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xccj

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About xccj

BioniLUG Members
Year 17
  • Rank
    Senior Staff Mask Maker
  • Birthday 11/04/1988

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    Male
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    Titan, orbiting Saturn
  • Interests
    Aiming heat seeking cruise missiles full of chocolate pudding towards the Neptunium captial...

    And Animorphs, Bionicle, and un-official (totally fake) martial arts... and eating. Can't forget that... and not working...

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  1. I do tend to view 2001 Bionicle with a lot of nostalgia; it was a huge defining focus of my childhood growing up, and even as the official story moved on, I was still writing stories and talking about it on BZPower years and years later. So I am very biased about the first year of Bionicle, just getting that out there. And the crazy thing is, it very well could not have worked. Lego was throwing all sorts of ideas at the wall to see what would stick. Throwbots / Slizers did well enough, but there was also Galidor and Jack Stone in that same era (generally), so not all of them were winners. But they managed to strike gold with Bionicle, something I'd be willing to say they haven't been able to do with any other home-grown theme besides Ninjago and TLM. But Bionicle had plenty of ridiculous notions to it that still make AFOLs hate the theme; so I'd have to say that a little luck was also involved on Lego's part. I mean, there have been other one-shot themes that had good sets and a decent story with a movie or show, but they eventually ended, and it's surprising that Bionicle ended up lasting for as long as it did instead of fading away after a year or two. In general, while the sets did improve over the years, 2001 had a lot to offer without really being compared to previous waves. Sure, Slizers did buildable characters, and the Rahi were similar to technic Cyber Slam sets. But the Rahi had complex functions and cool animalistic looks that hadn't really been done before. And the Toa builds weren't as varied as the Slizers, but all six were very distinct from each other and their color blocking was done very well, which helped separate their characters, and they had simple but effective functionality. And then there was collectability. I'm sure Lego did a lot with collectible sets and figs in the 90s, but man the collectible Kanohi masks were just so infectious, you just had to get more. And $2 packs were pretty affordable and widely available, so everybody could easily start building their collection. The toys themselves fit into the action figure niche that Lego really hadn't tapped before. Yes, they were widely different from almost anything Lego had done before, but they were cool enough that they sold well. It was the right toy design at the right time. And yes, the story mattered immensely, with the comics and MNOLG really building up the world and characters and narrative, allowing you to play out the story with your sets as the Toa fought the Rahi and searched for the masks. It does boggle my mind just how "lightning in a bottle" the whole situation was; the game and movie got canceled, forcing the side Matoran game to suddenly handle the brunt force of the story, but the Templar people did an amazing job at telling this compelling story even with all the restrictions they had (in regards to violence shown, animation speed from slow internet of the time, the huge rush to get new content out, and 9-11 happening in the middle of it all.) It worked out so amazingly well and I don't think the franchise would've survived if it hadn't been for that game. It's importance isn't to be dismissed, and it's all the more impressive because it was not supposed to be the flagship game for the theme, but it handled the burden admirably. (To be fair, the comics were also very well done in 2001, and they were what first got me hooked into the story, but the MNOLG was what got me invested in it.) But looking at the deeper story of the Toa on Mata Nui, it had a lot of deep mystery and great lore going for it. And it had one advantage that other years lacked; cultural appropriation. In retrospect, knowing all the ideas and name they stole from Maori culture is very off putting. Maori and Polynesian culture is very interesting in and of itself, and you gain a lot of that mysticism through Bionicle's first year... but the fact that they were making a profit off the concepts from another culture is very distasteful. They certainly veered away from such things later on, as the various character names became more ridiculous. (Turahk, Keerahk, Voporahk, Reidak, ext. At least in later years they started referring animals with stuff like Carapar and Chirox, but then you also had Mutran and Stronius.) People say that the overall themes of 01 were better, more mystic, ext, and a lot of that comes from them setting up a story without diving into the particulars (Metru Nui, Great Spirit Robot, Brotherhood of Makuta). And there's a lot of Faber's concepts that stand out on their own, with hero capsules healing a buried giant robot. But a lot also comes from borrowed Maori culture, and while it made for a great story, it still wasn't the right thing to do for a toy theme. Lotta mixed feelings here. Anyway, that's some of my ramblings from the early years. TLDR: The stars aligned for everything for Bionicle, with good sets and a good story, presented very effectively by the MNOLG, but it also had the distasteful advantage of taking elements from Maori culture.
  2. Yuck, that's awful. We're experience that too up in the PNW right now, and I'm just on the edge of the evacuation zone. This was not part of the California culture we wanted imported up here! Glad you're okay, hope you don't have to deal with any other major fires this year. But I don't see this smoke going away any time soon.
  3. Wow, that's awful. Hope you and everybody can stay safe down there. Shame California seems to burn every summer.
  4. Opinions of Rise of Skywalker were mixed. Some people hated it. I assume others didn’t? I walked out of the theater somewhat satisfied, but there were certainly some problems with the storytelling, and I did not have the same desire to rewatch it compared to some of the other movies. And on top of that, most of the sets from the movie weren’t super interesting either. (I mean, okay, they’re not bad designs per say, but they’re repeating vehicle designs again with slight modifications. And yes, I did pick up a Y-Wing and enjoyed building it, but that was because it was my first Y-Wing.) Either way, the Pasaana Speeder Chase has got to be the wackiest of the wave, but it was the only one with Rey and... well, nope, got nothing else, that was my primary reason to pick it up. $39.99 for 373 pieces isn’t bad for Star Wars, but it’s not exactly a steal either. The more solid build was actually the Stormtroopers little speeder bike. It’s a compact design, but they did some neat stuff with surrounding the treads with panels, and the clipped top panel does a good job of covering the treads without getting in the way, even if it can be easily lifted up. The use of sand blue wedge plates and curved slopes is appreciated too. There’s also a little tent stand where some gear can be stored; nothing too exciting but it works for a “weapons rack” display piece. The rest of the build is on the red speeder bike... thing. I guess it’s not too dissimilar to the Desert Skiff from Return of the Jedi, but it’s mostly a weird speeding platform, not super iconic. The red wedges at the front do offer a nice design, and the engine bit is held up at an angle which is nice. The back panels are a bit more haphazard, although the clever use of the crash bar piece on the back is well done. Although I’m sure this thing is supposed to carry a bunch of people, there’s little room to accommodate many figs, and a severe lack of guardrails. I guess it’s somewhat reminiscent of the vehicle from the movie, and I can’t blame the set designers if the official vehicle is a bit of a mess. But this ain’t going to be one of the iconic Star Wars speeders people will remember. For the figs, you get Rey, BB8, a First Order Stormtrooper (generic), and a First Order Jet Trooper (apparently unique to the set.) Beyond the jetpack element and different helmet style, the Jet Trooper is not too much different than the Stormtrooper; I’m sure super fans would obsess over the minor details in the armor, but they look pretty bland to me. BB8 is the same as always, but I can’t fault him because he’s a great fig and another is never a bad thing. But, as I hinted at earlier, Rey is the main reason I picked up this set. The previous Rey figs were somewhat bland compared to her character, whereas this one has the flesh arms and detailed leg and torso printing that match the character from the movies a lot better. Is the set worth it for just the one fig? Probably not, but I got it during the Star Wars day sales so the pieces will make it worthwhile. But beyond the characters and pieces (which aren’t too exclusive) this is some minor vehicles from an unpopular movie. I know fans do want a Lego set of EVERY vehicle from the Star Wars universe, so they might as well get this one over with while the movie was out. But would I recommend it? Nope, not unless you’re a major collector. (Again, I mostly did it to fulfill the Star Wars min purchase requirement for Star Wars day.)
  5. The video game style Prime Empire wave of Ninjago sets is interesting. On one hand, I love the aesthetic they have going with the white and trans lime highlights, and the figs are all great. On the other hand, some of the builds were... less than desirable. Not so much that they were bad, but they didn’t stand out too much from the builds of previous Ninjago vehicles and dragons. And I have sampled a lot of Ninjago sets over the years, so it's really easy to get bored with repeated designs. But last winter I decided to test the waters with this set. It’s $29.99 and has 322 pieces. This was also the first set where I noticed Lego’s changes in the instructions, as Lloyd appeared a lot whenever you have to flip the set around, and it also had you build mirrored sides of the vehicles at the same time, something I just did automatically but is neat to see them implementing it for younger builders. There are four basic structures here: Lloyd’s bike, Jay’s jet, Hausner’s surfboard, and the stand for the Key-Tana. I do like how the Key-Tana piece can fit easily in an axle hole. The surfboard has a few extra pieces slipped to it, but it’s not very impressive compared to the two other vehicles. We’ve had a lot of Ninjago bikes before; there’s usually one in every wave. For a while I was trying to do reviews on them all, but I got a bit burned out after a while. Lloyd’s bike does have some sleek green elements, including the two wedge pieces with legit printing on em. I guess the big back wheel is also fairly new; it’s the first one I got. And the angled front blades and the trailing TRON style back blades are nice touches. Unfortunately, the bike isn’t exactly well balanced, and it doesn’t have any kickstand to support it. You can somewhat balance it, but because the back wheel’s tire surface is not quite flat, it topples over easily. I’m not exactly blown away by this bike, having built many others before, but it’s still pretty good and colored nicely to fit into a video game race. Jay’s jet is a bit better, with a sleeker feel to it too, and the blue / white color scheme really pops. It makes good use of blades wings, curves slopes, and wedges to make this look very aerodynamic. My favorite design is the angles boomerangs used on the back! There’s a technic connectors in the center, and you can inset the Key-Tana and fold out the wings, which is a nice feature too. However... Ninjago has done its share of jets too, and many also have this wing spreading function built in too. This one might be on the smallest scale, but it does mean the gear connections are a little loose to accommodate the small size. Yes, maybe some of the other, larger jets pull off the look better, but to have two midsized vehicles in one $30 set is still a pretty good value for play. I mean, you can legitimately race these two, which isn’t always possible with vehicle sets, so I appreciate that. The figs are great. I didn’t really talk about the Digi outfits in my previous review, but I really love the white and primary color designs they have, and the technical designs for the faces are nice too. To top it off, giving them game controllers as the handles for their weapons was super creative. (And you can’t really tell from my pictures, but the controller pieces are also used to control the two vehicles.) The life icons on their backs are a little bulky and get in the way of play and display, but they’re easily removed, and it’s another neat way to connect the characters to the game. In this set, their enemy is a rat-like avatar named Hausner, who also makes for an unusual character but it kind of works. (Hey, at least the rats are different than more snakes.) I’m not sure if this is the best valued set in the wave; I’ve heard good things about the dragons, the car, and the final temple. I just personally wasn’t interested in those so went for these. I wouldn’t say they’re the greatest Ninjago vehicles ever, but they’re still good, and there are more than a few nice pieces mixed in with the cool figs. So yeah, worth it.
  6. I’ll be out of it for a while at the end of the month, and I have some of these mini set reviews prepped, so I figure it’s about time to start getting them posted before I have to leave. Without further ado... So this is from the second wave of Hidden Side sets from last winter, retailing at $19.99 with 189 pieces. Except I got it for free as part of the BricksCascade Dirty Brickster game. (If I recall correctly, I put in a Creator set from last year, and I was able to get the last steal on this one because my first choice got stolen from me. Wasn’t a bad deal, especially considering that I’ve gotten some pretty lousy deals in previous years. Also, remember when we used to be able to attend large conventions with other AFOLs? We were so young and naïve back then.) Anyway, the build for this set is fairly basic. It’s a dark tree with a room inside, I guess. But then the tree has a face and some claws! OMG. I don’t play the game or watch the clips that somehow count as a “show” for this theme, but I think this is supposed to be some sort of portal to the ghost world that the humans can pass through. Anyway, the build is pretty mild, with a fairly standard design of the walls that make up the interior room and then some classic tree designs to make the branches with foliage. Near the top there is a face design, which uses clips to make some menacing eyebrows, but it’s still a bit of a step down from some of the other “monsters” from the first wave. My pictures don’t really show it well, but there are also some claws you can pop up on either side, which could also be disguised as roots. The main action feature is a little lever in the “mouth” which can be used to launch out spiders and bats. Spooky. The build is substandard, but the pieces are kind of nice. You’ve mainly got black and medium azure, and I’m sure a lot of builders are excited for the azure leaf pieces, which only appear in this wave of Hidden Side sets (and this being the cheapest set of the wave that also contains more of the leafs, it’s a good deal.) Also the black seaweed piece is also new. (I guess it comes in a third wave set too. I really do hope that wave makes it to the States, I heard a rumor that they may be limited release in Europe only, which would suck.) Some of the Azure plates are also rare-ish, and it’s always nice to get another lamppost. Oh, and the light yellowish green eye tiles are rare too. The build is meh and some of the pieces are neat, but the major draw from the set is the figs, which are all unique to this set. The main character is Jack Davids, but he’s been turned blue here, complete with a recolored torso and hat / hood element. Dunno why he’s blue; maybe he’s a ghost, maybe he’s infected with something paranormal, maybe he’s hypothermic. Next is a lumberjack ghost named Axel Chops, who reuses the fur hat from the Arctic wave but has the new ghost legs in red. The two yellow worker ghosts are nearly identical (the heads are slightly different) but make good use of the Keetongu yellow ghost legs. One’s called Scrimper and the other Waylon. I like that these guys add some nice color variety to the available ghost figs, so that’s much appreciated. In conclusion, the set has a meh build, okay pieces, and great figs. I’m not entirely sure it would be worth full price; the second wave of Hidden Side sets was very lackluster. Maybe it’s more fun with the phone game AR features, but I never really bothered trying those out. It’s not a terrible set, but I would easily recommend some of the Wave 1 or Wave 3 sets over this. Unless you really want ghosts or those leaves, then its value is pretty decent.
  7. "Cavern of Light" in the MNOLG is the only in-universe sign to not be written in Matoran letters, and appears in English or German (depending on what language is selected). I mean, it's obviously a screw up and lots of the MNOLG aren't officially canon, but like, it's there.
  8. So, Lego Super Mario. Honestly, I’m not seeing the appeal, but then again I didn’t grow up on platform video games so I definitely don’t have that nostalgic connection. And the not-minifig scale of the sets is a little off putting. But I have to admit that the character packs are intriguing for the low price and interesting pieces, even if I don’t necessarily care too much about the character designs themselves. Luckily for me, my roommate happened to come across a few of these packs at Target and now I have a few. (And a lucky draw too, four packs with no duplicates.) So now I can review a couple. Although I can’t really say anything about the game play or scan-able tiles (because I don’t have the main Mario set) I can talk about the overall look and pieces. Because of my experience with collectible minifigures, I did try to determine which models were in the blind bags. It’s somewhat possible, since they do come with different pieces, but there’s a fair amount to pick through compared to figs, and a lot of them share the same parts so it’s easy to mix them up. The one constant is the new 4x4 rounded plate, which I guess is designed for the game board that the other sets utilize. I’m not sure how much usability it will have, but they come in a bunch of different colors and don’t have any really crazy designs, so maybe it’ll be helpful in MOCs. (It looks like it would make for a good interior support, being two plates tall.) Fuzzy: Oh look a black spiked ball. He looks like he’s hovering over some grassy hills. And, with the addition of the hinge, he’s the only one with an “action feature” in that you can knock him down to smack anything on the ground. For pieces, the sand green and teal curved elements are new-ish to me, and I guess the black pyramid 1x1s are also new in this color. Of course, the big drawl is the SNOT brick, 1x1x5(plates) with studs on three sizes; it’s perfect for making a SNOT cube, and with two you can even flip one upside down and get studs on the bottom too. Man, that piece will be a crazy addition when it starts popping up in more sets. (Maybe it has, this is the first Summer 2020 sets I’ve picked up.) Spiny: It’s a turtle! The trees are nice, but the highlight of this is the shell piece, which actually has the white diamonds as molded bits that stick out a bit. I’ve got to be honest; I wouldn’t mind having a ton of those shells to part-spam a MOC. This one also has the new 2x2 feet design, with printing on them. It looks like a very niche part, but there might be some interesting ways to reuse it in a MOC. And the rounded green brick isn’t new, but still makes a nice addition. Paragoomba: Another cubed guy, but he’s in burnt orange and has wings. He has a more traditional SNOT design using standard elements, but it works. Also he has wings, which are new molds too, I believe. The foot piece makes another appearance in brown, and it’s also a nice chance to get the cloud plate that originated with the Unikitty blind bags. And I guess a tan pyramid; don’t know how rare those tan slopes are but they make it work. Peepa: Well this one is certainly a ghost. The “landscape” design is very haphazard here with a ruined wall over a stream of lava; I may be misinterpreting, but I’m sure it’s based off some heated level. The ghost design is basic, although the use of the white curved element is appreciated. The biggest appeal is the 3x3 round tile; I don’t think this mold has been used before, and it’s slightly disappointing that it has the ghost fast printed on it, but I’m hopeful to see this element reused in future sets. (Granted, I don’t know why I would need a 3x3 tile in my builds, but hey new parts are always fun!) Anyway, for $4.99 (or $3.99 when Target misprices them) this isn’t a bad value. I mean, it’s not exactly the great parts packs that the Mixels were, but there are enough interesting molds to entice builders. And the characters look similar enough to their Mario variations, from what I can tell, so I’m sure the nostalgic factor is huge. (There are a couple of others I might want to pick up, like the Bullet Bill guy, but it’s a lot harder to get into buying blind bag figs nowadays when it’s unsafe to attempt the feel method in stores. Future waves of CMFs will be troublesome with this new norm.)
  9. IC: Triki - (Dead Forest, Ruins of Fire, Vahki Transport) "We could bake them a Madu-Cabolo fruit cake!" Triki suggests. "Trick is to bake is just right to keep it from exploding before serving." @Toru Nui @Edelgard @Jakura Nuva
  10. IC: Triki - (Dead Forest, Ruins of Fire, Vahki Transport) Triki mused over NU-8020S's words. "Hmm, dying horrible is big fun-no. Maybe we can confuse them by causing them to die horribly. They'll see-not it coming!" @Toru Nui @Jakura Nuva @Edelgard
  11. IC: Triki (Dead Forest, Ruins of Fire, Vahki Transport) "We could make our own opportune moment," Triki suggests. "A little distraction here, a little boom-boom there... Beats wait-sitting here." @Toru Nui @Edelgard @Jakura Nuva
  12. IC: Triki: Strange Tunnels "Hey guys, I brought a friend for lunch," Triki said. "But we should stay-not, because he's quite grumpy right now and kinda wants to eat-chew me." @Edelgard @Jakura Nuva @Toru Nui @Vezok's Friend
  13. Triki: Tunnels "Okay, you no-want to happy place, could've just so-said at start," Triki yelps out, as he sprints away down the tunnel, theoretically heading in the direction the rest of his party had gone off in...
  14. IC: Triki, Tunnels / Mouth "My, what big-large teeth you have," Triki stated, and decided to press his reconstruct-at-random hand on the floor / beast's tongue. @Vezok's Friend
  15. IC: Triki, Tunnels (Alone??) "How-ya doin' there, buddy-friend?" Triki asked the supposedly very large Rahi moving around in the darkness. "You wanna play-romp in tunnel-dirt, have much fun-times, yes?" He turned back and yelled "Heya guys, come meet my new bestie!" However, he was surprised to see nothing but darkness, and hear nothing but the rumblings of the Rahi. Mahryo and Lueiji had apparently stopped following him, as well as the robo-head Vahki. "Whoopsy, looks like my friends got lost-ified," Triki explained to the Rahi beast. "You want to help me seek-find them? Then we can all play-romp together!" @Vezok's Friend
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