Photo of Hewkii standing proudly, wearing a copper Huna mask. Behind him, Pohatu wearing his golden mask stands looking in surprise.


become an undisputed kolhii champion with this one weird trick

The recently published draft of the bionicle story bible has reinforced what many folks had already surmised – the story team didn't really know the best way to squeeze the chase metallic masks into the planned story for 2001. There is a lot that could be said about gold and silver, but we’re not here to talk about pokemon (am I right folks????). But seriously, today I want to talk about copper, and there isn’t a pokemon game called that yet.

As the 3rd place metal, copper was afforded a less-prominent place than the silver and gold masks. The story for it was only slightly more consistent than the other two, though. By my estimation, the earliest lore sources seem to be to be the european packets the masks were distributed in. I haven’t had luck finding exact dates on when these came about. The english fansites of the day, when they began to form in the summer of 01, took the existence of the copper masks for granted. xtian’s Bionicle Corner was based out of germany, and xtian added the copper masks to his chart somewhere between April 22 and July 22, where they are labeled as being from “LLB” (legoland Billund). So we are probably looking at a May/June/July distribution for the "Special Masks!" 2-pack given out at legoland Billund and Windsor:

Back of the card in the Special Masks packet. It reads 'The copper masks Kanohi Huna and Kanohi Komau are only to be found in Mata Nui's dark underground caves and tunnels. The special material gives the masks an extra boost to their powers. It takes more time for the wearer to master them, but they will be all the more effective.

Copper has to be less powerful than silver and gold, so it logically followed that unlike those hallowed masks, which combine multiple powers into one, copper is still just a single power – just a more jacked version you can impress your friends on the playground with. Similar to the bible-stage descriptions of gold and silver, these copper masks are just out hidden somewhere underground, maybe in/adjacent to the robot's brain – presumably for the Toa to collect and use.

Now for the other EU packet. xtian certainly would have known if this German Nestle promo with the copper Huna was being distributed at that time of his mask chart. Since it isn’t mentioned on there, it must have come out later in the year. I’d say it’s a fair bet it coincided with the England/France/(possibly elsewhere too) equivalent Nestle promo w/ CD-ROM. That was in September, which inconveniently puts it chronologically *after* other things I’m nonetheless placing *later* in my Official Copper Mask Timeline. I can only shrug my shoulders and say ‘maybe the Germans forgot to update their ad copy’. It’s undeniably based on something at least similar to the Billund packet:

German mask description in the pamphlet, transcribed below.

Click the image to download a full PDF of the insert

Copper Mask

"Legends tell of a rare copper mask that is many times stronger, but difficult to master. The copper mask was thought to be lost. The few that exist are hidden in the Nestle promotional packs."

The opening page of the leaflet poses this question to us, reinforcing that the copper masks (or mask, singular?) were for the Toa:

"Each Toa must search for all 12 Kanohi in their color. Will they also find the rare copper mask?"

(Here’s a secret tip for the emily ARG – this is actually the reason I’m writing this article. There weren’t scans online yet of this pamphlet that came with the mask. enjoyyy and thank you to Jalaguy and Wolk for prodding me to do this)

Next we need to hop over to the United States, where we find that the story has suddenly changed. Around August, Toys R Us begins giving away its first poster: a mask collecting chart that identifies our copper Huna as a Copper Mask of Victory. Victory, huh? Like the victory the Toa will feel upon finding it? That’s probably it.

The follow-up event on and around September 8 was when TRU actually gave out the copper Huna, alongside their lovely full-size map of Mata Nui poster. Baby emily got very lucky with a rare TRU visit around that time, and walked away with both by complete chance :’)

Poster close-up on the Copper Mask of Victory.

Image from Purple Dave's linked article

About a month later, at the start of October, the bionicle AGB game hit the shelves. It probably reinforced my theory that the toa felt great victory finding these mas- hey wait

Screenshots from the AGB game. And NPC tells the player 'If you win all the village games, you get the Copper Mask!'

Based on the evidence we have, I think the story team found a way to slide a story role for the copper masks into the AGB game, and rewrote the masks to suit that. Interestingly, its also referred to as a singular mask here! As highlighted by Boxturret when we were talking about this, the copper mask as it appears in the game is conspicuously not a Huna or Komau. Also, it isn’t even fucking copper. It’s gold. What are the odds they changed the text but didn’t have time to change the sprite?

Screenshots from the AGB game. And NPC tells the player 'If you win all the village games, you get the Copper Mask!'

Screenshot by Pranciblad. The 'copper' mask is at the center-top of the inventory, and just appears there without fanfare if you win all the minigames

Anyway. If you didn’t happen to pick up the game, comic 3 in November was here to save you with a final, definitive explanation of the power of copper:

Copper Mask description in comic 3. It reads 'This ceremonial mask is awarded to the champion in village games. As such, it is highly prized by all the islanders of Mata Nui. In an effort to crush the morale of those who resist his power, Makuta has ordered his Rahi to gather the copper masks and conceal them. No one is quite sure where they can be found!'

The addition of Makuta stealing the masks from the villages is so funny to me btw. Why did Makuta make his animals organize a smash-and-grab operation to ‘crush morale’???? If you got your dudes into the village, they could probably do a lot better by just fucking shit up.

The Po-Koro chapter of MNOG came out in May, so it was too early for Templar to know to put a copper mask in Hewkii’s hut. But even if they had known, would they have done it? There's apparently only one copper mask, and it's a prize for winning every sport. Hewkii is only a Kolhii champion... Takua is the true jock of the island. This was only revised in 2003, when Hewkii (and Hafu lol) are announced as copper mask winners in the opening Kolhii match of Mask of Light. (edit: ok yeah comic 3 also refers to them in plural but please let me have this, its funny)

Takua stands trimphant with his copper mask, over the despondent Hewkii.

To close, here’s a comic I made in 2011 riffing on this whole deal. I don’t think I ever put it online but I’m not totally sure.

In this four-panel comic, Hewkii claims his copper huna has invisibility powers. Hafu says that's stupid and non-canon, and in response Hewkii makes Hafu invisible. 'Another Huki original,' moans Hafu.
Footer. An old Bionicle mask, eaten away by fungi and molds.