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Thursday, October 28, 2010


** WIN Stormer or Xplode! **

I'm very happy today to be able to offer a giveaway of two complete LEGO Hero Factory figures, the hero Preston Stormer and the villain Xplode.  It's not a contest -- there will be no judging.  It's free to enter and the two winners will be picked at random.  Interested?  Here you go:

Learn more & Enter Now!

Best of luck to everyone!

Have fun...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Zeyek enters the LEGO Hero Factory universe!

My full transition from Bionicle MOC-maker to Hero Factory devotee becomes still more complete today with the bold move of the Zeyek chronicler character from Bionicle: Untold to the HF universe.  In this video I unveil Zeyek's voice for the very first time, and see my very first elementary (i.e. terrible) attempt at stop motion...

Zeyek leaves Bionicle, joins the Hero Factory universe!

My transition to the world of Lego Hero Factory becomes still more complete today with the bold move of the Zeyek chronicler character into the HF universe.  In this video you get to hear Zeyek's voice for the very first time, and see my very first elementary (i.e. terrible) attempt at stop motion...

[Blogger's note:  See my new creations on my unofficial LEGO Hero Factory MOCs blog and also follow my YouTube videos!]

A new chapter...

[Blogger's note:  See my new creations on my unofficial LEGO Hero Factory MOCs blog and also follow my YouTube videos!]

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

LEGO Hero Factory MOC: Tylus

Tylus is a member of the Hero Factory's low-key Target Deprecation Squad.  Every now & then a foe is identified that is too dangerous to capture or too hazardous to deactivate disassemble.  That's when TDS gets the assignment.  Their specialty is neutralizing threats, permanently and irreparably.  The inner edges of his weapon ionize when it fires, helping to focus and intensify the emitted laser beam.  This dangerous tool can bore six inches (deep) per second into hardened steel, and there is not a single material Hero Factory researchers have been unable to melt through in tests.

LEGO Hero Factory MOC: Bergyon

In response to increasingly difficult challenges as well as an unsettling number of near losses during call responses over the past year, Hero Factory researchers have been hard at work developing and testing a larger, stronger generation of heroes.  One offspring of these efforts is Bergyon, a "version 1.5" hero who has undergone significant simulation testing and gradual upgrades. 

In addition to a larger size than previous heroes and numerous hardware and software upgrades, Bergeon has been paired with an experimental weapon developed specifically for his frame, the Graviton Concussion Blaster.  This is a ranged weapon that charges and releases a pulse of graviton particles along concentric sinusoidial paths.  In layman's terms, they spread out at first, but eventually converge back into a single space.  The weapon includes a sensitive rangefinder that determines the distance to the target, and sets the graviton convergance to occur in the correct location.  Bergyon himself can offset this convergance, causing it to form either in front of or behind the target.  Wherever this convergence happens, the localized spike of gravitational pull affects the target in a most dramatic fashion.  It's sort of like being hit by a ton of bricks, except instead of being pushed, you're pulled.  Bergyon can also adjust the strength of the weapon's effect by dialing the graviton output up or down.

Information gleaned from work with Bergyon is being fed into the so-called "Hero Factory 2.0" program which is scheduled to begin full production and field tests first thing next year.

Monday, October 18, 2010

LEGO Hero Factory MOC: Greed

Before you stands a true super-villain -- in his own mind, at least.  "Greed," as he calls himself (he refuses to let on about his real name), is a short, bumbling, fumbling nuisance who serves little purpose in the Hero Factory universe other than to provide comic relief when he enters the scene.  With his unbelievably tiny legs, he can actually run...

...but not far at all before he's completely winded...

...which is why he commissioned this glorified rust-bucket, er, I mean, "Chariot of Greed"...

It features not one, but two fearsome meteor blasters, though each is equipped with a completely inert meteor shell, which he had plated with (imitation) gold.  They're purely for looks, as he'd never shoot them.  On the back of the vehicle he carries his great collection of rare loot. 

It's all discarded, old Bionicle stuff that he scavenged from abandoned historic venues, after everyone else had moved on. Rumor has it, he hasn't been successful at acquiring any new "loot" since Bionicle was discontinued. 

If you ever see Greed, avoid eye contact.  Don't ever make the mistake of getting sucked into conversation with him.  He'll go on for hours about his imaginary adventures and glorious battles.  What a dolt.

LEGO Bionicle MOC collection videos!

This past week I finally published quick video walkthroughs covering nearly all of my LEGO Bionicle MOC collection.  You can find them all on the LEGOJANG channel on YouTube.  The preview video I published earlier is shown above.  Here are the shortcuts to individual narrated videos, one per shelf display:

Sunday, October 17, 2010

LEGO Hero Factory 2011 preview -- An opinion

"LEGO Hero Factory V2.0"

You've most likely seen the "leaked" 2011 LEGO Hero Factory preview images by now, but if you haven't, here are some links to bring you up to speed:
The first thing that's important to keep in mind is that there is no guarantee (nor implication) that these are final production items that we're looking at.  For all we know, these images could have been intentionally released by The Lego Group to stir up conversation within the community and get some useful, frank input and ideas for alterations.  Then again, these may be "final draft" images, one step short of production.  There's no way to know.  For sake of discussion, though, I'm going to assume that these are pretty much final, and share my impressions. 

I'm going to start with the heroes and a bit of retrospect.  I'm a heavily invested Bionicle fan, and though I was sad to see the Bionicle series come to an end, I found the new Hero Factory line to be a great follow-up, at least in concept.  While the Bionicle universe relied on heavily-developed characters and a rigid "canon" timeline & story, Hero Factory begins with the premise that good guys are created from scratch in a factory, and bad guys can be dramatically varied and come from a limitless number of places, for a limitless number of reasons.  Hero Factory is designed at its core (no pun intended) to spur creativity and imagination.  The first series of sets, though, didn't quite make good on this concept.  They looked really great, in my opinion at least, but their construction was very simple, and many of the parts were too distinguished and character-specific.  You can put a Stormer helmet on absolutely any MOC, and it's going to be a Stormer MOC.  It takes a Bionicle MOC-maker with an existing stash of parts to produce a truly unique Hero Factory character.  I wish they had instead set up the heroes to be extraordinarily modular, and released just a few full hero sets, accompanied by a line of "build your hero" sets with mix & match parts. 

With the 2011 series, it appears they've taken a gigantic step in the direction I had hoped for.  Armor pieces are non-unique in shape.  Arms are jointed.  Weapons consist of multiple parts.  Going even farther than that, Hero helmets appear to be now generic, with interchangable visors, headsets, targeting sensors & sights, etc., to distinguish the characters.  I think this is a very important move for Hero Factory, farther away from the Bionicle series, but I'm not entirely happy with what I'm seeing in the pictures.

First off, when you look at all of the hero canisters lined up side by side, they all look the same, if you just ignore the colors.  The head-borne accessories are too small, detailed, and subtle to make these look like distinctly different individuals.  The arm & leg armor pieces have too little variation in shape.  The few thorn-like pieces they add on for texture on some sets do nothing to distinguish the characters. The weapons of at least Stormer, Evo, Nex, and Furno are all dominated by a common piece that makes them look too similar.  I'm a bit surprised that they came up with a new hero core design, too.  That's unfortunate, unless the 2010 cores will still fit.

I believe the number of pieces per hero set is now perfect.  The number and location of replaceable and interchangable parts is well-planned.  It's the add-on parts themselves that lack variation.  We should have spiky armor, metal plate-like armor, and smooth armor styles.  These parts could be shared & mixed between different character sets with the use of different colors.  Helmet accessories should be significanly bulkier and more distinct, adding more to the shape of the face, rather than just offering different eye styles as they mostly do now.  Imagine the "build a hero" set idea I mentioned above (rumor has it Lego may offer something similar, but only as an online service).  Imagine the possibilities for useful, inexpensive collectibles.  A weapons pack.  Armor packs.  Accessory packs (jet packs, skis, wheels, etc.).  Each could be packaged with a different unique Hero Core. 

Alright, on to the villains.  The 2010 Lego Hero Factory villains were good sets.  Each was distinct in stature, color, power, and fighting style.  In 2011 we're moving into an element-dominated series with Fire Lord and his minions.  I'm okay with that.  I would even be okay with a few years of this concept -- next year has chilling ice villains, the year after that has fast-moving jet-powered air villains, etc.  What I'm not so happy with are the color mixes we see in this year's sets.  They're using black and silver as the base colors, and that's fine.  They bring in red, orange, and yellow to represent the fire element.  I get that.  However, these colors appear to be randomly assembled from set to set, with no continuity, no real theme.  What's up with that?  Each character looks to be made of parts from three different sets, each focusing on a different color range.  Fire Lord himself may actually be primarily a combiner, but surely the others are not, and they all need work.

Overall, I think the 2011 Hero Factory series, as we've seen them so far, could use a new round of R&D.  I like all of the new ideas, but the execution is not yet mature or ready for prime time.  I've got my fingers crossed that the next pictures we see will kick things up to a new level of visual impact and completion.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

LEGO Bionicle MOCs: Rahi, part 2

Here are a couple underwater creatures, a deep-sea lobster from far off the shores of Metru Nui, and a Mahri Nui crab with asymmetric claws:

How about some forest dwellers?  This flexible tree lizard and poisonous tree frog are common creatures that Toa Lewa grew up around.  The blue & green Fikou tree spider, on the other hand, is a rare spectacle.

In the mildest climate zones around the Matoran Universe you might have occasionally come across a parakeet-like winged rahi like so:

LEGO Bionicle MOCs: Rahi, part 1

At long last, the time has come for me to get caught up with posting my rahi MOCs!  I'll start with this giant centipede.  It measures 30" long and was built basically just to use up a lot of parts, since some of my parts bins were overflowing badly after a bunch of used collection purchases off eBay.

Next is a dog-like rahi that came about as a result of just trying to find anything really different I could do with an Ehlek mask.  Paired with a Lerahk mask for a moveable jaw, it took on a new life, and the body basically sprouted from there, creating something I think has dog-like qualities.

What better to follow a dog with, than a cat?  This was actually my very first rahi MOC, and it remains my favorite:

This next, hyena-like thing has no name or story behind it.  I also made this in my early days of MOC'ing.

This next creature comes straight from the swamps of Karda Nui, where it wades through the deep marshland, prodding through the murky, weedy waters with its long tongue to search for sugar-rich rhizomes -- energy storage pods of certain plants.

LEGO Bionicle MOCs: Krana-possessed Matorans

One day many, many months ago, I was going through my parts bins, sifting through various items, looking for inspiration for a new creation, and I paused to look more closely at my bag of krana.  They're such cool looking things, especially when attached to a head and not just displayed in a Bohrok shell, and yet they're infrequently used.  I decided to make a krana-possessed character and it it ended up being the Le-Matoran pictured above.  I was pretty satisfied with how it turned out, and went about trying to come up with others.

Soon I had covered all six main color schemes, and we had a party!

LEGO Bionicle MOC: Self-created Makuta?

This 24" creation is my tallest Bionicle MOC.  I was originally going to write a full story for it on Zeyek's Bionicle: Untold, but it never came together.  The general idea is that when the Great Beings were doing their early creationary experiments, they were going through many revisions, making prototypes of new beings and casting them off or recycling their materials until they got it all "just right."  One day they retired to rest after failing to create a viable Makuta prototype.  In the protodermis pool they were working from, the spirit of one of their prototypes did not fully dissolve as planned, and it gathered bits of intelligence and designs from other prototype beings that had been experimented with from the same pool.  By night, this being was able to form a rudimentary body for itself, and as it witnessed the glory of its success in creating its own physical self, it grew in confidence and strength and began to add more & more material to itself, eventually becoming a hulking, skeletal, robotic giant.  As it was not part of any plan, the Great Beings decided this early Makuta could not be trusted, and could not be allowed to continue its life.  They deactivated it, melted its body back into the protodermis pool, then froze and sealed the pool to ensure that nothing contained within it would ever be used or have a chance to escape again.

For transportation, this MOC could be fairly easily taken apart.  I think it's funny that the head has feet.

LEGO Bionicle MOC: Bohrok-Kal Titan

The Krana carried by the original Bohrok could be very powerful indeed, but when not under the control of the Baharag, most had little to no motivation.  Not so with the Krana-Kal.  This Krana Bo-Kal's bearer was damaged in battle, but it will was so strong that it managed to assemble parts from the battlefield and regain function as a larger, stronger than ever Bohrok-Kal Titan!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

LEGO Bionicle MOC: Takanuva MEGA-Titan

The Lego Bionicle creations I've published up to now have all ranged in size from sub-chibi to mid-sized titan.  Oh, how things can change!

This Toa Takanuva MOC started its life as, well, a titan Takanuva set.  I looked at the chest armor and saw that it could be used as the basis of an enormous mask with its two large eye-like holes, and soon I found myself building up some semblance of a head to see how big the rest of the model would have to be.

"Really, really big" was the answer, and the MOC ended up standing over 22 inches tall.  Not my tallest Bionicle creation, but close.  I built both the head and the body to be as light in weight as possible without looking too stringy, to try to minimize problems with load-bearing joints and posability.  I wanted to make sure that even though it was a big model, it would still be able to pose halfway decently.

The whole thing was built at home, but for display somewhere else, so I needed to be able to break it down into smaller parts for easier transportation.  The arms are attached by nothing more than a single-length bit of axle each, and the legs can be removed fairly easily as well.  You can some of the high-level details of the construction in the video below.  Please be sure to subscribe to my Lego YouTube channel!