Grainy, compressed scan of a printed 3d render of the Brakas. Details are hard to discern.


the brakas fracas

In 2010, there was a mystery on the BS01 wiki. The Brakas monkey was a creature alluded to in multiple Greg Farshtey books, but it never appeared in any visual media. Despite this, there was a single grainy, blurry image that someone had uploaded to its page. The admins wanted to get a better quality version of the image – but nobody knew where it came from.

At the time, a teenaged Emily was reading through the news archive of Mask of Destiny, and discovered an image of a dragon lizard in a similar style! Purple Dave had reported on it from a Nintendo Power Advance guide covering the GBA game. Excitedly, I shared this discovery on the Brakas talk page on BS01. I was met with skepticism – after all, the monkey doesn’t appear in the game itself. Why would it be in the guide? One person kindly went ahead and bought a copy of the NPA issue in question anyway. And… yes! There he was.

Brakas image alongside other creature bios in Nintendo Power.Brakas in a prototype screenshot of the game itself.

left: brakas en situ. click for scalled full-page scan by joint-dogg (neocities rejects the full scale scan because its giant lmao) // right: prototype screenshot released to the press, depicting a brakas in place of tamaru the Joust reject. click for original resolution.

I got a Helpful Award for my trouble. Regrettably, there wasn’t much more monkey detail to be seen from the source – the render had been printed extremely small. It was discovered that a prototype screenshot of the game also showed our mysterious simian, but the sprite art did little to dispel the mists of confusion. Worse, the description of the creature in Nintendo Power openly mocked us:

Brakas monkeys have strong arms and enjoy pelting passersby. They are extremely rare and difficult to find. If you happen to locate one, be sure to stop and take a picture.

The actual construction of the Brakas model remained ambiguous, but I was nevertheless determined to uncover the truth. Thus began the Brakas Fracas.

My first swing came in 2013 and folks it was a tremendous fucking miss. Be kind to me though. It took me a long time to even realize it was using a regular bionicle head for the face, but at least I got that right!! The rest is pretty off though - it uses a slizer torso for the body, and the proportions are laughably incorrect to the reference images. It took me a while to realize that. Same for everyone else - this design ended up being disseminated a fair bit as a standardized way to build a Brakas irl. I hope someday I can atone for my crimes.

Photo I took of my original design, using a Slizer torso for the body. Fun fact, this photo was taken using the same camera I use for my current photos of bionicles in nature!Animated GIF of a Brakas sprite swapped into the GBA game by replacing the coconut tree.

left: aaaaaaaaaaauuuuuuuughghghghgh. links to my original gallery of instructions for this man. // right: takua harvests coconuts by wiggling a brakas. links to joint-dogg's vid this is from

The spark was reignited by joint-dogg in 2018, when they located the unused sprites for Brakas, left behind in the ROM of the AGB game. Seeing the monkey in motion was a boon to understanding the shapes and proportions of it. In 2020, after joint-dogg gifted us with a full sprite sheet and build iteration on their blog, I was spurred to continue in earnest. I found a solution I felt confident in as far as the proportions and limb placement.

Digital render of the brakas, using a compact body design.Digital render of the brakas, using a compact body design.

obviously i cheesed the head placement in that second pic

...But the body still used parts that weren’t introduced until 2002 – after the Brakas was designed. Almost a year later, TommyGyroid came through with the answer – sockets!!

Tweet from TommyGyroid. It reads 'Maybe instead of the liftarms & axle/pin pieces it's two ball socket pieces attached together? I think that would keep the same shape if protrude out of the top of the Brakas a bit.' End text.A render I made of TommyGyroid's design next to a tiny Brakas sprite from the GBA game.

I felt totally happy with this. Viable parts, and the shape matched the sprites nicely. In fact, I was planning to post my lexicon entry with this design. The day before I went out for the photoshoot last week, though, joint-dogg came through again with another revelation. Could the monkey have had a play function?

I demonstrate the proposal

Using the holes in the socket like this usually isn’t considered kosher for official bionicle designs, and the twisted band is similarly unconventional. That said, I think this goes some way to account for the use of the socket parts in the first place. The position of the arms also looks more accurate to the sprites imo.

Photo of Brakas on a tree stump.Photo of brakas swinging through the trees.

Short of Christoffer Raundahl knocking on my door and hand-delivering me polaroids of the original designs, we may never 100% confidently know this mysterious creature’s construction. The Brakas Fracas may never come to a close. But in the pursuit of monkey knowledge, we must ever persevere. The truth is out there……

Brakas walking through the forest mysteriously, like a bigfoot.
Footer. An old Bionicle mask, eaten away by fungi and molds.