26 November 2021

Old Elementary: Part 3 of the LEGO® BIONICLE 20th Anniversary Festival

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Max Howell, Kevin Huxhold, Thomas Jenkins, Johann Dakitsch and Zachary Hill join our celebration of the 20th anniversary of LEGO® BIONICLE! Five more parts have been chosen by our regular and guest contributors; they analyse them for you and then get building original creations.

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Bionicle Toa Pohatu Lower Arm - Johann Dakitsch 

By the tail end of the original run of LEGO® BIONICLE, the theme had already amassed a plentiful selection of specialised, unusually-shaped parts. 

One such part was Bionicle Toa Pohatu Lower Arm Section/ Shell With Hole Ø4.85 2008 (60917), most famously available as the arms on the 8687 Toa Pohatu from 2008. Apart from said set, where it came in Dark Bluish Grey, it was also present in the same colour in 6126 Good Guy, and also in 8993 Kaxium V3, 7158 Furno Bike, as well as 8699 Takanuva and 8954 Mazeka, appearing in Silver/ Pearl Light Grey, Bright Orange and Pearl/ Metallic Dark Grey respectively. 

The Part

Industrial in design, it’s oddly shaped and hollow but offers a decent range of connection points, and fits within the established System. It’s roughly 8 modules in length, 3 modules wide, about 4 modules tall on the front end and 7 at its highest point. 

As far as connection points go, it has 6 standard Technic pin connections, with the ones on both ends aligned to permit a long Technic axle or bar to go through, creating a stable platform for a spinning or rotating mechanism. The groove on the top also can fit a plate quite snugly, if only not the most stably. On the other hollow side, a 1-wide Technic connector/ liftarm can comfortably fit towards the back side of the piece. The big hollow space can snugly fit a 2x1 brick towards the end, and almost fit a 2x2 in its entirety, as well as give access to the hole that can fit a 1-stud-wide plate with some room to spare. Additionally, the side piston details can couple with a standard clip, albeit in a bit forced manner.

Building with Bionicle Toa Pohatu Lower Arm

Although quite specialised, this piece can be quite broadly used as a mechanical detail or even possibly a part of a functioning mechanism. 

Here you can see it used as an engine and textural detail on a skycar MOC.

Claw Hook w/ Axle - Zachary Hill

Ever since the original six LEGO® BIONICLE Toa were released in 2001, Gali has always been my favourite. Her mask is the only translucent mask in the six Toa Mata and she’s one of the privileged Toa to have two moving limbs. Two arms are better than one and they’re even better if each wields a weapon such as Gali’s signature Water Hooks. 

BrickLink calls this part Bionicle Claw Hook with Axle (32551) and The LEGO Group calls it Voodoo Hook, which currently has my vote for all-time favourite TLG part name.

The significance of this part didn’t end with Gali. Between 2001 and 2008 this part was included in over 30 sets across Bionicle and other themes, including 2003’s System-and-Technic blending LEGO Inventor theme. Twelve different colours were produced in a satisfyingly wide gamut perfectly balanced between colour and greyscale.

The Part

Many Bionicle parts are modified Technic liftarms with mechanical details added for intrigue, and the claw hook is no exception. The bottom of this hook ends in a one-module axle which Gali grips with her Toa Mata arms, examined by Ivan Martynov two weeks ago

Two pin connections are positioned five modules apart, one directly above the axle and one near the furthest edge of the hook. The hook is a smidgen longer than six modules thanks to its ridged details which add length beyond the far pin hole.

My favourite detail in this part is the shape of a strut running from the bottom inside to outer top. There’s no shortage of great texture along this part from any angle, but the strut actually reinforces the claw greatly while adding its mechanical aesthetic. The triangular shapes created by this rod make the part nearly indestructible if it weren’t for the relatively weak spot at the base of the axle.

The strut does even more which further cements it as my favourite feature. There is a secret, and legal, fourth connection point on this part - do you see it? 

The LEGO Group is keen on designing elements with common measurements and the diameter of the faux strut cylinder is a 3.18 mm bar. No sets ever utilized this connection - it is in an awkward spot after all - but further down I’ve made it useful in a build. There’s not much space to work with though; up to a 1x2 horizontal clip plate (63868/42923) can fit between the secret bar and hook tip. No other details provide connections, including the small side hole which fits neither bar nor an accessory pin.

Building with the Hook Claw

Today is the day after Thanksgiving in the United States, which means everyone’s tired from cooking and feasting, so when it’s finally time to eat again, hungry leftover-seekers will descend upon the fridge. The reign of turkey is over and the reign of Tupperware begins.

The hook’s droopy shape looked just perfect to recreate a bird’s beak, especially for a turkey or vulture in red. 

The vulture lives on after the turkey is gone, and this bird of prey sports poseable wings and legs. A couple 2L bars (78258) first reviewed in 76391 Hogwarts Icons - Collectors’ Edition connect each birds’ eyes via hollow studs, and the turkey’s wattle is connected using the strut bar mentioned earlier.

If a bird who feasts on the dead isn’t dark enough for you, this next build might do it. What could be more abominable than a build combining all 3 Systems: LEGO, DUPLO and Technic?

As lovely as Bionicle is for its blend of organic and mechanical worlds, sometimes it inspires people to do things like this. 

Thomas might deserve better, but these claws beg to be used in a giant mechanical arachnid. Gali’s blue claws have been relegated to mandibles while Mata arms and other Technic pieces extend eight red claws into the abyss.

In a different universe this thing might have crawled out of Sid’s bedroom in Toy Story. Along the way, this fright train could reach back into its cargo for a lump of coal and other tasty snacks. A grappling hook winch makes the perfect web spinner for this tank arachn-engine.

I got carried away building creepy stuff which seems fitting for the Voodoo Hook. It’s got practical uses too with its high strength and gripping shape, so Gali’s Water Hooks are useful well beyond Toa weaponry.


Bionicle Thigh and Shoulder Armour (Toa Mahri Nuparu) - Max Howell

The piece I picked for this LEGO® BIONICLE project is the creatively named Bionicle Thigh and Shoulder Armour (Toa Mahri Nuparu)/ Right/Left Shell 10 2007, better known as the Mahri Thigh Armour. This is one of the many late ‘G1’ armour add-on pieces - but this one is different from the rest, lacking the random dots and tubes that plagued the latter years of Bionicle. 

It comes in left (57541) and right (57526) variants and appeared in 3 sets; first in black in set 81913 Nuparu Mahri and then it resurfaced 2 years later in pearl silver in sets 8693 Chirox and 8697 Toa Ignika. It was used exclusively as a piece of armour, connecting to the ever-present Axle and Pin Connector 2 x 7 with 2 Ball Joint Sockets (50898).  

The Part

The dimensions are 7 x 5 x 3. The only ‘legal’ connection to be found on the part is the axle hole used to connect to Inika limb pieces - but any real FOL knows that the best connections are often the illegal ones. 

The gaps are prime real estate for all kinds of shenanigans. A Plate, Round 1 x 1 with Open Stud (85861) combined with any number of small bar pieces can get you near infinite results, and of course the ever useful “Shove Piece Into Rubber Liftarm” technique applies here. 

Building with the Mahri Thigh Armour

Jack Frost's classic MOC ‘Black Butterfly’ is a great example of how the piece can be used in new and creative ways, so I couldn’t help but mention it. Using these parts as a pair of wings was a stroke of genius! 

As for myself, as soon as I got my hand on these parts I immediately thought they would make for a great face. 

As soon as I came up with a design I liked, the rest came together pretty quickly. I decided to use the silver variant as the blade of an axe, which resulted in a pretty wacky weapon design.

Bionicle Foot Toa Hordika - Kevin Huxhold

As the name implies, Bionicle Foot Toa Hordika/ Design beam 4x7x2 (50919) first walked onto the scene in 2005 with the Toa Hordika canister sets. These mutated forms of the Toa from the previous year took on much more primal, ape-like characteristics such as longer limbs, a more hunched stature, and larger feet. The part continued to appear periodically in later Bionicle sets through the end of the original theme’s run. It was used not only as a foot, but also as armour in some of the larger sets.

The Part

The Hordika Foot covers an area of 7 x 4 x 2 modules. You get three pin holes to work with, and the hole behind the “toe” has some extra clearance around it specifically to accommodate a ball joint. In the back you get some space to fit in parts that are two modules wide. This gives you a couple easy options to place in a socket joint, and area under the “toe” is also completely hollow allowing for potential non-standard connections.

Also worth mentioning is a variant that debuted a couple of years later with the Barraki set, 8917 Kalmah in 2007. It's essentially the same part with added fins to the front taking it to 8L long and 7L wide. My thanks to Mitch Henry (CZQ) for the photo.

Building with Bionicle Foot Toa Hordika

Part of the reason I wanted to focus on this part is that I noticed in retrospect that I really haven’t used it much over the years. It can be somewhat awkward when used as a foot outside its original context: very wide, very flat, and strange ankle placement with very strong texturing. 

On Iskandar, I wanted to make that texture a central focus by putting it right on his face. Angling the foot just right gives a pretty strong impression of a nose with a face mask.

For Trilobyte, I wanted to see how I could use the part in a repeating pattern rather than as a one-off detail. It's possible to use the 2-wide geometry of the part to mix in system slopes and curves. I feel like this really makes the part really pop as mechanical detail.

Bionicle Rahkshi Kraata Holder - Thomas Jenkins

I was a big fan of the original Slizers, Roboriders, and eventually LEGO® BIONICLE sets upon their introduction. I never picked up any Bionicle sets after the Bohrok were released, so I’ve always been fascinated by the myriad of unique and specialized parts that were introduced in later waves. I have a bad(good?) habit of adding additional obscure parts into my BrickLink basket to make my orders seem ‘more worthwhile’, and I’ve amassed a sizable collection of pieces that I swear I’ll use one day… So I’m glad to finally be given the impetus to take a proper look at this part.

The Part

Bion. Cup, B. Ø 10,2/ Bionicle Rahkshi Kraata Holder (44139) had a relatively short lifespan, only appearing in sets between 2003 and 2006. It was available in two colours: Dark Grey and Red. Dark Gray was far more common being used in all the basic Rahkshi figures, it appeared in 12 unique sets (although online databases such as Rebrickable include the parts’ appearance in multipacks which brings the total number of appearances to 27!). The Red counterpart appeared twice, in 8593 Makuta and 10201 Takutanuva.

The Kraata Holder is one of a handful of unique and specialized parts that work in tandem to create the body of the Rahkshi models. One such piece is the Bionicle Rahkshi Back Cover with Groove/Bion. Shell (44140) which regular New E contributor Eero examined in part 1 of this Bionicle article series. The holder and back are held together via Large Figure Skeletal, Torso, Chest (Rahkshi) (44136). A unique clip connection secures the back to the holder. This area actually opens up a few connection possibilities, despite seeming very out of System at first glance. We’ll examine that later.

The element is approximately 19 plates long, 10 plates/ 4 modules tall, and 7.5 plates/ 3 modules wide. At one end is a Technic ball joint and at the other, a 1x1 recess in the curved surface. The prongs on each side of that recess are 1 plate thick.  On the underside a 1 module thick liftarm protrudes from the base. The height of the curve of the inside curve is 2 modules.

The Kraata holder does exactly what the name suggests: it houses the kraata worms on the backs of the Rahkshi figures. The element features a slightly annoyingly out of System hole to loosely hold the Kraata in place. It’s too large for a stud and too small for the bottom of a 1x1 round plate. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get my hands on the Kraata element for this article, but you can see it in Eero’s write up.

Speaking of ‘annoyingly out of System’- let’s talk about that curve. Eero noted that Technic, Liftarm, Modified L-Shape Quarter Ellipse Thin 3 x 5 (32250) was a close match for the Back element, and it works here, but the parts have to be transposed by 1 module to meet up nicely.

I scoured my parts collection for curvy parts and I found another rather nice match in Windscreen 6 x 4 x 2 1/3 Bubble Canopy with Bar Handle (87752). The curve doesn’t quite match but I love this combination.

Next to the strange hole is the notch to accept the clip found on the corresponding back element that we talked about earlier. The recess here will fit a stud very snugly. A thin liftarm will slip in either side of the clip block but they won’t hold. This area is, however, pretty good at holding a Technic element with a 1 module cut-out, with plenty of grip. For example Technic, Axle and Pin Connector Perpendicular Split (92907), shown above. You can orientate it like the Blue 1x1 brick, but there is more stress there than I’d like. Finally, an axle fits nicely where the clip ought to be.  

Building with Bionicle Rahkshi Kraata Holder

The elements’ synergy with the 87752 canopy was too good to ignore. I really liked the way the square cutouts lined up, which could be filled with thrusters or guns depending on the direction I wanted the cockpit to face.

Since the cockpit was constructed from a few large elements, I wanted to keep the rest of the build as simple as possible. I found Vehicle, Tipper Drum 4 x 4 x 5 Cement Mixer with Two Pins (30398), a suitably large part, which I repurposed making oversized engines to pull the cockpit along. These hollow elements allowed me to cover the Technic Ball too. 

I’m very fond of this combination of elements and I’d like to revisit this cockpit idea in the future, perhaps with some moveable wings facilitated by that Technic ball joint.

Check back next Friday for the conclusion of our Bionicle anniversary celebration!

Festival Curator: Áron Gerencsér. Editor: Tim Johnson.

READ MORE: Continue to Part 4

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  1. "BrickLink calls this part Bionicle Claw Hook with Axle (32551) and The LEGO Group calls it Voodoo Hook, which currently has my vote for all-time favourite TLG part name."

    I'm quite partial to design #3959 and its successor #86208.

    1. Their naming never ceases to surprise me. I got a good laugh out of those two!

  2. My best guess for the extra connection point on the hook would be pushing a 3.18 bar in the hole in the angle?

    1. It seems like a missed opportunity as it's 2.3 mm in diameter. This retains the "wall" thickness on the sides of the claw, but I have to imagine widening that opening was considered during design.

  3. Incidentally the Gali hook also works well with Liftarm, Modified L-Shape Quarter Ellipse Thin 3 x 5 (32250) that Thomas and Eero both mentioned. The curve of the Gali hook lines up nicely with the curve of the technic liftarm.