What Went Wrong With Bionicle?

We all know the story of how Bionicle was cancelled, then brought back, then cancelled in less time than it took you to read this sentence. But everywhere I go, I see Bionicle fans begging to have it back. Some people want G3, some people wanted G2 to be given a proper conclusion, and some wish G1 was never cancelled in the first place.

But what could’ve happened to prevent any of that? I don’t imagine Lego ever wanted to put Bionicle to sleep, since it was such a game-changer for them. But there were various things that led to them being forced to cancel it. So my question is, what do you think they could’ve done to prevent those things?


Advertising. At least for G2. No one but the bionicle people, for the most part, knew it happened. Evidently the first year bombed so badly that they needed to cancel it partway through.

This video from Nick on Planet Ripple does a pretty good job of analyzing it.


Because kids liked ninjago more? I’m not a ninjago fan, and I only followed the story for the first year, but I have friends with young kids that really seem to like it. It has similar themes to bionicle, good vs. evil, colorful elemental warriors, collectible power ups, etc. As far as I’m concerned, bionicle G2 didn’t need to exist because of ninjago.


Yes, this is heavily the truth. I once was explaining BIONICLE to a elementary schooler and he kept saying it sounded like Ninjago a lot.


This is probably one of the reasons why G2 failed. It was competing with Ninjago, which does share similar themes and concepts. Though, granted, Lego put a minimal amount of effort into G2, so of course people are gonna see Ninjago as superior.


I am still not really sure whether G2 actually bombed as hard as most people think. We don’t have any official information about how well it sold other than what LEGO told us, and they told us it sold well. Whether they told the truth or not though, it’s hard to tell.

Personally, I would much rather have a completely new Constraction theme than have Bionicle back. Constraction has so much potential, yet LEGO barely did anything with it.


Wouldn’t that be official information tho?

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Yes, but if indeed it “sold well” as they claimed, than why cancel it after only two years?

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I dunno. I just pointed out that.
I mean, “selling well” might not actually be enough to sustain the line. Maybe Bionicle was much more expensive than other lines.
Or maybe Lego was just afraid to go forward with it.


Having a new constraction theme would be nice. Even if it wasn’t Bionicle G3, it would still be nice. And surely Lego would still honor Bionicle as the theme that pioneered the constraction genre.

But I’m not sure if it would really be a success. We saw that Hero Factory got canned because of how badly Invasion From Below went down, and then Bionicle G2 came and failed. They tried to keep constraction going with the Star Wars figures, but literally no one wanted those.

I think the real problem is that at this point, kids just don’t like buildable action figures as much as they used to. It might be because of how low-quality Bionicle G2 was, and frankly, those Star Wars figures were garbage. Maybe if Lego did another constraction theme-preferably Bionicle G3, so as to redeem the franchise-that actually had effort put into it, then it would go over better.

@Toa_Vladin Could be that there were G1 fans that were complaining nonstop about how much they hated G2, so they decided to cancel it to avoid angering them even further. (Then again, G1 fans would’ve been riled up no matter what).

Edited for double post- Prentice1215


There’s a lot to be said about marketing for G2, but I think a lot of it honestly comes down to price of the sets. You know, you get a full set of six Toa even at the end of Bionicle’s run would have been around £50. In 2015 you were looking at £85.

Now I know us regular fans could easily pin point the reasons as to why those sets were more pricey, but a parent going into a shop isn’t going to see it that way. It was £15 for a main character in G2, where as it was only £6-8 back in G1. Much easier to justify throwing in the trolly.

I mean, even the smaller sets. As a kid, those little guys were about £3-5 and were just little supplemental things my parents would get me once in a while. In 2015 they were a tenner. It was just too much IMO. For those prices you’re really looking at TFOL and AFOLs and I just don’t think there was enough interest in that demographic.


I feel strongly that that was one of the reasons G1 was a success. Although the sets got progressively more expensive as the series went on, they were still quite affordable. Meanwhile, the G2 sets were WAY pricier.

Of course, there is a perfectly good reason for this. The G2 sets were more complex, and had more pieces and functions. Not to mention the CCBS molds. Those can’t be cheap to produce.

In that regard, Lego kinda hit a brick wall. If they make the figures small and simple, some people might see them as cheap junk. If they make them complex and well-crafted (like they did) then they’d end up being more expensive.


Exactly! The ironic thing with CCBS is that you actually needed more parts (although less specialised) to create a set compared to the old systems. I do wonder if that’s what bumped the prices up.

I’d say G2 ultimately failed because of how it was marketed, and like someone else said, it was competing with Ninjago & had very similar concepts to Ninjago. I also think it failed due to the lack of proper worldbuilding or lore; it wasn’t gonna be G1 level, by any means, but G2’s mythos is rather thin.

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Hero Factory was both popular and successful, period. Fans can complain about it’s flaws as much as they want, that still isn’t going to change that. Invasion from Below was quite popular actually, with how it incorporated Minifigures with CCBS.
I don’t think Hero Factory was cancelled because it wasn’t popular anymore, but rather to make place for Bionicle G2.

If they want to make a new Constraction line that would be successful, here are my suggestions:

  • Have most of the main-line sets be priced at 15$ or less.
  • Have a Television Series to promote it, in a similar fashion to Ninjago, Chima or Nexo Knights.
  • Instead of just rehashing the old elemental heroes trope, try a completely new idea or concept. Maybe even go back to some of the earliest LEGO concepts that were never used, like with Cybots, for example (if you don’t know what Cybots is, it was basically the very first concept for a Constraction theme, dating back to 1995).
  • Keep the builds for most of the sets simple, and save the more intricate and complex ones for the bigger Titan sets (so all the sets can be affordable enough for anyone to buy)

I personally think that if executed properly, any constraction theme has the potential to succeed. The problem isn’t that kids don’t care about constraction anymore, it’s just that LEGO gave up on it too easily. All they need to do is just market it properly. They did that twice already with Bionicle G1 and Hero Factory, and they could easily do it again if they wanted to.


Invasion From Below worked fine, but to have constraction pieces being used for mechs, and characters that were previously constraction turned into weird minifigures…is kinda strange to me. Although, there were a good deal of mechs that I liked. My favorites were the Surge and Rocka Combat Machine and the Furno Machine. What really killed IFB was the TV special. That ending…ugh. It was SO stupid!!!

I’ve looked it up, and frankly…I’m kinda glad it was canned. But I would definitely like for Lego to do an original idea. That was one of the things I liked about Hero Factory-it was an entirely new concept that felt fresh.

Uh…yes. Hard yes.

In this day and age, a TV show is probably the best way to market a Lego theme. I mean, look at Ninjago. It’s gotten such a big following, the Ninjago wiki has people that actually sit down and transcribe episodes to post on the wiki. (I love it.)

Yeah, I agree. I don’t think Lego really understood what made G1 so awesome and successful, so they thought that if they simply brought back Bionicle, then it would be a success. So when it failed, they just shrugged their shoulders and ended it, since they were still making money off of Ninjago, Star Wars, and the ever-repetitive superhero lines. (Not to go off-topic, but I don’t feel like they’re putting any effort into the superheroes sets anymore. Every single set is a rehashed Batman or Spider-Man vehicle that’s somehow even crappier than the last. The only good superhero sets are the ones based on movies, and even those are hit-or-miss.)

Back to the point. The way 2010 went down makes me think that, as long as G1 was still going, they still had “it.” That is, they still had some of the Bionicle lightning captured in their bottle. I’ve talked to some people who think that cancelling G1 in the first place was a bad idea, and in some ways, I agree. There were several more story arcs that were planned to come, but they never came to be. It’s hard to say how Lego as a company would’ve been affected if Bionicle had never ended, but one thing’s for sure: there wouldn’t be any angry fanboys complaining that their favorite theme was canned.

Which brings me to my original question: what could Lego have done to prevent Bionicle’s demise? When I wrote the original post, I wasn’t referring specifically to either G1 or G2, but now, that question can easily be applied to G1. I’ve poked around the Internet, and it appears that Lego decided to cancel Bionicle because 1.) the lore was getting too complex to draw in new fans and 2.) the toy sales were declining.

The lore getting too complex…this, I sort of agree with. There was so much going on within the Matoran universe, so by 2008, it was pretty hectic. That’s probably why they shifted over to Bara Magna for 2009. The premise there was much simpler: a hero named Mata Nui has been exiled from his homeworld, and now he has to find a way back. I mean, the reasons for that were complicated, but that’s a decent enough premise for any newcomers to follow.

As for the toy sales declining-there’s a couple possibilities. It might be connected to the previous point. If the story’s too complex to attract new fans, then less fans=less consumers buying the product. But I mostly blame this on the quality control issues. It started with the infamous lime green joints in 2007, then came the 2008 socket redesign. Because of this, I think that if Lego had put more care into designing their Bionicle pieces, then the theme might’ve lasted longer than it did.

Of course, those are just my thoughts…

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LEGO were never really good at getting the story out to the kids. The majority of the actual story was told through the books, and while the books were good they had to be actively looked for by especially interested kids for them to get the story. This coupled with serious complexity creep making the story increasingly difficult to understand for a newcomer really messed up the chances kids had of getting into it.

And then of course, they went ahead and repeated that mistake with G2, by launching year 1 with almost no story material at all

So…does that mean we’re going back to the idea of how a TV show would be a better way to market the story? That may or may not have worked. Ninjago’s TV show was a smash hit, but Chima and Nexo Knights…were not.

Though neigher of them came close to Ninjago’s success, they were still quite popular with their target demographic, that being kids.
While none of them were a smash hit, we can’t call them a miss either.

Which makes you wonder-how would Bionicle have done if it had a TV show? True, there was Journey To One for G2, but we saw how terrible that was. If G1 had had a TV show, then who knows? It could’ve been a success.