Periods of Bionicle MOCcing

Hey! You know, I was just thinking about art. The fancy stuff, y’know? All of the fancy art in the world seems to be split into periods. Paintings are split into periods, music is mostly split in to periods, literature is split into periods - but you want to know what I’ve never heard people split into periods? MOCcing styles. And it would be so easy to do! So I think I will. Or, at least, I’ll organize a basic set of periods. We can add more specifics later. You all can give your input on my little timeline, and if I agree with you, I’ll edit the post. Here we go!

1999 - 2005: The Early Canon Contest Era

The early days. Characterized by very little online sharing, with the easiest method of seeing other people’s creations being through official means, like Lego magazines and the Lego website. Name comes from the early Canon Contests, which produced the most well-known MOCs of the period. Building style characterized by using purely Technic pieces, and often trying to emulate official sets (or at least their general vibe).

2006 - 2011: The Biotube/Mocpages Era

The golden days (in my opinion). I was born during it! Towards the beginning, of course, but I was still very much born within the period. Characterized by the overuse of the Inika torso, and often a strong adherence to canon when MOCcing. Greebling was also a popular technique. The period also marked the rise of the Biotube/Mocpages community, allowing people a far less limited ability to see other MOCs, and enabling the more rapidly spread of specific NPUs, building techniques, and basic character concepts (for example, the basic Rahkshi-esque Self-MOC popularized by BioRockDude’s Detox). Usage of System parts was far more common.

2012 - 2014: The CCBS Era

Good times, though also the rise of one of the most dreaded things in MOCcing - clashing textures. Before the advent of CCBS, all parts had a generally similar look, with little pistons and other tech-y embellishments. CCBS introduced far smoother parts with a slightly more organic look, which, when used improperly with G1 parts, can look quite bad. However, CCBS, when in the hands of good builders, was known to have very good potential, especially when used with tire pieces. At the time the community was still strong, and our favorite Biotubers were still uploading. System parts were getting real common in MOCs.

2015 - 2017: The Revival Era

The true golden age, but also the end of the community as it was. G2 reinvigorated folks to the concept of Bionicle, and brought many skilled builders to the community for the first time, but once it ended, so too did the community, in a way. Of course, we still remain, but we are a shell of what we once were. Without an original Lego Constraction IP going, there was nothing to bring people in. People still found Bionicles at yard sales and got into the community from there (me), but beyond folks like that, things slowed down substantially. It didn’t help that all the Biotubers had grown out of their teens by now and gotten actual lives, and as a result stopped posting. It was a sad time. The general MOCcing style didn’t change too much beyond the introduction of G2 parts and the general moving further from canon of builds, a lot just happened community-wise.

2018 - Today: The Post-Bionicle Era

Characterized by MOCs that lean more heavily on system pieces, but still incorporate enough Bionicle/CCBS parts to be considered Bionicle MOCs. Likely won’t ever end unless G3 happens, and even then, G3 will probably be made from System parts, so things will go off in a whole new direction. Things haven’t changed much from the late Revival area, everything remains stagnant in the community. There was the promotional Tahu and Takua released, though, so I can’t really complain that we’re likely nearing the end.

Well, there it is. Like I said, tell me your thoughts in the comments. I wish to hear them.

14 Likes

Another important part of the timeline would be where most people gathered online. It started off with BZPower and Mocpages, the former of which is a hollow shell of what it used to be and the latter having been completely shut down. There were also the lego message boards, although I know less about them. We all know about the TTV Message Boards, which is probably one of the most concentrated Bionicle fan sites still around today. Nowadays, most people have moved on to Flickr and discord, though smaller communities still exist.

11 Likes

Yeah I just heard MOCpages had been shut down a few months ago. I used to be called The Abyss on there, started the RPG club which was the most active group on the site ( even though it was just me Gringat, and a few others). Good times.

Speaking of Gringat, you should list the ‘nuva-boob’ technique he invented as one of the first real ways to represent female characters in mocs

Personally, I stopped buying sets around 2010 but what recaptured my interest in the last few monthswas stumbling upon the plethora of stopmotion and CGI comedy skits on youtube, as well as the revelation that there was a 3D modelling comunity for bionicle,

Even so, I was really inspired to start building again (aside for a few concepts that had been rattling in my mind for years) until I bought one of the marvel buildable figures, which incoporates ball joints / sockets attached to system bricks and axle holes, which i thought were a neat sinthesis of system and technic / bionicle.
I really did feel a wave of nostalgia discovering that had made the axle 3L in yellow, lol.

So these things I think deserve special mention as well, and might just end up starting a new revival of sorts

Edited for Double Post - BioKnight

4 Likes

ah, forgot about them
before my time, y’know

ah, lego life
that one predated my community involvement too

i suppose discord is worth metioning

i suppose it is important

good stuff
i’ll get around to adding stuff in later today

3 Likes

I think the influx of digital moccing and 3D printing would be good additions to this timeline as well

4 Likes

ooh, yes
good one

5 Likes

Them fightin words right there.

Gallerians and message boardians don’t deserve to be grouped in with that accursed app

5 Likes

I agree. Lego life was a step down in quality, with the app being an attempt by LEGO to be “relevant” to modern kids. It failed miserably in that respect, being instantly inundated with copied posts (mostly blurry images with stickers all over); lego’s poor attempt at encouraging users to be “creative” by removing the ability to say anything on posts, and the fact that the app (which was targeted towards tweens) was mostly used by children under the age of 10.

It also marked the end of the Lego Club magazine, which for a long time was a primary source of marketing and information, as well as building contests that often had inspiring builds. Even as early as 2014, there was a noticeable increase in subpar builds becoming winners in the contests, and it became apparent that Lego had changed its focus from kids using more advanced techniques in their builds to advertising “creative” designs, ones that were usually a mess of clashing colors and incredibly basic construction. I’m not complaining about the kids who submitted these, obviously, it’s not often that kids will come up with truly noteworthy MOCs on their own that get submitted to these contests, but it truly feels as though LEGO Life was the last nail in the coffin for LEGO’s official contests for kids.

That’s all I’ll say here about this. I’m already in danger of being flagged as off-topic, I bet.

6 Likes

I was an avid user of the Lego Galleries prior to their shutdown, and I migrated to Lego Life immediately afterwards. It’s an utter trainwreck of an app. Not only were the users noticeably far younger than the message boards/galleries users, but you couldn’t even comment on anything! There was also no search bar either!

If there was one thing it was good for, it was the ability to recover your old gallery posts. If you could remember your login details from the gallery, you could enter them into Lego Life and find them all pre-uploaded but privated, complete with the original descriptions. Not even this would stick around though, the method stopped working sometime last year.

5 Likes

i was being silly in reference to the fact that you could get your old galleries posts off it
or so i’ve been told

4 Likes

The fact that it was targeted towards teens, yet had none of the basic functions of any LEGO forum, was what made me hate LEGO life to the point that I barely used it. I only saw a few interesting creations on it, and they were all clearly stuff that was imported from the Lego message boards rather than made for the app. And the fact that you could just copy someone’s pictures, slap some stickers on the photos, and essentially call it your own post was annoying. There was so much spam that I saw on there that used that feature. That and posting pages from ads and instruction booklets…

Had the app been designed like TTV or the Lego forums, it would’ve been much better.

4 Likes

That’s a very nice list, and quite accurate from what I can see. My current Mocing style would probably fall somewhere between the first two periods.

To add to the Lego Life discussion…

That’s the best possible description, honestly. I was quite an active (and somewhat popular) user on LL from 2018 to sometime in late 2022 or early 23, and in hindsight I wonder how I used it for that long time.

I can confirm what has been said before, most users are way too young to even be on the internet at all. Half the posts are just reposts with some stickers slapped on. They did add a search bar and the ability to type comments later on, but the comment moderation bot was so overcautious that you could barely say anything at all.

One of the worst parts for me was the region locking. For the longest time I could only see posts that were written in the same language as mine, with no option to view international posts. They did also add the ability to view such posts later (alongside the search feature and unlocked comments), but that was shortly before I left the whole scene so I didn’t experience much of it.

The community has got to be the worst part, though. I’d guess the average age is below 10 and it shows. There were a few nice people though, some of which I’m still in touch through different means of communication. The lack of comments made it really difficult to share thoughts and criticism on MOCs, though us avid LL users had developed a pretty good way of communicating solely throuh the available stickers.

One funny thing I remember is the drama that ensued when someone made a post announcing their departure from Lego Life. Especially when it’s a more popular user, the front page would get flooded with low effort “PLEAS DONT LEAVE!!1!1!” posts for a day or two, then everyone forgot about the whole thing again. I just quietly deleted the app without saying anything, though I think I would’t have made that big of an impact anyways - most of my later posts were severely underperforming.

I’ve never been a member of the official Lego message boards or galleries from before LL, but from what I can gather, it sounds like a much better experience.


Wow that turned out longer than expected, I guess I was just waiting for the right situation to ramble about Lego Life haha

4 Likes

Makes you glad we have TTV am I riiiiight

Rant about Lego Life and why TTV is better than every other social media

In all seriousness, from your description Lego Life devolved into a serious case of what ails Scratch (I’ll have to take your word for it, I never used Lego Life). Kids younger than recommended internet age are not only exposed prematurely but are overexposed to the worst thing the internet ever cooked up - social media.

On Scratch, the biggest problem facing the site is copy-paste games. Everything on Scratch (user-made projects, that is) is open-source, so credit is very hard to track down and many projects end up looking similar. Heck, I took a screenshot one day and half of the “trending” page was generic 2D platformers with identical levels, thumbnails, and player characters.

From the sound of it, Lego Life suffered from that too - the sticker fiasco where a lot of content is just reuploaded with changes kept to the bare minimum so as to not be labelled plagiarism. Kids are encouraged to get popular rather than make quality content, and on social media quantity often takes priority over quality. I think if Lego really wanted a social media platform for specifically Lego-related subjects, they should have looked at TTV.

TTV solves most problems with social media while still feeling like an engaging program. The age restriction (I can’t recall… is it 13 or 16?) prevents most problems to begin with.

Scratch has a pretty toxic communal environment, where most people who have no right to criticize do most of the trash talking while legitimate criticism is shot down, often for being “hateful.” The extremely young users don’t know how to handle or make criticism, so it’s often just blatant toxicity. The older users of TTV recognize that their work often could be better or sometimes even sucks (take just about every single self-MOC I’ve ever made, for example) and so don’t lash out or report criticism. Additionally, we all have experience MOCing, which is where most criticism is directed, so we can all criticize from a place of experience rather than just hating.

Plagiarism is also unheard of because the users of TTV are older. We realize that slapping some stickers or a new player character over an existing thing is not adding anything meaningful, so if we “remix” something (that’s something else horrible about Scratch - remixing permissions are permanently enabled for every project) we actually add to it - potentially touchy subject but take the Bats as an example. It’d be easy for us to take Monopoly’s base and just slap some different wings on it, but every bat I have seen has done something unique with the base instead of just recoloring a piece or two.

And, because TTV is so small, it can actually be handled by just a handful of moderators who are real people. On Scratch and Lego Life, the user base is so large and so young that just about everything gets reported at some point, making a robot filter necessary. Problem is, that robot filter isn’t perfect and can make some crappy decisions. Our beloved real-person moderators on TTV, on the other hand, can use actual judgement and can allow for some leniency that robot filters can’t really do.

Anyways this whole thing isn’t really about Bionicle MOC periods so I’m gonna just hide all of it…

I do quite like the list assembled here, but I will say I see that most of the MOCs on the boards remain in the CCBS/Revival era. There are the occasional exceptions, but I think TTV in general is a remaining stronghold of the true golden age - the balance between CCBS and G1 Bionicle. And, to be honest, I like it this way.

A lot of modern “Bionicle” MOCs use so much system in them that I often don’t consider things labelled as “Bionicle” to really be Bionicle. If you just use a Metru shoulder here and a pair of Nuva shoulders but the rest of your creation is system, that’s not Bionicle - that’s just system with a few Bionicle pieces sprinkled in. I have nothing against those kinds of MOCs. They’re often beautiful works of art, I just don’t think they can really be called Bionicle.

All this to say: I think Bionicle MOCing is entering a sort of dark age at the moment. There are elements of the golden age peeking through, but truly Bionicle MOCs are hard to come by because that style of building has just gone by the wayside.

Who knows… maybe one day when we’re all venerable relics of a Lego time gone by, we users of TTV will be looked upon as the heralds of the return of the golden age… or perhaps we will be shunned and looked down upon as the last remainders of an era forgotten and neglected.

5 Likes