Is LEGO Disrespecting Bionicle?

For a while, I have noticed that for some reason, LEGO would almost never mention Bionicle (or constraction in general), and when they do, they do it in a way that would seem disrespectful to the fans.
The Bionicle cameo in the first LEGO movie that was used in the context of “no need to mention”, and the recent reveal that Bionicle was supposed to be featured in some way, shape or form in TLM2, but got cut without any mention why are quite intriguing.
We as a community have done everything we could to show LEGO that we still care, but instead we get nothing, and when we do, it’s something that could very easily be interpreted as insulting.

What do you think? Is LEGO disrespecting Bionicle and it’s fans?

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Have we though? Last I checked, the online BIONICLE community (just like the online LEGO community at large) had its equal share of both creativity and pointless vitriol. We may be “showing LEGO that we still care” but we often go about it in self-centered, destructive ways.

It can be interpreted as insulting if one lets oneself feel personally attacked by a profit-driven capitalist toy company’s marketing strategies. LEGO isn’t promoting BIONICLE anymore because it very likely just doesn’t make monetary sense to.

When I was at a recent fan convention in Toronto, I met an ex-LEGO employee who worked for years as a marketing manager for Mindstorms. One of the things we chatted about was LEGO’s marketing strategies. He explained that LEGO in the late 2000s took two different directions when it came to marketing.

Themes were either big moneymakers that incentivised LEGO to invest large amount of cash into marketing stunts, CGI commercials and tie-in materials (think BIONICLE or Star Wars) or they had a marketing budget of pretty much zero (think Mindstorms or Creator) and relied almost exclusively on positive word-of-mouth and a steady stream of returning clients (educators for the former, parents for the latter).

I would speculate that BIONICLE’s sudden unexpected boom in the early 2000s shaped it into a proverbial “golden goose” for LEGO. It was making them loads of money, so they kept pumping more advertising dollars and production budgets into it. But then G1 started to fizzle out near the end of it’s run, and I wouldn’t be even slightly surprised if LEGO started losing money because of BIONICLE (they certainly would have lost some of their reputation for quality due to late G1’s rampant quality control issues).

Given everything that transpired in the late 2000s, I’m not surprised that LEGO isn’t too intent on picking up the BIONICLE brand again in any meaningful way. And an incredibly small but vocal niche group (the BIONICLE fandom) within a larger niche consumer market (AFOLs/TFOLs) certainly won’t change their minds.

TLDR: LEGO doesn’t owe us anything. If the BIONICLE brand is no longer profitable, that’s too bad. But we need to stop whining about it. It’s poisoning the community.

EDIT: One of @IllustriousVar’s old BIONICLE Autopsies covers certain aspects of this topic very well. It’s worth a rewatch/watch:

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As much as I respect your points, that still doesn’t justify the lack of respect LEGO has for the theme that contributed greatly in saving it from bankruptcy. Sure, it’s not making money anymore I guess, but everything that Bionicle has done for LEGO deserves a honorable mention at the very least, which clearly isn’t the case.

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Lego never did anything that would be seen as “disrespectful” towards Bionicle.

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Well, the context of the Bionicle cameo in the first LEGO Movie was seen as quite disrespectful… It even got featured in TTV’s Top 10 Bionicle controversies:

https://youtu.be/raD6j66q_1c

(0:20 time stamp)

It wasn’t disrespectful. It was a joke.

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LEGO isn’t disrespectful; the fact that it’s even showing up in concept art and Hidden Side sets speaks volumes for it. The most disrespectful thing to do is act like it never existed and meant nothing. TTV has said this time and time again: Why would LEGO be disrespectful to the theme that brought it back to life?

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That entire segment was a slew of joking exposition, I’m finding it very difficult to take you seriously while you take it seriously. Personally, I was happy that Bionicle was mentioned at all, the movie had absolutely no need to throw in Bionicle as an Easter egg when it wasn’t even an active property at the time, but they did. In my eyes that shows that at least somebody working on the film still cared.

Complaining about it just makes you look entitled.

Would I want them to feature one of the old sets as a background character or even a member of the main cast? Of course I would! Why wouldn’t I? But they don’t owe us that, especially because as of the time that both the first and second lego movie installments were released, Bionicle was not even on the shelves. At the end of the day, Lego is a company, trying to sell toys, why would they promote a product that isn’t even available.

You. Are. Not. Owed. Anything.

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That was thanks to designers such as Nick Vas… LEGO itself had no intention on doing that.[quote=“ToaNoah_Wafflemeister, post:7, topic:50060”]
The most disrespectful thing to do is act like it never existed and meant nothing.
[/quote]

Well, that is exactly what I feel they are doing right now… that is kinda the reason I made this topic.

Well that is the thing… The LEGO Movie 2 was a huge opportunity to revive the public interest in Bionicle, or even put it back on shelves in some way, and they missed that opportunity, which really bugs me.

Why? The theme had ended literally 3 years before, why would they sink money into something like that? Doing it in maybe ten or so years, I could see, but not now. Off the back of how G2 ended it is far too early.

Also, can you define LEGO to me? What is LEGO, as an entity in this scenario? Would you like the CEO to write an essay about how grateful he is that BIONICLE saved the company? Would you like the company to release a tweet every year on its anniversary thanking BIONICLE for what it did for LEGO? Who exactly doing what exactly would satisfy you, and why do you think it’s necessary for a franchise that hasn’t been in its prime for close to a decade now.

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As I have said before, Bionicle was planned to make an appearance in the LEGO Movie 2. There was even a cancelled set that would have probably featured Takanuva or something. The fact that they wanted to do it (even if the line isn’t active) and ended up not is what makes me sad.

I am not saying they should do that.

That was probably back when G2 was still actually on the shelves. Given the movie came out this year, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume that the film and its corresponding sets would have been in production in 2016, or even 2015, and those plans were shelved following G2’s cancellation.

EDIT: Oh hey, look at that :stuck_out_tongue:

Might it have boosted Bionicle’s sales and saved the toyline? Perhaps, but as it stands it was too little too late, and there’s no use in crying over spilt milk.

That was largely hyperbole, my main point was that if you’re going to complain about how they’re doing the franchise a disservice now, what exactly do you want them to do? An easter egg in their massive theatrical animated film isn’t enough? Okay, what else do you want?

Are you starting to see how this sounds?

Now believe me, I like to complain about something I love going down the toilet as much as the next guy, pick anything really: Sonic has been a constant on-and-off rollercoaster of quality for nearly 30 years (with the one good game in recent memory being overshadowed by a mediocre mess in the exact same year), Ben 10 has been slowly deteriorating in quality ever since the first show ended back in 2008, Star Wars is a whole other can of worms I can’t be bothered to unpack here (because the last thing this thread needs is an off-topic flamewar), and Firefly? Well, Firefly pretty much speaks for itself :stuck_out_tongue: (rest in spaghetti, never forghetti)

The difference being that I vent for the sake of getting it off my chest, and don’t actually expect anything to change, because it isn’t about me. I can criticise a company’s poor decisions all I like, but that ultimately doesn’t make any difference to them, or the thing I’m criticising. I can hope, sure, but it probably won’t. Instead, I make up for that by trying to give back to the community, usually with mediocre writing projects that never really get past the planning stages :stuck_out_tongue:

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fight me

This is something that I’m personally looking into. BIONICLE fans throw that fact around way too often without understanding the full context. What I do know for certain is that BIONICLE seems to have peeked in popularity between 2001-2005 (based on the marketing materials we were seeing for it at the time). And more importantly, that large popularity (I heard from an inside source at one point that BIONICLE accounted for something like 40% of LEGO’s overall profits (or sales, I’ll need to go back and clarify which) at a certain time.

This massive success meant that BIONICLE occupied too large a space in LEGO’s business portfolio. If this lightning-in-a-bottle-theme was to suddenly die (toy trends are very volatile from what I’ve heard/read), LEGO would be in serious financial trouble. From what my source told me, that was one of the many reasons LEGO eventually wound BIONICLE down in order to eventually put it to bed in 2010.


Additional side-note: allegedly BIONICLE set designers were given a blank check when it came to new parts budgets. Again, I need to fact-check this, but they were apparently requesting approx. 40 new molds per year (many of them single use).

######(thanks @Eljay for the pic)

2005 is an excellent case study in this regard. They introduced an absurd amount of new parts that year. Some of the standouts include:

  • 6 new Visorak shells
  • 6 new Visorak pincers
  • A new Hagah shield
  • 6 minifigure Visorak figures (don’t get me started on that trainwreck)
  • The 6 diecast-style Toa figures
  • 2 giant over-sized masks for the System sets

And the Hordika… well, let’s take a closer look at the Hordika, shall we?

Each Hordika have a separate head mold (which was to be expected by this point). In addition, they each had very complex dual-molded (using two different types of plastic and two different colors) weapons (only one of which was ever reused in regular retail sets).

But it doesn’t stop there. The Hordika’s larger frames and new gear function used a new upper arm piece, new lower leg piece and a new back piece that saw very little reuse. What’s more, that year’s Beyblades-inspired projectile gimmick used a new bulky ripcord piece, a hyper-specialized asymmetric TECHNIC liftarm variant and a new pin mold.

And if all that’s not enough? They made a brand new gear mold that they only reused twice.

That’s an enormous amount of parts inventory space being taken up by just the Hordika, a single wave of products. Ironically, those sets don’t seem to be remembered that fondly by the fandom. I don’t have any information on how well they sold, so I can’t comment on that.

Apparently it got one. There’s allegedly a prominent BIONICLE-centric section of one of the key displays at the LEGO House in Denmark.

It was only seen as “disrespectful” because we as a fandom have a serious problem with letting go of our childhood nostalgia to instead embrace new (and better things).

In fairness, the Hidden Side BIONICLE The Game Easter egg was apparently inserted because the graphic designer who worked on that set’s sticker sheet had a hand in/was a fan of that old game.

I recall @toothdominoes mentioning it at some point on his Brickfair panel, but I don’t currently have the time to scrub through and find the exact timestamp.

So who is “LEGO itself” in this discussion? The senior management? The entire team in Billund? Just some faceless corporation we can get angry at?

That’s kinda ironic considering TLM2’s box office and toy sales. But out of curiosity, how do you think they could have done that (assuming the film had actually been a smashing commercial success like the first one)?


Better head over to the Star Wars topic then. I’ll meet you there with my Last Jedi/Solo defense essays in hand :wink:


######(ignore the hilariously dated original post)

Never give up man. If you post your stuff here, I’ll read it :slight_smile:

Feel free to duke it out over here. I’ll bring the popcorn :wink:

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Literally this.

I appreciate the offer, but I think I’ll pass, I’ve had more than enough of that whole spat. :stuck_out_tongue:

Long story short: I never cared enough about Solo to watch it, the Last Jedi has some of the best and some of the worst moments in the franchise, and overall I feel like the sequel trilogy could’ve tread new ground instead of basically reliving the original trilogy (which was largely thanks to episode 7, oof).

Also dang, I didn’t even know there was a Ben 10 thread, I’ll be sure to lob my hot and not-so-hot takes into that there ring :stuck_out_tongue:

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Real quick, to address the original topic, no they aren’t disrespecting Bionicle. Bionicle has been dead for a few years oh, and we can’t expect them to keep talking about it. Especially when Constraction in general seems to have been cut out from their plans.

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Well, at least an official answer whether constraction is discontinued forever or it’s just taking a break won’t do any bad.

Yeah, I think that is who I am talking about.

Why would LEGO give us this? Constraction is an idea, just like robotics, or mechs, or castle. It’s not a quantifiable product or IP like Mindstorms, Exo-Force or Knights Kingdom. They don’t tell us when robotics are taking a break. They just quietly retire it, work on the next iteration behind closed doors and then unveil it when its ready. That very process is likely happening right now in Billund.

Okay. I don’t know a huge amount about current management. But keep in mind that LEGO is now a very successful company. They need to safeguard their investments. They’re not in the business of throwing crazy ideas out there, hoping they caught on like they were during their runaway innovation phase of the late 90s/early 2000s (keep in mind that LEGO was bleeding money at certain points back then).

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Well yeah, but at this point nobody is really sure weather they are working on something or not. There is that leak that got revealed a few weeks ago about a potential 2020 constraction theme with the codename “Leaf” but even so people aren’t sure what to believe.

Remind me… why do we need to spend so much time obsessing over illegal leaks anyway? This video comes to mind…

(dang, @IllustriousVar’s stuff is real good)

LEGO has released over 700 sets so far in 2019. Surely between the models themselves, alt-builds, minifigs, new parts, and connections to old themes there’s more than enough to keep the community engaged in enriching discussion without needing to waste time seeking out illegally obtained information that has the potential to actively harm LEGO.

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