Rare Kanohi research topic

One of my questions in the recent Bionicle quiz has sparked a discussion and I decided to make a standalone topic dedicated to this.
In the realms of Bionicle collectibles there is this group of 2001 Kanohi commonly known as “UK misprints” or “european misprints”. These include Kaukau in trans-yellow and trans-light blue colors, and Matatu and Ruru in Toa colors. However what most people don’t know is that these are not misprints at all. What I mean by this is that they were not produced by accident. They are in fact older versions of the masks for certain elements intended to be sold in mask packs and were later changed to their current colors. All of them were a part of promotional display in Legoland Windsor. I do not wish to repeat myself so check the following topic for the picture and extended explanation:

Now that this is established the new question is why do we not see other noble masks in Toa colors? There are multiple scenarios one can imagine with different order of events back in early 2001, but we cannot tell for sure.
For some time now I have been researching a lot about rare Bionicle collectibles (masks and others) and I have learned much obscure information including the true nature of these “misprints”.
What intrigued me is that there are actually super rare examples of other noble masks in Toa colors we would expect to exist, but these are nowhere near as widespread as the Matatu and Ruru. Examples include brown Komau and white Huna.
My idea was that all of the masks were originally intended to be produced in all 12 colors instead of just 6. So in addition to what we got, you would have noble masks in Toa colors and possibly great masks in Turaga colors. The few afformantioned examples we have could be prototypes/test runs for this concept (do not confuse with prototype molds - all of these have final retail molds).

But then I acquired a treasure trove of information. @Wolk has been kind enough to share with me a passion project document assembled by Aanchir back in 2012. From what I have been told, this is sourced from the Lego customer service part replacement, which, at the time, drew from the Lego internal part database. It is not an exhaustive list, just a spreadsheet of parts the author decided to include, but it is Bionicle-oriented.

There are design and element IDs for each entry as well as the color IDs. It includes parts we all know and love, but there are numerous examples of Lego pieces in colors we have never seen before including Kanohi masks. It is assumed that all of these were produced in physical form at some point.
Interestingly, these include all of the "UK misprints we DO KNOW exist. Likewise the few ultra rare Kanohi owned by uber collectors can also be found here, such as brown Komau and white Huna. I have sifted through the document and cross-checked each entry of interest with Bricklink and Brickset to compile a list of all 2001-2003 Kanohi that SHOULD exist.

Would do we find here? First of all there are indeed the remaining noble masks in Toa colors (Huna, Rau, Mahiki, Komau) of which brown Komau and white Huna were already known to exist as I mentioned.
Then there are great masks in Turaga colors (except for Kaukau), but not all of them. Hau, Pakari, Kakama, Akaku and Miru should exist in tan, lime, light blue and orange. Out of these we already had light blue and orange Pakari but those are found in sets. However just 5-4 months ago, the community got its hands on first ever genuine light blue Kakama! Three independent copies. This checks out with the prediction of their existence. If I were to write this half a year ago, we would confirm it a month later.

But that is not all. There are several exotic color variations for the masks outside of Toa/Turaga pattern. Few of these are just colors very similar to other colors such as medium lime Miru (Lego color ID 115) almost indistinguishable (from the pictures I have seen) from regular lime (119) but it should be a little brighter. These might have been tests for ideal lime color, but who knows.
There is also medium orange (105) Komau, brighter than regular orange (106). Then there is evidence of Huna existing in violet (110) which is different from Onepu purple (104).
Next we have more masks produced in specialized but still Bionicle colors: teal (like Kongu) Matatu, burnt orange (like Huki) Mahiki, sand blue Pakari, dark red (metru red) Akaku, purple (like Onepu) Hau (Nobua lives!).
Lastly there are masks in extremely exotic and unique colors not really used for Bionicle: sand green Rau (we possibly see this one in Legend of Mata Nui), sand violet (136) Kakama :open_mouth: , trans-purple and trans-neon green Kaukau!

There could be more, as I said it is not an exhaustive list, but these are the masks predicted to exist and some of them have been confirmed (even very recently). This means there are plenty of things for collectors to hunt down! (if they still exist)…
If anyone happens to have seen any of the predicted colors let us know :+1:

PS: Scroll down to find color coded spreadsheet of all known 2001 masks.

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Woah this is really cool! I find all this quite fascinating.

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I can shed some light on why the “European Misprints” came to be as well, as I recently came across this Brickshelf page.

As you can see, several displays featured these masks, and what we can particularily tell from these displays is that they are not simply additional, but rather they are present in place of the Turaga-colored Matatu/Ruru, and the Tr. Neon Orange (47) and Tr. Clear (40) Kaukau.

Them being created through an accident never made much sense, after all, how do you simply accidentally mold hundreds of mask in the wrong plastic?

What I found most interesting about this is that it brought to attention this BZPower post, finally a somewhat contemporary source that is not simply making assumptions.

The story of the misprints goes all the way back to the very early days of Bionicle. I heard from a Lego source, that the people who were actually producing the masks got their wires crossed with the people who were actually writing the story. The writers in the USA and Europe were working on one Kanohi plan, while the molders and producers of the masks had that plan mixed up. This mix-up led to the creation of the most valuable mass produced Kanohi created thus far.

So in the end, it was caused by miscommunication between the teams.

As additional note, if you go onto the Kanohi list on the 2001 website, you will see these misprints are also listed there. Unclear on if these were present all along or when they were added.

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Thank you for the additional info! I wonder if the miscommunicatoin had to do with the story focus/lack there of on the Toa collecting noble masks. Maybe the production team wanted to produce noble kanohi in colors they would have if worn by a Toa, but as we know story team decided not to focus on that.

Also it is interesting that in both displays it is the brown Matatu that is missing. Maybe that one was rectified sooner than the rest.

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I hadn’t even noticed that! Good eye.

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Here’s a little something. I made this spreadsheet detailing evry single 2001 Kanohi mask (plus Kraahkan and Avohkii) known to exist.
It contains even the most obscure or one of a kind items. I also added the predicted masks which are distinguished (see the legend).
Prototype molds mean mask shapes differing slightly from the final retail mold.
Prototype paint job means the shape is finalized, but any decals are not final (only applicable for infected Hau).
Survival unknown category means that we know for sure the mask existed in physical form, but no one acquired the physical copy yet.
I named the colors as I felt appropriate, but I also included specific Lego color IDs, so you can check them out for yourselves at Brickset.
If you would like me to direct you to some pictures of the items, let me know.


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A couple corrections:

  • The 178 (used for the Mata masks) are Yellow Flip/Flop (Bionicle Gold on Bricklink), likewise 176 and 179 are “Bionicle Copper/Silver”.
    The alt. gold Avohkii is 189 Reddish Gold, the same color used for Nuhvok-Kal’s krana and Danju in Knights’ Kingdom II.

  • Both of the silver Avohkii are 131. That’s a whole other can of worms, the reason they differ is for the same reason as the Rau between Toa Nokama vs. Dalu - the plastic material itself appears to have been adjusted. 296 was only used in early 2006.

  • For the sake of clarity, I would get used to calling the light blue Kaukau Trans-medium blue to not confuse it with trans-light blue (42), likewise trans-neon orange and trans-orange (182), and trans-neon yellow and trans-yellow (44).

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I am aware of this. As I said I didn’t use the actual Lego names, only the IDs. By “reddish gold” I meant the yellow flip/flop color. But you say the prototype avohkii is different from the gold mata masks? From the pictures it always seemed to be the same color as Yellow flip/flop, is this not the case?

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It is not the same color, no.

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This was slightly confusing, not for the changes themselves but how they are formally recognized. I chose 269 because Brickset has 2002-2010 timeframe for this color which covers 2008 for the lighter silver avohkii. But you seem to know a lot more about this than I do… Does that mean that the change in silver is not acknowledged by Lego themselves in the ID (since both should be 131)? I know some small changes like this are recognized while others are not, is this the example of the latter?

I agree, I just didn’t want to balloon the table with longer descriptions, since I did include the IDs.

EDIT: Ok, I made some updates. It should be better now.

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ooh that seems quite thorough

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wow didn’t know anyone of them came in violet

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That’s right.

Notice that this change only applies to softer plastic parts, such as masks and weapon pieces, but if you compare the polycarbonate parts, like the limbs of the Mistika, to the sockets of the Bohrok-Kal, or the silver Nuva masks, they are about the same.

131 Silver was not the only metallic color to differ between ABS/PC and PP parts, as the same effect can be seen in dark gold (147) such as in the Mata head from the playsets, and metallic black (149), where the ABS parts have a noticable blue tone to them.

However, it is also true that LEGO did continually adjust both 131 and 148 over the years (as well as 297, as is very noticably with that color unfortunately), as they stated back in 2009.

I suspect a part of the reason for the move to 315 Silver Metallic and 316 Titanium Metallic that have been used since 2011 is that they’ve demonstrated much higher consistency across the board. Why the change to 296 was undone is still a mystery.

Edit: Oh yeah. The Kraahkan from 03 is 149 like Vorahk’s part.

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Thanks for the insight!

You’re right! I forgot about that. I know the movie edition is regular black but I am not sure about 2008 Icarax variants. I presume those are regular black too?

Just to be clear the purple and violet variants outside of Pakari are only predicted to exist at this point. We don’t have physical examples yet. But just like with all of the predicted colors, there is hope - light blue Kakama was also only predicted, but was discovered few months ago.

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I had noticed that before, but it seems more likely that it was just a case of the brown mask getting lost while transporting the display. It seems odd that they would only replace one of the six colours. Besides, even if they did decide to only replace the brown one, it would be tan, rather than the light gray one shown in the image.

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True, but the same brown Matatu is replaced by light grey one in both independent displays. That seems odd for a coincidence.

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Yeah, it’s only the standard one from 03.

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What’s the second display? I’ve only seen images of the Windsor one.

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You can find the second one here (both are there actually).

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Thanks, I don’t know how I missed that.

Now that I’ve seen that, I think you’re right about there being something up with the brown Matatu. I still don’t think it was an issue of catching that one first, though. If that was the case, wouldn’t there be a tan Matatu instead?

Besides, we already know that they were aware of the issue before shipping out the displays; that’s why the other four Noble mask sets are Noble-coloured. They clearly knew about the colour change but decided to send out the miscoloured masks anyways, which should have included the brown Matatu. This seems instead like they didn’t have any brown Matatu for some reason. I can’t imagine why that would be, though.

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