|Parent theme||Lego Technic (2001–2003)|
|Total sets||(See List of Bionicle toys)|
|Characters||(See List of Bionicle characters)|
Bionicle (stylized BIONICLE) was a line of construction toys created by the Lego Group marketed primarily for 8-to-16-year-olds. Originally a subsidiary theme of Lego’s Technic series, the line was launched in Europe and Australia in 2000 and in North America in 2001. Over the following decade, it became one of the Lego Group's biggest-selling properties and played a part in saving the company from its financial crisis of the late 1990s. The theme was originally discontinued in 2010 after nine years of production, but was rebooted in 2015 for a further two years.
To accompany the sets, Lego created an original story told through an array of multimedia that expanded as the theme continued, notable as it was among the first themes produced by the company to possess a strong online presence. Set in a science fantasy universe featuring beings made up of bio-mechanical components, the story chronicles the tales of heroic beings called Toa in their fight against the Makuta, the arch antagonist, as well as the many other evils of their world in order to protect a widespread populace known as the Matoran. While the main story was told through comic books, online games and animated films, a number of additional serials were incorporated into the saga via alternative types of media that in turn expanded it. A similar approach was taken for the theme's rebooted story.
- 1 Background
- 2 Story
- 2.1 Generation 1
- 2.1.1 2001 – Coming of the Toa
- 2.1.2 2002 – The Bohrok Swarms
- 2.1.3 2003 – The Bohrok-Kal Strike / Mask of Light
- 2.1.4 2004 – Legends of Metru Nui
- 2.1.5 2005 – Web of Shadows
- 2.1.6 2006 – Island of Doom
- 2.1.7 2007 – Sea of Darkness
- 2.1.8 2008 – The Final Battle
- 2.1.9 2009 – The Legend Reborn
- 2.1.10 2010 – Journey's End
- 2.2 Generation 2
- 2.1 Generation 1
- 3 Reception
- 4 Music
- 5 References in popular culture
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
After suffering a ten-year downturn in the 1990s, the Lego Group decided to go with the idea of storytelling and thought a theme with a storyline behind it would appeal to their audience. Their first attempt was the Star Wars line based on the film series of the same name. Upon release in 1999, it was an instant success, but the royalty payments to the franchise owners Lucasfilm limited Lego's profit. The company later decided that an original story created by themselves would be more advantageous to them, with their first attempts ending up as the themes Slizer/Throwbots and RoboRiders, released in 1999 and 2000 respectively. Elements from Lego Technic construction series were incorporated into the sets, with systems such as the innovative 'ball-and-socket' (new to the Lego building system at the time) being used to create free joint movement. The system would go on to be used and greatly expanded upon in Bionicle.
Despite Slizer/Throwbots and RoboRiders being short-lived, they proved popular, prompting Lego to create a new theme with an original story that would run continuously as a staple to their line-up of themes with the prospect of lasting at least twenty years. Brain-storming for ideas of a new theme, an early concept entitled 'Bone Heads of Voodoo Island' was worked up by Lego employees Bob Thompson, Martin Riber Andersen and Christian Faber of Danish creative and advertising agency Advance from a brief by Erik Kramer and sent to outside writers, along with several other concepts. The names "BioKnights" and "Afterman" were also strongly considered prior to the finalization of the brand. One of the writers who received it was Alastair Swinnerton, who rewrote the concept and sent it back to Thompson, and was later invited to pitch the new concept to Lego at their headquarters in Billund, Denmark. The revised concept, which formed the basis of what was to become Bionicle, was well received by Lego, and Swinnerton was commissioned to expand his initial pitch into a full 'bible'. On his second visit to Billund, the project was given approval, having been entitled "Bionicle" at an internal Lego meeting - a portmanteau constructed from the words "biological chronicle".
To accompany the sets, Lego worked with Swinnerton and Advance to create an elaborate, original story featuring red herrings and arcs centering on characters made up of bio-mechanical components (half organic, half robotic) and telling it on a vast multimedia scale that would grow as the theme continued. As well as incorporating the same building system, uses of tropical environments and characters based on classical elements were taken from the Slizer/Throwbots and RoboRiders predecessor lines.
Initially, the idea of Bionicle faced resistance from company traditionalists as Lego had no experience of creating a story-based brand of their own. The war-like appearance of the Bionicle characters also went against the company's values of creating sets without a modern warfare or violence theme. The Lego Group reconciled on this statement by claiming that the theme was about "Good versus evil; "good hero warriors" designed to combat "evil enemy fighters" in a mythical universe, so children are not encouraged to fight each other".
Launch and initial reception
The first wave of Bionicle sets were initially launched in December 2000 in Europe and Australasia as a "test market" to predict how well the sets would sell in North America. The theme's website also debuted around the same time explaining the premise of the Bionicle story. After a positive reception, Bionicle was released in North America in mid-2001, where it generated massive success, earning the Lego Group £100 million in its first year. New sets were released every six months and ranged from buildable action figures to constructive play sets and vehicles while also increasing in size and flexibility. A number of collectibles were also incorporated into the toy waves, examples being weapon ammo and the 'Kanohi' masks that certain characters wore, some of which became rare and valuable and withheld secret codes that when entered onto the official Bionicle website provided the user with "Kanoka Points", enabling them to access exclusive membership material.
Bionicle's popularity rose and became one of Lego's biggest and successful properties. It was named as the #1 most-rated Lego product in 2003 and 2006 in terms of sales and popularity, also accounting for nearly all of Lego's financial turnover from the previous decade. No other Lego theme at the time came close to the amount of profits generated by Bionicle. Its popularity led to web traffic on its official website, averaging more than a million page views per month and further kinds of merchandise outside the Lego building system such as costumes, toiletries, and fast-food restaurant collectibles.
In November 2009, Lego announced the shutdown on production of new Bionicle sets after a final wave would be released in 2010. Reasons that contributed to Lego's decision included a loss in sales, a lack of new interest, the over-use of unique names for story elements and a complicated back story that put potential new consumers off. In the summer of 2010, Lego launched a new construction series called Hero Factory that acted as a successor to Bionicle by featuring the same building system in its legacy.
At his request, long-term comic-book writer and story contributor Greg Farshtey was given permission to continue the Bionicle storyline on his own, with chapters of new serials arranged to be posted regularly on the website BionicleStory.com. This was abruptly halted in mid-2011 due to Farshtey's other commitments. The website was shut down in June 2013, leaving a number of new serials uncompleted.
Work on a relaunch for Bionicle began in 2012. Matt Betteker, who previously created concept art for the successor of Bionicle, Hero Factory, as a Junior Designer, became a Senior Designer on the project. The theme's comeback was announced on September 19, 2014, with the first wave of sets and storyline details revealed at the New York Comic Con the following October 9. The new sets utilize pieces from Lego's "Character and Creature" building system, first introduced in Hero Factory and later in other Lego themes. To accompany the relaunch, the Bionicle story was rebooted with a more lucid narrative for new consumers to follow without complication. Changes included simpler names for story elements, a less complex plot, and a scaled-down multimedia spectrum.
The reboot officially launched in January 2015 to a positive response from toy critics and fans of the original Bionicle franchise who praised the playability of the new sets and the inspiration taken from the theme's original play sets. The Bionicle website also relaunched with new material detailing the rebooted story. However, despite Lego originally planning to release new sets through to at least 2017, they later announced that the relaunch would be discontinued after the release of the 2016 summer wave of sets.
The first generation of Bionicle ran between 2001 and 2010; it is set in a science fantasy universe in a time that predates recorded history (referred to in the narrative as "the time before time") and features sentient beings composed of a mix of organic and mechanical parts. The story was told on a multimedia platform developed by a team of Lego employees led by Bob Thompson who decided which piece of media got which part of the narrative. Mediums include comic books, novels, online games, animated videos and others. The majority of comics and novels were written by author Greg Farshtey, who also contributed to a number of web serials and podcasts published later on in the generation's run. Four direct-to-DVD animated films – Bionicle: Mask of Light (2003), Bionicle 2: Legends of Metru Nui (2004), Bionicle 3: Web of Shadows (2005) and Bionicle: The Legend Reborn (2009) – were also released, each visualizing the storyline for that year.
A total of seven different story arcs were originally planned for Bionicle's outlined twenty-year tenure, but only three were ever completed, while the fourth was altered to end the story as a whole due to Lego's decision to discontinue the theme. A general story-note is characters such as the Toa and Matoran are divided into tribes based on six elements: Fire, Water, Earth, Air, Stone and Ice. Other elements were later introduced as the story continued.
2001 – Coming of the Toa
On the tropical island paradise of Mata Nui, a shadow has fallen. The villagers known as Matoran live in fear of an all-powerful being called the Makuta, alleged to have cast the Great Spirit Mata Nui (their venerate being of which the island is named after) into a deep sleep. Now, Makuta has taken control of the Rahi - the island's fauna - to attack the Matoran and their villages. One Matoran, Takua, banished due to his lack of work ethic, now travels the island looking for stories to tell, earning him the nickname of "The Chronicler". On one journey, he finds six ancient power stones and brings them to Kini Nui, the heart of the island. There, he joins them together and unknowingly triggers a beacon for six canisters floating in the ocean to wash up on Mata Nui. Once ashore, the canisters burst open to reveal six powerful beings - destined to save the island and the Great Spirit: Tahu - Toa of Fire, Gali - Toa of Water, Lewa - Toa of Air, Onua - Toa of Earth, Pohatu - Toa of Stone and Kopaka - Toa of Ice. Carrying formidable tools to channel their elemental energies and donning great masks of power dubbed "Kanohi", the Toa remember nothing of their former lives except their names. Prior to meeting each other, they rebuild themselves on the seashores and travel to one of the six villages on the island where they learn of the Matoran's war against the Rahi. The Toa soon join the conflict, and with the aid of the Matoran and their Turaga leaders, begin searching for more Kanohi masks, each of which possess a different ability. Collecting six each, they exchange their masks into Golden Kanohi and descend underground to face the Makuta. Prior to arriving at the villain's lair, they form two Toa Kaita (giant beings created when Toa fuse together) to challenge Makuta's Manas crabs, and battle dark manifestations of themselves dubbed 'Shadow Toa'. When the Toa arrive, Makuta appears in the form of a Matoran to trick them, but then transforms into a swirling vortex of tentacles and rusty machine parts. The Toa battle and defeat Makuta by combining their elemental powers onto him. Triumphant, the heroes return to the surface. But Takua, having followed the Toa down, discovers a large hive of cocoons hidden away from the battle site, revealing a new threat to the island. He sees one of the cocoons begin to hatch, but quickly escapes back to the surface before he can learn more.
2002 – The Bohrok Swarms
The Toa emerge from Makuta's lair victorious, only to discover that the villain has unleashed a new threat to the island: the Bohrok Swarms; six breeds of robotic bug-like drones designed to "cleanse" the island to its former barren state. The Bohrok rampage across Mata Nui and tear down the regions of each village, forcing the Turaga and Matoran to flee. While many Matoran are placed under the influence of the Krana (the Bohrok's brain-like substances), others find new ways to retaliate against the swarms. The Toa collect all eight varieties of Krana from each breed while engaging in combat and later reunite to travel down to the Bohrok's underground nests. There, they place the Krana in niches located in each breed's hive, but this alone fails to stop the swarms. The Toa then discover powerful, sentient battle armor called Exo-Toa. Donning them, they're directed to the chamber of the true Bohrok commanders; the Bahrag twins Cahdok and Gahdok. As the Toa battle the queens, they discover that the Exo-Toa are hampering their elemental powers. Taking the robotic armor off, they are able to re-access them and trap the Bahrag in a cage of solid protodermis (a material created by all six Toa's elemental powers). On the surface, the swarms stop in mid-action, and the Matoran begin the process of rebuilding their villages with help from the Bohrok robots now that their Krana are powerless. The Toa's victory is short-lived when the ground beneath them opens up and plunges each of them into tubes filled with energized protodermis, transforming the heroes into more powerful beings with new armor, masks and weapons and creating the Toa Nuva. At the same time, a set of new Kanohi masks are placed in secret hiding places all over Mata Nui for the heroes to find, six symbols plaques connected to the Toa's elemental abilities appear in each village, and a cube that can fit all the plaques together is formed near the Bahrag's prison. Emerging from the tubes and returning to the surface, the Toa Nuva engage in battle against one another to test their new powers, but their actions lead to anger amongst them and all think it best to go their separate ways.
2003 – The Bohrok-Kal Strike / Mask of Light
Following the defeat of the Bahrag, the Toa Nuva return to their villages after collecting their new Kanohi Nuva masks to help the Matoran in the reconstruction after the damage the swarms caused. However, six new elite Bohrok - the Bohrok-Kal - appear with the intention of releasing the Bahrag so the Bohrok may swarm once again. Each Kal steals a Nuva symbol, robbing the heroes of their command of the elements. Relying solely on their mask powers and combat skills, the Toa Nuva chase the Bohrok-Kal all over Mata Nui and eventually find them in the Bahrag's underground nest. The Kal defeat the Exo-Toa guards with ease before attempting to fit all six plaques onto the Nuva cube in order to re-awake the swarm queens. Before the tablets join, Tahu unleashes a secret weapon; the Kanohi Vahi - the legendary Mask of Time - to slow down time around them. Though unable to directly attack the Kal, the gambit buys the Toa time to devise a new strategy. Using their connections to their tablets, they feed energy into the elite Bohrok, making them believe that their power alone can cleanse the island. However, the Kal's powers soon run wild and destroy them. The Toa Nuva exit the nest, and after hiding their symbols in secret locations, enjoy a new time of peace on Mata Nui.
Weeks later, Takua and fellow Matoran Jaller discover a great Kanohi mask hidden under their village. After playing in the Kohlii Tournament (a popular Matoran sport), they take it to the Turaga who confirm it is the Avohkii - the Mask of Light - prophesied to be worn by a seventh Toa with the elemental power of Light who can defeat the Makuta for good and begin the process of reawakening Mata Nui. Learning of Takua and Jaller's mission, Makuta unleashes his "sons", the Rahkshi - six robotic suits of armor powered by slug-like Kraata created from his very essence - to track down and kill the herald, who the Makuta identifies as Takua, despite the Chronicler's denial. The Toa Nuva battle the Rahkshi across Mata Nui, who destroy the villages of Ta-Koro and Onu-Koro in their search. Toa and Rahkshi and Matoran come together at Kini Nui in a final confrontation, killing Jaller in its last moments. The death of his friend convinces Takua that he is the true herald. Donning the Avohkii, he transforms into Takanuva - Toa of Light - and travels underground to face Makuta. Followed by the rest of the Mata Nui populace, Takanuva confronts the Makuta in his lair and clashes with him in a game of Kohlii, before both fall into a pool of energized protodermis and re-emerge as Takutanuva, a fusion of the two. The being lifts up the gate to an underground city to let the Toa, Turaga and Matoran through and manages to revive Jaller, before the weight of the gate crushes him. The Turaga retrieve the intact Avohkii from his demise and use it to revive Takanuva, while the Makuta's fate is unknown. Preparing to journey to the lost city, the Turaga reveal its name as Metru Nui - the Matoran's original home - and go on to reveal that the Toa Nuva are not in fact the first Toa.
2004 – Legends of Metru Nui
As the Matoran prepare for the journey back to Metru Nui, the Turaga reveal age-old tales of how they themselves were Toa heroes in the last days of the city's golden age. Floating in a dome beneath Mata Nui, Metru Nui was a busy city metropolis where the Matoran worked in peace under the leadership of Turaga Dume. However, all of the city's Toa guardians started to mysteriously disappear, leaving their leader, Lhikan, as its sole protector. Knowing there was danger, Lhikan sacrificed his power into six Toa stones and handed them out to six Matoran - Vakama, Nokama, Matau, Whenua, Onewa, and Nuju - before mercenaries known as Dark Hunters captured him. The chosen Matoran headed to the Great Temple, where using the stones, transformed into the Toa Metru. Guided by strange visions from Vakama, the new Toa gathered six Great Kanoka discs and used them to defeat the Morbuzakh plant menace that threatened the city. However, when the Toa proclaimed their victory, Turaga Dume discredited them as imposters responsible for Lhikan's disappearance, imprisoning three of them while the others escaped. Chased across Metru Nui by two Dark Hunters and Vahki enforcement squads, the Toa later reunited in the city's underground archives with each other as well as Lhikan, now a Turaga as a result of his sacrifice. The Toa also discovered the true Turaga Dume asleep in a stasis pod and learnt that the Makuta - the leader of the corrupt Brotherhood of Makuta organization - had been posing as Dume as part of his diabolical plan to overthrow the Great Spirit Mata Nui and become the Matoran's new leader. The Toa Metru confronted Makuta at the Coliseum, who had already placed the Matoran in stasis pods and erased their memories. He subsequently cast Mata Nui into a deep slumber, triggering an earthquake-like event later to be known as the Great Cataclysm which damaged much of the Matoran Universe. Using a Vahki Transport vehicle, the Toa fled with as many Matoran pods as they could carry and headed toward a rift in Metru Nui's dome. However, Makuta ambushed them with the intention of obtaining the Mask of Time Vakama had forged out of the Kanoka discs. The Toa of Fire clashed with the villain in a battle that ended with the loss of the mask and Lhikan's death. The Toa Metru eventually combined their elemental powers to imprison Makuta in a seal of crystallized protodermis. Continuing on their voyage via the rift and encountering new dangers, the Toa soon arrived on a tropical island that they saw fit as the Matoran's new home. Preparing it, they christened the land "Mata Nui" after the Great Spirit before beginning journey back to Metru Nui to collect the rest of the sleeping Matoran.
2005 – Web of Shadows
The Turaga continue their tale of how they rescued the Matoran from the City of Legends. Upon the Toa Metru's return, they found Metru Nui in ruins. In their absence, vicious spider-like Rahi called Visorak had overrun the city with poisonous webs under the command of their king, Sidorak, and his viceroy, Roodaka, while holding the sleeping Matoran captive. Capturing the Toa, the Visorak cocooned and mutated them into half-Toa, half-Rahi creatures nicknamed "Toa Hordika". Rescued by the Rahaga - six small beings once Toa themselves - the Toa were told that if they wished to reverse their mutations, they must seek the legendary Keetongu; a great Rahi said to be an expert with poisons and antidotes. Putting their own problems aside, the Toa built airships to transport the Matoran out of Metru Nui and retrieved the Kanohi Mask of Light. However, a guilt-ridden Vakama succumbed to his Rahi impulses and betrayed his team by joining Sidorak and Roodaka, who made him leader of the Visorak hordes after kidnapping five of the Rahaga. The remaining Toa Hordika and Rahaga changed priorities and searched for Keetongu. Finding him in Ko-Metru, they enlisted his help in a battle against the Visorak at the Coliseum. During the conflict, Roodaka abandoned Sidorak in a fight against Keetongu and left him to die at the hands of the Rahi. She then confronted the Toa and demanded their elemental powers, to which they all fired their elemental Rhotuka spinner weapons at her, an action of which had little effect. After dispersing the Visorak, a rejuvenated Vakama also fired a spinner at her, hitting a shard of crystallized protodermis which sat in her armor and knocking her unconscious. Unknowingly, the unity of the Toa's elemental powers had released the Makuta from his prison. He teleported Roodaka away to safety, the viceroy having secretly been working for him the whole time. Seeing that the Hordika had made peace with their animal sides, Keetongu restored them to their original forms. Toa Metru once more, they bid the Rahaga and Keetongu farewell and set off with the Matoran pod-loaded airships for the island of Mata Nui. On the voyage, Vakama retrieved the Mask of Time from the protodermis sea during a battle between the revived Makuta and the Shadowed One, leader of the Dark Hunters. Spiriting the mask away from the duel, Vakama blackmailed Makuta into giving the Matoran one year of peace before travelling on with his fellow Toa. Once on Mata Nui, the Toa Metru sacrificed their powers to awaken the now-amnesiac Matoran and transformed into Turaga leaders. They directed the villagers into building new homes, knowing Makuta would one day return and that new prophesied Toa would, in time, arrive to fight him.
2006 – Island of Doom
The Matoran arrive back in Metru Nui for the first time in 1,000 years and begin to repair the damage caused by the prior Visorak invasion. Meanwhile, the Toa Nuva learn that Mata Nui is not only asleep, but dying. To save him, they're told to venture to the rocky island of Voya Nui and retrieve the Kanohi Ignika - the legendary Mask of Life. However, when the heroes arrive, they are quickly overpowered and imprisoned by the Piraka; a group of former Dark Hunters of the Skakdi species, who after raiding Makuta's lair, had the idea of claiming the Ignika planted into their minds by Makuta's surviving spirit, real name Teridax. Travelling to Voya Nui, the Piraka - carrying Teridax's essence in the form of a substance called Antidermis - pose as Toa before enslaving nearly all of the native Matoran with it; forcing them to carry out tasks in relation to finding the Ignika. Back in Metru Nui, Jaller is curious of the Toa Nuva's whereabouts. Suspecting the Turaga of harboring more secrets, he gets the Matoran to hold a strike until they reveal the Toa's location, but to no avail. In secret, Nokama discloses the Toa Nuva's mission of saving Mata Nui to Jaller. Believing they need assistance, he gathers five of the bravest Matoran he knows - Hahli, Hewkii, Nuparu, Kongu and Matoro - and with Takanuva, they prepare to travel to Voya Nui. But after Takanuva is forced to turn back, the Matoran arrive in the realm of Karzahni, where they are forced into the labor of rebuilding damaged Matoran by its demented ruler of the same name. The party eventually escape via Toa canisters heading to Voya Nui, but prior to arriving, bolts of lighting from an object called the Red Star which orbits their planet transform them into the Toa Inika; Toa with entwined lightning powers. With help from a small Matoran resistance force and the ancient being Axonn, the new Toa battle the many guardians and challenges set by the Ignika and chase the Piraka underground to its chamber. Upon arriving, they find the Skakdi already defeated by the mask's final guardians; the insane seventh Piraka Vezon that the Ignika has fused itself to and his spider-like steed Fenrakk, the latter later re-arising as a Kardas Dragon. The immense battle climaxes with the pair getting trapped in a stasis field, but as Matoro retrieves the mask, Vezon unfreezes and the dragon fires an energy blast that knocks the Ignika out of his hands and up out of the chamber. Followed by the revived Piraka, the Toa chase after the mask, which eventually plunges into the sea. After receiving a clue about a city beneath the ocean and conversing with the recently freed Toa Nuva, the Toa Inika descend through the stone cord that keeps Voya Nui afloat in the hope of reclaiming the Ignika.
2007 – Sea of Darkness
The Mask of Life's descent ends in Mahri Nui, an underwater city originally part of Voya Nui before it broke off and sunk into the sea. Upon sight, it becomes an object of interest to the Matoran villagers as well as the Barraki; six former warlords sent to the Pit (a prison that sits on the lip of the city) after their crimes as part of the League of Six Kingdoms. But after the Pit was damaged in the Great Cataclysm, they escaped into the surrounding ocean and were mutated by its mutagen waters. Believing the mask can change them back so they can rule the Kingdoms once again, the Barraki battle one another for possession of the Ignika. Meanwhile, the Toa Inika continue their descent through the stone cord where they battle Vezon and an army of murderous Zyglak. Upon reaching the depths of the sea, the Mask of Life transforms the heroes into the water-breathing Toa Mahri - complete with new masks and weapons. The team engage in combat with the Barraki and their aquatic Rahi armies upon arrival, but in the midst of the battle, Matoro is imprisoned in the Pit by a robotic Maxilos guard that reveals itself as Makuta Teridax, who possessed the robot after his essence followed the Toa through the stone cord. He informs Matoro that Mata Nui's life can only be saved if the Toa shatter the cord, and although not trustful in the villain's words, he relays the information to his team-mates. They agree and evacuate Matoran from both locations before proceeding to destroy the cord; sending Voya Nui plummeting into the ocean and demolishing Mahri Nui in the process. But by the time the Toa Mahri retrieve the Ignika, Mata Nui dies. Believing there's still hope, Matoro - the one person who can touch the Ignika without becoming cursed - races towards a hole in the seabed with it before Voya Nui descends to close it, leaving his team to continue battling the Barraki. Once in, he falls through a waterfall in what resembles a large cave and hears a voice from inside the mask telling him to put it on. In doing so, Matoro learns of the Ignika's history and how to use it to resurrect the Great Spirit. Now knowing it is his destiny to sacrifice himself to save the universe, Matoro uses the Ignika's powers to teleport the Toa Mahri back to Metru Nui and make them amphibious before the mask turns his body into pure energy that saves the Great Spirit. Meanwhile, the Maxilos body that Teridax inhabited is found badly damaged after a ferocious battle with the Barraki's armies, and is so presumed dead. Mata Nui has been saved, but remains asleep.
2008 – The Final Battle
After completing several tasks in preparation of Mata Nui's reawakening, the Toa Nuva are teleported to Karda Nui - the cavern-like core of the Matoran Universe - to finally complete their destiny. Finding members from the Brotherhood of Makuta sent by Teridax battling a group of Matoran warriors, the heroes - equipped with the ability to fly thanks to new "adaptive" armor and weapons - split into two teams; Kopaka, Lewa and Pohatu remain in the skies to protect the villagers while Tahu, Gali and Onua descend to the Swamp of Secrets to retrieve the Kanohi Ignika - previously worn by Matoro to save the Great Spirit. Kopaka's team receive support from three Av-Matoran (Matoran of Light) and a manifestation of the Mask of Life calling itself "Toa Ignika" while fighting a band of bat-like Makuta and their Shadow Matoran servants. Tahu's team, unaware that the Ignika is aiding the battle above, are threatened by three more Makuta, mutated by the waters of the swamp. Both groups reunite outside the Codrex - a giant metal sphere that sits at the swamp's centre - after retrieving six keystones to open it. Inside, the Toa discover powerful battle vehicles among ancient technology as well as their own origins to their lives before arriving on Mata Nui island. The heroes use the vehicles in a final all-out battle against the Brotherhood and receive help from a half-light drained Takanuva who also manages to turn the Shadow Matoran back to their former states. Later, the Toa Ignika sacrifices itself to awaken Mata Nui, causing an energy storm that the Toa and Av-Matoran narrowly escape. The Makuta, however, realizing that their leader had in fact sent them to their deaths, are obliterated by the storm. Thanks to the Ignika's actions, the physical form of Mata Nui rises from beneath the Endless Ocean for the first time in 1,000 years; destroying the now-barren island of Mata Nui in the process. The Toa Nuva and Takanuva arrive back in Metru Nui and join the celebrations of Mata Nui's reawakening with the Matoran and Turaga. But in the midst of the festivity, Teridax's laughter echoes throughout the city. The Makuta, thought to be long since dead, reveals that he has taken over Mata Nui's body - the giant robotic humanoid vessel that houses the entire Matoran Universe - before Mata Nui's spirit could return. As his reign of terror begins, Teridax seals his victory by placing Mata Nui's spirit inside the Mask of Life and ejecting it into outer-space, sending the former Great Spirit on a long journey into the unknown.
2009 – The Legend Reborn
Far away from the Matoran Universe is the desert world of Bara Magna. In order to settle disputes and survive in the harsh conditions of the planet, the Agori villagers pitch their best warriors known as Glatorian against one another in arena matches. But while most of the tribes live in amity, the recent arrival of the Rock Tribe and their Skrall warriors threatens to destroy the peace as they appear to win every arena match they participate in. Despite this, all the tribes live in fear from a group of nomads called Bone Hunters, who stalk the wastelands and hunt Agori for sport. The Skrall later attack Arena Magna - the oldest arena on Bara Magna - during the Great Tournament. The Glatorian and Agori who escaped knew they couldn't defeat the Skrall alone and hoped that help would come. Months later, the Mask of Life - carrying the spirit of Mata Nui - crash-lands in the wastelands of Bara Magna and creates a new, smaller body for the former Great Spirit. Mata Nui eventually befriends a group of Glatorian and Agori, and after granting them elemental powers with the Ignika, begins to find a way back to his own universe. But with rumors of a traitor amongst the tribes, Mata Nui gets caught up in the war against the Skrall and their recently discovered alliance with the Bone Hunters and is taught how to fight for the first time. He later convinces the Agori and Glatorian that they must unite in order to fight their enemies, but after the Bone Hunters kidnap two of his new friends - the Glatorian Kiina and Agori Berix - Mata Nui travels to the Rock Tribe's village of Roxtus to combat Tuma, leader of the Skrall, in exchange for their freedom. Upon defeating Tuma, Mata Nui discovers the Ice Tribe Agori Metus is the traitor who brought the Skrall and Bone Hunters together. The Glatorian and Agori later arrive to combat their unified enemies and drive the Skrall and Bone Hunters out of Roxtus, while Mata Nui uses the Mask of Life to turn Metus into a snake as his punishment. After the battle, the Agori assemble the structures of their villages together to create a new "Mega-Village". Mata Nui notices how the structures link up to form a vast robotic body - similar to his old one - and upon discovering a map of an unknown location, begins a quest with his new friends to return to his people.
2010 – Journey's End
Mata Nui learns of Bara Magna's past, his creators the Great Beings, and his destiny to reunite the planet with its moons Aqua Magna and Bota Magna to recreate the once-plentiful Spherus Magna. He begins his quest by travelling through a maze occupied with booby-traps (using the map he found as a guide), where he uncovers an unstable power source. After convincing the Glatorian and Agori to let him use the prototype robot that they use as their Mega-Village, Mata Nui places the power source, the Mask of Life and his spirit inside it, and as the vessel, begins the process of reuniting Bara Magna with its satellites. Later, Makuta Teridax - in Mata Nui's old body - touches down on Bara Magna after sensing Mata Nui's presence. Planning to conquer the planet and eventually the rest of the universe, he offers Mata Nui the chance to join him. He refuses, and the two robots do battle. On the ground, several Rahkshi and Skakdi under Teridax's command exit the Matoran Universe via his heel, followed by Tahu, Takanuva and many other Toa. The Makuta's forces are soon joined by the Skrall, who together, battle the Glatorian and Agori. Meanwhile, the Mask of Life reduces Tahu into his original Toa Mata form so he can don the Golden Armor; a weapon originally devised to destroy the Makuta species if they were to ever betray Mata Nui. Teridax notices and scatters the armor across the desert with an energy blast. With help from the Glatorian Gresh, Tahu and Takanuva retrieve the armor back from their enemies. When Tahu bestows it, a wave of energy is unleashed that incinerates all the Kraata powering the Rahkshi armor, leaving the Skakdi and Skrall greatly outnumbered. Mata Nui notices Teridax's hesitation in sensing the loss of his Rahkshi and sees a chance to swing his body into the oncoming path of a rock fragment from Aqua Magna. It crashes into the Makuta's head and damages the robot's core processor, killing the tyrant for good. Mata Nui completes his destiny of reforming Spherus Magna, but the strain is too great as his body plummets to the ground. The Toa and Glatorian arrive at the crash-site to find Mata Nui speaking from inside the undamaged Mask of Life. He asks them to seek out the Great Beings as his final wish before deciding to remain dormant within the mask. The Toa, Matoran, Glatorian, Agori and all other beings from both worlds now begin a new life on Spherus Magna.
The second generation of Bionicle ran between 2015 and 2016 with the story being a complete reboot. Similar to the premise of the first generation, the story takes place on a tropical island located on an ocean world featuring bio-mechanical beings. Online animations and a series of books and graphics novels authored by Ryder Windham, as well as the animated Netflix series Lego Bionicle: The Journey to One (2016) chronicled the narrative. Like the first generation, characters are divided into six elemental tribes: Fire, Water, Earth, Jungle, Stone, and Ice.
2015 – Masks of Power
On the mythical island of Okoto, the Mask Maker brothers - Ekimu and Makuta - forged masks of elemental power for the island's villagers. However, jealous of his brother's higher-rated craftsmanship, Makuta broke an ancient vow by forging a mask with more than one element; the Mask of Ultimate Power. Putting it on, the mask took control over him and began to destroy the island, forcing Ekimu to confront him. Knocking the mask off Makuta's face, a shock wave from the battle rolled across Okoto and sent both brothers into an endless sleep, while their masks - the Mask of Creation and the Mask of Control, as well as the Mask of Ultimate Power - were scattered across the island. After the leaders of the villages, the Protectors, buried Ekimu, Okoto was overran with Skull Spiders searching for the powerful masks. On the brink of giving up hope, the Protectors send a prayer they heard from whispers from Ekimu's lifeless body to the skies during a celestial alignment, resulting in six powerful heroes, the Toa, to crash-land on the island. Each masters of a sacred element, the Toa - Tahu, Kopaka, Pohatu, Gali, Onua and Lewa - are quickly enlisted by the Protectors in their battle against the Skull Spiders as well as embarking on a quest to find their golden Masks of Power that are the key to unlocking their full elemental abilities. Once claimed, the Toa meet for the first time outside the ancient city of the Mask Makers. Defeating the Lord of Skull Spiders upon arrival, they venture inside in search of the resting place of Ekimu. Battling an army of skeleton warriors under the control of Makuta's surviving spirit, the Toa overcome their ranks before finding Ekimu's tomb and awakening him. However, the leader of the skeleton warriors, the Skull Grinder, has obtained Ekimu's Mask of Creation. Donning it, he defeats the Toa with ease and damages their masks. This gives Ekimu the time to recreate his Hammer of Power and defeat the Skull Grinder by knocking the mask off his face. Donning his sacred mask once again, Ekimu recreates the Toa's golden masks, while they all agree that Makuta is still out there; readying for his next attack.
2016 – The Journey to One
Following the Skull Army's defeat, the Okotans return to the City of the Mask Makers for the first time in millennia. The Toa, bestowed with new armor and weapons by Ekimu, are tasked in finding the Elemental Creatures: ancient beings who incarnate the very life force of the elements and know the locations of the Toa's Golden Masks of Unity as well as Makuta's Mask of Control. Finding one in each region, the Toa tame and befriend the creatures before being led to their unity mask temples. Putting them on, the creatures mount and 'unite' with the Toa to show them the location of Makuta's mask. Meanwhile, Umarak, a hunter born from the shadows, is employed by Makuta to find his lost mask. Aided by his Shadow Trap creatures, he follows the Toa and their creatures to the Labyrinth of Control, the secret off-shore location Makuta's mask. Inside, the heroes dodge the maze's booby traps and enter the mask's chamber; uniting with their creatures to do so. However, Pohatu's stubbornness to unite with Ketar, the Creature of Stone, allows Umarak to ambush him and use Ketar to enter himself. Fleeing with Makuta's mask, the hunter gives Pohatu the ultimatum of claiming it or saving his creature, to which he chooses the latter. Umarak later confronts Makuta's spirit and defies the claim that he was ever his servant by putting his mask on, but Makuta takes control and transforms him into a horrific beast. Now the Mask Hoarder's minion, "Umarak the Destroyer" raises an army of Elemental Beasts created out of his Shadow Traps to attack the Mask Maker City as a distraction for the Toa, while he seeks out the lost pieces of the Mask of Ultimate Power. Realizing their enemies' true intent, the Toa and an upgraded Ekimu pursue the Destroyer to the Black Crater in the region of Stone, where he recreates Makuta's forbidden mask in order to open a portal to the Shadow Realm, the Mask Hoarder's prison after his battle with Ekimu. But when Gali attempts to retrieve the mask pieces, her spirit is pulled through. In the realm, she discovers the Toa's true destiny, and just as Umarak is consumed by the portal, returns to relay the information and unite the Toa into banishing Makuta for good. With their destiny fulfilled and power expended, the heroes return to their stars to overlook a safe Okoto, with the intent of returning should danger ever arise again.
The Bionicle franchise was well received over its venture and became one of the Lego Group's biggest-selling properties. At the time of its launch, one reviewer described the sets as "A good combination of assembly and action figure". and first-year sales of £100 million ($161.7 million). Bionicle later received a Toy of the Year Award for Most Innovative Toy in 2001 from the Toy Industry Association.
Bionicle's rapid success had a major impact on the Lego Company. Stephanie Lawrence, the global director of licensing for Lego, stated "We've created an evergreen franchise to complement the many event-based properties on the children's market. An increasing number of category manufacturers want to tap into the power of the Bionicle universe, and the key for us now is to manage the excitement to stay true to the brand and the lifestyle of our core consumer."
Since its launch, toy critics have said that Bionicle has changed the way children think and play with Lego products by combining "The best of Lego building with the story telling and adventure of an action figure". Toy statics have revealed that 85% of American boys aged 6–12 have heard of Bionicle while 45% own the sets.
Māori language controversy
In 2002, several Māori tribal groups from New Zealand were angered by Lego's lack of respect for some of their words which were used to name certain characters, locations and objects in the Bionicle storyline. A letter of complaint was written, and the company agreed to change the names of certain story elements (e.g. the villagers originally known as "Tohunga" was changed to "Matoran") and met with an agreement with the Māori people to still use a small minority of their words.
In the story, the reason for certain name changes was dubbed as a Naming Ceremony for certain Matoran after doing heroic deeds (though the pronunciations remain the same), an example being the name change of 'Huki' to 'Hewkii'. Other names such as "Toa" meaning "Warrior", "Kanohi" meaning "Face" and "Kōpaka" meaning "Ice" were not changed.
Composers Paul Hardcastle and Simon Fuller produced the music for the Bionicle commercials used between 2001-2004, which also featured in the Mata Nui Online Game released throughout 2001. An official Bionicle album - featuring music from the bands Cold and Woven and singers Rob Zombie and Kenna - from was originally planned for release in 2002, but the project was scrapped when disagreements arose between The Lego Group and their chosen label Interscope Records.
Music for the Bionicle films Mask of Light (2003), Legends of Metru Nui (2004) and Web of Shadows (2005) was composed by Nathan Furst and have a more classical sound in comparison to the techno-driven sounds used in the earlier Bionicle commercials. In 2012, Furst announced plans to release an album compiling of music used in the films as well as re-recordings, but the plans were scrapped in 2015. In 2005, the band All Insane Kids released the songs "Hero" and "Caught in a Dream", produced and written by Morten Krog Helgesen. The latter serves as the official soundtrack to Bionicle 3: Web of Shadows. Music for the fourth Bionicle film The Legend Reborn (2009) was composed by John D'Andrea, while Mike Raznick composed the score for the 2016 television series Lego Bionicle: The Journey to One.
Between 2006 and 2007, artists such as The All-American Rejects, Daughtry and Niels Brinck contributed songs for Bionicle commercials. But the success of the song "Creeping in My Soul" sung by Danish singer Christine Lorentzen for Bionicle's Barraki toy campaign led to the formation of the rock band Cryoshell, who produced music for the theme up until its original discontinuation, and in its wake released their self-titled debut album.
References in popular culture
- Friends – in several episodes, the 2001 Toa Mata sets in their combiner Toa Kaita forms can be seen sporadically in Joey and Chandler's apartment.
- Even Stevens – in one episode, Louis and Beans play with a few of the 2001 Toa Mata and 2002 Bohrok sets.
- Malcolm in the Middle – in the episode "If Boys Were Girls", Dewey plays with a few of the 2001 Toa Mata sets.
- The King of Queens - in the episode "Friender Bender", the 2001 Toa Mata sets can be seen in the toy store where Doug and Carry are buying toys for Deacon's son.
- Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles – in the episode "To the Lighthouse", John Henry plays with a few of the 2008 Mistika sets along with a Lego construct of Mount Valmai. The 2006 story is also discussed. In the later episode "The Good Wound", Henry plays with the sets again. He also says "I wish to know, why [God] didn't use more ball-and-socket joints when he made you.", referring to the Bionicle building system.
- Suburgatory – in the episode "Victor Ha", Tessa finds her adopted brother hiding a 2010 Stars set. The 2008 story is also discussed.
- Clangers – in the episode "Small's New Star", a couple of Bionicle set parts are present among the junk in the Iron Chicken's nest.
- The Lego Movie (2014) – an image of the Toa Mata is shown, presenting one of the many realms in the Lego universe.
- Official Greg Discussion p. 198 Archived April 30, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. on BZPower forums, post #5922
- Widdicombe, Rupert (2004-04-29). "Building blocks for the future". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 29 December 2009.
- "An Important Announcement Regarding Bionicle". Retrieved 28 December 2009.
- C.A. Hapka, Bionicle Chronicles #1: Tale of the Toa
- C.A. Hapka, Bionicle Chronicles #2: Beware the Bohrok
- Greg Farshtey, Bionicle Adventures #1: Mystery of Metru Nui
- Greg Farshtey, Bionicle Adventures #5: Voyage of Fear
- Bionicle 3: Web of Shadows
- Bionicle 2: Legends of Metru Nui
- Greg Farshtey, Bionicle Legends #1: Island of Doom
- Greg Farshtey, Bionicle Legends #10: Swamp of Secrets
- Greg Farshtey, Bionicle Legends #11: The Final Battle-Epilogue
- Bionicle Glatorian #06: All That Glitters
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-10-06. Retrieved 2012-01-26.
- Doug Cornelius. "The end of LEGO Bionicle". Wired. Retrieved 2010-01-01.
- Telegraph (2009-12-17). "Lego: play it again". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 2010-01-01.
- Business Wire (2002-04-16). "LEGO Company to Channel Strong 2001 Performance into Aggressive Growth Strategy for North America; World leader in construction toys aims to double its Canadian business by 2005". Business Wire. Retrieved 2010-02-08.
- Business Wire (2004-06-07). "BIONICLE Fever Heats, Blazes Into New Categories; Key Players in Five Children's Merchandise Categories Jump on BIONICLE Bandwagon". Business Wire. Retrieved 2009-12-26.
- "Lego game irks Maoris". London: BBC News. 2005-05-31. Retrieved 2006-08-14.
- Griggs, Kim (2002-11-21). "Lego Site Irks Maori Sympathizer". Wired News. Retrieved 2006-08-14.
- "Lego agrees to stop using Maori names". London: BBC News. 2001-10-30. Retrieved 2006-08-14.
- Bionicle Encyclopedia, Scholastic 2007
- All Insane Kids, www.last.fm