Macchi Frantercula

 "The discovery of new superconductor technology renewed the Age of the Flying Boat. The Schneider Cup was organized again in 2131 after two hundred years of absence. Italian Macchi company beat the French, British and American competitors with a splendid record of 640 kmph with its new Fratercula model, which combined powerful engines with aerodynamic shaping and solar panel wings."

This MOC was built for my LUG Palikkatakomo's spring contest of Kilpuri (a racer; I came up with that one). The contest had a piece limit of 300 (this model has only 170 pieces though, including the stand). I was 8th of 17 contestant, so a smidgen over the middle line; I'm more proud of being the only non-land-based racer, and one of the three not moving on wheels.

The piece limit urged me to use some weird, larger pieces to build the racer. I bought those solar panel parts of Mars Exploration Rover from 2003 few months ago (apparently I have the whole set of them) and definitely wanted to use them here. The first idea was a space sailing boat with one of those panels as the sail; the orange boat hull was built for it. I also made a big engine with the medium azure corner panels (from early Friends horse trailer) but couldn't really compose a decent space clipper with additional engine! The designs felt random and out of focus, so I turned to some other ideas. A frame of other curved medium azure panels formed a nice rigging for the engines, and I hung the boat part in the middle of it.

The design is unsurprisingly inspired by Miyazaki's aeroplanes, especially the flying boats on Porco Rosso (which is my favourite movie). As crazy at some of those planes look, they're closely based on real flying boats. They're weird, beautiful type of machinery! My take is a futuristic racing plane, but I wanted to keep lot of the classic elements, especially on the hull. The solar panels ended up in the wings, and while they're not very deeply integrated into the MOC, they have certain "thin" quality usually absent from brick-built aeroplanes. The finishing touches included a unusually connected tail and a number 2 on the top - to clearly mark it as a racing vessel. 

The stand is a simple affair, with a joint for adjusting the angle. I the cool thing of it is that the plane doesn't connect to it but just rests on it; the slopes on the midsection of the hull obviously match their inverted counterparts. It's pleasant.

- Eero. 


A Bright Light over the Dark Sea Attracts More Than Ships Looking for a Safe Passage

 This is my second entry (aka the first round entry) for Bio-Cup 2022. The theme was Kaiju (for all contestants) and Insectoid (for my bracket). Pretty soon I knew I wanted to make a big, furry moth, alike Mothra (I haven't seen Mothra or Godzilla vs. Mothra or whatever it is; I've only seen Godzilla vs. Biolante and that was psychedelic enough). And there had to be something to scale the moth with... and I though that moths are attracted to light, and what emits light? A lighthouse. I quite like lighthouses, and I've never built and published one (I've built at least one as a kid). It also made sense to have an arctic lighthouse, with ice sheets on water and the isle, as the moth was going to be hairy and thus adapted to colder climate. This was my original idea and it didn't change almost at all.

There is no clear real-world counterpart species for my moth Kaiju, though closest get the white hairy ones. Hence the Bio-Cup I wanted to use more Bionicle parts than I generally do; The white Visorak pincers were there from the beginning, and I'm also quite happy with the CCBS foot as the head base. The legs were the first thing I built for this, though I had to largely scrap them; the lower segment used to be white crowns, too, but it was way too fragile and resulted too much outrage on my part. 

Lighthouses tend to be white or red. I chose red to have enough contrast with the moth, and also to bring colour to the composition. I wanted the lighthouse to be very simple, to not to steal the focus from the moth; and also to have a nice contrast with the hairy patterns of the animal. The stairway leading to the lighthouse is extra steep for dramatic effectc - and I couldn't help adding some big CCBS shells to the base, as this is a Bio-Cup entry... I think the have nice ice heap feel on them, in contrast with the more angular black rock point. The snow and ice have piled on the north side of the lighthouse island, shadowed by the tower.

This was a fast build, as my schelude was very tight. I spent the last weekend in Helsinki, and am leaving for another vacation trip tomorrow (my summer holiday started yesterday). Taking into account the situation, I think it's pretty good.



Self-Portrait as a Wooden Man

  This is my entry for Bio-Cup 2022, preliminary round, category Nature. I'm very scared. It's a high-level contest, full of breathtaking models every year. Haha. Got to have challenges, I guess. Using Bionicle parts haven't been my strong point on... past eight years, I think. I'm rusty, but there's only one way to fix it...

My entry is a wood man. He started as a Treebeard but turned out quite soon no to be him. There's something that embodies nature in a concept of Tree Man. It has us, and it has nature. Nature needs to have the counter-pool of humanity, or technology, or something, to be nature. Otherwise it is everything, and everything is too broad for a contest category. Bear this in mind when you see the fifteenth Tree Man entry on this round!

 The head was the first thing I build, and it defined a lot. Within some time I saw myself on this figure; I have bigger stomach, sure, but somehow, I had built myself into it. A wooden plastic me. The legs come second, with this relaxed, pondering stance built into them. The cog he's pondering was a very late addition: but it helped to define the model, with this basic principle of nature defined by what it is not. And it's also me, who lived first 20 years in Eastern-Finnish ex-forest, now-clear-cut wasteland, with master of science degree (though on architecture and not engineering, so no gears, but it's a nice shape and piece and works better than a wall, or even ionic capital, which is even more absent on my profession than a cog).

But it's a Bio-Cup entry, so I had to give some serious thinking to the pieces. The midsection uses Bionicle parts, albeit in quite unorthodox way. Giving the colour scheme, I think the volume of Bionicle parts is decent; the texture of brown mata torso wouldn't have improved it, and I didn't have all the brown Kanohi masks here... The volume is also balanced by how intgral the "Bonkle" parts are to this model; they keep it together. Some constraction ones ended up in the limbs to make them less blocky. I doubt I could have made it more bionicleish without sacrificing the character or the aesthetics of it, and hope it's all right. The model ended up a lot more personal than I thought it would.





Moon Fog Oracle

This character was built for an article on New Elementary on Dots set Neon Tiger Bag Tag & Bracelet. The set has a cool colour scheme of dark purple and dark turquoise with some new Neon Yellow and cool little printed tiles; and my idea with it was, surprise surprise, to build a character. I ended up combining the calm with the energetic and thus the Moon Fog Oracle was born.

I wanted to inclued the bag tag cube to the character, as a decorated Japanese obi sash.This was difficult, as its studs doesn't have very much friction; they're designed to hold small parts, mostly tiles. Having to angle both the lower and upprt torso 45 degrees didn't help either! In addition, the upper torso is bent slightly backwards to make the build more natural; and the front of the robe is angled again 45 degrees on another direction to make the collar, which uses the amazing tiger-printed neon yellow tiles. Whoo! It turned out pretty good though. 
What else? I'm particularly happy with the big bow on the back, again using the tipper ends, which are one of my favourite pieces. The little badge on the kimono isn't actually from the set (despite fitting the aesthetics) but from Dots bling bags - I got a bunch for 80 % off or so (first time I've bought sets from a store for a very long time). The hair uses the strap from the set. This is actually the first time I've used a Dots strap, despite owning a medium azure one for two years. They're cool, but the studs didn't really look good on a hair, and the tiles make it somehow stiff. Using them as a hair needs some extra experimenting. The hair has another big bow, fitting the kimono and the obi; I like how they form a silhouette. And yes, the neon yellow is great addition to the palette - I'm looking forward to getting more pieces in it.
- Eero.


The Light-Stone Miner


This was a fast, one-day job for a hard-working Matoran collab. My model, a laborous lightstone miner from Onu-Koro, is a small love letter to Mata Nui Online Game, aka MNOG, the best and most-loved Bionicle thing there is. It's a magical thing for a free online game promoting a plastic warrior toy line. It's got the atmosphere, and style, and a warm heart. Onu-Wahi sequence is my favourite - with both magic of the sundial and the extraordinary worker's union discussion on Whenua's hut. Play it yourself.

Anyway, an Onu-Matoran miner. I wanted him to be small and short; as matoran should be. I took the hard route and used purple, old classic purple, and half of the pieces I had in this colour. I had even picked the black Huna off my Kane-ra when last visiting my parents - It's my favourite noble mask. The actual seed part was the horse bridle. I made a headlamp that could be strapped around the head. I also tried a candle version, as Onu-Matoran on MNOG have candles on their masks. But as they were digging for lightstones, a lightstone headlamp made sort of sense...

I wanted the torso have similar aesthetics than the Miramax designs in the movies. It felt too hard (and maybe boring?) to try re-creating a Tohunga torso, and I never likes the 2003 matoran set designs with their weird hunchbacks. Nevertheless, I kept the limbs short and feet big; honestly, I'm not huge fan of th feet, but it was hard to find a decent design with the limited array of purple parts! But they needed to be purple to balance the colours; black feet would have sort of faded.

I completed the model with a lightstone and some ropes. I had various ideas for utensils, but they didn't play out. I though about a dynamite detonator, but it would have concealed the torso, which was the best part. A wheelbarrow would have been nice... but they don't really have wheels, and crab-leg-barrow felt overcomplicates (I admit, it could have been fun). But with the rope I could get an organic pattern that was very non-bionicle, creating an interesting contrast on the model. It turned out pretty nice.



Agra Sunstriker

Agra Sunstriker was the second MOC I made for a New Elementaryy article, inspired by the pieces of Monkie Kid's Galactic Explorer. The Polymer Samurai had used plenty of the pieces already, but there were still several sweet ones left, most importantly the dark turquoise roller coaster trail piece. I though they would make a cool pattern on a wizard's rope; I was wrong. Or probably not wrong, but I didn't manage doing that, mostly due to the weird geometry of the rail piece. It didn't work fluently. 

So the original idea was a wizard, and the first actual piece use was the monkey tail beard. I tried a monkey tail moustache too (the set has three tails) but it had too heavy Evil Disney Vizier feel on it and I thus omitted. I wanted the wizard to be cool and somewhat rock-n-roll, so I ended up with a big handlebar moustache, a mohawk and sideburns instead. Yeah!

Of course, for a New Elementary article, I wanted to use more pieces that just the tail. The set has four new 3x3 macaroni tiles in red, completing the macaroni tile family; so naturally I had to try them together, and that evolved into a collar, reminscent of Tutankhamun's attire. I though it would be fun to make this MOC a brother build of Margibi Imber thematically, so the pseudo-Egyptian theme fitted. Amusingly enough Agra's belt is basically Margibi's headdress turned upside-down! It also uses newly recoloured sweet tipper end parts. I'm particularly happy with the sandalled feet, which I managed to make realistic without being overcomplicated. The shins felt like a natural place to use up the metallic gold pieces of the set, also giving the character some glamour to fit the pharaoh collar. The small wheel on the right arm isn't from the set, but Iäm rather happy I managed to intengrate that odd metallic gold part there, too.

The radio was a late addition. He needed a cool accessory. I thought about making a surfboard, but then again surfboards felt overused on brick setting (looking at you, collectable minifigures) and a portable radio fitted the cool rock feel better. I also managed to throw in the short rollercoaster rail piece too, to capture a heavy-duty radio look. The loudspeaker use some new parts too; I was rather found of the simple greeble.



Polymer Samurai

I've build several samurai characters in the past. There's something good in the silhouette, with the usual large pauldrons, helmets with wide neck guards and horns, contrast between the hard and soft parts... so samurais it is. This one is more futuristic and was built for my New Elementary review of Monkie Kid's Galactic Explorer; you can see many unique recolours from the set here. The set has many bright, lovely colours, something I constantly enjoy using in my models.

The first seed parts, however, didn't end up in this model at all. It was not a samurai, even, and I wanted to use the big trans-red windscreens as a hair. They were too big, blocking the shoulders, so I adjusted the angle to make a samurai helmet; and that worked sort-of, but was still quite janky. I ended up ditching the piece completely, but kept the samurai idea - using some macaroni pieces (not for the set) to make the helmet sides. They are angled with dark turquoise tipper ends, which are from the set, though. Tipper ends are great! One is also used on the chest plate. 

Other pieces form the sets include the 3x3x2 round bricks on the limbs; an another pleasant part that helped to establish a certain toy-like feel. The set has 12 in dark turquoise, which is nice. The knee armour windscreens survived here despite ditching the larger ones. I continued the trans-red into the bent katana and threw in couple of Hero Factory Breakout hexagon shields; they're cool pieces and I want to use them from time to time. The floating effect looks much better on lighter blue background than on a black one. The opaque dark turquoise windscreens were another exciting pieces from the set; they have thin surfaces with plenty of room inside, so they ended up being the armour's skirt. No problems with stuffing in the upper legs this time! The metallic gold details running through the MOC are from the set too, though I used them more on my second character on the article. More of it later on.