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The Memory of Trees



Photo

Oh Dear

Posted by ToM Dracone , Jan 22 2010 · 248 views
Language

I just learned about the metathesis of a disyllabic preposition in my Greek class today.

I feel somewhere between "... HOLD ME" and "this is the coolest stuff I have ever learned."

Discuss.
~ ToM



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Elements 2

Posted by ToM Dracone , Jan 20 2010 · 124 views
Writing



You guys should all go check it out! (that's a link up there, by the way) I haven't read anywhere near everything, but there are quite a few awesome authors in this collection and if they're anything like me they worked really hard on what's in there. I've also added my own piece, finally; it's down at the bottom of the list and I personally am very proud of the result, as it's an idea that's been sitting in my head for possibly years now.

So yeah. Go read them and leave us writers reviews! We like things like that.
~ ToM



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Project Nuva :: Nuva Armor Perfected

Posted by ToM Dracone , Jan 12 2010 · 1,051 views
Bionicle
You thought I had forgotten about this, didn't you. Fortunately, I haven't! I -finally- settled my design for Lewa Phantoka a few days ago and started doodling, and subsequently finally got his mask down perfectly as well, so I'm working on coloring him now. And then the next day I started to redraw Kopaka – since I've decided that I want to draw all the Nuva from now on in the style I used for star!Hahli, that involves making a new image of Kopaka and also redoing Onua, since I've changed his design since I posted him ages ago.

But while I was drawing Kopaka, I started sketching the new Nuva armor on the side, since I was bugged by the fact that the design I had for the chest armor looked too stretched and spindly, and the shoulder armor was slightly too small. I realized that instead of just enlarging and stretching the chest armor, it would look better to add another layer to it, which had the benefit of both making the piece look more natural and more fitting for the adaptive armor. And then I was toying around with ways to make the should armor to make it cover the shoulders more fully, and eventually applied the same design to it.



And I'm pretty pleased with the result. I also added another connection point to the chest armor – under each top corner is an axle hole (in the manner of the axle holes under the Stars' feet), for more flexibility in torso design. The shoulder armor pieces still attach the same way as the old version, and the other connection points on the chest armor are still the same.

Next up is Lewa Phantoka. Hopefully soon!
~ ToM



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A Brief Note On Ben 10

Posted by ToM Dracone , Jan 11 2010 · 314 views
Various
Initially, I was going to go into some sort of rant about what abominations these sets are, but I've come to realize that that would be quite pointless, for a number of reasons. Instead I shall explain why I am disinclined towards them, including those reasons. It's possible, even, that this entire entry will be filled with things you already know.

First, for clarity's sake, the best adjective to describe my feelings towards them is 'disappointed.' Not in the way I was disappointed with the 2008 Nuva, since I lack any sort of fondness for Ben 10 like I had with the Toa Nuva, since I had no idea what the show was so much as about until basically tonight. Rather, I'm disappointed with Lego for making them the way they did.

Clearly, Lego has created sets that will sell well, and already are. I think it's pretty simple to say why: Ben 10 is a popular thing, and these sets look impressively like the aliens from the show (so much so that one wonders, if basing a set on a familiar image is clearly a ticket to success, why they didn't make the Nuva actually look like the Nuva we know, but that's another matter). Therefore, kids see them, like both Ben 10 and Lego, say "cool!" at the combination, and they fly off the shelves.

Thus they achieve their purpose (making money for Lego), and you know what? They're pretty good-looking sets, from an aesthetic standpoint. Solid colors, smooth pieces, and we get some nice stuff out of them.

But – I wish Lego's goal in them were more than just to make money. That is what I find so disappointing.

They've done what's needed to make them sell well – now why not go a little bit beyond that? Why not actually, say, make the builds slightly more creative than Avotoran on a massive scale? I'm not talking UCS-type complexity here, or 2001-style functions. I'm talking about the level Bionicle's been at for the past few years, if absolutely nothing more: where the feet are separate pieces from the ankles and the torsos are made of several pieces, not just a front and a back, and the upper limbs have a 'bone' piece and then armor over that. Was it really necessary to strip all of what little complexity there is in the Bionicle style, leaving the Ben 10 sets with exclusively ball-and-socket joints as the connections between all but two pieces?

The Ben 10 sets are made pretty much exclusively of big, clunky pieces. While I recognize this is what many AFOLs (and heck, some of us Bionicle fans) have complained about in Bionicle for years (see things like the Piraka torso), there's a crucial distinction between even the clunkiest Bionicle piece and the Ben 10 pieces: something like the Piraka or Avotoran torsos is riddled with Technic connection points of all sorts, and (minus the Avotoran-clone sets) every Bionicle set has been filled with Technic connectors of some sort. Ben 10 pieces are lucky to have an axle hole in them, and if they have anything more, it's just a minifigure rod-sized hole (the kind viking horns attach to, for clarity).

We've already seen several creative folk make lovely-looking MOCs with the Ben 10 pieces, so clearly they're not useless (and some of them are in fact quite appealing, even to me).

But what gets me is this: the Ben 10 pieces look as if they were not designed to be usable in ways other than what they do in the sets. And that is the essence of why I feel enormously disappointed in Lego here. They look like they're the result of some line of reasoning like "Hey, these sets need to be solid builds that look like Ben 10 characters. Don't bother making them work as anything else; the important part is that they sell well, not that their pieces are modular."

Some are better than that. The lower legs are a welcome addition to the lineup of Bionicle limbs; the new torso is intriguing and does have a fair amount of connections, but is limited severely by how huge it is.

But the rest... are just oversimplified and disappointing.
~ ToM



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2006 Revisited

Posted by ToM Dracone , Jan 07 2010 · 273 views
Bionicle
So, Sméag and I and then Janus and I were talking about this the other night, and I figured I'd make a blog entry about it, because goodness knows I'm not going to get around to writing a story about this any time soon.

Anyone remember back in 2005, when Greg told us that 2006 would be returning to a more "tribal" feel? And then how there was actually none of that at all in the 2006 story? I mean, sure, the Matoran lived in a village by themselves, rather than a city, but that was just about it. There was no culture to it.

However! The Piraka looked distinctly tribal, especially in the early leaked photos we got of them (Reidak particularly more so in prototype, with his glowing third eye and longer tail). Their faces just looked deliciously like wild, scary, tribal masks, and then of course the spines added a lot more in the way of wildness.

So I was thinking about this the other night, how tribal the Piraka could have been, and that made me think – what if the Piraka had been the native species of Voya Nui? They would have existed as a more primitive culture than the Matoran, hidden in the depths of the forests of Voya Nui or inhabiting the various mountains on it. I would see them as not stupid, but having a social system such that the lower Piraka were deeply, deeply obedient to the higher ones. These higher ones in the social system would be shamans of a sort, controlling the lesser Piraka with an elaborate system of myths and legends and cautionary tales to keep them in line.

The Mask of Life, hidden in Mount Valmai but known to the Piraka, would be a deeply significant object of legend to them, something the Piraka would be willing to die to protect – it would no doubt be the center of all manner of stories, and probably be attributed the property of protecting the Piraka species from Mount Valmai's eruptions. That, then, would be why they fought so hard against the Toa Nuva when they arrived to claim the Mask of Life.

And I guess that's where the Matoran come back in. The six we got would probably be the few who had actually dared to explore further inland, sneaking through the forests and finding out both the lay of the land and about the Piraka, and thus they would help the Nuva on their quest for that reason.

But! The Nuva would still get defeated, of course. But not by some awkward scheme of "well the Nuva are the most powerful Toa in the universe, but we have to get rid of them anyway, so we'll just give the Piraka way too many powers and pretend they're strong enough to defeat the Nuva." Nothing like that. The Piraka would defeat the Toa Nuva simply by better knowledge of the land, by setting booby traps for them in the forests. They would separate the Nuva from each other and then capture them one by one by ambushes, sneak attacks, traps, and poison darts.

And then the Inika come along as usual.

And hey, even Vezon would make a bit more sense now. He'd be a lone daring Piraka who ventured into the heart of Mount Valmai to find the Mask of Life, and was rewarded by being made its guardian. Perhaps he himself would be legendary among the Piraka – either that, or everyone assumed he perished in the attempt.

Gods, I'd have liked that so, so much more.
~ ToM



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Favorite Set Review Photos Ever?

Posted by ToM Dracone , Jan 06 2010 · 197 views
BZPower
Quite possibly? (out of my own photos, I mean, of course.) I don't know; I'm just really really pleased with how the photos in my review of Gresh turned out. I think I just finally figured out how to light them and then how to edit them afterwards to make the colors and brightness perfect.

And I'm also irrationally fond of this one:



I think it's just the way his pose turned out. I was just messing around with him, but he ended up like he was looking off at someone out of the frame, his head cocked to one side, holding his one sword up like "Yeah, I can do this. Just watch me." Somehow it just captured the spunkiness of his set perfectly.

Discuss. Gallery of all of them, if anyone cares for such.

Oh, and fittingly, I also got star!Skrall yesterday. I was at Target and their Lego aisle was almost completely empty – all the Bionicle they had were a mass of Kiina, Gelu, and Vastus and then one little Skrall and Piraka on the shelf below them. So I bought the Skrall, and goodness I love the little guy. Definitely getting a full photo shoot when I'm back home again.
~ ToM



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The Gang's All Here

Posted by ToM Dracone , Jan 03 2010 · 189 views
Bionicle
I just happened to notice the other day that, with the exception of Vorox, the only 2009 sets I have are the heroes of the movie:



Interestingly, these (plus Vorox) are the sets from last year that come with the most recolored pieces. Which is a self-proclaimed trend in my taste, but it's interesting to see that Lego apparently feels similarly, by making these ones front-and-center in The Legend Reborn. Hmm.

Still looking to get Strakk and Metus. I'll check in on my Target later this week and see if they still have any; if not, I'll prolly just order them from Shop @Home, since they're on sale... But then, I also want to get little!Skrall over break, and there are other things I need to spend money on too, so we'll see how that all works out.
~ ToM



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The Glatorian Of Fire

Posted by ToM Dracone , Dec 30 2009 · 150 views
Bionicle
My Ackar arrived yesterday afternoon, I built him this morning, and I have to say he is the prettiest set I have set eyes upon in a long time.

Seriously. Not only is he BRIGHT RED and ORANGE, but his color layering is, for once in a Bionicle set, truly perfect. I mean, seriously. I love how bright and fiery he is. If I hadn't been quite so tired when I was building him (right after I woke up), I would probably have squeed when his pieces rolled out of the canister. And even so, I was still grinning giddily. Words cannot quite describe how happy I am to finally, finally have another set in bright red and orange. It's been way, way too long.

I think what just completed it for me was when I was writing at our dining room table and just happened to have both Ackar and Kongu next to me. The sight of those two incredibly vibrant sets together, perfectly lit because they were right next to a sliding glass door and so had tons of natural light streaming in, was just incredible.

And! Right then I also noticed something else, because Ackar's sword was backlit:



I had not at all known this about the firesword before, and previously hadn't really liked it as the mass of translucent orange Ackar has (I was fine with it on Tahu). But the fact that Lego molded it so that you actually see different tiers of flame when there's light shining through the sword makes it beautiful.

Of course, design-wise he's incredibly boring, but I really cannot bring myself to complain about that, since he looks so utterly fantastic with his colors. Bright red Inika body, bright red Vahki legs, orange Inika feet, and all the rest are rather incredible. My reimagination of his set for my version of 2009 gives him shoulder armor molded like flames (among other changes), and I think that might be a nice way to add a bit more interest design-wise.

Even the grey hands don't bother me that much, which surprised me. I think they look better in real life than in the CGI pictures, and they also make nice complements to his grey neck piece. Just a subtle little thing to complement the brightness.

I'll take photos of him sometime. Looking into getting some large black paper to use... since he wouldn't look as good set against white.
~ ToM



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Obligatory Postchristmas Entry

Posted by ToM Dracone , Dec 27 2009 · 174 views
Life
It was a pretty good Christmas, all around. Fewer presents (partly because my parents and I didn't get each other anything), but we got to spend more time with our relatives, since timing just worked out better all around this year. Which was nice, because past years' Christmas Eve festivities have sometimes wound up kinda rushed, and, fondly, they weren't this time.

I ended up with, among other things:

• Kiina
• Ackar (ordered online, so I don't have him yet)
• star!Gresh
• a lovely SCIENCE T-shirt, which fits me to perfection and is my favorite present
• a set of Bananagrams
• the soundtracks to Queer As Folk (season 1), A Chorus Line (new cast recording), and Halo and Halo 2
• $250 in cash

And a couple other articles of clothing. So fewer things that I actively wanted, but I can't complain, because the money is something that will be put to very good use next semester on textbooks and train tickets.

Expect a full review of Gresh soon. And I'm also planning to go out and find star!Skrall and maybe one of the little Atlantis sets soonish, along with a new pair of pants and a new hoodie. The latter two less mandatorily than the first one.

I'll post an entry about my thoughts on the Ben 10 sets soonish, too. But this subject seemed slightly more urgent.
~ ToM



Photo

The Element Of Crystal

Posted by ToM Dracone , Dec 24 2009 · 241 views
Bionicle
Since this came up in the comments of last entry, I figured I would just make an entry about it to discuss it in full...

So. Crystal. I've seen the idea for it as an element come up in quite a few places, and if it were up to me (and apparently to quite a few others), I'd have canonized Crystal as an element rather than Psionics. If we're sticking with Lego's ridiculous one-gender-per-tribe scheme, it would be female. Because goodness knows Bionicle needs more female elements.

The idea occurred to me yesterday that, perhaps, Crystal would be a rather rare element. I have this image of there being one single village of Crystal Matoran, led by a Turaga of Crystal, and then out in the rest of the universe Crystal Matoran would be few and far between. And then I had thought this village would be located deep under the mountains somewhere, very far removed from all the other villages or cities, and the Matoran would probably have made their home in some vast cavern filled with giant crystals that very few outsiders had ever seen...

Which led me to decide on their color scheme. Originally, I had thought Matoran and Toa of Crystal would be, say, ice blue or clear aquamarine or just transparent white over white bodies, but I've had a better idea now, based on the fact that they live deep underground: Their masks and armor and feet and hands and such would be transparent versions of every color, and their bodies underneath would be black. For example, clear colors where Ackar has orange, and black where he has red.

So it would essentially be a rainbow element, with no one fixed primary color (though whatever primary color a Matoran or Toa had would be transparent). And, maybe, there would be really rare Matoran of Crystal whose bodies actually have every color of the rainbow in their crystal parts, so they would change color depending on the light and angle they're seen from...

Thus, I guess, they would also have all different colors of eyes.

And the Matoran themselves would be masterful with all kinds of crystal, lightstones and heatstones and carving natural crystal and glass and obsidian and all things of that sort... Though the village itself wouldn't trade with anyone, being so isolated, but Matoran of Crystal out in the universe would probably set up stands selling crystal carvings and whatnot.

I really do wish it could be both genders canonically, though. Maybe then certain colors of Matoran would correspond to either gender... but maybe not. In any story I actually write with this, there will be both genders, that's for sure.

Wow. I guess that's the element all figured out for my purposes, now. What do you guys think, or what have you come up with for your own stuff?
~ ToM







I Enyalië Aldaron

Le-wahi







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