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Welcome to BZPower!

Hi there, while we hope you enjoy browsing through the site, there's a lot more you can do if you register. The process is easy and you can use your Google, Facebook, or Twitter account to make it even faster. Some perks of joining include:
  • Create your own topics, participate in existing discussions, and vote in polls
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  • Participate in raffles, including exclusive raffles for new members, and win free LEGO sets
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  • Organize with other members to attend or send your MOCs to LEGO fan events all over the world
  • Much, much more!
Enjoy your visit!

A Golden-Red Horizon



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The serials and their function

Posted by Aanchir , Aug 22 2014 · 190 views
BIONICLE, story
I was just reflecting on which BIONICLE books I liked most and least, and I got to thinking about something. While the serials are often heavily criticized for being bloated, aimless, and an obstacle to new BIONICLE fans, I'm starting to get a sense of why they were introduced in the first place (other than as a free online method of story dispersal).

The books in the year 2006 were among my least favorite. At many points felt like the characters were rushing from one battle or crisis to another without pause, and the characterization in these books (in my opinion) was very weak. Subsequently, Prisoners of the Pit ended up being one of my favorite BIONICLE books because it got to explore the Toa Mahri, their relationships with one another, and how becoming Toa had affected them much better than the 2006 story had done for the Toa Inika.

What changed for the BIONICLE storyline in 2007? The biggest change was the introduction of BIONICLEstory.com and the first story serials. And I think that while their own quality may be contested, they helped to relieve some of the bloating that the main story had undergone in 2006. Instead of the main story having to make room for minor characters from the sets like Umbra and Irnakk or combi models like Protodax, Botar, and the Kardas Dragon, the story serials could deal with these kind of characters (as seen in Dreams of Destruction, which focused on the store-exclusive characters Lesovikk, Karzahni, Sarda, and Idris, or Brothers in Arms, which focused on the store-exclusive characters Mazeka and Vultraz). Instead of the main story having to keep tabs on fan-favorite characters from previous story arcs like the Toa Nuva, Roodaka, the Rahaga/Toa Hagah, the Order of Mata Nui, and the Dark Hunters, the story serials could keep tabs on their adventures (as seen in the Toa Nuva Blog, Federation of Fear, Destiny War, Dark Mirror, and Dwellers in Darkness).

These things freed up the main story as told in the books to focus on the characters who actually mattered most: the current Toa team, their current allies, and their current enemies. The books could spend more time on characterization and world-building. They didn't have to do so much jumping around between spatial and temporal settings. They didn't have to have so many characters who got in the way of the Toa just because there was a set or combi model to promote and the designers didn't give a lot of thought into how to fit those characters or situations into the main storyline.

I can't tell you for sure whether the serials are every bit as bad as people remember them. I just skimmed through the 2007 ones to remember what they were about specifically, and the writing is weak compared to the books — in some cases, weaker than I had remembered. The fact that my memories of the later serials were not fond enough to even go back and skim them is telling. Perhaps part of the reason the serials got more tangled and bloated as they went on is because, with more and more characters being introduced to the story and fewer and fewer books to fit them in, they started to suffer the very same fate they were meant to save the main story from. In any case, I definitely don't think that the serials are themselves redeemed by the purpose they served, but perhaps I still owe them some thanks for what they were: a pressure release valve of sorts to reduce the out-of-control expansion the main story was losing the ability to deal with on its own.


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Brickfair Highlights

Posted by Aanchir , Aug 08 2014 · 232 views
BrickFair, LEGO, BZPower and 2 more...
I am way behind writing up my Brickfair recap, so I'm going to just go over some of the highlights.
  • Shortly after I arrived, I learned that Delwyn Buckler got featured on the back cover of the event program! Awesome!
  • Here's my haul from vendors and yard sales. It includes a lot of cool stuff, including a bunch of useful Hero Factory parts, six LEGO Friends mini-dolls for customizing, and a UV light for my MOC during the World of Lights event on Friday.
  • At the live auction on Friday, Nukaya's Benny painting became set a BrickFair record for the highest bid on a single item, selling for two thousand dollars! It was amazing to be there to hear the bids continue to climb!
  • The World of Lights was AMAZING! Not quite as great as it could have been, maybe, because the convention center's emergency lights flooded out some parts Here's my submarine all lit up. I will have plenty of uses for that blacklight in the future, I'm sure! This guy was also amazing!
  • On Sunday I participated in the BZPower parts draft. Five other participants and I chose parts from ten copies of 44021 Splitter Beast vs Furno & Evo. Here's my haul — I chose some of the largest and heaviest pieces, apparently, but I have already found some great uses for them!
  • I participated in the Hatpile, contributing just one hat. Maybe I'll bring more next year.
  • My Blacktron Vivisector won the Brickee award for "Best Small Space Craft"! I was totally surprised when I found out! Here's a picture of it with the trophy (sorry it's blurry)!
  • I went to dinner with fourteen other BZPower members on Sunday. Overall, the food was mediocre and the service was execrable (I'm probably going to do my best never to eat at a Longhorn Steakhouse again), but the company of my fellow BZPower members was fantastic.
Overall, I had a fantastic time at BrickFair this year. I'm looking forward to seeing everyone again next year! Especially since next year *drum roll* BronyCon and BrickFair are going to be on different weekends! So for the first time, I'm going to be able to go to both events! Yay!


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Brickfair and Other Plans

Posted by Aanchir , Jul 28 2014 · 351 views
Brickfair, LEGO, community, life
Welp, I'm pretty close to prepared for Brickfair. Got my clothes, MOCs, name badge, and art all packed up.

MOCs I'm exhibiting this year include Caitlyn Gauss XL, Delwyn Buckler, Blacktron Vivisector, Kit Martello, Hero Factory Canine Buddy, Rise of the Dread Colossus (submarine only — I had to borrow some of the Dread Colossus's tentacles for Delwyn's hair, so he's out of commission), and My Little Tahu. I think Delwyn Buckler and Caitlyn Gauss XL will probably be the most popular of those seven.

As far as art is concerned, I will mostly be bringing the same collection of drawings I brought last year — sadly, I have not really made much cool new LEGO-related art since then.

I'm registered for the BZPower parts draft and will also probably be bringing a hat or two for the Hatpile. A number of my BZPower friends who I spent time with last year (Lady Kopaka, Turakii #1 Lavasurfer, Toa Lhikan Hordika, and Cholie) will not be making it this year for various reasons, so I think a good portion of my time will be spent trying to make new connections both within the BZPower community and the larger AFOL community.

I will also look at vendors to see if I can find anything that interests me. While packing, I came to the realization that I do not really have any light-colored LEGO T-shirts, except for old Brickfair T-shirts and a Barraki Kalmah T-shirt that is a little worse for the wear. So as with last year, I will definitely want to try buying some new LEGO-related wearables. I'll also be on the lookout for affordable CCBS parts and constraction sets. I got a steal on some pre-owned Legends of Chima constraction sets last year (basically half-off), and a bunch of useful CCBS parts the year before.

This will be my first time staying at a hotel for Brickfair (in the past my family has always driven there and back each day), so that should enable me to take part in more evening activities, including enjoying the brand-new "World of Lights" (sadly, none of my MOCs are going to have any light-up features, though). Maybe a visit to the vendors could change that, if they happen to be selling LifeLites or something similar, but generally the MOCs I'm bringing aren't characterized by a lot of transparent elements.

If you happen to be attending, come and find me! I will be wearing the same brick badge as the past two years, though it is larger than the one pictured and has more yellow (including a brick printed with my screen name, Aanchir). I should be spending a good amount of time at the BIONICLE table hanging out with the BZPower crew.

That about covers it, I think! If you're also going to be at Brickfair, leave a comment so I'll know to be on the lookout for you!


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Ask me anypony... err, anything

Posted by Aanchir , Jul 24 2014 · 154 views

Because everyone else is doing it, and why not? I've never done one of these things before. So if you haven't run out of questions after replying to all the OTHER blog entries, here's one more.


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BIONICLE Movie Soundtracks

Posted by Aanchir , Jul 15 2014 · 358 views
LEGO, BIONICLE, Movies, Music
I was just listening to some BIONICLE movie soundtracks on BioMedia Project. While it's good for a nostalgia kick, I'm finding that much of the music is just as generic as I remembered.

I don't mean that in the sense that it's not memorable or distinctive. It definitely checks both of those boxes. But there's nothing about it that makes it a particularly apt fit for the BIONICLE story and universe in particular. A lot of it sounds like it could just as easily belong to an adaptation of any adventure story, like an adaptation of The Lord of the Rings. Most of the instrumentation feels like very typical Hollywood adventure movie fare.

Anybody else remember BIONICLEmusic.com? Something that's always stuck in my head was the description on the mixer page: "The music of BIONICLE is a mixture of the mystical and the mechanical. Like the Toa, it blends the power of high technology with a raw elemental force." The only music that checks either of those boxes in the first three BIONICLE movie soundtracks (at least the selections featured on BMP — I don't know how much they might be omitting) is the end credits music. In the first movie, the end credits movie has some very clear tribal drum rhythms, while in the second movie it includes both those rhythms and some synthesized electronic/mechanical sounds. The third movie's end credits music keeps the exciting drumbeats but for some reason loses the electronic sounds once again.

I respect Nathan Furst's work here, and what he's capable of, but this is the reason these have never really ranked among my favorite BIONICLE music or my favorite soundtracks in general.

What kinds of soundtracks do I generally like? Well, the soundtrack to The LEGO Movie is one good example. The music in that has a feel that perfectly suits the janky, stop-motion-style action that characterizes the movie. Likewise, the soundtracks for Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra both do a fantastic job evoking the Asian-inspired fantasy world with their rhythms and instrumentation. Even LEGO Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu does a good job with this — give this playlist a listen if you want to hear plenty of amazing examples.

If next year's BIONICLE revival has a soundtrack even half as well-suited to the franchise as any of these franchise's soundtracks, I will consider it a major improvement. BIONICLE has had some fantastic music over the years, but I feel that in the movies in particular, it too often came at the expense of the soundtrack's sense of identity.


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BIONICLE

Posted by Aanchir , Jul 02 2014 · 197 views
BIONICLE, Sets, Leaks
Not going to go into details, but I am convinced by the leaked images that have been seen. They are consistent with a lot of the hints we've heard, and the person who originally photographed and posted these images seems trustworthy. Furthermore, they seem consistent with BIONICLE on a thematic level: masked heroes with fantasy weapons versus beastly-looking villains.

If it turns out they are fake and I have been tricked, I will not be the least bit ashamed, by this because these are the most convincing BIONICLE concepts to emerge in the past five years. I'm more than happy to concede a victory to any trickster or Internet troll who is prepared to go to such lengths to fool me.

I anxiously look forward to official teasers and information. Perhaps the LEGO Group might be announcing something during Comic Con, or perhaps we'll have to wait until November or December when the LEGO Club Magazines tend to tease the next years' themes.

Overall, I'm optimistic for the theme. The pics we've gotten are obviously not remotely good enough to form a definitive opinion on how I like the sets. But what I can see looks promising indeed.


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Toa Nuva in retrospect

Posted by Aanchir , Jun 20 2014 · 249 views
LEGO, BIONICLE, sets
Can we talk for a minute about how awesome the Toa Nuva's double-function weapons were? Looking back I think that might have been one of the coolest features they brought to the table. Swords that turn into a surfboard! Blades that turn into ice skates! Axes that turn into flippers! Chainsaws that turn into caterpillar tracks!

You saw a bit of this with the Toa Metru designs as well (Vakama's launcher/jetpack, Nuju's spikes/snowshoes, and Matau's swords/wings), but I don't know if it was quite as elegant as with the Toa Nuva weapons since some of the weapons had to be a rather peculiar shape for that dual functionality to work. I can't even quite tell what Nuju's crystal spikes are supposed to resemble in weapon form, unlike the Toa Nuva where the function of the weapons was fairly clear in both forms.

After that, BIONICLE didn't do a lot with dual-function weapons again, which is kind of disappointing. The Hero Factory rookies from 2010 sorta-kinda did this, but it wasn't very heavily advertised, and wasn't quite as dynamic a transformation. Furno could use his dual fire shooters either together or separately, or attach them to the back of his arms to act as jet propulsion. Surge could use his lightning shooters as two shooters, one dual shooter, two swords, or one dual sword. Breez could either throw her boomerangs or use them as harpoon guns. None of these transformations were nearly as radical as the Toa Nuva's tools.

After that, it seems like the LEGO Group has adopted a much different design philosophy with weapon pieces, creating them with designs less specific to a particular character or tool, and while I appreciate that as a designer and as a MOCist, it does mean the closest thing we've seen to a Nuva-style dual-function weapon was Stringer's BRILLIANT guitar/sonic cannon in 2012.

I guess it makes sense. The most versatile of the Toa Nuva weapons, after all, was also the one with the least dramatic transformation Lewa's Air Katanas, which only vaguely resembled wings when he held them a particular way. But at the same time, this remains one of the features of the Toa Nuva that feels incredibly special to those sets, even in hindsight when other special features they boasted like silver weapons and sturdy plate armor are no longer so unique or revolutionary.


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Tunneler Beast and related musings

Posted by Aanchir , May 29 2014 · 362 views
Hero Factory, 2014, LEGO, sets and 1 more...
Earlier I was looking at how this year's Hero Factory sets compare to similarly-priced BIONICLE sets in terms of complexity. Turns out they fare rather well. Let's look at one in particular: 44024 Tunneler Beast.

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Tunneler Beast is a $9.99 set coming out this summer (as such, it's at the lowest price point for this year's sets). It boasts 59 pieces (45 if you don't include the minifigure or his accessories) and 20 points of articulation (15 if you don't include the jaw and fingers, which only rotate along one axis each).

A typical Piraka cost $9 in 2006, which according to WolframAlpha would be about $10.60 in today's money. Each Piraka had 41 pieces (plus one extra for Hakann and Thok's weapons) and 13 points of articulation.

If we reach back a bit further, the Vahki cost $9 each in 2004, which would be $11.32 today according to WolframAlpha. Each one of those had just 32 pieces and only 10 points of articulation (perhaps eleven or twelve if you count the squeezable launcher-jaws, but that's being extremely generous since those couldn't really hold a pose).

Now, obviously I'm being a bit selective here. There are a number of BIONICLE canister sets that had more pieces than Tunneler Beast, particularly if you don't include the minifigure and accessories (though several of those sets, like the Toa Mahri, are inflated by lots and lots of ammo pieces, not to mention a plethora of pins and axles). I don't know if any canister sets have more points of articulation than Tunneler Beast, though. Chirox had just 17 including the chest that splits open, and Pridak had just 16 even if you count the mandibles separately. Even Gorast, with her six limbs, had just 18 points of articulation  including the wings! And in any case, you have to be just as selective to suggest that Hero Factory, as it exists today, is considerably LESS complex than BIONICLE sets of similar size or price.

Just food for thought. I'm personally fascinated how far Hero Factory has advanced since 2010, when the $7 hero sets were pitifully simplistic and repetitive even by BIONICLE standards. There are some rumors floating around that Hero Factory might be ending soon, and now that it's been around for four and a half years those rumors are starting to seem more believable than every other year of its life that they've been thrown about.

But we've been assured that its building system is here to stay, and that gives me great confidence that the NEXT constraction theme will not be hindered by such a rocky start. The new building system really did put Hero Factory on the fast track to greater complexity and diversity of designs, and this year I feel like the Hero Factory sets in general not just one or two  have finally stepped out of the long shadow of their BIONICLE predecessors.