Bionicle In System, With A Twist

There’s been lots of back-and-forth on what sort of form Bionicle should take, in the admittedly rather unlikely event that it got another reboot. Some feel that it started as Constraction and so should stay Constraction-based, while others have opined that being formatted as a more traditional System theme would give it a better chance to survive or even thrive. There are good points for and against both, (Constraction is unprofitable and dead, risk of competing against Ninjago, etc.) and talented people like @Sokoda have proven the concept can at the very least work from a building standpoint, but I wanted to discuss the possibility of a third option.

System with Minifigs is definitely a valid direction to go in for a reboot, but more and more I’ve been looking at the kinds of mechs coming out of Ninjago at the moment and in upcoming lines, and thinking Mixel-based ‘constraction’ may just be the best of both worlds. It’s still built with system, so a vast catalogue of pieces is already available to pull from; CCBS was a promising system but the strong aesthetic homogenization meant that there was a certain degree of limitation to how custom you could really get with it. The smaller scale is more manageable, yet still more customizable and character-oriented than just Minifigs would be. Buildings could also theoretically still be a viable feature in larger sets; nothing enormous admittedly, just due to the scale involved, but still a valid possibility unlike with the classic Technic or CCBS figures; I imagine Mixel-based Toa would probably end up around the same height as the Slizers of yore, so non-character constructs are still viable. And hopefully, this downshift would make the prices more accessible; I could see individual Toa selling for somewhere between ten and fifteen dollars, even in today’s economy. Not amazing, but still somewhat more doable than G2’s $20 monsters, and with a better price-to-part ratio too. And again, unlike a straightforward minifig-based theme, it has at least somewhat less risk of having to compete against other traditional themes. The mixel joints are already well-established by now, so I think only a few new molds (new heads and masks better suited to the new scale, perhaps?) would be needed at first, since nearly everything else could be done with system. NOT TO MENTION that gear functions could still be included via the small tan half-gears and friction gears, so that would be something carried forward from the old, and would set the line apart from mechs and the like, since the room usually reserved for a minifig pilot would instead go to action features or mid-torso articulation or other neat things.

However, even if all that were to come to pass, that doesn’t answer every question. Regardless of how well or poorly the story end of things could work, from a set perspective is it a worthwhile option? Would you as a Bionicle fan accept this change? Do you think the fandom as a whole could adapt, or would it be a bridge too far? And most importantly of all, do you think it could catch on with kids, or would it still just flop like Technic/CCBS Constraction has?

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And for the record, I don’t mean to act like I’m somehow the first or only one to think of using Mixel construction for Bionicle, I have seen a fair few MOCs that do exactly that. Rather, I wanted to connect that concept with the ongoing talk about Brickonicle as a possibility, and go over the various reasons I think it could work as an alternative to both Constraction as we know it, and traditional minifig themes as much of the discussion has revolved around thus far.

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I think it’s a solid concept, and with how common mechs are in current system sets (chiefly, as you mentioned, Ninjago), it would hardly be a big pill for most kids to swallow. It would be far less alien to them than CCBS, at the very least.

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I personally think it could work, as long as there are still new parts for things like the masks or weapons. My problem though, is that the sets would be a bit too small and won’t get bigger than a Slizer or Toa Mata at most. If those sets would be purely made out of system without any CCBS-compatible parts, than they probably won’t be of much use to me, a primarily Constraction MOCer. But, having built several Bionicle MOCs using Mixel joints myself, I can say that they seem to blend together quite well.
I would much rather have CCBS, but if this is the only option, I guess you can count me in.
But, CCBS may not be as dead as we might tend to think. A few of the parts are still currently in use (in Ninjago, for the most part) with even a few new ones being added
occasionally. A new “big bang” LEGO theme is also going to be released this summer, and who knows? Maybe it will come as a pleasant surprise for us Bionicle fans.

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while I like the idea… it still doesn’t feel like Bionicle. it was Meant to be a Technic Constraction theme and that only. so this still wouldn’t work.
also[quote=“ColdGoldLazarus, post:1, topic:50933”]
Constraction is unprofitable and dead
[/quote]

I’m sorry but this kills it for me.

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Yeah, hopefully it would hit a sweet spot of being familiar enough to actually sell, while still having a distinct niche in Lego’s product that would be interesting and distinct enough to buy. I feel like Nexo Knights and Chima, while the comparative quality of their shows was a factor, also didn’t do as well at least in part because of too much overlap with Ninjago, regardless of their distinct aesthetics and great set design, to kids it probably looks like two collections of similar colorful vehicles and action playsets.

Of course, Mixel Constraction risks failing anyway if kids just aren’t into action figures as a general concept anymore, but I also feel like there were a number of other possible reasons HF and Bionicle G2 wound up being so evidently alienating, so basing it in a more familiar and better-developed system just might be able to bridge that gap. Hard to say, really, without Lego actually trying it out.

Ooh, you have my attention. I doubt it’s Bionicle, but I’m definitely interested in a new theme. Is there a discussion thread for it yet, and if so where can I find it? Or leaks, lol

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Here ya go.

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I’ve said this several time before and I will say it again: Constraction didn’t fail because kids don’t care about it anymore… It failed because of the bad direction LEGO took it into. I can’t speak about G2, since the real reasons it was canceled are still showered in mystery, with LEGO telling us that it’s cancelation wasn’t attributed to lack of product sales. (Whether that’s true or not though, it’s hard to say). But I can speak about the Star Wars ultra builds. LEGO made a really stupid desicision when they created those things. Sure, the troopers and characters with helmets worked, but the human characters with those horrific head molds? No wander nobody wanted them. In fact, a local toy store still has the Star Wars Rogue One Ultrabuilds from 2016… but only the characters with human faces.
And when LEGO saw how badly the Star Wars Ultrabuilds were selling, they just thought to themselves “People don’t seem to care about Constraction, despite the fact that it’s based on one of our best selling themes, so screw it”. And with that, they just gave up on it.

This is a pretty embarrassing way of ending Constraction. Again, the problem wasn’t the kid’s lack of interest… It was with the direction LEGO took it into.
I still firmly believe that Constraction can be successful if done right. And I think the best way to revive Constraction isn’t to reboot Bionicle (that didn’t seem to work that well), but create an entirely new Constraction theme. Something completely new, which we have never seen before. Constraction has so much potential in terms of both stories and sets, and what LEGO did with it barely even scratched the surface.
So to conclude, I don’t think the problem is the kid’s lack of interest. It was that LEGO took it into a bad direction and then they gave up on it way to easily.

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I’ve talked at length in the past about how system constraction would be the perfect way of getting constraction out to an audience unfamiliar with CCBS or technic. I think mixel-scale is very appropriate, and it still leaves the possibility of mega-builds open (effectively serving the same role titans did for G1).

I’d be all for that, though I’m personally of the opinion that LEGO should never touch BIONICLE again, so I’d rather see this concept put into reality with something altogether new rather than a BIONICLE G3.

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Hmm… What if instead of making Constraction sets with Mixel joints, how about making them using ratchet joints, like Knight’s Kingdom 2?

Those sets were system-based, yet they also had a lot of Bionicle-compatible parts. I think this would be a good way to appeal to both system and Bionicle fans.

Ehh… perhaps. Hopefully not something as specialized as knight’s kingdom though.

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Well, you can’t really have constraction without specialized pieces…

That’s part of why any bionicle reboot (or just constraction) is always gonna feel a little lacking in the peice department. For g1, from all the sources I’ve heard, the designers were basically given a blank check for new pieces. That’s why every year, we got something loke, 30-40 new molds. I bet lego gave a sigh of relief when they standardized to the inika build. Lego won’t do that again. Lego isn’t in their wild, experimental stage anymore, like they were in the early 2000’s.

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Obviously there are going to be specialized pieces, but mechs have clearly displayed that you can have a perfectly solid humanoid build made from system pieces. It’s the specialized pieces that drive up the price per part ratio and scare away potential new customers in the first place, surely the logical thing to do would be to cut that down as much as possible?

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Well too bad. I’d much rather have them experiment with new things rather than just play it safe as they do now.

Specialized parts doesn’t always mean bigger prices. Just look at Bionicle G1: The entire line was centered around specialized pieces, yet they still managed to make the sets affordable enough for anyone to buy.

We have no guarantees that the early G1 sets (which featured copious amounts of specialized pieces) were a wise investment. Given how deregulated LEGO’s production pipeline was in the late 90s/early 2000s (as detailed in David Robertson’s Brick by Brick), it would not surprise me if early G1’s production budget was way beyond what modern LEGO manufacturing regulations would allow.

If the Toa Mata were allowed to be produced today (despite their specialized pieces), I hypothesize LEGO would have to price them much higher than 7$ USD in order to safely recover their costs.

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Well yes, but they did pretty much the same thing in the 2010’s with the first Hero Factory waves, the 1.0 and 2.0 Heroes costing just 1$ more than the Toa Mata. Granted, if they were produced today, they will probably be even more expensive, but don’t think they would be more than 10$ at most.

The 1.0’s and 2.0’s were also super bare bones. The 1.0’s were glorified Av-Matoran builds and 2.0 was the unborn fetus stage of CCBS. Compared to now, they’re utterly laughable.

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But then again, the Toa Mata had their own issues as well… with the lack of articulation probably being a highlight. In that aspect, the 2.0 Heroes were a lot better.
Objectively speaking, I don’t think you can say the Toa Mata are better than the 1.0 and 2.0 Heroes.

Well, not the Toa Mata. I’d say the Mata have more appeal than 1.0, but that’s more an opinion, they’re probably about on par with each other, with the slight lack of articulation compared to their 1.0 hero counterparts being evened out by the gear function. And in pure function 2.0 is superior. Though as far as I recall, most of the Toa sets stayed around the $7 mark anyway, even as they became better articulated.

Let’s also not forget that there was a reason for the introduction of the CCBS system: standardization of pieces. As more of them would be reused more often, often in the same colours, they would be more cost effective than constantly shovelling out new pieces every year at the same rate that G1 did. With those more specialized and less used pieces, that would drive up the Mata’s price today.

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