Brutaka holds an ominous distinction within not just my BIONICLE fandom, but my overall LEGO collection. 2006 was my last full year of high school before graduating in the spring of 2007 and going on to college after the summer. By the end of the year, it was not obvious what university I would be attending nor if my family could afford it. After throwing everything into obtaining the six Piraka and six Toa Inika, along with Vezon and Fenrakk, my spending for LEGO was severely throttled. I needed to save at last for college expenses!
Thankfully, as the early months of 2007 rolled on, I got accepted in a few schools, including my second-favorite, and they gave me a very generous scholarship package. I knew all this by April 2007, so I could allow my personal wallet to breathe a little. With the Mahri and other BIONICLE "titan" sets for 2007 well on the way, I went about filling the gaps in 2006 collection. Brutaka was the most appealing of the larger sets, but I had been waiting for a sale. Alas, I grew impatient, and by May, I purchased him from Wal-Mart. And here is where the frightening distinction occurs: up to this point in my LEGO collection, I had opened and built every set I acquired. But I realized that when I bought Brutaka, I would only barely be able to build him before graduation, a family trip to Bolivia, and then preparing to be sent off to college out of state. I shuddered at the thought of him just collecting dust for the rest of the year, so I came up with an idea. I would leave the set sealed and stored in my closet until after I graduated college, whence (I assumed) would be the time that, with a career and the need to settle down wherever work took me, I would finally have the time and space to build him and any other sets collected between late 2007 and early 2011.
Sadly, this was not (quite) to be. As my college years progressed, my LEGO collection indeed continued to grow at a faster pace, but with all boxed sets being merely admired before being stored in my closet back home. My naive hope for my post-college career backfired spectacularly when I landed a great job right out of graduation that (scarily enough) required me to essentially live on the road and in temporary housing wherever my worksites were. Even on my precious days and weeks at home, I was always too much of a nervous wreck over being called out to work again to just settle down and enjoy a lot of LEGO building. I didn't want to leave a bunch of incomplete builds collecting dust either!
Many years passed. With a downturn in the market in 2016 and some family issues that forced me to take a lot of time off, I found a lot more free time wherein I could live day-to-day without worrying about having to pack up and drive away. After moving to a new apartment, I finally started to break open some sealed LEGO sets and enjoy building for the first time in ages. I guess it helped that my one actual vacation that year was to attend the LEGO Inside Tour in Denmark! And yet, by 2017, I still hadn't assembled anything BIONICLE from before 2010.
I guess I finally got sick of it, and in 2017, I made an ultimatum with myself and my company. If they couldn't work with me to get that stable lifestyle I envisioned as a boy in high school, I would take my services elsewhere. And in early 2018, this is exactly what I did. I jumped ship for an offer from a much better company in a regular, Monday-Friday job scenario. With that kind of stability, I used my savings to buy my first house. And that brings me to the present. With the quarantining this year, LEGO has come to the forefront. Having a whole room in my house dedicated to it will certainly enable that hobby easily, but now I definitely had no excuse.
And lo! I finally pulled that MISB Brutaka from my BIONICLE shelf and cracked those 14 year-old cardboard perforations open. Within 45 minutes, I had my first new BIONICLE character standing before me in gold and blue majesty. It was a great experience, and after some fiddling with his posing, placed the disgraced Order of Mata Nui member on the shelf with other assorted BIONICLE figures I rebuilt (including Thok, Kongu Mahri, Tohunga Nuparu, a Pahrak, Agori Berix, and a Nuurahk). Looking at the assemblage with pride, I wondered why it took me so long to finally build Brutaka. But in the end, I decided it didn't matter. The fact was, in spite of the wait, I did build him. I still felt that same joy that I knew would always find me when I built a new BIONICLE set. Those things have some magic in them, I tell you. For those who may be sitting on their own MISB BIONICLE stockpile, I encourage you to build them whenever you're able. Thank me when you're done!