Bionicle

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BIONICLE
Bionicle2015Logo.png
Parent theme Lego Technic (2000–2003)
Availability 2000–2010, 2015–2016
Total sets (See List of Bionicle toys)
Characters (See List of Bionicle characters)
Official website

Bionicle (stylized BIONICLE) was a line of Lego construction toys. Originally a subsidiary of Lego’s Technic series, the line launched in Europe and Australasia in 2000 and in the Americas in 2001. Over the following decade, it became one of the Lego Group's biggest-selling properties, turning into a franchise and playing a part in saving the company from its financial crisis of the late 1990s. Despite a planned twenty-year tenure, the theme was originally discontinued in 2010, but was rebooted in 2015 for a further two years.

Unlike many previous Lego themes, Bionicle was accompanied by an original story told on a multimedia spectrum that expanded as it continued. Set in a science fantasy universe featuring a diversity of cyborgs, the saga depicts the exploits of the Toa, heroic beings with elemental abilities whose duty is to maintain peace throughout their universe. This success prompted subsequent Lego themes to utilize similar story-telling methods.

Background[edit]

Concept[edit]

After suffering a ten-year downturn in the 1990s, the Lego Group went forward with the idea of storytelling, believing 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. Despite becoming an instant success upon its 1999 release, the royalty payments to the franchise owners Lucasfilm limited Lego's profit, prompting the latter to decide that an original story would be more advantageous to them. Their first attempts were the Slizer/Throwbots and RoboRiders themes released in 1999 and 2000, respectively, under the Lego Group's already-established Technic construction series. Technic construction elements, such as the then-innovative 'ball-and-socket' system used to create free joint movement, were heavily incorporated into the sets and would go on to be used and greatly expanded upon in Bionicle.

Although short lived, Slizer/Throwbots and RoboRiders proved popular, prompting Lego to create yet another story-oriented theme. Conceived to run for one year, it was later decided that it would run continuously as a staple to their line-up of themes with the prospect of lasting at least twenty years. Along with a number of other concepts, "BoneHeads of Voodoo Island" was brainstormed by Lego employees Bob Thompson and Martin Riber Andersen, and Art Director of Advance (a creative advertising agency) Christian Faber, from a brief by Erik Kramer and sent to outside writers. The names "BioKnights" and "Afterman" were also considered prior to the finalization of the brand.[1] One of the writers who received it was Alastair Swinnerton. He rewrote the concept and sent it back to Thompson, and was later invited to pitch it to the Lego Group at their headquarters in Billund, Denmark. The revised concept 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 and entitled "Bionicle" at an internal Lego meeting (a portmanteau constructed from the words "biological chronicle").[2]

To accompany the sets, Lego worked with Swinnerton and Advance to create an elaborate, original story featuring red herrings, arcs and extensive lore 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 Technic building system used in Slizer/Throwbots and RoboRiders, uses of tropical environments and characters based on classical elements were also taken.

Launch and initial reception[edit]

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 premiered in mid-2001 to North America where generating massive success and earned the Lego Group £100 million in its first year.[3] 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 set waves, such as 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 terms of sales and popularity in 2003 and again in 2006,[4] accounting for nearly all of Lego's financial turnover from the previous decade. No other Lego theme at the time matched the amount of profits generated by Bionicle. Its popularity led to web traffic on its official website, averaging more than one million page views per month, and further kinds of merchandise such as clothes, toiletries, and fast-food restaurant toy collectibles, among others.

Discontinuation[edit]

In November 2009, Lego announced that production on new Bionicle sets would stop after a final wave would be released in 2010. Reasons that contributed included a loss in sales, a lack of new interest and a complicated back story with extended lore that put potential new consumers off. In mid-2010, Lego launched Hero Factory, a new theme marketed as a successor to Bionicle, as well as a simpler story. It continued to utilize the building system introduced in its predecessor; eventually evolving into the Character and Creature Building System (CCBS) which carried over into other Lego themes and eventually Bionicle's 2015 reintroduction.

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.[5] This was halted in mid-2011 due to Farshtey's other commitments and the website was shut down in June 2013, leaving a number of new serials incomplete.

Reboot and second discontinuation[edit]

Work on a reboot to Bionicle began in 2012.[citation needed] Matt Betteker, who previously created concept art for 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 being revealed at New York Comic Con the following October 9.[6] The new story – a reboot to the original – accompanied the new sets. Dubbed "Generation 2" by fans, it features a simpler narrative with less extensive lore, as well as a scaled-down multimedia spectrum, in comparison to the original story.

The reboot launched in January 2015 to a mixed reception from toy critics and fans of the original Bionicle franchise. With the playability of the new sets and the inspiration taken from the theme's first toy waves being praised, but the simplified lore and undeveloped/inaccurate characters causing negative feedback. The sets themselves utilized the CCBS taken from Hero Factory. The Bionicle website was also relaunched with material detailing the new story. Despite a plan to release new sets through to at least 2017, Lego discontinued Bionicle yet again after the release of their Summer 2016 wave of sets, due to low sales.

Story[edit]

Generation 1[edit]

The story for Bionicle's first run was published between 2001 and 2010, concurrently with the release of the Lego toys, and was told on a multimedia platform developed by a team of Lego employees led by Bob Thompson,[4] who decided which piece of media got which part of the narrative. Mediums include comic books, novels, animated videos, as well as console and online games, among others. 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 published that year. A total of seven story arcs were originally planned for the theme's outlined tenure, but due to Lego's decision to cancel it, only three were fully completed, while the fourth was altered to conclude the story as a whole. 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 as well as serials released through to 2011 that currently remain incomplete.

The Bionicle story is set in a science fantasy universe and follows the lives of sentient beings composed out of a mix of organic and mechanical parts. The main narrative details the adventures of the Toa, heroic beings whose duty is to protect their smaller villager-like counterparts, the Matoran, from the dangers of their world. Their main adversary is a being known as the Makuta, responsible for placing the Great Spirit Mata Nui (a venerated being whom the Matoran idolize) into a coma-like state. Because of this, many Toa have dedicated themselves to a mission of finding a way to reawaken him. While Mata Nui is described as a god-like figure, his physical nature is left a mystery for the majority of the story; hints of which are placed throughout. A general story-note is characters such as the Toa and Matoran are divided into tribes based on six elements: Fire, Water, Air, Earth, Ice and Stone. Other elements were later introduced as the story continued.

2001 – Coming of the Toa[edit]

On the tropical island paradise of Mata Nui, the Matoran villagers fight a war against the Makuta, a powerful being responsible for casting his "brother", the Great Spirit Mata Nui (the Matoran's god-like savior for whom the island is named) into a deep sleep. Now, Makuta uses his influence over the Rahi (the island's fauna) to keep the Matoran in fear. The six village elders, the Turaga, prophesy the arrival of the Toa, six element-powered heroes, who are destined to save the island and reawaken Mata Nui. Unknowingly, a Matoran named Takua triggers a beacon for six canisters to wash up on the island. Once ashore, they burst open to reveal the six Toa: 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 tools to channel their elemental energies and donning great Kanohi masks, the Toa learn of the war against the Rahi and are sent on quests to find more Kanohi, each of which possess a different ability. After, they descend underground to face Makuta. Initially appearing in the form of a Matoran to trick them, Makuta shape-shifts into a vortex of tentacles and machinery parts. The Toa defeat him by combining their elemental powers onto him before triumphantly returning to the surface. But Takua, who secretly followed the Toa down, discovers a large cocoon nest hidden away from the battle site. He sees one burst open, but quickly escapes before he can learn more.

2002 – The Bohrok Swarms[edit]

The Toa emerge from Makuta's lair victorious, only to discover a new threat launched by the villain: the Bohrok swarms – robotic bug-like drones driven to "cleanse" Mata Nui to a barren state.[7] The swarms rampage across the island, forcing the Matoran to flee or submit to the influence of the Bohrok's brain-like Krana organisms. While certain villages retaliate against the swarms, the Toa collect all eight Krana varieties and place them in niches in the Bohrok's underground nests believing this will stop the swarms, but to no avail. The heroes later discover 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. Discovering that the Exo-Toa are hampering their elemental abilities, the Toa remove 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 Bohrok stop in mid-action and the Matoran begin to rebuild their villages. The Toa's victory is short-lived when the ground beneath them opens up and plunges them into tubes filled with energized protodermis, a substance that can destroy matter in a substantial way. The heroes emerge transformed with new masks, armor and tools. Renamed Toa Nuva, they test their new powers against one another, but when their actions lead to anger, all think it best to go their separate ways.

2003 – The Bohrok-Kal Strike / The Mask of Light[edit]

After collecting new Kanohi masks, the Toa Nuva return to their villages. However, six new elite Bohrok – the Bohrok-Kal – appear with the intention of releasing the Bahrag so the Bohrok may swarm again. Each Kal steals a Nuva symbol tablet, robbing the heroes of their command of the elements. Relying on their mask powers and combat skills, the Toa Nuva chase the Bohrok-Kal all over Mata Nui and underground to the Bahrag's nest. Defeating the Exo-Toa guards, the Kal attempt to fit all six plaques onto a Nuva cube in order to release the swarm queens. But before they join, Tahu unleashes the Kanohi Vahi – the legendary Mask of Time bestowed to him by his village elder Turaga Vakama – to slow down time; allowing the Toa time to feed energy into the Kal via their connections to their tablets and destroy them. Exiting the nest and hiding their tablets, the heroes enjoy a new time of peace on Mata Nui.

Weeks later, two Matoran, Takua and Jaller, discover a unique mask hidden under their village. The Turaga confirm it is the Kanohi Avohkii – the Mask of Light – prophesied to be worn by a seventh Toa who can defeat Makuta and kickstart Mata Nui's awakening. As the Matoran duo go in search of the new Toa, a recuperated Makuta unleashes his "sons", the Rahkshi – robotic armored suits powered by slug-like Kraata created from his essence – to kill the mask's herald. The Rahkshi fight the Toa Nuva all over Mata Nui, culminating in a battle that kills Jaller. Realizing he is the herald, Takua dons the Avokii and transforms into Takanuva – Toa of Light – and defeats the last Rahkshi before travelling underground to Makuta's lair. Followed by the island populace, Takanuva and Makuta clash and fall into an energized protodermis pool, re-emerging as Takutanuva, a fusion of the two. The unbiased being then lifts up a gate and orders the Toa, Turaga and Matoran through, before reviving Jaller and getting crushed by the gate's weight. The Avokii is retrieved to revive Takanuva, while the Makuta is thought dead. Later, the villagers come across a vast silver sea containing an island city. The Turaga reveal its name as Metru Nui, the Matoran's original home, and go on to reveal forgotten tales of their past.[8]

2004 – Legends of Metru Nui[edit]

Preparing to journey to Metru Nui, the Turaga reveal tales of how they were formally Toa in the last days of the city's golden age. 1,000 years ago when the Great Spirit was last conscious, the Matoran lived and worked on Metru Nui. But when the city's Toa guardians started to disappear, the last – Lhikan – sacrificed his power to transform six Matoran – Vakama, Nokama, Whenua, Onewa, Matau, and Nuju – into the Toa Metru, before mercenaries known as Dark Hunters captured him. To prove themselves, the new Toa collected six Great Kanoka discs to defeat the Morbuzakh plant menace, but were discredited as imposters by Metru Nui's leader, Turaga Dume. Evading imprisonment and law enforcement, the Toa eventually found Lhikan, now a Turaga as a result of his sacrifice, as well as the true Turaga Dume asleep in a stasis pod, unveiling a conspiracy that Makuta – the leader of the corrupt Brotherhood of Makuta organization – had been posing as Dume in an effort to become the Matoran's new leader. Causing a universal cataclysm by casting Mata Nui into a deep slumber and placing the Matoran in sleeping pods to erase their memories, Makuta ambushed the Toa Metru to obtain the Mask of Time Vakama had forged in order to speed up the process. In a battle that resulted in Lhikan's death and the loss of the mask, the Toa combined their elemental powers to seal Makuta into a protodermis cage. The heroes then fled with a dozen Matoran pods and later arrived on a tropical island. Seeing it as the Matoran's new home, they christened the land "Mata Nui" after the Great Spirit before travelling back to Metru Nui to collect the rest of the comatose populace.[9]

2005 – Web of Shadows[edit]

Upon the Toa Metru's return to Metru Nui, they found the city overrun by spider-like Rahi called Visorak, while their king and his viceroy – Sidorak and Roodaka – held the sleeping Matoran captive. The Visorak captured and mutated the Toa into half-Toa, half-Rahi creatures nicknamed "Toa Hordika" before the Rahaga, six small beings once Toa themselves, rescued them and said that in order to reverse their mutations, they must seek Keetongu: a legendary Rahi said to be an expert with poisons and antidotes. But after completing preparations for the Matoran's rescue, Vakama succumbed to this Rahi impulses and joined Sidorak and Roodaka; kidnapping five of the Rahaga as proof of his new loyalty. The remaining Toa and Rahaga eventually found Keetongu, who aided them in a final battle against the Visorak. Letting Sidorak die at Keetongu's mercy, Roodaka confronted the Toa and demanded their elemental powers, to which they all fired their Rhotuka weapons at her, including a rejuvenated Vakama after he dispersed the Visorak; knocking her unconscious. Unknowingly, the Toa's unified powers hit a shard of Makuta's protodermis prison that sat in Roodaka's armor (the viceroy having secretly been working for him) and released him.[10] Keetongu restored the Toa to their original forms, and after Vakama managed to retrieve the Mask of Time, the heroes set off with the Matoran pods for Mata Nui island. There, they sacrificed their powers to awaken them and transformed into Turaga; guiding the now-amnesiac villagers while knowing Makuta would one day return, and that new Toa would, in time, arrive to fight him.[11]

2006 – Island of Doom[edit]

As the Matoran arrive back in Metru Nui, the Toa Nuva learn that Mata Nui is not only asleep, but dying. To save him, they're told to retrieve the Kanohi Ignika – the legendary Mask of Life – from the island of Voya Nui. But when the heroes arrive, they are quickly overpowered and imprisoned by the Piraka: six former Dark Hunters who raided Makuta's lair and had the idea of claiming the Ignika planted into their minds by the Makuta's surviving spirit, real name Teridax. The Piraka enslave the native Matoran with Antidermis, a form of Makuta's essence, and force them to carry out tasks in relation to finding the Mask of Life. Believing the Toa Nuva need help, six Matoran from Metru Nui – Jaller, Hahli, Nuparu, Hewkii, Kongu and Matoro – journey to Voya Nui. Prior to arriving, bolts of lighting from the Red Star (a mysterious luminous object that sits in the sky) transform them into the Toa Inika: Toa with intertwined lightning powers. The new Toa battle the many challenges set by the Ignika and chase the Piraka underground to the mask's chamber. Finding them already defeated by Vezon – the insane seventh Piraka that the mask has fused itself to – the Toa battle him and his Fenrakk Rahi steed (later mutated into a Kardas Dragon) until Jaller traps them in a stasis field. But as Matoro retrieves the mask, the Toa's enemies unfreeze and the dragon fires an energy blast that knocks the mask out of the chamber and into the sea. The Toa Inika later receive a clue about a village beneath the ocean and descend via a stone cord to reclaim the Ignika. Meanwhile, the recently freed Toa Nuva depart to "prepare" the universe for Mata Nui's awakening.

2007 – Sea of Darkness[edit]

The Mask of Life's descent ends in Mahri Nui, an underwater village originally part of Voya Nui before it broke off and sunk. It attracts the attention of the Barraki: six criminal warlords mutated by mutagen waters after breaking out of the Pit – a jail that sits on the lip of the village. Believing the mask can change them back, the Barraki and their aquatic armies battle each other for possession until the arrival of the Toa Inika – now transformed into the water-breathing Toa Mahri by the Ignika – renews the fight. Later, Matoro is confronted by a robotic Maxilos guard that reveals itself as Makuta Teridax (his essence having possessed the robot after following the Toa from Voya Nui) who informs him that Mata Nui can only can be saved if the Toa destroy the stone cord that keeps Voya Nui afloat. Although hesitant, Matoro relays this to his teammates, who agree and proceed to destroy the cord after evacuating the Matoran; sending Voya Nui plummeting into the ocean and destroying Mahri Nui in the process. But by the time the Toa Mahri retrieve the Ignika, Mata Nui dies. Leaving his fellow Toa to fend off the Barraki, Matoro makes a last attempt to save the Great Spirit by taking the mask through a hole in the seabed to the place he believes it must be used, before Voya Nui descends to close it. Falling inside a waterfall, Matoro dons the Ignika and uses its powers to teleport the Toa Mahri home to Metru Nui and make them amphibious before sacrificing himself to heal the Great Spirit. Meanwhile, the Maxilos body that Teridax inhabited is found damaged after a battle with the Barraki, and is so presumed dead. Mata Nui has been saved, but remains asleep.

2008 – Battle for Power[edit]

After completing several tasks for Mata Nui's awakening, the Toa Nuva are teleported to Karda Nui, the cavern-like core of their universe, to finally complete their destiny. Equipped with the ability to fly thanks to new adaptive armor and weapons, the heroes split into two teams: Kopaka, Lewa and Pohatu remain in the skies to aid a group of Matoran battling members of the Makuta species and their Shadow Matoran servants, while Tahu, Gali and Onua descend to the Swamp of Secrets to retrieve the Mask of Life after its use by Matoro. Unaware that the Ignika is aiding the battle above in the form of a Toa, Tahu's team face three more Makuta; mutated by the waters of the swamp. The Toa Nuva reunite after retrieving six keystones to open the Codrex, a giant metal sphere that sits in the swamp's centre. Inside, they find ancient battle vehicles and use them in a final battle against the Makuta. After Takanuva arrives and cures the Shadow Matoran, the Toa Ignika sacrifices itself to awaken Mata Nui, creating an energy storm that obliterates the Makuta and narrowly misses the Toa and Matoran in their escape. Thanks to the mask's actions, the physical form of Mata Nui – a giant robotic vessel that houses the Matoran universe – rises from beneath the ocean; destroying Mata Nui island in the process. The Toa Nuva and Takanuva arrive back in Metru Nui and join in with the celebrations, but in the midst of the festivity, Teridax reveals he has taken over Mata Nui's body and sealed his spirit inside the Mask of Life. As his reign of terror begins, he ejects the mask into outer-space, taking Mata Nui on a journey into the unknown.[12]

2009 – The Legend Reborn[edit]

On the desert world of Bara Magna, the Agori villagers settle disputes by pitching their best warriors, known as Glatorian, against one another in arena matches. While most of the tribes live in amity, the Rock Tribe and their Skrall warriors threatens to destroy the peace, as they appear to win every match they take part in. 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 help would come. Months later, the Mask of Life, carrying the mind and spirit of Mata Nui, crash-lands on Bara Magna where it creates a new, smaller body for the former Great Spirit. Mata Nui befriends a group of Glatorian and Agori and gets caught up in their war against the Skrall and their recently discovered alliance with the Bone Hunters, a group of village-raiding nomads, after hearing rumors of a traitor among the tribes. But after the Bone Hunters kidnap two of his new friends – the Glatorian Kiina and Agori Berix – Mata Nui travels to the Rock Tribe village of Roxtus to combat Tuma, leader of the Skrall, for their freedom. Defeating him, Mata Nui discovers the Ice Tribe Agori Metus is the traitor who brought the Skrall and Bone Hunters together. As punishment, he uses the Ignika to turn Metus into a serpent. After the Glatorian and Agori arrive to drive the Skrall and Bone Hunters out of Roxtus, they assemble the structures of their villages together to create a new "Mega-Village". Noticing how they link up to form a vast robotic body similar to his old one, Mata Nui begins a quest with his new friends to find a way back to his people.

2010 – Journey's End[edit]

Mata Nui learns of his destiny to reunite Bara Magna with its moons to recreate the once-plentiful Spherus Magna. Granted permission to possess the giant robot that the Glatorian and Agori use as their Mega-Village, he places an unstable power source, the Mask of Life, and his spirit inside it and begins to draw the moons back into the planet. Later, Makuta Teridax arrives. Planning a universal conquest, 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. Joined by the Skrall, they battle the Glatorian and Agori. Tahu, Takanuva, and other Toa arrive to aid the fight, but the Ignika reduces Tahu into his original form so he can don the Golden Armor: a weapon devised to destroy the Makuta species if they were to ever betray Mata Nui.[13] Teridax scatters the armor across the desert with an energy blast, but Tahu and his comrades manage retrieve them. As Tahu bestows it, an energy wave is released that incinerates all the Kraata powering Rahkshi armor, leaving the Skakdi and Skrall outnumbered. Teridax hesitates sensing the loss of his Rahkshi, giving Mata Nui the chance to swing his body into a rock fragment from one of the oncoming moons,[14] killing the Makuta for good. Mata Nui reforms Spherus Magna, but the strain causes him to plummet to the ground. At the crash-site, he speaks from inside the undamaged Mask of Life and asks those present to seek out the Great Beings – the ones who created him – before going dormant. The Toa, Matoran, Glatorian, Agori and all other beings from both worlds now begin a new life together.

Generation 2[edit]

A reboot of the original theme, Bionicle's second run ran between 2015 and 2016. 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), detailed the narrative. The story chronicles the adventures of six elemental heroes, the Toa, protecting the tropical island of Okoto and its bio-mechanical inhabitants. Similar to the first generation, characters are divided into six elemental tribes: Fire, Water, Earth, Jungle, Stone, and Ice (Jungle replaced the element of Air due to creative reasons). The story concluded in 2016 in time with the theme's second cancellation.

2015 – Masks of Power[edit]

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 of 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 overrun 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, but their efforts give 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[edit]

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, begin a new task of finding the Elemental Creatures: ancient beings who incarnate the life force of the elements and know of 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 befriend the creatures, who lead them to their unity mask temples. Donning the masks, the creatures mount and 'unite' with the Toa and share the location of Makuta's mask with them. 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 the Elemental Creatures to the Labyrinth of Control, the secret off-shore location of the Mask of Control. 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 enter himself. Fleeing with Makuta's mask, the hunter gives Pohatu the ultimatum of claiming it or saving Ketar, to which he chooses the latter. Umarak later confronts Makuta's spirit and defies the claim that he was ever his servant by wearing his mask, 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 (Makuta'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, she 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.

Reception[edit]

Initially, the idea of Bionicle faced resistance from company traditionalists as the Lego Group had no experience of marketing a story-based brand of their own. The "war-like" appearance of the characters also went against the company's values of creating sets without themes of modern warfare or violence.[4] Lego 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".[15]

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".[16] and first-year sales of £100 million ($161.7 million).[17] Bionicle later received a Toy of the Year Award for Most Innovative Toy in 2001 from the Toy Industry Association.[18]

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."[19]

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 statistics have revealed that 85% of American boys aged 6–12 have heard of Bionicle while 45% own the sets.[19]

Māori language controversy[edit]

In 2002, several Māori iwi (tribes) 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.[20][21] 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")[21] and met with an agreement with the Māori people to still use a small minority of their words.[22]

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'.[23] Other names such as "Toa" meaning "Warrior", "Kanohi" meaning "Face" and "Kōpaka" meaning "Ice"[21] were not changed.

Music[edit]

Composers Paul Hardcastle and Simon Fuller produced the music for the Bionicle commercials used between 2001–04, 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 the label Interscope Records.

In 2005, the band All Insane Kids released the songs "Hero" and "Caught in a Dream", produced and written by Morten Krog Helgesen.[24] The latter is played in the end credits of Bionicle 3: Web of Shadows. 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.

Music for the Bionicle films Mask of Light (2003), Legends of Metru Nui (2004) and Web of Shadows (2005) was composed by Nathan Furst. In 2012, Furst announced plans to release a soundtrack for the music featured in the films. Although the plans were originally scrapped in 2015, a film score to Mask of Light was digitally released in 2017, celebrating the film's fourteenth anniversary.[25] This was followed by soundtracks for Legends of Metru Nui and Web of Shadows later in December of the same year.[26][27] 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 The Journey to One.

References in popular culture[edit]

Television[edit]

  • 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 Carrie 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 again plays with the sets, and asks himself "why [didn't] God didn't use ball-and-socket joints when he created humans?", referring to the Bionicle building system.
  • Suburgatory – in the episode "Victor Ha", Lisa finds her adopted brother hiding a 2010 Stars set and bonds with him over a love of the franchise. 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.

Film[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Faber (4 December 2015). "Faber Files: Name suggestions from the time before time".
  2. ^ Official Greg Discussion p. 198 Archived April 30, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. on BZPower forums, post #5922
  3. ^ "Lego: play it again". 17 December 2009 – via www.telegraph.co.uk.
  4. ^ a b c Widdicombe, Rupert (2004-04-29). "Building blocks for the future". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 29 December 2009.
  5. ^ "An Important Announcement Regarding Bionicle". Retrieved 28 December 2009.
  6. ^ "LEGO Bionicle". www.facebook.com.
  7. ^ C.A. Hapka, Bionicle Chronicles #2: Beware the Bohrok
  8. ^ Greg Farshtey, Bionicle Adventures #1: Mystery of Metru Nui
  9. ^ Greg Farshtey, Bionicle Adventures #5: Voyage of Fear
  10. ^ Bionicle 3: Web of Shadows
  11. ^ Bionicle 2: Legends of Metru Nui
  12. ^ Greg Farshtey, Bionicle Legends #11: The Final Battle-Epilogue
  13. ^ Bionicle Glatorian #06: All That Glitters
  14. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-10-06. Retrieved 2012-01-26.
  15. ^ Danger, Tatiana. "Review: New LEGO Bionicle Sets Are Here to Slice and Bash Skulls".
  16. ^ Doug Cornelius. "The end of LEGO Bionicle". Wired. Retrieved 2010-01-01.
  17. ^ Telegraph (2009-12-17). "Lego: play it again". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 2010-01-01.
  18. ^ 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.
  19. ^ a b 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.
  20. ^ "Lego game irks Maoris". London: BBC News. 2005-05-31. Retrieved 2006-08-14.
  21. ^ a b c Griggs, Kim (2002-11-21). "Lego Site Irks Maori Sympathizer". Wired News. Retrieved 2006-08-14.
  22. ^ "Lego agrees to stop using Maori names". London: BBC News. 2001-10-30. Retrieved 2006-08-14.
  23. ^ Bionicle Encyclopedia, Scholastic 2007
  24. ^ All Insane Kids, www.last.fm
  25. ^ "Bionicle: Mask of Light (Original Soundtrack) [14th Anniversary] by Nathan Furst on Apple Music". 3 March 2017.
  26. ^ Nathan Furst | Facebook, 8 December 2017
  27. ^ Amazon.com: Bionicle 3: Web of Shadows (Original Score) : Nathan Furst: MP3 Downloads

External links[edit]