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Clone waves - What do you think of them?

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One feature of early G1 Bionicle was clone waves, which were the sets of... sets, with very similar (if even identical) builds. The Rahkshi, the Vahki, the Bohrok and Bohrok Kal... Those kinda sets.
 
What did you think of clone waves? Would you be alright with LEGO adopting this design strategy again? Or are you more of a fan of diversity in set designs? Did clone waves bore you?

 

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I loved the Bohrok-Kal myself.

 

That aside, I think they were legit. The Bohrok were swarms so it made sense for them to be identical, and the same applies to Rahkshi, Vahki, etc.

 

On the other hand, I disliked the over-personalization that came from 2007. In-story there were good reasons for the Toa Mahri, for example, to be so different from one another even if belonging to the same Toa team but I just didn't like so much diversity in what was supposed to be a 'group of equals' (the barraki, even if were hideous for the most part, were fine because they all suffered from pit mutagen and that works randomly - but not on mahri-matoran, apparently.

 

As far as G2 is concerned, I'd appreciate clone sets if they were beasts/robots in an 'organization' of some sorts...and if they were not clones like the Bohrok but like the Visorak, which shared identical body structures but each type had its own unique elements.

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A lot of the issues with G1 were based around the lack of actual design. Hear me out, the sets were aesthetically impressive (very much so), but the later sets were awful when it came to actual design and set quality.

 

If the clones are sporting an impressive new feature, like the Bohrok of Rahkshi were, poor design otherwise can be overlooked. With something like Storm Beast, however, the new mechanism sticks out and is too ugly and bulky instead of the streamlined design that the Bohrok sported. The Rahkshi featured headpieces and backpieces that were a new, shiny iteration of the previously flat colour scheme the Toa sported, and - for the first time ever - knees. They also broke the rule of humanoid design and successfully replaced it with something that worked fairly well.

 

Now, if LEGO was to implement the strategy of the Rahkshi or Bohrok - clone enemies with slight differences from each other, sporting a new groundbreaking design - it would not only make G2 that much more impressive, it would definitely justify the usage of clone sets for a wave or two, storyline-wise or not.

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I think LEGO has evolved beyond clone sets. Clone builds are still acceptable for weak drone enemies like the Shadow Traps and Skull Spiders, but if there is room to add a bit more variety to a figure's build, it's a waste not to take advantage of that.

 

As a kid, clone builds didn't totally bother me, in part because I have two siblings and we'd split the sets between the three of us. Buying and building two sets in a series with the same build isn't nearly as frustrating as buying six in a series with the same build. With that said, I'd be much more excited to get a new set if it had a different build than the ones I already had, and I'd feel a lot more inclined to keep a set together longer or put a set back together if I didn't already have another set together with more or less the same build. Non-cloned sets also inspired my creativity more than clone sets. I never really felt inspired to make up my own Bohrok, Rahkshi, or Vahki because there were de facto rules about what a Bohrok or Rahkshi or Vahki was supposed to look like. But less cloned characters like Toa, Rahi, Dark Hunters, and Glatorian offered a lot more creative liberty. They didn't have to match such a rigid template to feel like they could fit in with the official characters. I felt a rush of relief when the Visorak broke away from the generic "Metru" color schemes used for all the small sets and canister sets from the beginning of 2004 to mid-2005, and when the Barraki offered the first truly unique canister set builds.

 

I will admit non-cloned canister sets could be a bit awkward in the later years of G2. For instance, other than their hoses and Cordak Blasters, the Toa Mahri didn't have a lot of unifying motifs at all. And in many cases, more of the variety came from using parts and motifs the other sets didn't than from using the same parts and motifs in different ways. For instance, Toa Mahri Nuparu introduced not one but two new armor molds for his upper limbs, which only ever appeared again in two later sets. Likewise, Toa Mahri Jaller only shared his chest plate with two later vehicle sets. Not only is that wasteful, but dedicating molds like that to one or two specific characters means that even if the team as a whole has a lot of new molds, there will be fewer new molds on each individual character. It can also result in characters feeling like less of a team. In my drawings, I quickly learned to distort certain elements of sets' armor in order to emphasize their similarities with their teammates and with previous versions of the same characters, establishing the kinds of connections the sets in those years denied me.

 

Many of today's sets strike a good balance between the variety of the later G1 sets and the consistency of the earlier ones. I feel like designers have gotten much better at using the same parts across multiple sets in different ways. This applies not just to new molds but also to existing molds. In 2009, Vorox and Skrall used their new armor shell in more or less the same way — attached to 7M limb beams with two pins. This year's Lewa, Pohatu, Gali, Kopaka, Uxar, and Ketar sets use the same part in lots and lots of different ways. Likewise, last year's Toa all used the new piston and accordion joint add-on, but on different parts of their body. Using the same parts in various ways like this makes it easier for sets to have very different builds while still making efficient use of molds and creating a sense that the sets in a given team belong together.

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I'm rather divided on them. I guess it depends on what they are. Like, if it makes sense for them to all be almost identical, and if in-story there were tons of each of them, such as the Bohrok. With the Bohrok you could buy one (or more) of each, and it's not like having duplicates of a Toa or something. You can have a whole horde of Bohrok and it looks awesome.

 

So I think it's somewhat lazy design-wise, but still has its place if handled well.

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I'm OK with clone builds because the resultant economy of parts usage within the wave meant that they could trot out a completely new and distinct design for each wave of sets. To me, that was cooler and more valuable than lots of individual characters with distinct appearances and elements that were ultimately built on practically the same skeleton.

 

Though of course, that's only part of the reality. With piece counts increasing over time, sets with such distinct designs as the Bohrok or the Metru were outright impossible to produce for the right price. I feel like we kind of traded the ability to have more distinct, creative character designs for detail and complexity. And in the end, how you feel about that depends on what you come to BIONICLE looking for.

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I dunno. I loved sets such as the Bohrok as a kid; the whole "swarm" mentality was really cool, and reinforced by the clone builds. But now; I kind of like distinct builds better; it helps make each set feel unique instead of piecing together the same thing over and over again. 

 

Plus distinct builds force me to build with instructions... The Toa Mata had such similar builds that for years as a kid I built them by memory, and it wasn't until the last time I reassembled them that I pulled open the instructions and realized that I had a lot of errors in my "habitual" Mata builds. As it turns out; Tahu's left arm is bolted in place...

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Was building the same set over and over again a little anti-climactic? Yes. Did they look amazing standing all in a row next to each other? Yes.


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I dunno, they're kindof nice.  Want to build a Bohrok Kaita?  Throw three random minions together!  What about a Chute Lurker?  Sure, grab the two closest Visorak on hand!  Same thing with Rahkshi, and if you've got a few spare parts on hand, you can make Wairhua or Akamai with whatever the heck Toa you want.

 

I suppose since Bionicle later ditched the concept of Kaitas and combiner models, that part of their appeal vanished, so then they started shifting to more unique designs.  Though ironically, each of the 2006 Matoran had a different build, but they still got combiners - even though the Toa didn't.


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Though ironically, each of the 2006 Matoran had a different build, but they still got combiners - even though the Toa didn't.

What about toa Jovan? (Nuparu+Hewkii+Hahli)


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Though ironically, each of the 2006 Matoran had a different build, but they still got combiners - even though the Toa didn't.

What about toa Jovan? (Nuparu+Hewkii+Hahli)

*opens mouth, puts in foot*

 

I thought that was Brickmaster-exclusive or something, so I didn't mention it.  I was talking more about the combiners that had instructions in the back of the booklets for the sets, and I remember the Toa didn't have those.


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Meh, I never minded them as a kid. I thought they were alright, but they never inspired me to buy the entire set. I think that if Gen 2 wants to start incorporating clone sets, then they should probably make them much cheaper. Kinda like the elemental creatures. That way theirs more of an incentive to buy the full set.


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It seems like the "I didn't mind/notice when I was a kid" sentiment is pretty common, in this thread at least, and that's actually how I feel about them as well. I didn't really notice clone sets until I registered on BZPower when I was 15. I don't think that it's a coincidence that this is common, but also maybe we didn't care as kids because clone sets were all we really had.

 

I think it's an interesting discussion because where do we draw the line? Are clones only the recolored waves like Vahki? Are they the recolored waves with a couple unique molds like the Bohrok or the Toa Hordika? Or are they any model that uses similar builds with some variance as far as height or bells & whistles go, like the Toa Mata or the Toa Metru? Nearly all of the canister waves in Generation 1 were clones, save for the later years which often had some really bizarre designs in order to have custom builds, which I do respect but it also makes me wonder if they'd have been better off just doing clones sometimes.

 

CCBS, imo, opened up a new world of versatility in design. Love it or hate it, but there's no denying that it's just plain easier to do stuff like bugs or beasts or even just have figures who are bigger and smaller than the others.

 

Personally I'm a big fan of what the Toa Masters in 2015 did with some big, armored models, some little models, and then Onua. In fact, I'd be really happy to see some multi-purposed CCBS shells that could give every single figure a unique build making everybody as different as Onua, Tahu, and Gali were that year.

 

IMO the Toa Uniters tried to capture the success of the Masters but their idea of custom builds is overabundance of awkwardly-integrated technic elements that all result in similar-looking figures. Now don't get me wrong, I do actually think the Uniters are decent figures, but their unique/"custom" elements really just remind me of some of the less successful attempts at custom builds in G1 like the Mistika: awkward and often difficult to pose naturally. Overall though I'd say G2 did a fantastic job with avoiding clones, even in small sets where one might think clones would be inevitable (like the Protectors).

 

This reply ended up really long so I'll wind it up with my opinion in simple terms: Unique builds are always the best-looking and most fun. However it's understandable that it's just not feasible to do that all the time because unique molds for every $15 set just aren't practical. So I'd take a clone wave over a wave with a bunch of awkward-looking attempts at custom builds any day. After all, custom builds seem to be something valued by adult and teen fans the most, while most kids are content just having cool-looking figures.

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The only clone sets I had to buy were the Hordika, the Visorak, the Piraka and the Inika, so it doeasn't bother me on a personal level.

 

In spite of the frustation of building the same sets six times over, the story justified their design most of the time:

 

Funny how no one mentions the Tohunga, because they are a clone wave... maybe because they were promotional? Anyway, they were the little people, so recycling them to have the villager type is not much of a problem. (In all fairness, I can't think of a story reason as to why thay all have the same build...)

 

Both the Bohrok and their Kal cousins were ment to be part of a horde.

 

The Rahkshi... well, maybe the Makuta prefer a streamlined desing for his most efective minions and keep their creative juice for their experiments?

 

The Toa Metru... it was explained that when a Matoran turns into a Toa they receive armor that fits into their mental image of the heroes; seeing that Lhikan has the same design and was the last Toa they saw, it makes sense they had the same armor as him.

 

The Vahki... same as the Rahkshi, no reason Nuparu would make different models other than their tools and programming.

 

The Hordika... Well they were clones before being mutated,so why not after? (Again, no real story reason)

 

The Visorak... as with the Bohrok, part of a horde.

 

The Piraka... they were members of the same species, so it kinda makes sense. Also notice how at this point there begins to be more "diversity" with different feet(!)

 

The Inika... I dunno, the unlikely transformation via Red Star, also they had the same build before, so same as the Hordika. Even more diversity, with different arms, chest armor and feet (!!)

 

In retrospect, there were a lot of clone waves until 2007. Semi-clone status added by the Inika build and well, lots of familiar faces. No wonder I can build them almost on reflex. I guess that explains why I liked the titan sets the most?

 

Now I'm even more thankful for the builds of 2015. Each one was a blast. Hopefully Lego's finantial status will remain big enough so we doesn't have to revert back to clones.

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I didn't mind clone sets as much, mainly due to the fact we got so many elements in different colors. There was enough versatility at times, and one can argue that this cookie-cutter style allowed the set designers to focus on bigger and better titan sets.



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I found the clone sets had more cohesive builds and looked better on their own compared to the rather haphazard design of later sets constantly trying and failing to innovate with Piraka and Inika builds to make something genuinely decent-looking, but while they were more reliable in terms of what colored parts you could get, clone set parts also tended to have less variety as a result, and back in the day, many of those parts were even more specialized than usual and sometimes had trouble being used with pieces from other years.


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I didn't mind clone sets as much, mainly due to the fact we got so many elements in different colors. There was enough versatility at times, and one can argue that this cookie-cutter style allowed the set designers to focus on bigger and better titan sets.

I would disagree with that, for the most part... I don't have much fondness for pre-2006 Titans, and while the ones in 2006 DID coexist with clone canister sets, the titans from 2007 onward were not really any less impressive than most of those that had come before. There's just no correlation between titan set quality and clone sets, and while titan sets became less prevalent in later years, that had nothing to do with the rise of non-cloned canister sets (or with any lack of designer resources) and everything to do with the continued decline of the theme's audience and the difficulty in selling larger and more expensive action figure sets.


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I'd be pretty disappointed if lego did another clone wave, I really like the varied builds of 07-09 and the new ones with g2. I didn't mind as much as much when I was younger, I still hold some nostalgia for the piraka to this day. But I think it's best left in the past. Having varied builds allows more personality to each set, much more than just different masks, weapons, and colors on an otherwise cloned body. The mahri for example, hahli has fins and is taller, more agile. while hewkii is much shorter and more heavily armored, like a brute. G2 takes this much further with the masters, and the uniters to a slightly lesser degree. like the contrast between onua and lewa, or kopaka to pohatu. Each has a very distinct silhouette. And I think they're better off for it.

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Egh, clone sets aren't too great. Sure, it sorta makes sense to have enemies like the Bohrok where they're all really the same except for element, but even those could be far improved with something to differentiate. Kinda how the new beasts (regardless of what you think of them as a whole) are all unique and express their elements and qualities in wildly different ways, the bohrok or rahkshi could've had something more than just different shields/weapons and colors.

 

As was mentioned, clone sets just aren't cared for anymore, and if you have one there isn't much of an incentive to get the rest unless you're a collector or want the differently colored parts. There are ways to make enemies and hero's seem collective and cohesive and feel like a group, and still have them each be interesting in their own ways and worth buying.

 

And a slightly longer axle in one place or moving the torso up a peg doesn't count. LEGO is better than that now, they can afford to make sets better.

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love them. I really do. There's something magic in seeing that line of sets that are all the same, only differing in weapons, colors and masks. I don't know how to explain, i just really like. I think it also really worked with the story because the Toa and Matoran and Turaga of one place were all the same because they were from this certain place. I really disliked all the different looks that the Toa Mahri and Nuva from 2008 presented.

 

That said however... They're not really pratical from an economic point. I still remember my mom telling me that she was not going to bought Tahu Nuva for me, because I already had Kopaka and Lewa, and Tahu was "just the same, only differing in color." It's important in a theme like bionicle to have characters that are different enough, so kids will not feel bored feeling that they have built that same built before.

 

SO YEAH, I basically just like clone sets for nostalgic reasons :P

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The good thing about clone sets was that you were guaranteed a plethora of new parts in every base colour the line had to offer, which is great for Mocing and customization. They also looked very organized and fantastic as a group. The problem was the lack of innovative builds, as a wave would only have one pre-determined build. It would be hard to justify purchasing all six on a tight budget because you'd get little to no variation. I feel the sets from 2007-present had a lot of character in them without relying on masks and weapon differences because of their unique builds. And it made it more fun to collect them too, though the organization and guaranteed colour variation of pieces was no longer a thing.

 

-NotS

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love them. I really do. There's something magic in seeing that line of sets that are all the same, only differing in weapons, colors and masks. I don't know how to explain, i just really like. I think it also really worked with the story because the Toa and Matoran and Turaga of one place were all the same because they were from this certain place. I really disliked all the different looks that the Toa Mahri and Nuva from 2008 presented.

 

That said however... They're not really pratical from an economic point. I still remember my mom telling me that she was not going to bought Tahu Nuva for me, because I already had Kopaka and Lewa, and Tahu was "just the same, only differing in color." It's important in a theme like bionicle to have characters that are different enough, so kids will not feel bored feeling that they have built that same built before.

 

SO YEAH, I basically just like clone sets for nostalgic reasons :P

I second this entire post. He puts it a lot better than I did; there's just something psychologically satisfying about having them in a row like soldiers. From another economic standpoint, it might have helped LEGO that having them be so similar reinforced the "collect all six" gimmick.


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I really don't like them. Gen 2 is so much better about this. Anachir hit the nail on the head on my feelings of them. As a kid i didn't care though cause i could only afford to get 2 or 3 of each wave but as an adult its so boring and repetitive. Waves like the Toa metru seem so boring and drab compared to 2015 or even 2016. The over use of dull colors like dark red and blue in later years just added to the drabness and sameyness. CCBS does a great job adding variety to different figures while not needing a bunch of new molds since you can put armor add on pieces anywhere and rotate the CCBS shells in 8 different orientations on a single connection. And its compatible with gen 1 parts so you can get cool custom limb builds using older parts if you want to, as seen with this year.  So basically its the best of both worlds.I think for the most part the 2016 did a good job but it wasn't quite as good as 2015 due some articulation issues. If anything the main thing holding them back is having to be compatible with all the creatures and thus limiting their height and shape. Next year I'd imagine we'll go back to more variety for the Toa, assuming they dont do the uniting gimmick again. But still as it stands, even though the 2016 toa have less variety than the 2015 ones, they're still miles better to me as a whole than the first 5  or 6 years of gen 1. 

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