The reason(s?) BIONICLE should come back

Hi. I’m not very active on any of the big LEGO forums, but I do guest visit from time to time - especially BZP and here on TTV - particularly for Bionicle-related stuff and news.

I’m sure this topic I’m about to share has been discussed previously in some form here, so I ask you please bear with me. The varying levels of passion expressed by fans about a potential Bionicle return has intrigued me for a while. Personally, I am of the mindset that Bionicle has an extremely great storehouse of merit should LEGO properly revive it. So I wrote some lengthy articles about it, the most recent being this one:

As I articulated my perspective and put the thoughts down, I fluctuated between frustration, excitement, and self-doubt. So I finally decided to pop on in over here, out of interest in some discussion and feedback. Does anyone else see the potential that I see in a full and proper LEGO Bionicle revival?

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welcome to the boards at least

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Yes, it’s a very often discussed point and I think most see the missed potential in Bionicle, Greg himself said he could have kept writing for 40(?) or more years and there was many parts of even the Matoran universe left untold.

But in the digital age it is hard to see an action figure line doing well, or any toy for that matter. Lego for all intents and purposes has seen it only as a failure and I would not blame them for not wanting to try again any time soon. Bionicle was a brave, out there idea to just maybe keep the company afloat (Along with Star Wars etc.) in Lego’s hour of need, throughout it’s lifespan it had many ‘cool’ locations, characters and motifs but instead of taking things back down to ground every couple of years, to make the story accessible to new fans every year, they instead leaned into darker styling which albeit is cool but I think ultimately contributed to it’s fall. G2 (In my opinion) incorrectly diagnosed this as “too much lore” so kept things way too bare bones. Presentation aside, the physical toys where just not selling how they used to.

Now why was I talking about Bionicle’s failings? Well I’m saying that if it somehow came back, it would have to take a much different tack whether that be the locations, characters or actual toys being from a new angle.

Anyways, I don’t think we need it “back” by Lego, we’ve had some really good discussions of recent about what keeps the fandom alive and I think many people have become self sufficient, Studio seems to be a powerful tool driving creativity, the custom masks, games and countless fan AU’s are what we need, (we) “can take it from here.”

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I very much appreciate BIONICLE’s potential, but I personally don’t want it to come back at all. I prefer it to just a resting thing of our childhood, which we can still take part in and enjoy without there having to be new official content.

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@Rukah hey thanks for the welcome. :dark_sunglasses:

@Axelford I’m curious to know more about why you consider the prevalence of the digital to be a negative obstacle for an action figure line/toys in general?

Part of the reason I think the BIONICLE figures dropped in popularity was… well there’s a whole combination of things. The synergistic trifecta of framework that composed BIONICLE’s early years was lost - the story, the sets, and the multimedia “pieces”. The balance was lost.

Compelling multimedia and promos waned as the years went on, and the story became more centralized in serials and books and movies.

The sets (the heroes specifically) became more abstract and less grounded in iconic elements of our world… For example: to a unversed onlooker, there was less and less to identify with in the figures…

Compare the original Toa with say, the Inika/Mahri lineups (and pretty much all the “hero” figures after 2004)… The original Toa bore resemblance to heroes that adults/kids could instantly identify with: swords, shields, staffs, simple tools.

The earlier BIONICLE figures blended the strange features (Kanohi masks, odd robotic proportions) with instantly relatable signature appearances and special abilities. A simple yet powerful combination, balancing the weird with the unfamiliar.

Again, later waves of sets became more convoluted and much less concentrated and identifiable to general audiences.

@Winger I can relate.

I went through a period sometime around 2016 when I started to wonder if I was losing interest in BIONICLE, or if it was simply the new theme not grabbing my attention. I started to think that maybe BIONICLE shouldn’t “come back” after all.

But it didn’t end up staying that way obviously!

I recall thinking at the time that it would be better off to carry the “golden memories” I personally made with the original theme, and to leave it at that while keeping tabs on the online fan world. Does any of that connect with your current rationale?

Like I said, I ended up changing my mind. Vehemently.

I think more generations of LEGO fans should be able to get the full LEGO BIONICLE experience - not just story, not just art, not just toys - the whole experience, live, in the moment.

So while I can see what you are getting at, I no longer agree.

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Uhm, no, actually. I just actively want BIONICLE to be laid to rest. Nothing to do with preserving memories or elitist “I must preserve my version of BIONICLE!”. The line has just run its course by now. I just want to let it be.

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Hey there, @BrickinTALM! I just read a bunch of your articles for the first time, and I have to say, I am very impressed! Most of the LEGO Media outlets online only focus on the current LEGO releases and how great the company is today, and it is very rare to see articles that are actually critical about their current status, so your articles have been a true breath of fresh air for me!
Keep up the good work! I think you’ve just earned yourself a dedicated reader!
While we’re at it, maybe I could help you with your blog by writing a few articles for it myself from time to time? Much like you, I’ve got a lot of things to say about the current state of LEGO, but I’ve never quite found the right medium for saying them.

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Hmm I think I typed up too much, I should have said what Winger did plus my little spiel about the fans keeping it alive…

So, I agree with all the points you brought out there but my bad for bringing up that red herring topic. It doesn’t really matter what made it fail, what matters is Lego sees it as a risk and would rather keep the status quo, that is the path it is continuing down.

It’s just a fact, TLG panicked around the year 2000 because kids where increasingly interested in video games rather than physical toys like Lego. Transformers and “robots” of sorts where a big fad in the 80s but by the 2000s and the 2020s have fallen out of mainstream favour. Lego as a toy company is buckling the trend but that’s perhaps due to it’s reputation, even if a kid doesn’t like it much their parents will buy it as by now it is a rite of passage. Lego keeps trying toys to life or other mixed media as it has been trying to use children’s fixation with technology to it’s advantage.

Anyways, I hope I don’t come off as trying to “poo-poo” you for wanting it back, I miss it deeply myself but I think having a realistic view is best, the fandom can do well even without Lego making Bionicle sets.

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I agree that we don’t need to buy BIONICLE from TLG if we want a BIONICLE experience. And honestly, I don’t think BIONICLE is repeatable. It was pretty much lightning in a bottle. No other toy theme - much less another LEGO theme - had done something like it before, and temporally it was perfectly positioned to capitalize on its multimedia angle, with the way the Internet was becoming more widespread in the average American home. I just don’t think we can recapture that magic again, and I’d feel it’s better not to try than get something soulless like G2. Because even if the designers cared about G2, LEGO corporate didn’t.

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Here we go again.

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In a few years we will be at the point where some people who were kids in 01 will be parents themselves. Often times when it comes to toy purchases, parents are the primary decision maker. If a parent who casually had bonkles as a kid but never got deep into them sees a bionicle set on store shelves and thinks “oh I remember those, I had the red one he was cool”, they might buy one for their kid

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or, the parent won’t go to the toy store at all, and will just give their child a phone or tablet to play games on

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well yeah but if thats the case lego as a whole aint gonna be in good shape going forwards

give the kid mnog to play on then

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i mean …

yeah

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they keep trying to integrate apps into things but looking at vidiyo they have yet to really hit the mark

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@Seuss Axelford @KDNX Quite right, the impression I also get is that the Lego Group is resting cozy at the moment, rather than doing anything that risks upending a profitable trend. The thing with status quo, however, is that it really never lasts in perpetuity…

I wonder, if things go south for the company again, will Lego enter another frenzied reactionary phase, or will they still have the soul to strategically pull BIONICLE back out of the bag?

I went a bit into this in one of the articles - about what it would take for Lego to proactively revisit BIONICLE. I have no issue adopting a realistic view, but at the same time, I no longer allow it to limit my perspective.

You’re so right about the disconnect with Lego corporate simply not caring about BIONICLE. I see the soulless “corporatism” leaking into sets/marketing more these days, and it bugs the bricks out of me.

I’m not at the point that I feel the need to throw in the towel and resign that the old magic is out of reach. As great as it is that fans are keeping BIONICLE alive, I simply do not agree that it is ideal. I’m idealistic!

BIONICLE fans satisfy themselves with their own pursuits, so to fans the BIONICLE experience is complete. But what about the rest of the world outside the niche? BIONICLE could become a powerhouse if it became a Lego fixture along the lines of standard System and Technic. I want that.

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my bonkle experience is not complete until I some day have the money to buy all of the sets I don’t have and then break into Fabers House scan the turaga beach drawer, send it to biomediaprojet, then put it back (this is a joke drawboy/fbi if you are reading this please dont put me in the forever box)

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Honestly, if I wanted Bionicle to come back I think Lego should just completely overhaul it.
Like, they should keep the original ideals (6 heroes, elemental powers, Makuta/dark force or something) but just make it a whole new thing with only those previously mentioned things and the name be similar.
I wouldn’t want it to be a pickup or something from G1 or G2, I’d want G3.

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Agreed. If another BIONICLE reboot were to occur, it shouldn’t be a continuation of either existing Generation. G1 is pretty much over (and its unexplored backstory too convoluted for LEGO or prospective fans to touch) and G2 is too reviled. The best way to bring it back would be to split the difference between the two - reboot it, with some simplified concepts and some entirely new concepts, but plan out some lore in advance and give it a ■■■■ budget.

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Arguably, G2 (at least on the artwork front) was not completely lacking in production values. But pretty art style without depth and meaning is pointless for the end users - kids and potentially older fans looking for immersion.

Absolutely, a revival of the theme would entail not only a high budget for conveying the atmosphere and world, but also the lore. (Can’t recall where, but I remember Christian Faber mentioned once how the original BIONICLE concept work and promos was designed to look like a dramatic cinematic teaser)

I don’t think the original concepts from the earlier era (specifically 01-03ish) have to be renounced in order to make it palatable to a mass audience; instead the early motifs could be revisited and built upon. Expand the sandbox, I say!

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