This is something that I'm personally looking into. BIONICLE fans throw that fact around way too often without understanding the full context. What I do know for certain is that BIONICLE seems to have peeked in popularity between 2001-2005 (based on the marketing materials we were seeing for it at the time). And more importantly, that large popularity (I heard from an inside source at one point that BIONICLE accounted for something like 40% of LEGO's overall profits (or sales, I'll need to go back and clarify which) at a certain time.
This massive success meant that BIONICLE occupied too large a space in LEGO's business portfolio. If this lightning-in-a-bottle-theme was to suddenly die (toy trends are very volatile from what I've heard/read), LEGO would be in serious financial trouble. From what my source told me, that was one of the many reasons LEGO eventually wound BIONICLE down in order to eventually put it to bed in 2010.
Additional side-note: allegedly BIONICLE set designers were given a blank check when it came to new parts budgets. Again, I need to fact-check this, but they were apparently requesting approx. 40 new molds per year (many of them single use).
(thanks @Eljay for the pic)
2005 is an excellent case study in this regard. They introduced an absurd amount of new parts that year. Some of the standouts include:
- 6 new Visorak shells
- 6 new Visorak pincers
- A new Hagah shield
- 6 minifigure Visorak figures (don't get me started on that trainwreck)
- The 6 diecast-style Toa figures
- 2 giant over-sized masks for the System sets
And the Hordika... well, let's take a closer look at the Hordika, shall we?
Each Hordika have a separate head mold (which was to be expected by this point). In addition, they each had very complex dual-molded (using two different types of plastic and two different colors) weapons (only one of which was ever reused in regular retail sets).
But it doesn't stop there. The Hordika's larger frames and new gear function used a new upper arm piece, new lower leg piece and a new back piece that saw very little reuse. What's more, that year's Beyblades-inspired projectile gimmick used a new bulky ripcord piece, a hyper-specialized asymmetric TECHNIC liftarm variant and a new pin mold.
And if all that's not enough? They made a brand new gear mold that they only reused twice.
That's an enormous amount of parts inventory space being taken up by just the Hordika, a single wave of products. Ironically, those sets don't seem to be remembered that fondly by the fandom. I don't have any information on how well they sold, so I can't comment on that.
Apparently it got one. There's allegedly a prominent BIONICLE-centric section of one of the key displays at the LEGO House in Denmark.
It was only seen as "disrespectful" because we as a fandom have a serious problem with letting go of our childhood nostalgia to instead embrace new (and better things).
In fairness, the Hidden Side BIONICLE The Game Easter egg was apparently inserted because the graphic designer who worked on that set's sticker sheet had a hand in/was a fan of that old game.
I recall @toothdominoes mentioning it at some point on his Brickfair panel, but I don't currently have the time to scrub through and find the exact timestamp.
So who is "LEGO itself" in this discussion? The senior management? The entire team in Billund? Just some faceless corporation we can get angry at?
That's kinda ironic considering TLM2's box office and toy sales. But out of curiosity, how do you think they could have done that (assuming the film had actually been a smashing commercial success like the first one)?
Better head over to the Star Wars topic then. I'll meet you there with my Last Jedi/Solo defense essays in hand
(ignore the hilariously dated original post)
Never give up man. If you post your stuff here, I'll read it
Feel free to duke it out over here. I'll bring the popcorn