Neito niemen nenässä

Bio-Cup is over. Second place is decent. It was hell of a fight!

This is the last build from New Elementary's Flowerfest. It was built before Strax though; I had used most of the warmly hued dark red and orange pieces on Greta Ericales, and was left with some interesting olive green plant parts, dark tan crowns and handful of bright light yellow plate flowers and white blossoms. I took, once again, a hair route. I had never made a character with Bright Light Yellow hair (I think!), as the colour has been quite limited in parts available; but these flowers enabled a neat curly hair look, and there was plenty of them. The colour works well with tan skin colour, as there are not many blonde hair options. Yellow looks too, well, yellow, and same hair and skin colour would look silly. The hair was complete with the white blossoms tied in, connected with the short flower stalks. They are tan and hide themselves nicely within the bright light yellow.

The concept for the rest of the model wasn't clear while I was building the head. after completing it, I chose to take an elegant and stylised route, something akin to The Milky Way / Speed of Light, an another New Elementary model. I built a white, flowing night dress, with ball joint waist to give it natural posture and an ornament made of bright light yellow and olive green plant parts to give it folk costume feel - and to utlise some of the set parts. This further settled the colour scheme: Light but toned down natural hues, close to symbolic school of painting in the turn of the 20th century. I had recently bought a book on Pekka Halonen, a golden age nature painter, and wanted to somehow try to capture the feel of his work. The name - Finnish for Maiden at the Cape-Nose - is taken from one of his paintings (where it is in plural, though, taken again from Kalevala). 

With this colour scheme, I added more nature elements, as well as knew I'd use this light blue backdrop cardboard I had acquired from boom store closing sale. To complete the scene, I built the shallow strand for the figure to stand on, completed with sedges, probably cattails; as well as a forced perspective rocky point farther away. This made it possible to use the pretty olive green spruce trees from the set - they are hard to use for a character builder! I also made a couple of pines madwith dark orange antennae as trunks. The opposite shore is just a silhouette - and I had to redesign it during the shoot, as it was way too short in the beginning.

There are many variations of the image, as the figure, although static in "legs", has posable arms, waist and neck. The large empty space on the right makes it possible to use these as exhibit posters and such - and we did. I'm updating my semi-permanent exhibit on Hervanta Library, Tampere, and we're hosting an opening party with Finnish Lego Masters series 2 champion Aura Kangasniemi on Thursday 17th August 16:30 onwards. Be there or be a rectangular thingy! 



Power Song

Be the lungs

Be the heart beating

Be the muscle and sinew

Be the movement


This is my final entry for Bio-Cup 2023. The theme is Sports. The idea was my first one: A character that emphasizes movement, not just in posing but also by showing an (allegorical?) muscle system made of ziplines. Now, I've been using plenty of ziplines in my entries so far, but they've been brown and have represented leather and vines; stuff of nature.

This model has another level, too. It's somewhat uncanny giant half-robotic figure reflecting the running miniland figure which, along most of the base, is made of System. This reflects how damn complicated large Bionicle etc. constraction figures are to build, and hehehe, figure out. The parts are weird and multishaped and laugh at the system. The trick is finding how to connect them to the right angle and it's not always easy. The reward is the flow - essential in a build like this. This model, like the whole cup, has been rewarding - but not something I'd like to do the whole year round.

The character started with legs. The ankle joint is very illegal and took several reworkings to be able to support the whole figure - everything is on one ball joint... but it had to be a ball joint, because a very slight sideways angle is needed to balance everything. The model is so heavy that a rigid ankle with liftarm connections, for example, would never have worked. Even the twisting of a 3L axle caused problems here; the only key was a real balanced state - just like on real humans... Only my model was fixed in time and the factor of real movement couldn't be taken into the calculation.

The beginning of the zipline muscle system were the 7-line fibres running from the knees to the diaphragm. I believe this is the most important muscle when running, though it's obviously really not that long. These fibes connect to another zipline in the stomach, making the flexible enough for running poses (as you can see, the connecting zipline is diagonal). The neck fibres also dual-function as the wires of the headphones - referring to the name of the creation and also to the importance of music during running to many. They end up in the lower back. The arm fibres are more cosmetic - arms are not essential when running. The help to keep the colours more balanced.

The face deserves a special mention. My "basic human face" would have been too small here. The first idea was some sort of helmet, making the figure less human-like and more of a Bionicle hero paragon image. But as the model emphasised human mobility, it didn't feel fitting and I didn't find any good designs. This face tries to realistically portray human face. It might be somehow uncanny, but then again, that would the feel of 7-metre-tall robot human running alongside you. The manhole cover and the lamppost were added to accent this otherworldiness of the scale.






The Wingnut Crew

We are living the Bio-Cup! It is semifinal time, and the themes are punk-triplets: Steampunk (that's mine), Dieselpunk and Cyberpunk. Now, steampunk is rather familiar setting to me, having built plenty of things in this theme from minifigure barfs to large buildings and early character builds. There's even a pretty large tag about it in this blog. I haven't touched the theme lately, though - maybe once or twice during the last 7 years; it somehow lost its shine. I get enough of goggles on top hats and random cogs everywhere... But the general aesthetics is still pleasant, and some steampunk classics like Miyazaki's Laputa are still as good as ever.

I had some early ideas on Bionicle Steampunk, but they didn't come out naturally so I took a break from my two previous Matoran builds and made a trio on (relatively) human characters. It was going to be 1-2 characters at first, but at some point I had torso of one character (the Guard, on the left on the main image) a leg of another (the Engineer, on the right) and the head of a third character (the Mechanic, on the centre - the beard didn't fit the wing breastplate of the Guard). The method was very much part-based: I has some parts I wanted to use and then I just tried to get them flowing. 

The 90's concept wheel hub on the Guard's armour was the main seed part, and it made a nice combo with the flat silver wings and the round pauldrons; the rest evolved around these. Lord Business's tie cape had a cool air, and I combined it with official-looking cap, double moustache and a jutting Technic cam jaw. The Mechanic is bit of a self-portrait - he also has a Dublo wrench. The drill wormscrew was going to be in this from the beginning. The Engineer depicts a common Steampunk fashion of leather corsetry with white undershirt; it uses two prints from Ideas Stratocaster, the fretboard on the corset and the pickups as buttons. I'm especially happy with the contrast of the pauldroned jackhammer arm with the white shirt, as well as the tiny black beret. Gadunka skulls were my Bio-Cup part use goals list and they formed a skirt; the colour brings some energy to amid the warm and metallic hues of steampunk.



The Forbidden Ceremony

This is my entry for the round 2 on Bio-Cup 2023. It might be obvious from the photo but the theme is 9 circles of hell - heresy. Now, the theme is Bionicle; I had fun building a Mata Nui Online Game -inspired scene on the previous round, and wanted to continue this theme; this is Bio-Cup after all, and as I have to force myself to use bonkle pieces even when they're not the simplest alternatives, I can as well make real Bionicles. Of course, most of the stuff here is still something that is not present in usual Bionicle sets: landscape and vegetation. It would have been a very dull MOC with only the characters! 

Why is this heresy, then? Let's think of heresy for a while. I do not think that heresy exist, and heresy as a concept has mostly been used by despots and fundamentalists to oppress the people. Of course, there is talk and rhetorics that should not be tolerated - hateful shit and such. But it's not heresy; heresy is different view of world - and rites and ceremonies to manifest it.

Bionicle does not officially have romantic love. This is the source of disdain, jokes and endless asks to Bionicle book and comic author Greg Farshtey, who answered to children's inquiries with amazing patience and often awkward reasoning for years and years. There are thousands of these questions. Mata Nui Online Game and the following online animations made by Templar Studios clearly had romantic love between the Matoran villagers, but Greg later deemed them non-canon as the thing was not discussed in the story bible - and Greg thought that 11-year old boys were not interested in romance. I do not actually believe they are not, if romance is presented in well written and interesting way. Greg also said that 

" Romantic love is useless to beings who do not need to physically procreate."

Which is probably even more silly that 11-years-old thing. Now Bionicles are mostly robots and that makes them too, and having them "physically procreating" whatever that means would probably annul lot of the robotics thing; I dunno. But what I'm after here is that, procreating or not, romantic love is as good story element as friendship and honour and dismissing it completely from the story is a deed of utmost cynicism. As deeming stuff to heresy usually is.

But is romantic love heresy in Bionicle? Not in Greg's canon, as it doesn't exist. But there are texts that have addressed this issue and the cynical nature of the legendarium. My take is based on the idea that the need for romantic love exists, but it is declared unnatural, or harmful to worker's lives in a society working like a machine. Greg has such ideas, as the world was artificial. However, on my take, the longing dwells on the worker's hearts, and some heretic Turaga elders are willing to perform the ancient forbidden ceremonies at forgotten, overgrown shrines. There are no audience, no gathering or feast, as things have to be kept in secret. But love triumphs - even romantic love.

The model turned out very colourful. See, I can make a cheerful MOC on heresy! I knew from the beginning that I wanted to make a large version of Tohunga headpiece; I had used the normal one as a portable shrine on the previous entry, and large sculptures on them are a common sight in MNOG. That open some questions: Why do the workers carve large statues of their real faces, always hidden? That aside, the piece has certain epic creepiness in it; The dull grey eyes under the heavy brow... Usage on the weird NHL hockey players hinders the somewhat. The large flower on the forehead links the shrine to more cheerful themes of this entry, and is mirrored on the flower tucked on the mask of the Ko-Matoran. I enjoyed tucking the ziplines to the statue  - the same pieces also made up the tree trunks. They are very hard to handle but the effect is unique.

Otherwise, there was the everlasting challenge of using plastic warrior parts in landscape; the rahkshi backs were the most powerful ones, but I also like the mossy patterns made with Karzahni's marbled armour. HF cocoons made dome nice fantasy ferns. The base was curious one - simple plate or brick layer would have been too, well, bricky; I made a hexagon patterns as I had plenty of 45 degree angled lime connectors from old LUG support bags. It has some connotations to 2001 part aesthetics and the biomechanical nature of Bionicle. 

The characters were the last thing I built. Ga-matoran felt too obvious - I had no intent to define the genders of these characters, and gender-specific elements are silly to start with. Green Le-matoran would have been hard to perceive from the background, and that was also true for browns and greys. I ended up with Ta-Matoran wearing a red Pakari, because I had some nice orange piece around; the other one turned out to be a Ko-Matoran so I was able to use white robot hands in the fingers. I like the contrast between white and dark blue. The Turaga is one of the stone element, wearing a bright light orange ceremonial attire; It's partially inspired by the original turaga sets with a plenty of added mobility.




Commander Strax

 So, before I got distracted by Bio-Cup, and in generally building, I was posting my models from new Elementary's Flowerfest. This won't be the last MOC of it but this was the last one I built; I had used most of the interesting parts but I still wanted to so something with the medium nougat pauldrons used as rose petals in the set. I just fiddles with them and sculpted with them; I noticed that the bar connection made a nose, and I was able to make another connection inside by sticking a clip between the support prongs of the bar addition. The medium nougat mudguards from the set made humorous ears.

I first thought it would make a humorous stereotypical "politician", with a suit and a tie. But I had been watching some Dr. Who (Capaldi series) and it struck me that the doodle looked quite a bit like good Sontaran Commander Strax... The suit would still have been appropriate, as Strax tends to wear suit in Victorian London, but I went with the full Sontaran armour as it was recognizable - and I wanted to use some sand blue I had gathered. The head jutted perfectly into the ring of macaroni bricks, so I knew I was in the right direction. I didn't use any other Botanical set parts in this, as the ones I used were heavily enough in the focus - and sand and dark blue colour scheme didn't offer any possibilities.

Working with limited colour was relatively easy; Strax's physics and Sontaran armour design is well suited fot brick building. Funnily the dark blue shoulder pads were the hardest part, as I didn't seem to have any hollow bit in the right colour (I only got two dark blue bohrok head shells some time later). I solved this by making the pauldrons separate blocks with joints for both the shouder and the rest of the arm; thsi allowed a natural stance. The sand blue areas formed itself around few different elegantly shaped curved parts from early 2000's my childhood sets.

The eyes were late addition. It looked alright (and rather dramatic!) with just dark areas under the neanderthalian brow. They eyes help to focus on the head, though. They're 1x1 round tiles connected to battle droid arms.




Harvest Merchants

 I was supposed the post those remaining Flowerfest models, wrote the texts and everything, but ended up being unable to post them; or to put it better, I just didn't. Probably writing those Instagram tags is too bothersome. They will be the next ones... right. My summer holiday started, I had a canoeing trip, and I came back home just in time for Bio-Cup's Round 2 with theme of Biomes - Flatlands that ends tomorrow-ish. Two of the suggested subjects were farmers and hunter tribe, and I combined the ideas to a nomad tribe thing, that ended up being two matoran merchants and their prehistoric lizard (or amphibian, maybe) friend. 

The beast of burden was going to be silver and rhino-esque at first, but I ended overthinking it and working in silver wasn't fun at all. Bionicle has too much silver! I dumbed all that and returned to the recently looted dark red Fenrakk (Skirmix) heads I had tried to use in the previous build. I used them as reptile heads, but I suppose the huge lower jaw and lever lizard eyes are enough to make difference. I purposefully made the lizard fat and jolly, slow and friendly-looking. It was a fun build and uses lot of real Bionicle parts around a liftarm spine; there is no CCBS at all and even the system per cent is relatively slow, especially in the lizard. I managed to make the building fun after ditching the silver; key to success! The build was strongu defined when I tied the tohunga head statue to the back. And the lizard didn't even have a head back then...

The matorans are completely new design. Foremost, I wanted them to be small to make the lizard friend look big enough. I emulated Tohunga physics with more poseability (and sadly fragile arms). The red Ta-Matoran guy is tougher, as he smokes a pipe and carries a bamboo disc, classical matoran defence weapon. I suppose he's the boss, as he's not carrying a bag. The Po-Matoran is more local-coded with a funny hat, sort of a coat and fabuland bag. I knew there had to be a funny hat in this trio; they needed one.