Am I A Hypocrite For Liking Bionicle?

Ever since the images for the Super Mario Lego theme were revealed, I’ve been riding the bandwagon of disappointment. I’ve been hating on Lego for not giving us actual Mario minifigures and instead creating some weird new electronic, blocky Mario figure. Ugh.

But tonight, when I was at work, I realized something: this is just like Bionicle.

Okay, hear me out. Yes, I love Bionicle as much as anyone on these message boards does. But not everyone in the Lego community shares our opinions. Many AFOLs have trashed Bionicle for not being a traditional System theme, and when Bionicle did have System themes, they weren’t received so well. Of course, Bionicle fans (myself included) have defended their franchise by saying that Bionicle was a unique form of Lego, and it still retained the features of building, rebuilding, and MOCing that normal Lego did. Yes, action figures with ball joints were different, but it was Lego experimenting and trying something new. Even if Bionicle hadn’t saved Lego from bankruptcy, it would still be their way of branching out and trying a new form of toy-making.

Now, this Super Mario theme seems to be a new system: a bunch of sets linking together to form some kind of electronic board game. Very different from the Lego we’re used to. Lego’s been teasing this for months, what with the new theme codenamed “Leaf.” And now here we are, trashing it for not being like normal Lego.

But how does this make us any better than the majority of AFOLs that diss on Bionicle? I mean, I don’t like the teaser for Lego Super Mario Bros any more than you do, but at its core, this theme is Lego trying something new-just like they did with Bionicle. That in and of itself isn’t a bad thing. But then there’s still the fact that I was okay with Bionicle being an experiment, and I’m not okay with Super Mario doing the same thing. I dunno, what do you guys think?


The crucial difference between Mario and bionicle is that Mario is a preestablished theme. Many people like Mario, like Lego, and would like to see a normal Lego adaption of Mario – and that’s not what we’re getting, it would seem.

Bionicle was not preestablished. Bionicle was a new thing, and could do whatever it wanted. Until 2005, when it tried to branch into system, and just like with Mario, the sets were different and thus poorly received.

Disliking bionicle and disliking Mario aren’t equivalent, for a simple reason: if you don’t like bionicle because it’s not “normal lego”, you can just ignore it (especially since its dead); there are plenty of other “nomal lego” themes. if you dislike Mario for not being “normal Lego” Mario, there are no other " normal Lego" Mario themes, at least right now.

And even disregarding all that: similar though Bionicle and Lego Mario may be, they are very different ideas. You’re allowed to dislike one and like the other. Sure, it would be hypocritical to say “it’s bad because it’s not normal Lego, but bionicle is fine not being normal Lego”, but it’s fine to say " I like what bionicle did, but don’t like what Mario is doing."


Bionicle had a rich story and an interesting concept of technic-based buildable action figures, Lego built this up over a long time. I think it’s different from a system-based boardgame style set, you can like Bionicle and not like the Mario sets without being a hypocrite in my opinion.


This is how I see it:

LEGO isn’t beholden to what fans want. I’m sure a lot of people would love to have “normal” LEGO Mario sets, but TLG is under no obligation to deliver on our expectations.

Licenced LEGO themes, in my observation, tend to be pretty representative of the source material. A lot of the Star Wars appeal is from the characters and the space ships. What does LEGO Star Wars focus on? Tons of minifigures and re-releases of space ships. Minecraft is a free-form game about building. LEGO Minecraft gives you a lot of modular pieces in the same blocky style so you can do much the same. Overwatch’s main appeal is its characters, hence why LEGO Overwatch if pretty focused on the minifigures and larger buildable figures.

By licencing these brands, LEGO does have somewhat of an obligation to represent the brand they’re making toys for. I’m sure Nintendo’s marketing teams were highly involved with the development of the LEGO line, and with Mario being the face of Nintendo and indeed all of video games I’m sure it was a joint decision to try and separate the LEGO Mario line from the traditional LEGO system and actually incorporate some of the character’s appeal as a video game character into the sets.

The Mario franchise isn’t particularly about the characters, they’re actually rather one-note and unassuming. The core appeal of Mario is that he is Mr. Video Game, so to help the sets go above and beyond a traditional LEGO set, they added some electronics to it.

In my opinion, the sets look really cool. I think people are getting way too up in arms about it not being “regular” LEGO. If you think about it too, what even is “regular” LEGO. LEGO has been and done so many different things in their insanely long history, System sets are simply the most well-known. People need to stop being gatekeepers of “the one true LEGO” and maybe actually judge the toys on their own merits instead of getting upset that their toy uses a couple 1s and 0s.


Here’s my take. Since Bionicles was created by Lego itself and not a licensed theme, nobody loved it before it came out. So as such, if you didn’t like it you could ignore just as @Racie02 said. With the Mario series people who don’t like it can’t really just ignore it. They’re going to see it all the time. For people who didn’t like Bionicle because it wasn’t system based, they got Ninjago. Ninjago was created by Lego and has a decent amount of similarities to Bionicle, but it’s system. But those who are disappointed by the Mario series most likely will not get a second chance. Lego probably won’t redo this for at least quite awhile. For Mario fans this was their one shot at a cool Lego toy line for a series they adore and when it didn’t necessarily turn out as they had hoped it was kinda crushing.

At the end of the day Lego is marketing this to kids.


What’s interesting is that Nintendo wanted traditional Lego sets, but Lego wanted to do this new real-life-video-game system.


Source for this?

Regardless, my point stands. LEGO isn’t beholden to fan expectations, nor should we be gatekeeping.

1 Like

It was an interview with the designer. I saw it here:

Also, I never said Lego has to do what the fans what. But only time will tell how the Super Mario sets sell and whether that’ll affect Lego’s future decisions.


This individual set? Not really. It’s got a rather shallow gimmick that doesn’t do much to innovate on the concept of Lego or open new venues for future sets and themes. Bionicle pioneered story direction in relation to set design and explored new ways of being Lego, even if it wasn’t the start of constraction. The Mario set just doesn’t do that, essentially being a board game with an electronic block that doesn’t really add much.

It could have been really good without being so one-dimensional and gimmicky if it were a little more like Mindstorms, where Mario and/or other parts of the set could be programmed for more versatile functions. However, to my knowledge, all you get to do is change the sounds and faces Mario makes. A theme based on a platformer is a goldmine of potential, but Lego’s not tapping into it. The “electronic board game” should be a fantastic new direction for Lego by all means–this just ain’t it, chief.

In short: you’re only a hypocrite if your problem is that it’s new and different rather than that it’s shallow and poorly-executed. We already have electronics integrated with Lego, but Mindstorms capitalizes on being Lego whereas this just sticks a generic electronic toy in a Lego set. Constraction approached the concept of Lego in a different way with a different goal; Mario doesn’t consider the fact that it’s Lego. There’s boomerism and then there’s legitimate critique, and there’s definitely room for the latter here.

Now, if Lego improves on the concept going forward and makes use of this tech in an interesting way, we can talk about hypocrisy then. I personally hope that Lego does more interesting stuff with video games going forward than just giving up, and technology might just be the way to seek that end–but a talking block of plastic won’t do a whole lot in that department. lego for honor when?


You’re not a hypocryt for not like a particular line. A lot of people still like transformers despite the early toy problems of RID and cyberverse. You don’t have to like everything that’s under the same toy name.


To be honest with you, this new Mario thing feels like those Lego Games that came out ten years ago. Except this time, it’s got electronics. But there are two problems: one, those Lego board games didn’t sell very well, and two, it was said that the course shown in the teaser was comprised of a bunch of different sets. So the “starter pack” that comes with the Mario figure is gonna feel REALLY watered down.

I’m a little unsure about that. If the official announcements are anything to go by, then the Mario theme will consist of a bunch of add-on packs that you can combine to create your own course. Heck, you could even MOC your own add-on to the course. So there might be some degree of creative potential here.

Well, funny enough, that theme lasted for 5 years, so I think it’s safe to assume that they actually sold quite well.

Except half those sets weren’t even released in the US. And after a year or two, I kind of forgot the theme even existed.

That’s because the theme was primarily marketed toward Europe… where it had pretty decent sales.

1 Like

I do not think that disliking the new Mario theme is hypocritical if you like Bionicle. Regardless of the disappointment of no real Mario mini figure, this new “board game” seems to me at least, to be contrary to the purpose of Lego. One thing that seems to have harmed Lego, is its over production of specialized pieces, for example, back in 2009 was the release of the rock-monsters for the “Power Miners” line, these mini figures were unique because not many specialized molds had been made for new types of figures.

But now these kinds of figures are now unimpressive, the release of the goblins from “Nexo Knights” and other things have made them less special. As argued in previous posts, Bionicle was completely original and also had a slew of new parts produced, but it wasn’t what I would call canned entertainment. Through web games and comics, Bionicle created a world for the toys to play in, but unlike the new Mario game, it didn’t explore the world for you.

I would call this new Mario theme “canned entertainment”

When you create a device to explore a creative world instead of the inquisitive mind of a child, you can compromise the child’s mind, expecting digital devices, rather than come up with solutions on their own. Based on the trailer released for this new game, it looks like Mario is having all of the fun instead of the kids. The original Mario games required patience, accuracy, and perseverance, whereas this new board game just requires you pick him up and set him down, it is a simple, and non-challenging game.

When you tap into the creativity of the human mind, you make real experiences, rather than just watching TV or playing a video game. The purpose of Lego should be to ground us back in reality, forcing us to use our hands and minds to create and invent, Lego should not just be another host body for a digital world.


I can’t believe I didn’t see this problem with Mario before. Now I realize that it’s even more flawed than I originally thought.


I’m still waiting for the release to make my assessment of it - I must admit I found the trailer slightly charming (if also exceedingly weird). I loved how they ended with lego bricks clicking to the Mario theme, in particular.

But I think the people who have brought up the difference between not liking different because its different or a “threat” to true lego or something is not the same as not liking different because you kinda do like it but wanted it to be done better and are disappointed.

The people who didn’t like Bionicle wanted it gone - they didn’t care if they also had their system sets too (for the most part - not trying to generalize or make sterotypes of the pre-Bionicle AFOL community or anything). But I imagine that if we got system Mario and this brick-built one we’d all be kinda chill with it existing - it’s just that this kinda suggests that will never happen.

In other words, it’s disappointment - as opposed to bias or prejudice. I still commend you for being brave enough (and self-reflective enough) to ask the question - but you’re all good. :wink: