I came really, really late. 2013. 4 years after Bionicle had ended. I was introduced to it with Ackar in 2011, but I actually started to like it when I got a bag of a few 2008 bonks inside. Sealed Kopaka, sealed Pohatu, and opened, falling apart, incomplete Chirox.
G2 came around a few years later, and I found out via the inside cover of a Lego Club magazine. I wasn’t really interested at all, and used most of G2’s run to build up my G1 collection. I acquired a lot of my G1 sets during this time. At one point I had all the Rahkshi except Kurahk and spent I think 2 months looking for him until I found him.
That’s another thing, availability probably affected my views on the two eras. Despite coming in so late, G1 sets were surprisingly easy to find at car boots. A lot of the time, people would have massive boxes filled to the brim with canisters and titans for around £15. Finding good deals was not hard if you knew where to look.
On the other hand, G2 was pretty much non-existent. The sets were never stocked anywhere, apart from abundant amounts of Korgot and Vizuna. The only way to get them was through Lego itself. I think I ended up with Kopaka, Pohatu and Izotor by the end of 2015. Kopaka was a taster, and I wouldn’t even have tried to buy Pohatu if not for one of BionicleNP’s Brown Poblin skits. The only place I could consistently find sets was an obscure garden centre which only ever stocked a combination of Gali, Mask Maker vs Skull Grinder, Skull Warrrior and Skull Slicer.
Any 2016 sets larger than creatures were never stocked anywhere in my area. I think stores had already lost hope in the theme. Even then, the only creatures stocked were Ikir, Akida and Uxar, so not even the full range. The only 2016 set I ever got at the time was a single Pohatu that I found at the back of a shelf in John Lewis.
It really surprises me how I got in so late, but here we are.