa” and all of that and become more about utilizing the actual pieces to make MOCS, so I think that heavily influences my verdict here. It’s a neat MOC that tries to tap into the nostalgia of the Bionicle Storyline, but it is not a BIONICLE MOC.

Next, Alpha Core by Jayfa:

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(image credit: Jayfa)

My verdict on this MOC? DEFINITELY BIONICLE. I felt that I had to include a “gimme” MOC if I was going to discuss Bionicle MOCs. This is very clearly a Bionicle MOC. It’s built by a “Bionicle” builder. The majority of it utilizes the Bionicle/CCBS system. It’s an “action-figure.” It basically checks all of the boxes of “BIONICLE MOC.” It’s also well-built and well photographed, and I’ve really been liking the stuff that Jayfa has been putting out this year so I figured I’d give him a shout out. Do note that he also manages to incorporate System pieces into the build to add extra detail and fill out shapes, which is something a lot of Bionicle builders do in order to really flesh out a MOC. Speaking personally, I’ve probably bought way more system parts in the last yeah than Bionicle, and yet I am a predominately Bionicle Builder.

Finally, Arcanine by Mike Nieves (aka Retinence)

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(image credit: Retinence)

My verdict on this MOC? DEFINITELY BIONICLE. When this MOC first debuted or was displayed at BVA (I forget), there was some controversy over this MOC as to whether it was Bionicle or not (I wasn’t active at the time, so I don’t know all of the details). This is most certainly a Bionicle MOC. It heavily uses Technic, Hero Factory, and Bionicle elements to create quite a creation. It may not be a purist MOC, as it uses cut tubes (to my knowledge), but it is clearly impressive and is most definitly a Bionicle MOC.

As to not inundate you with Bionicle MOCs, constant reader, I think I should call it good with three examples (hell, I may have even lost some of you at this point). It seems to me that I define a Bionicle MOC as something that actually uses the Bionicle/Hero Factory/CCBS system to create MOCs, and that the best Bionicle MOCs are ones that incorporate multiple Systems (HF/CCBS/Technic/System).

I’ve rambled a bit here, but guess that’s what happens when my “thesis isn’t clear.” So, really, to conclude, BIONICLE IS LEGO, and I’m apparently an authority on what is Bionicle and what is not Bionicle, at least in comparison to you, constant reader ;). I hope you can see the value in my INCREDIBLY DIRECT reasons for why BIONICLE IS LEGO, and can at least appreciate it in that regard. I don’t think that you need to like the MOCs or the theme, as that’s asking a bit much, but I do hope that when you go to conventions and post on forums you take a moment to consider that us Bionicle Fans are also AFOLS. You’d be surprised how many people very openly ignore that last bit.

34 thoughts on “Not My LEGO® (Blog or Die! Entry #11)

  1. Mr. Primus,
    Excellent! This is a simple and clear example of “sound tactics”. You attacked once, assessed your level of performance, and saw the potential to do “mo bettah” with a second attack… and you chose to go for it. You CHOSE to exploit the opportunity to do better. Attack, and keep attacking until your competition has been beaten into submission, or until your primacy has been established to the extent that their pathetic mewing becomes inaudible under the thunderous applause garnered by your efforts. This is good shite man!

    Your second attempt also illustrates the depth of your commitment to this topic… or maybe your commitment to educating your fellow builders. Either way… BIONICAL credibility, or EDUCATION… You show us a serious commitment to something that is GOOD! And to that I say right on brother!

    That’s just my preliminary response to the very NOTION of a second article… as for the article itself…

    Its GOOD SHITE in its own right! Sure you pander to my pedantic desire for structure and clarity… but… but… why would that be a bad thing? Ever? Structure and clarity contribute directly to your own credibility… AND… I’m not a judge so really… it’s not even like your buttering up the judge or anything. I’m just another dumbass on the side lines who won’t stop talking!

    You spell out your thesis, and then you provide your arguments in a logical and sequenced manner, that supports your thesis clearly. You even do some sign posting to remind the reader that you just covered the first part (is it Lego) and that you are now moving to the second part (what is a Bionical MOC). Some call sign posting a crude or rudimentary method, that seems patronizing… but I say piss off! We need sign posts… even if we are to arrogant to admit it. I think sign posts are excellent tools.

    Your humor and tone are not only both pretty engaging, but also consistent. It feels like you wrote this in one sitting, and that most of the actual time spent on it was in gathering the images and the research.

    Oh, yeah… the research. You own your ignorance (how much Lego really made by selling Bionical) and then you find specific data that says Lego made “a lot” by selling Bionical. You credit your sources and really, you effectively nail down the assertion that Bionical was an important part of Legos turn around… without depending on exact numbers, or excluding the role of other factors (like the franchise sets).

    I found this article to be a simple and amusing read. It is well constructed and well researched. And your passion comes across loud, clear, and refreshing.

    Break Break Break…

    My opinions about the topic?
    Well, so glad you asked:
    1. “OF FUCKIN’ COURSE IT’S LEGO, IT’S RIGHT THERE ON THE BOX.”
    Science! Sci-Sci-Science! Yes! True! So true! So far beyond question that I begin to hate people who “hate” Bionical. It’s on the box man! Just like Duplo! Smash this fact into the open mouths of those who are yelling: “It’s not really Lego”
    2. I found your “by example” approach to answering the question “What is a Bionical MOC” to be a well suited method, given the open ended nature of the question. And I find your assessments to be consistent and rational. I’m down with your visual answer to this question. Your choice of Deus’s Toa of the Photoshop or whatever it was called to be a PERFECT sample for this exercise. One iconic component does NOT a Bionical MOC make. Your explanation of the need for the ball and socket parts was also pretty good. I also like that you were very deliberate in pointing out that the fact that it was not a Bionical MOC in NO WAY meant it was not an excellent MOC. Very socially conscious. I’m down. (cause… I do think it’s a pretty cool MOC actually).

    Finally… after having subjected you to this 55 gallon drum of opinion… I feel a moral compulsion to share an unfortunate truth with you: I really don’t like Bionical man. I mean… the colors and all the excessive texturing… and the low number of system connection points on many Bionical parts… the parts sometimes look cool but they are vexingly hard to incorporate some times (the masks for example).

    But… You have slapped a new lens into my goggles. I am seeing them in a different light (specifically a more interesting light). And that’s no easy feat man, so again, right on!

    Attack!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Alright, you lost me a couple times. I’m fine with Bionicle being LEGO, but the LEGO label on the box isn’t much of an argument to me. Is someone that only likes LEGO video games a AFOL? Or someone that collects Star Wars LEGO Maxifigure (?) clocks? The LEGO label is on those boxes, but probably not going to land someone in the AFOL category by the definition most of us would give to the term. I think it has to involve some actual construction to go along with the LEGO label, which Bionicle does. I’m on board you putting you guys under the AFOL umbrella.

    Forgive my ignorance, but other burning questions:
    1. What is CCBS?
    2. What is Ben10?
    3. Since the use of ball joints seem imperativere to being a Bionicle MOC, are Mixels basically miniature Bionicles? Or is the use of the Bionicle masks vital?
    4. What is coming out of that Pokemon-Bionicle-Tiger things butt?
    5. Does a Bionicle MOC have to be an action figure or action animal? Could it just be a spaceship or a castle or a train? Is that possible? Has anyone tried to build something other the figures with Bionicle or would that be heresy to Bionicle builders? I think the examples could have been expanded a little more than just the three given here.

    Overall, though I enjoyed the article and thought the length was just right beside maybe adding a couple more questionable examples of what a Bionicle build is or isn’t.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “The LEGO label is on those boxes, but probably not going to land someone in the AFOL category by the definition most of us would give to the term.”

      This observation is probably correct but not relevant.

      Because…

      The author is answering the question: “Whether BIONICLE is LEGO”
      Not the question: “Who is an AFOL”
      Or the question: “Do AFOLs like BIONICLE”

      As for the value of the Lego logo as a GO/NO GO criteria in determining if a construction toy is or is not Lego… dude… it says Lego on the box when it comes out of the Lego factory… how can that NOT be the ultimate litmus test? Or maybe I should ask: If that plastic construction toy is NOT Lego… while it’s inside of that sealed box… with the Lego logo… on the store shelf… what is it?

      Also, I second that emotion: What is coming out of the cats butt?

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Bionicle guy here!
      1) CCBS means “Creature and Character Build System”. It’s the new build system for constraction (constructable action figures) that Lego introduced with Hero Factory, and has used for the return of Bionicle, Chima Ultrabuilds, and the new Star Wars Ultrabuilds. The core of the build system is ‘bone’ pieces, which usually come in black or gray.

      In the original bionicle, limbs had balls or sockets on both ends, and armor was attached with pins or axles. What makes CCBS different is that the limbs, often called ‘bones’, usually have a balljoint in the MIDDLE of the piece as well, and most armor pieces have a ball socket. There are also armor addons, which are usually attached with one or two 3mm pins. The big idea of the new build system is that you can now attach armor in 8 different orientations, and it standardizes how things are attached so you don’t have to worry about which limbs you’re using to attach armor.

      The guidelines I just listed mostly apply to the sets, though. When you get into extremely complex bionicle builds like the ones pictured in this article, mocists often favor using the CCBS armor pieces with other pieces that have balljoints, rather than limiting themselves to the ‘prefab’ bones that sets use.

      2) Ben10 is a children’s cartoon that ran on Cartoon Network about a young boy who found an alien watch that lets him transform into 10 different monsters. Lego made 6 constructable action figures in 2010, but what makes them interesting is every single piece in them was new. Only two of their pieces were used in later sets, and now none are used. But they still use some of the parts in the lego movies! Mocists still like using the parts though, they have very organic shapes.

      3) I’d say what makes a bionicle moc is half intent, and half whether it uses pieces commonly used in bionicles. Mixel joints are popular in high-complexity bionicle mocs, but they are not part of the core library of parts. So no, I don’t think anyone considers mixels to be mini bionicles.

      4) Most of the parts coming out of the tiger’s butts are chestplates, from the Hero Factory heroes of 2011. There’s also another Hero factory armor piece, and a large tail piece. The actual pokemon has a plume of smoke for a tail, so that part of the moc is supposed to look like billowy clouds.

      5) Bionicle mocs that aren’t action figures isn’t unheard of! The most notable example of this is Disty’s mocs: ( https://www.flickr.com/photos/46117735@N08/ ). VolumeX and Vince Toulouse are system mocists that use bionicle pieces a lot. I once made a spaceship with bionicle. Bionicle fans don’t consider these mocs to be heresy either, usually these mocs are championed as breaking the mold.

      I think the general stance of bionicle fans is that if it looks like a bionicle, it’s a bionicle. A general rule that’s thrown around a lot is that it should be 70% bionicle parts with 30% or less system.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks Grayson. Just to sum up… Since a Bionicle MOC can be anything, like your spaceship, then Bionicle is a building system and not necessarily a building theme, right? But it is also a building theme. It is a system and a theme. But you can’t build in the Bionicle theme using only system parts. You have to use at least 70% parts that are unique to Bionicle sets. Got it. I think. 🙂

        A smoke tail… man, that would have been my last guess.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Welcome to the Manifesto Grayson, I always consider it a small victory when we can pull new participants into our tiny echo chamber, I appreciate your perspective on the topic as a “Bionicle Guy” and I hope you stick around. Even though the other articles here might not be specifically in you wheelhouse, I have not doubt you’d have something to offer regardless of the topic. Thanks for chiming in!

        Liked by 1 person

    3. Since Grayson touched on most of the other points I’ll just tackle #5:
      Building MOCS that break out of the “typical” Bionicle mold are usually lauded in the Bionicle community, and there’s even a flickr group that tried (for a while, anyway) to showcase Bionicle MOCS that didn’t fit the standard “Toa/Makuta/whatever” Theme (https://www.flickr.com/groups/1412762@N23/)

      As far as spaceships, they’ve been tackled a few times by Bionicle Builders that I can remember just off the top of my head:

      DBC’s Strafer: https://www.flickr.com/photos/dablackcat/8223826647
      J6Crash’s Dvojka: https://www.flickr.com/photos/43325118@N03/8140183151
      My Steel Falcon: https://www.flickr.com/photos/prhymus/3724844975

      And I’m sure there are many more that I may have missed or been inactive for.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. If you click on the “share” arrow for the image in flickr, the pop up window has 4 options. The first tab called “share” gives you a shortened link, which I guess also has the magical properties for embedding.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Interesting article, this one. First half is addressing the Bionicle inferiority complex, building a case that Bionicle is worthy to be considered shoulder-to-shoulder with LEGO system… and then it flips over into being a superiority complex, and deeming which MOC’s should even be considered as a Bionicle MOC.

    In my mind, if people are looking at MOC’s and immediately thinking what LEGO part family they belong into, then whomever build that MOC needs to go back and work on their build some more. A good MOC should transcend those definitions. The so called “Bionicle Builders” who are the most well known (like Mike Nieves, Djokson, etc.) are also the ones who do just that, and aren’t really thought of as a “Bionicle Builders”, just as a damn good ones.

    I myself LOVE Bionicle parts (but I could do with a few less link-arm ball-and-socket parts at this stage…). It feels like I use them more often than not.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think I get what you are saying Ted. Bionicle shouldn’t be a category at all for AFOLs. The builds shown here are just action figures made from LEGO parts and who cares if they are parts from Bionicle sets or system sets or technic sets. Just throw them all in a bag and call them all LEGO parts and build something cool. That would probably have been a better way to legitimize these builds as LEGO to the doubters who think Bionicle isn’t LEGO. Trying to define what a Bionicle MOC is or isn’t actually seems to hurt the argument that is indeed just LEGO. Good point.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Ted,
      I’m sort of with you but not entirely.

      Yeah, a good build is a good build. Category is not the same as quality. And our approval or disapproval of any given build should be based on the build and NOT on the category.

      And yeah, categories are often arbitrary. Their significance is often overstated. I once again remember that kid who told me: “I would love to build castle theme stuff, but most of my brick is from Lord of the Rings kits” What do you even say to that…

      And yeah, all of the best Bionical builds I have seen use all types of components. Most of the best Lego building I have seen across all categories uses parts from across the Lego spectrum. Skill does not reside in a part category, theme, or sub-brand. In fact

      At the same time, categories are tools. They may be arbitrary, temporary, expedient, or fluid… but we use categories to organize collections of artifacts, organisms and concepts. We use them to facilitate comparison, and to highlight unique traits and relevant criteria for differentiation. Categories are not without utility or value.

      But what I think makes the category question especially germane in this article (what is a Bionical MOC) is the perspective of the author. (Germane Keith… Germane… Not German!) This guy is speaking to us from the perspective of an advocate for a sub-brand that is NOT well loved by the larger AFOL population. (I guess that is a new assertion… but really… Bionical takes a lot more crap than it deserves, no?). He writes from the perspective of a guy who kicks ass in a part of the hobby that is often “labeled” or “relegated” or “marginalized”

      So I fully grant you the moral high ground in claiming that quality should trump category when looking at MOCs… But I also think that the authors question: “What is a Bionical MOC” is not only legitimate, but crucial. This guys article is written from the perspective of a guy whos area of expertise takes a lot of flack. Flack from people who often are shooting at Bionicles as a category.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Loved this article (and thanks for the mention)! I’ve always been a fan of the BIONICLE building system, though I own very few of the pieces myself. However, I think you said exactly what needed to be said in regards to those that think of BIONICLE as ‘NOT LEGO’.

    I honestly don’t really know what I can add that either yourself (or Rutherford) haven’t already covered. I will say though that I wholeheartedly agree with what Ted was saying about the best BIONICLE builders just being great builders in their own right! I think that anyone who looks at a well built creation and dismisses it based on what category it falls into is seriously missing out on the epic creations that the BIONICLE system can produce.

    Thanks again for the article! Best of luck to you!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Bionicle was a breath of fresh air to the System. It was new and adventurous with a mythos and fan base built into it from the start. And it was the textures of the pieces, no matter how ridiculously impossible they seemed with pistons and shocks cushioning single beams, that only added to the texture of the stories. I think the rejection of Bionicle as Lego is more in the difficulty of making the two languages work together. We are essentially a lazy brood. The most effective builds are the ones that incorporate the most difficult iterations of any system into a single dialogue. Darmok and Jellad at Tanagra. It requires effort, and lots of it. I think the more important question is why does anyone consider Bionicle NOT to be Lego? That’s the one that fails every time someone tries to explain why it isn’t.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Where does Galidor fall into the spectrum? Is it as much Lego as Bionicle? And what would this be, Galidor or System (there’s even some Bionicle parts in there)? https://www.flickr.com/photos/104851154@N02/18578007095/in/dateposted/

    Then the question is whether or not Technic is Lego? That question will get some folks riled up nicely. Paging Dr. Barrett! 😀

    The notion that something is NOT Lego even though it’s labelled as such and is produced from the company called Lego AND comes from a facility devoted to manufacturing plastic bits to be a construction toy with an imprint of Lego on it seems almost pointless. Maybe anyone that says otherwise requires only a swift lead pipe to the side of the head for confirmation followed by an over-exaggerated, “Well, duuuuuuuuhhh!”

    What else could Bionicle be? Lincoln Logs? Tinker Toys? Erector Sets? Play-Doh?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Don’t bring Technic into this! 😉 FWIW I’m no fan of Bionicle but I’d never question it’s place in the Lego universe and frequently use certain Bio parts. It’s certainly more engaging than, say, Brickheadz (ugh) and they’re Lego apparently.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Whether Bionicle “counts” as Lego or not is an irrelevant matter to me, as I have zero brand loyalty to Lego and don’t care about customized, cut, painted, or clone parts as long as the effect is worth it. The only reason I stick primarily with “pure” Lego is because it’s a better value and I don’t have the dexterity or patience to customize or kitbash what’s in my head. I always love finding clone gold in those unsorted convention bins, and if you need proof of how awesome those parts can be, go thumb through nnenn’s photostream (as you should be doing regularly) or take a look at Nate Decastro’s stuff.

    With that out of the way… I think it’s weird to even consider Bionicle a genre, in the same way it’s weird to call “piano” or “guitar” genres of music. They’re tools of the trade, and maybe it does make sense to talk about builders who use them well, like how we talk about virtuosic musicians. But I have never thought of people like Djokson and Red as Bionicle builders; they’ve always been character builders to me. If you wanna divvy things up by what parts people use, then Mike Nieves defies all classification. No one else built like him before and no one has since. Closest you can get is maybe Michael Jasper, who uses mostly system. Pretty much everything is a hybrid these days. I don’t think it’s common practice to say “Right, I’m only gonna use system parts for this build.” We only use what we deem the best tools for the job. Every builder is just more comfortable using certain parts over others. I’d chalk that up to “style” rather than genre.

    The only context I think “Bionicle” works as a genre is those builds that we’re made as part of Lego’s Bionicle story, mask powers and all. Those are in a similar position as Neo Classic Space to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Where the hell is Nate DeCastro? I miss his stuff. Another guy that comes to mind is Pierre E Fieschi. He has a lot of cool builds highlighting clone bricks and even custom printed 3-D bricks. I would have to say I’m like 99% purist and don’t even like to cut tubes or apply stickers, but have absolutely no problem with others doing so. There are some pretty cool pieces in the Pokemon set up there, like those inverted boat tiles, the half circle plates with studs on both sides, and the 3-plate high cheese slopes. Those all very useful pieces that I’m sure LEGO will never make. Has LEGO ever produced a part that was first produced by one of their competitors?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No idea what happened to Nate and Pierre I presume is still directing that creative energy in a more professional capacity. I don’t recall him posting that often even when he was active.

        And yes, Lego has definitely followed their competitors on multiple occasions. I’m almost certain they took grille slopes and the new smaller wedge plates from MB, as well as the recent 1×1 round w/ bar that debuted in the Ninjago City set, just to name a few.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Whether bionicle is lego or not is completely irrelevant to me. As Chris said, zero brand loyalty here as well. I am not not a fan of bionicle (not a fan of technic, galidor, ben10 either). I don’t like the aesthetics and dislike the building style. A brand can put out multiple things, doesn’t mean they must automatically be enjoyed by that quality alone.

    Furthermore, I’m on the same path as Chris, when I think bionicle, I imagine the standard aesthetic pushed forward by the official models and that also follow the standard building path. In my eyes, deus’s model you posted screams more bionicle than Mike’s.

    Because once you’re entering the tools of trade category, the distinction doesn’t matter. Parts start being used completely different than their intended purpose and the result can something like mike’s Arcanine (a model I love despite being neither a bionicle nor a pokemon fan) or something like Deus’s that is a very creative idea at it’s core, but I have no interest in from an aesthetics point of view.

    Long story short, dislike the theme as it was introduced, love (and use) the parts (although I do have the same problem Michael mentioned with them, they’re either too big or have few connection points), dislike the standard models, love what can be achieved with them. And yes, bionicle fans are lego fans; it’s just that it’s a status that doesn’t really mean anything to me; there are bionicle mocists (if that’s what you want to call them) I admire and ones that won’t ever get a glance from me. But then, that is true of every other lego sections, so I don’t think I really need this distinction.

    I suppose the most important bit is, I couldn’t give a flying fuck what a good model is made of. The only thing relevant here is that by writing lego on the box, it’s purist, so yay. Because for some reason I decided I like purist (although I’ll accept some non purist bits here and there, but it’s really gotta be good).

    Oh, and the reason it sold like hot cakes? Maybe they sold so well because they were cheap as fuck and parents bought them seeing cheap as fuck legos? That would also explain the lame sales following the boom. Poeple woke and and realized they were buying garbage. That’s what they’re really jealous of, getting those things when all they wanted was a litlle lightsaber. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m a bit late to this discussion, but I pretty much agree 100% with what Vitreolum said. The litmus test of whether Bionicle is Lego is take the purist’s point of view. If a build contains Bionicle parts, would it still be considered a “pure” build? Definitely. That same build minus the Bionicle, but with custom stickers applied? That’s a “no go” from the purist’s perspective.

      That being said, I not particularly fond of the Bionicle theme. The parts, as others have noted, are difficult to integrate into a primarily system-based build. I have a hard time seeing how I’d make use of any of them in my work, other than some of the long, pointy things that could possibly be used to represent a lock of hair or stray piece of cloth. In the hands of a skilled builder, though, a Bionicle mask can be used to great effect:

      fountain of blood in the shape of a girl 1

      group-01

      Liked by 1 person

  9. You argue your case well, though I haven’t really encountered this “not really LEGO” school of reasoning. Personally I’ve never felt like I really “got” Bionicle/CCBS as an array of themes, but of course it’s LEGO. I frequently don’t get all the subtleties of it, and so many of the humanoid figures look too similar to me to really differentiate as a Bionicle uninitiate, but it is LEGO. Really.
    If I have a personal issue with Bionicle, it’s the separate building universe so many of its fans seem to live in. As you say, really good builders use elements from all over the LEGO spectrum, but there does seem to be a preponderance of builders who “just” (or overwhelmingly) build in this Bionicle/CCBS vein and never seem to do anything with “regular” System bricks (by which I mostly mean things with studs) beyond using them as occasional accents.
    Bionicle/CCBS is definitely LEGO, and its builders are definitely building with LEGO, but the Bionicle community is definitely its own thing within the wider LEGO world and there does seem to be a bit of a line between the System and Bionicle realms, one that few builders cross.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Geoff, I’d like to welcome you to the blog, I’ve noticed you “liking” articles in the past but to the best of my knowledge this is the first time you’ve left a comment. I hope you stick around and add to the conversation, we’re always looking for new voices, especially ones who actually have something to say. I know you have your own blog but if you ever get the urge to write an article over here in this dump, the door is always open.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Hear hear! Welcom Geoff. For gods sake…do right something if for no other reason than to save us from our own echo echo!

    Primus… This artical really grew legs man! Well done!

    Attack!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Official Contest Review
    Entry # 11
    Title: Not My LEGO®
    Author: Cameron (-Primus-)
    Views: 297 Comments: 31

    Favorite Quote: “Now, the obvious answer to the first question is “OF FUCKIN’ COURSE IT’S LEGO, IT’S RIGHT THERE ON THE BOX.”

    Favorite Comment inspired by the entry: “4. What is coming out of that Pokemon-Bionicle-Tiger things butt?” – Jake RF

    Single Sentence Summary: The article poses the question “Is Bionicle Lego?” and examines both sides of the argument concerning the legitimacy of the product line.

    The Good:
    1.The best thing about the article for me was that it motivated me to examine my own bias on the topic and I think that’s a sign of effective writing. I’ve come a long way in my attitude towards Bionicle and frankly it’s builders, with most of the change coming after becoming a blogger for TBB and now with the Manifesto. I’ll discuss that change in a separate comment later, this isn’t really the place for it but the important part is that not only did you inspire me to answer the question you posed but to go beyond and recognize that I used to answer the question very differently and subsequently try to figure out why I once held those negative beliefs and why they changed. Your entry was thought provoking and not just entertaining.

    2. The article introduced me to Jayfa, and his fine stable of Bionicle builds. I may be jaded when it comes to conventions but I never seem to grow tired of discovering new Lego action and adding a skilled builder to my contact list. You can imagine my excitement when I discovered that your interview subject in a subsequent entry was the very same person, it was a nice connection. I only wish you’d included more unfamiliar builders, I’m sure you know of a few more you’re holding back on.

    3.The research! You get huge props for actually digging out a quote, even if it was only one, it was one more than just about everyone else. I didn’t even mind that I had to put on my old man specs and squint at the screen. It was so much more effective than just guessing it was true or making a claim without any citation or support. Although exact sales number and a source from Lego might have improved it, or numbers from other themes of the same time-frame. It may have been a simple no-brainer to you, but I appreciated it.

    The Bad:

    1. I thought your photo examples of what makes something Bionicle could have been more effective. In each of the three instances I knew right way what your conclusion was going to be. I’m not sure if better examples are out there, but it occurred to me that there have to be models that blur the line more dramatically that might actually make the decision a coin toss or at least arguable. It all seemed to boil down to what percentage of system parts was allowable, and your definition seemed to be around 20%

    2.I know you were trying to inject some humor into the proceedings (and it largely worked) but when you adopted a more structured “serous” approach for this entry in comparison to your first, some of the humor seemed unnecessary and perhaps even worked against your argument, not logically then tonally. This doesn’t seem to be a casual topic for you, there is a strong opinion and desire to defend your preferred aspect of the hobby and I’m down. But the mix of humor clouded the message a little for me. I know I’m not one to critique somebody’s flippant or acerbic style, but I found it at odds with the serious quality of the article. You approach the topic with care and purpose, but also never hesitate to call anyone who disagrees with you an idiot (paraphrasing). Here are some examples;

    “Get with the times, gramps!”
    “Therefore, the interlocking brick system argument seems pretty weak”
    “Therefore, not a solid argument”
    “a great way to be intentionally obtuse.”
    “to ignore the integral part Bionicle played in tapping into a market Lego was struggling with would be asinine.”
    “being jealous doesn’t make something not LEGO, it just makes you crotchety”

    There were more examples but I think you get the idea. It’s good to be funny, but when you’re trying to make a point in a serious way, it’s best to let the reader decide if the counter-argument is “asinine, crotchety or obtuse”. For the record I agree with most of what you’re saying but tonally it came off a little jarring at times.

    3. You made the mistake of tantalizing me with the once source you cited and left me wanting more! Hardly anyone does that in these articles and it would have been great to see something besides Wikipedia, although I do consider it a valid reference how cool would it have been to see something from Lego, and it’s probably out there somewhere. It also might have been interesting to get some quotes from other prominent Builders or even a Lego-rep or employee on the topic. Would it have been difficult, probably but again, you opened the door with actual facts and patents and it made me hungry. It should be obvious that I’m not going to hold this against you, but I was struggling to come up with a third negative point. Some may wonder why it’s so important to have 3 if I don’t have 3 legitimate complaints, but I place perhaps undue importance on being consistent in the format and I think of it more as encouragement to do more than a knock on the writer.

    The Whatever:
    Both in the article and the comments the word MOCist was thrown around as if it’s normal. Is MOCist a thing? Where have I been? Why didn’t JakeRF mention “MOCist” in his diatribe about our questionable and often embarrassing lexicon? MOCist? That sound suspiciously British, and reminds me of both ‘Stalinist’and ‘Creationist’….MOCist you say?. You’re employing that term ironically or for comedic effect right? You Bionicle guys don’t actually call each other that, do you? Either way it’s now firmly imbedded in my personal lexicon and I can’t wait to use it in person: “Well met, fellow MOCist!” “My favorite MOCist is Oucho T. Cactus”, “Who is the MOCist responsible for this turd?”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, us Bionicle folk do in fact call each other MOCists. It’s the standard term for a person who MOCs in the Bionicle community, I’m afraid.

      The worse alternative that thankfully fell out of style was MOCer, which of course sounded like a person who makes fun of others. Being British is much better!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Small correction needed in your analysis Keith. The favorite comment was actually from me, not Christopher. I’m still confused as to why it has a smoke tail, but I completely missed out on the Pokemon craze.

        Liked by 1 person

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