Ruthless Elegance: A Visual Guide To Cool
If you know me very well at all, you know I love the "Coolified" style of appearance in Bionicle sets. This style is in many people's eyes the opposite to the 2001 style, yet in my tastes at least it is the best Bionicle can be, and it seems like most fans share my preference in this, though it's certainly OK for others not to (to each hisher own). Because of the majority "Cool" preference, I think Bionicle is at its absolute best, stylewise, when it uses this style to the max in the sets. Both in terms of it's health as a franchise, and, luckily, for my own personal tastes too. [To be clear, not saying other people can't see the word "Cool" differently; this is how I personally define it. ]
But what exactly is "Cool"? How can it be defined? I've been asked this before, and it's a little difficult to pin down. It's got variety. It isn't one exact "just so" style. And yet it has rules. It is something I know instantly when I see it, and something I'm dissapointed to miss when I don't see it. I know it is intense, but then some intensity isn't cool--some people who aren't into Cool even find it intimidating, even going too far (though down what road depends on the person). Some who aren't like me even see it as "ugly", because they have different tastes. It is often these people who are confused when I use words like "cool"--what does it mean, they have asked? Overall, the best way I know how to describe it is this:
Cool does not hold back. Cool has well-aligned curves, spikes, spikes, serrations, scales, flares, knife-edges. Cool is made out of exploding gas, biological beings, stone, plastic. It's got texture, it's got form, it's got a pattern, it's got chaos. It's feathers and razor-teeth. Cool is elegant, not cheesy, but not "refined" per se or "classy" or any other terms. It isn't fragile, but it isn't industrially plain. It isn't afraid to be as elegant as it's possible to be. Yet it can contain elements of industrial plainness, or smoothness, or blockiness, even cheesiness! It is intensely powerful. It is also ruthless, because it knows that its intense style is not evil, though it can be scary--it knows it is neutral morally and can be equally expressed by both good and evil, and it is not afraid to express itself. It celebrates and exalts in its expression of elegance.
But these are all just words. I know what they mean only because I have the meanings behind the words in my head. A picture, they say, is worth a thousand vocalized sound waves, or in this case, digitized linguistic symbols. So I thought today I would present with you with a Visual Guide to Cool. This guide will feature a selection of the coolest images I know of, picked out of this Gallery. There are gobs of bonus images in the gallery you can browse as well when it is public.
Something some people don't seem to realize is that "Ruthless Elegance" isn't something invented by Bionicle or any other human being. Ruthless elegance can be found all over in nature. Probably the most obvious example of Bionicle similarities to real world "RE" is the Barraki. Carapice. Eel. Manta Ray. Each of the Barraki features their own unique sort of Cool that has a direct or indirect parallel in the world of nature, especially in undersea creatures. And these are rad cool creatures.
You've got Carapar:
And finally, Takadox:
Okay, so that's a color edit, lol. Actual image here.
The Barraki represent a whole class of ubercool undersea creatures, but they only scratch the surface. There are Icefish and Lionfish and Sunfish and Starfish (Sea Urchins in that pic too).
Ruthless Elegance isn't just found underwater, though. In the animal realm it also includes things like Egrets:
It extends into space in a Solar Flare:
Humankind has harnessed the power of Cool to fly in the sky:
It exists in the plant world in a Dragon Tree:
And it once existed in actual "dragons"; Dinosaurs:
That was the head of a T-Rex--but the Tyrannosaur's feet were cool too. Another really cool dino was Styracosaurus:
And who doesn't love good old Sabertooth Tiger? Ancient predators even included giant girds, like the "Terror Bird" in this artistic interpretation.
There are a lot of "living dinosaurs" in terms of coolness even today, like the late Steve Irwin's favorites, Crocodiles. Isn't it Gorgeous? There are lizards with frills:
And turtles with spikes. There's even a miniature version of Styracky.
My brother Ojilom's mascot, the Elephant, is, as it were, Ele[g]ant. Especially its skeleton.
Have a look at the skeleton of a Whale. And just as there are mammals in the sea, there are mammals in the air. But we usually think of mammals as being on the land, like the Armadillo:
Or being furry, like the Emperor Tamarin.
Feathers instead of fur. There's the peacock of course, with its tailfeathers. And it comes in white:
There's everything from the Hornbill to the Turkey.
In the insect and arachnid world there's the somewhat familiar Wolf Spider to the unfamiliar Scale. Nui-Rama have their equivalent in Dragonflies:
And Kraata have a rough equivalent in Snails.
To eat the bugs, there are Venus Flytraps, Sundews, and Pitcher Plants.
Other plants range from cool ground foliage to Oak trees; their leaves seen here. Flowers aren't all roses. And don't forget ferns:
Those ferns need light--how about a nice star for us all to orbit?
The sun can do a good imitation of a Zamor Sphere in certain types of photos. And personally I really like blue.
Who knew. Carapar has his own giant cloud of gas--the Crab Nebula! Ooooh. Ahhhh. Explosions are the answer:
It's the BOOMarang Nebula! Look at the Shockwaves. And look--Nebulae even mimic nukes!
We of course have nukes, and other types of Explosions. We've put Ruthless Elegance into everything from Buildings and Boats to Buggies and Biplanes.
Of course humans have also put coolness into all manner of fiction as well. But that's not my goal for this blog entry--it's to show that all of the above has existed in the real world, for real reasons, and usually without our control. In Bionicle, we've had rocking cool Rahkshi, we've had Kanohi masks, we've had Visorak; the one I think is the coolest being Da Greenie.
Only recently though has Bionicle reeeeally gotten into Ruthless Elegance. The Piraka show this off like crazy. Take Thok, for example. The Toa Inika had this up the wazoo, with their rad Zamor multiclips, the Zamor launchers themselves, and their cool armor, feet, and masks. My favorite of the masks is the superior Sanok.
But Ruthless Elegance has really taken off this year with the Barraki, and if Toyfair is any indication, the rest of the sets too! Good old Carapar, my favorite. Ehlek, after he "charges up" from the lightstone in the Bionicle.com movie/vision, looks really cool. And Mantax--wow, have all the promo pics of him competely slapped him in the face, as it were. Mantax's head is awesome, but I have never seen an actual image of its full awesomness until the piece was shown in one of the Toyfair playsets. See here. I want Mantax now. Of course each of the Barraki is also cool in a unique way, as we are all well aware. Even Pridak, my least favorite (due to the color scheme), has awesome tools, which I was excited to see in silver with Hydraxon.
But the Toa Mahri. Wow. I've got a few complaints, not least of which is the launcher, which in appearance, to me, is decidedly uncool (I hope it's a prototype...). But there's just sooo much else that roxorz my soxorz better than ever before, it is sheer awesomeness incarnate. Hewkii's new mask is just as rad cool, if not more so, as the Sanok. As is Kongu's.
And Hahli's mask. And! And. And. And. Hahli has... WINGS!!1!1!! *spamming spree of joy* Yay! Hwoot! *Toa With Wings!* Huzzah! Hooray! *deleting spamming spree of joy* Yahoo! Google!
The wings are coolified, even. I like wings. Can ya tell? :-P
And the masks of the others are about as cool, as well as most of the tools (though I would like a bit more armor... ). And the titans have so much coolness, just like Axonn, Fenrakkvezon, and Brutaka did last year.
You knew this was coming: Wowser Bowser Good Gads Gadunka. What a rad cool Piraka foot!
And the face is cool too.
All in all, Bionicle is delving into Cool more, and more betterly, than they ever have before. Personally I am very excited about this. Beyond that, though, I strongly suspect that most typical fans are too, and so I would not be surprised to see Bionicle's recent gains keep going up!
Well, that's enough for this entry. I hope this guide has helped explain in a couple ten thousand words what "Cool" means to me.