Exactly how much control did you have?

This is something I’ve been wondering for a while. Just exactly how much control did you have over the Bionicle story?

You have the ability to decide what is and is not canon, practically on a whim, yet something like Vakama turning evil in 2005, you had no say in.

Was there ever a situation where Lego wanted something to go one way, but you were able to influence them to let you do it the way you wanted?

And exactly what limits where there on what you could and could not do in the story?


Good question, because there were a lot of myths about this.

What I was primarily doing for BIONICLE was writing the comics and the books. Anything I did had to get approved by LEGO Company. I couldn’t just do stuff without somebody looking it over first. I was never the “head” of the story team - the marketing lead always ran the story team. And most ideas that came out of those meetings were a combination of notions from multiple people. Because most of the rest of the team was in Billund, I was pretty much the only one in the US office who knew the story, so I would help out if someone here needed to know something.

The one major time I was able to influence something was at the very beginning, because the original notion was that all the Toa would essentially talk like Thor and be very godlike. And I suggested it should be more like the JLA or the FF, where everyone had distinct personalities and they didn’t always get along. And I did win that one.

As far as limits go, well, the limits tended to be less connected to BIONICLE and more to LEGO guidelines in general. Things like level of violence depicted, language, stuff like that was all pretty strictly regulated. And, of course, there were long-term plot points I wasn’t allowed to reveal ahead of time.


So as I understand it, there was a specific set of points that needed to be covered, (Like Vakama’s betrayal in 2005 for example) which were non-negotiable. But outside of those points, you essentially had free range, as long as it was approved by Lego, and was kept relatively “kid friendly”. Very interesting.

Also good call on the toa in the beginning. I can only image what Bionicle would have turned out to be if that was the route that Lego went.


There was always a main story that had to covered, in the comics and the books. But there were usually more books than there was main story, which is why you got stuff like Time Trap.


Do you know when exactly this decision was made? MNOG was very much in the “Toa act godlike” camp and it got its start in January 2001. Whereas the comics and Legend of Mata Nui game give the Toa much more defined character traits and personalities. (In fact, LoMN word-for-word lifts Pohatu and Kopaka’s meeting directly from the comics.)


It was when the first comic script went out for review. I had written it in my style and Bob came back and told me how he thought the Toa should sound. To his credit, he was willing to listen to my reasoning and agreed to give it a try.