I don't mean for this to sound rude or patronizing, but I love when folks call him "Mr. Greg"
Conceptually, sure; the fandom had some undeniable, rock-solid potential in its early years, and still does. A ton of lore and gracious interaction between creators and the fans will do that.
But on a distinctly popular scale? It's highly unlikely that G1 would have ever reached the mania that accompanies Star Wars, Marvel Comics, Harry Potter, or the like. That's not to say that an unbelievable amount of raving, remixing, and re-examining has occurred and continues to occur in the Bionicle fandom; it's just that some of the fan communities that you mentioned are much, much larger. Think of these examples:
- Allegedly, the premiere of The Phantom Menace in 1999 led to $293 million in lost productivity when over two million people decided to watch the film instead of come to work.
- In the seventy-five years that Superman has been a phenomenon, DC Comics has seen 11 films, 5 television shows, 5 video games, 3 radio shows, and a freaking musical. Six of those on-screen adaptations have begun since Bionicle first hit shelves and the 'net in 2001.
- In the late 1960's, well before the internet or video recording allowed fandoms to thrive as they do today, Marvel Comics sold nine million comic books every month. Today, The Avengers is the fifth highest grossing film of all time with over $1.5 billion at the box office.
In the interest of honesty, I feel like I can say with near complete certainty that, at the moment, the Bionicle fandom doesn't even register on the map. And it had over a decade to do so.
Don't get me wrong: I love Bionicle as much as anyone, perhaps more so. I've been a member of BZPower, the TTV Message Boards, The BioMedia Project, and YouTube as a "biotuber" for several years now. I've worked on Bionicle websites, continuations, and fan projects. I'm writing a Bionicle musical. And yet I don't think that Bionicle is in the right place at the moment to grow anywhere near as large as the franchises that you referred to. To be frank, that's fine by me; sometimes, a smaller fandom that can maintain itself is stronger than the titan-sized ones that lack potential for strongly personable relationships.
I hope that it doesn't seem like I answered a question that had already been resolved perfectly well by Greg, but I have heard this question a lot, and believe me, there have been times when I wished it were so as well.
Glad to hear it. We're not going anywhere any time soon.
Yeah, I really don't think that that's likely to happen, @Jellyflop. To return to the example of the Star Wars community, the tenacity of the die-hard fans to stick to the tale that they loved was incredible. Seriously. Between late 1983, when trilogy bookend Return of the Jedi hit theaters, and early 1991, when Timothy Zahn published the critically acclaimed and emotionally electric Heir to the Empire, there was nearly nothing as far as official Star Wars canon went for over six years. We had to last through July of 2011, when the last chapter of Sahmad's Tale hit BionicleStory.com, through October of 2014, when the revitalized canon saw The Legend premiere for G2 at the NYCC. Further, we lucked out with Greg answering questions on the LMBs and having the file-sharing, video-sharing, mass collaborative applications of the internet at our disposal. The Star Wars community barely had home video.
Barring a major, unpredictable catastrophe, I fully expect that the Bionicle fandom will continue to exist until most of us have families, as well as possibly children of our own.