If Bionicle were to come back (big if), it might not be as a G3 with a similar demographic to Ninjago or Monkie Kid, but as an adult-oriented theme, with fewer, larger sets commanding heftier price tags, and more focus on G1 nostalgia than new story. I was inspired to talk about this by the unconfirmed Bionicle 2025 leaks (which I’m skeptical of), but I have nothing in particular to contribute to that discussion.
My thinking is that the core thematic elements of Bionicle, such as action, mystical fantasy, science fiction, and mystery, could be delivered by an all-new IP. The advantage of reviving Bionicle instead is largely nostalgia. Nostalgia is huge and can’t be understated in today’s media landscape, but few children today remember Bionicle G1, and I’m not sure G2 has a particularly devoted fanbase. On the other hand, Bionicle is extremely difficult to distill conceptually, making it tricky to market. G1 managed to sidestep this issue with an effective multimedia marketing campaign, but IMO, some serious luck was involved and this could have easily gone much worse. G2, I think, was not as successful.
On the other hand, Lego is increasingly courting adult fans and offering them more than ever. Many of these sets are highly nostalgia-driven and can be quite large. I suspect their business model relies on selling a smaller number of expensive sets to a select market of highly devoted people. If I remember right, the results of Lego’s 90th anniversary poll show that Bionicle beat every other theme when space and castle subthemes were pitted against each other, and still scored highly when they weren’t. While Bionicle and its fans are sometimes met with suspicion by the larger AFoL community, there is clearly a significant population of adult Bionicle fans.
In fact, the recent Tahu GWP could be seen as evidence toward this, if we suppose Lego was testing the waters. It was packed with references to 2001, and had a high initial purchase threshold to obtain.
I can’t say with certainty what adult Bionicle would look like. It would likely be system-based, as constraction pieces would likely not be revived for display-oriented sets. Lego Ideas Bionicle projects give us some possible approaches (e.g. Sokoda’s or yannickbuildsthings’). Or maybe it could be something like The Mighty Bowser set but with shadow titan Makuta. Or a wall-hanging art set picturing the island of Mata Nui.
Of course, it’s also possible to take a blended approach. New Bionicle could mix smaller, cheaper sets with more play features and more expensive display sets, not unlike the current Indiana Jones wave, or how Ninjago periodically releases massive Ninjago City sets.
Do I believe any of this will happen? Not entirely, but maybe I’ve been burned too many times. Still, I’d like to hear your thoughts.