Wow this kinda blew up overnight didn't it? There's a lot to unpack here so If I missed you... do you really want a response that bad?
My opinion very much stems from my knowledge of this point. Growing up, every theme had a "story." But I wasn't buying into the story like I did with Bionicle, I was buying into the sets themselves.
I suppose my phrasing may have been off in that regard - Lego lines have had some form of story more often than not that progresses the line along, but I seem to be coming across more and more people who think that Lego needs to have a Bionicle-esque storyline for every single toy line they produce.
(I will also admit that this is perhaps a symptom of Echo Chambering as well)
As someone who got more into the story of Bionicle than the sets (There are a bunch of years where I only have one or two sets from that entire year) my enjoyment has always been predicated on "what can I do with this."
My love of Bionicle was never that is was a great building system (though it was) or that the story was transcendentally amazing (it's not) but I loved the opportunity it created to have just crazy spin offs happen.
I was a fanfic writer for years. "Finish Forsaken" isn't Meso ribbing me for not playing enough Destiny, and I would much rather have a barebones story where, through building the sets and such, I can develop a story of my own. Full Disclosure, I only collect a select few sets nowadays, and most of my recent purchases haven't even been Lego (Halo MegaBloks FTW) but my mentality has remained the same. So basically what @Sabretooth said.
@PakariNation99 You make excellent points as always. I admit fully that there may be a certain amount of "Echo Chambering" occurring with this in regards to the boards, but it certainly feels like something that's become more of a thing overall.
@Tarkur You're not wrong, the shift in how financials were tracked certainly contributed to the restructuring of Lego's themes (Which were, up until that point, literally "Themes" in the sense that you had Castles, or Cowboys and Indians, or Mars). But I think the issue is that packaging a story into your theme should not automatically be the standard. Architecture is a great theme that I wish I had the money and/or space to collect. City is the same. A Themes story should excite the mind and fuel creativity to create your own adventures with the sets - NOT be the main draw to the theme. At least in my opinion. I don't disagree with anything you've said but, as stated earlier, I feel like there are certainly those who miss the creative aspect of Lego entirely.
@Ghid I'm gonna level with you - you and I rarely see eye to eye just in passing, but I entirely agree. And I will concede the point about Bonk saving Lego being less a statement of fact and more a shorthand for what actually happened that is, more or less, generally recognized.
Is building not, by definition, playing? Is MoC'ing not playing? I would argue that as people mature their "type" of play certainly changed, but I wouldn't say they aren't playing. And as stated, those giant sets are intended for collectors. That's why they come with display stands and cost multiple hundreds of dollars. If you're the kid who gets a display level Lego set and plays with it, then you either have the patience of a saint or someone else built it for you. No different than how you can buy a 20 dollar lightsaber from Toys R' Us (Still exists in Canada ;D) or a 500 dollar one meant for sparring/display from SabreForge. Same thing, different purpose.
@Styrofoam You make excellent points. I cannot and will not deny that having a good story increases sales, that's just a point of fact. I suppose my main intent with this topic was to see where that fact (because yes, it is a fact) started becoming a negative against themes that lacked it instead of a positive for the themes that do. In my mind, a few themes with well crafted storylines is a net positive as opposed to trying to get that with every theme and having the quality suffer. Maybe I'm just old... god knows I feel it.
I will admit that my phrasing of a few things was less than ideal and I wasn't entirely awake, but I have to thank you specifically for replying and actually pointing out things where my wording didn't convey my point. In terms of the "Obsession," I understand that having story based themes is the natural progression, and in fact I encourage it. Twould be quite hypocritical of me not to, but I suppose in the same was that I as a G1 Bonk fan could never get the appeal of G2, I can't understand why there seems to be this mentality of "Story above all else." Lego should continue to make excellent and engaging stories, but I don't think they should for every single theme and I suppose that's where my wording missed a critical point of context.
I agree with everything here. And yes, themes are a convention and not much more, but the original basis for calling them themes is that they were quite literally just that, themes. Castle, Space, Racing... etc.
I actually fit in the camp of not enjoying storyless themes. In anything. Needs a story to make me want to pay any money towards it, and Admittedly I am in the sect of "ancient" lego fans now seeing as even all I remember is the tail end of the storyless era. I remember Lego Adventures (Thanks Likus) ending and being super sad that I wouldn't be able to have any more Tomb Raiding Indiana Jonesing sets (in fact, I only ever got one. Johnny Thunder is tucked away in a bin somewhere with a display plate alongside the Chief from Rock Raiders). I have just as much if not more nostalgia for a lot of Themes than most people on the boards because Bionicle was my focus, but I still paid attention to everything else Lego was putting out.
I suppose my confusion/interest, as stated earlier, stems from a combination of being older and remembering those days as opposed to nowadays, and wondering why not having a ninjago level story has become a negative. I loved Bionicle because there were always gaps in the timeline where you could still explore what someone may have done without the official story telling you what happened. It's part of why I have vehemently opposed the casual canonization of every random idea that gets thrown around. I enjoyed having a springboard for my own crazy ideas, and always felt that was the point of Lego.
As I said, I admit that my phrasing of some things was less than ideal, hopefully that clears up some!
I remember the first Lego set I ever got.
It was a Gali. But before that, I went to my best friends at the time (Now stepbrother, long story) house and played with the Lego Millenium Falcon and Tie Fighter. Both had just come out the year before, so I was about 4-5 years old. My next "real" lego set after the earlier mentioned Adventures one? The Hailfire Droid.
The big one. The Original Technic One.
You're right that there's a big difference between when the story existed for decades as opposed to Lego making their own: It already has a fanbase.
I honestly doubt I would've ever gotten into Lego past Bionicle if it weren't for Lego Starwars, because the combination of Star Wars universe and Lego's playability meant that the stories and things that I had been imagining in my head could be acted out. I had lightsabers, I had blasters, I had all manner of Star Wars paraphernalia, but the ones I enjoyed playing with the most and always wanted were the Star Wars sets. To claim that Star Wars isn't a story driven theme when, really, the only thing driving it is the story, is a bit pedantic don't you think?
Also, as a brief aside to your "Seeing all these lines you loved disappear" line: . A lot of themes have ended (feels like far more ended between 01 and 10 than in the last 8 years but I'm almost certainly wrong about that and don't feel like doing the math), including Bionicle. I grew up with that Theme. Most of my friends now would never have been my friends without it. I'm not going to discount the disappointment of having someone you love come to an end, but it's certainly something you have to learn to deal with. Things end.
Now to be clear, no one is criticizing anyone for having an opinion. No one's criticizing anyone for missing something. However, I will just say that when it seems to be all you can talk about there comes a point where people stop sympathizing.
Phew. That was long. Very long. Can you believe I spent over an hour, right after getting home from work, typing all that out? Jeez. Too much guys.
I think that sums up pretty clearly what I think, while clearing up some things that I forgot to say or definitely messed up getting across. Hopefully that explains a few things. I suppose calling it an obsession was a poor choice of words, but the truth is that while Lego has evolved and the fanbase has evolved alongside it, I feel like there is an unrealistic expectation for a toy that, in essense, is just building blocks to have some kind of crazy overarching story and explanation for every little detail.
In that sense, maybe Bionicle and Ninjago have spoiled us. Lego is supposed to be a creative toy, primarily, and the mentality of "If the story isn't good or is nonexistant, it isn't worth it" that seems to be cropping up is entirely counter intuitive to that end. If the story isn't up to your standards, fix it
And if you can't fix it with play, start writing, or art of some kind. There are more than enough talented people in the Lego community that there's always opportunity to expand the story or your enjoyment of a theme, and I think that should be more important and more valuable than "But is the story good"