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Lego Moana

Posted by xccj , in Lego Conventions, MOCs, Thoughts Mar 22 2017 · 290 views

So I spent 8+ hours yesterday trying to sort my loose Lego pieces post-convention, and I decided to play the new Moana movie in the background. And then thus I was inspired to write this post.

I don't think it was very apparent (because I wasn't blogging much) but I really liked the movie after I saw it last year. I had been working on one of my own stories that involved the Hawaiian goddess Madam Pele, and I was curious to see if she was references in the new movie. (She wasn't, I think they used other inspiration for the lava monster TeKa.) But I found the movie incredibly enjoyable, and the songs were great. Not just one or two of the big ones, but the entire soundtrack. I'd put it up there with my other favorite Disney movie, Aladdin. (As it turns out, both were directed by the same two people.)

And after watching all the extra commentaries they had on the movie, I am even more impressed by the amount of work and detail that went into it. I've heard a lot of complains that this was just Disney appropriating another culture, and there are a couple of glaring instances of that. But when watching the commentary, I'm realizing that the Polynesian cultures had a big role in making this movie, so it really feels like they not only gave permission but actively helped shape it. And I guess a few groups are still upset about some aspects. But that's probably because "Polynesians" are so diverse, so what was cool with one area might not have been with another. I thought the movie had a distinct Hawaiian feel to it, but they were taking more cues from Fiji, Samoa, Tahiti, and New Zealand, and those are related but distinct cultures. (That's why there's no Pele, who is predominantly Hawaiian, I believe. Maui, however, is a demigod recognized in all these cultures, although with differing stories and origins.) Anyway, I suppose it's easy to be impressed by the making of a movie I already liked, but I still think it's awesome at how much of this culture they integrated in. (And I mean, it turns out there really was a thousand year period where the Polynesians of Samoa weren't voyaging, and then they just started again, and nobody knows why. So they give their fantasy explanation in this movie. I did not realize there was actually any historical significance to that.) And all the voice actors they used were actually of Polynesian descent... well except Alan Tudyk.

Anyway, the movie was great, and so I ordered the Lego Moana set when it came out. But besides the figs, I was unimpressed with the design, so that had to change...

Posted Image
BrCasc 17-171 by Froggy_Fotos, on Flickr. (I'm using Chocolate Frog's BricksCascade picture cause the ones I took didn't turn out well and I haven't reassembled the MOC yet.)

I didn't like the original canoe, so I redesigned it to be a bit more streamlined, if not more mono-colored. I constructed most of it by memory, since it was really hard to find a decent reference pict of it online. Aaaand it turns out that I actually mirrored it; the float should actually be on the starboard side instead of the port. Whoops. :guilty: But I liked the rigging I was able to add to it, and I think TeKa and the rock scape turned out nicely. (And even the wave action I threw it. You can't see it, but the chicken is also floating in the background.)

I was a little irked when somebody else also brought a Moana canoe MOC in, and it was basically just a revamp of the actual set. (It has a border for the sail and was a tad bit larger, but otherwise it was basically the set.) However, most of the public seemed to recognize my MOC first, because it had the big lava monster. It was nice hearing kids point out my MOC, which is something that doesn't happen often at conventions I display at. (It didn't hurt that it was based off the recent Disney movie that was probably still fresh in their heads.) And I did make one other Moana MOC with the Maui bigfig, but most people didn't get the reference...

Posted Image
Maui Raising Mata Nui by Jason, on Flickr

These are the two Polynesian inspired stories that I'm fans of, so it was obvious I was going to have to combine them together in a MOC. (Although Lego is totally guilty of appropriating the culture for Bionicle, so that's an example of how not to do it.) And since Moana's home island is called Motunui, which sounds soooo close to Mata-Nui every time I hear it, how could I not make this model? I did want to make a bigger Great Spirit Robot, like with perhaps it's upper torso and arms... but I ran out of time / pieces, so this is it for now. I shipped the head and the Gali minifig boat to BrickFair, so hopefully they'll show up randomly on the Bionicle table?

Anyway, that's it for my gushing about the movie and the sets I made from it. All said, I STILL have a lot of sorting left to do, so I'm going to have to put in a different movie now.

:music:

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I really think it was an interesting move for them to use the fan-devised "human Bionicle" aesthetic for that latest movie, and to cast a Toa of Water as the main hero for the first time. On the other hand, I was a little surprised by their decision to have the Manas not only talk, but sing when Toa Moana confronted it in the Mangaia.

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Interesting MOCs! Although I think the original boat from the set is more visually interesting due to having more varied colors and textures. It also looks like you have the sail backwards; the concave end is supposed to face towards the back of the boat.Your Te Ka MOC is very nice! I wish the head could be a little more gaunt, but overall the scene is really dynamic and easily recognizable.

I hope there are more Moana sets in the future. We're still getting Frozen sets, after all, and the quality of those has gone up (as best evidenced by comparing 41062 with 41148). So it'd be nice if the same thing happens with Moana sets.
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