RSG's Stance on Our Custom Parts in Canon Contests
Updated: Mar 7, 2020
We feel it necessary to expand on what was announced late last night on our Discord server, as we wanted to make a timely statement yesterday in order to prevent potential misinformation from spreading. For those who aren’t aware, RSG and TTV have cooperated to disallow the usage of our designs in the upcoming canonization contests. Now that we have the time to do so, we would like to go into more detail about why we made our decision. Before we begin, I want to emphasize that this was a decision made in on good terms between us and TTV. Discussion within RSG itself began as soon as we learned that this contest could be a thing, and continued over the course of a few weeks. Concerns from our end shot up almost immediately, and after talking with TTV, RSG concluded together that we were within our rights to withdraw our designs from usage in the contest. Neither group forced the other to come to a decision, and the choice was ultimately up to RSG. So, to break down the reasons: 1: We don’t want to create the impression that we are using the contest as some kind of attempt to make our take on the unfilled Bionicle canon more legitimate, and the sheer number of masks that we alone have produced wouldn’t help defeat that sentiment. 2: The majority of RSG’s administrative team is of the opinion that custom parts of any kind will hurt the spirit of the contest - and in the long run, hurt the wing of the community who focus solely on 3D printed and custom parts, a wing that has been steadily growing over the course of the last six years, if not longer. Allow me to take you on our train of thought. Tuyet, one of the characters who will be the focus of entries in the contest, wears the Mask of Intangibility. As of right now, there are at least eight masks with that power on Shapeways, by at least four different shops. If someone decided that they wanted to use one of those designs on a Tuyet MOC to enter into the contest, there’s then potentially a higher chance that one of those masks or family of masks (in the case of RSG and Iron Foam Armory) gets made part of the “canon” depiction by Greg. If that happens, then suddenly three or more other modellers face the fact that their mask may no longer be considered legitimate by some of the community (for example, our Noble Mata line of masks faced an initial wave of “but these masks already appeared in 2008” in the cases of the Noble Miru, Kakama, and Akaku) and the newly-minted-canon mask either faces a wave of hatred for spoiling the spirit of the competition, or gets placed on a pedestal (encouraging copycatters).
3: RSG has already dealt with a copycat situation in the past; it was demoralizing to everyone, especially the modeling team. Similarly, Galva is currently facing copies of his work being reposted on Shapeways by shops not run by him. At best, copycats are confusing to those who will take the time to be in-the-know about what they’re buying. At worst, now individual modellers lose out on potential sales and can no longer control the product that they have become known for. The bootleggers that the LEGO Group deals with in China operate on consumers not being in-the-know. And as much as we’d like to place faith in the community, we know not everyone will be aware of the issue. 4: We encourage you to buy masks that you like, for your own personal reasons. As stated before, we don’t want you to feel the need to make your purchasing decision based on what is or isn’t the canon depiction of any mask when it comes to this side of the community. That defeats the whole aim of what 3D printing has enabled us and others to do for years now: utilize their creativity and share what their ideas on an even playing field for what the unfilled parts of the canon could look like. 5: Lastly, we don’t want to contend with the backlash that could come from specific designs being made canon, as we cannot control what product of ours would enter the competition. If someone were to enter the contest with our design for the Great Mask of Intangibility - going back to the Tuyet example - and win, what would stop demands for us to arbitrarily reduce the price of that mask? RSG does not control the majority of the Shapeways pricing; we only add a low markup that we’ve arranged with our designers and modelers, because we want to repay the people who spend their free time working on the art and models for those masks. The only way to potentially lower the price even slightly would be to remove that small markup, which would break our long-standing agreement with the modelers and designers who work with us - a scenario that we as a group find absolutely unacceptable. That same inability to control most of the price goes for every Mask of Intangibility on Shapeways: none of those shops can reduce the price beyond what is the baseline, as that number is determined by Shapeways by the volume of material used and what processes that material would undergo. Additionally, the demand for a lower-cost option of our design could inspire the copycatters. We don’t want this contest to become an opportunity for anyone to try and supplant canon for their own gain (monetary or otherwise), and we’re relieved that that is a sentiment shared by many other 3D modellers, regardless of if they’re disallowing their parts or not. This decision is a way for us to protect ourselves, our work, and most importantly those of our fans and followers who might feel that their purchasing decision was the wrong one in light of a canonization contest happening almost ten years to the day G1 was declared cancelled. I will, again encourage readers to go to the TTV Message Board topic containing the poll for this contest and read through the comments made by me (Jakfan1), Petrus, Swert, KhingK and Dorek. The points brought up haven’t been made in a vacuum and have been a constant fixture in discussions about 3D-printed parts in a contest like this for as long as custom parts have become more accessible.
If you have questions, we are willing to answer them to the best of our ability. We can be contacted through our various social media platforms, including our official Discord server: In The Light of the Red Star.