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Bionicle: the Reboot and Why People Wanted It

Updated on February 13, 2015

Nostalgia Trip

In the year 2000 Lego created the Bionicle brand of construction toys for the Lego Technic series. The toys were unique by Lego standard's in that it actually told a coherent story compared to other Lego Technic themes. It was a fairly simple story in the beginning. On an island called Mata Nui an entity referred to as Makuta was terrorizing the inhabitants of the island, the Matoran and Turaga. To combat this entity six beings called the Toa mysteriously arrive and are taked with finding a way to end Makuta's reign of terror. What follows was a franchise that lasted ten years filled with online games, an expanded story filled with plot twists and renaming characters due to lawsuits, alternate Lego products, supplementary material from books, and becoming one of Lego's most successful products for a very long time. Sadly, the story ended in the year 2010. However, Lego has recently announced that Bionicle will be relaunched in the year 2015 with the same Toa, but with different characters, backgrounds, and a new island. Economically and is a storytelling sense it makes sense for Bionicle to get relaunched. Due to having a successor with arguably a weaker storyline, a new story, and new redesigns, Bionicle succeeded in people wanting it before it even got distributed on shelves and will most likely experience the same popularity it did and last for a long time.

Someone's childhood.
Someone's childhood.

An Unpopular Successor

One of the reasons why Bionicle received a reboot was the failure for another franchise to reach the same levels of popularity Bionicle received when it first came out. Created in 2010 after Bionicle's initial cancellation, Hero Factory strayed away from the mysticism of Bionicle and replaced the tone with something more lighter-and-softer in comparison. Rather than a tale of mysterious saviors arriving to save an island from shadowy menace; it was a story of robotic heroes being constructed to defeat some random, once-a-day threat, rather than the usage of names that convey a sense of ancient reverence; the names sounded like something from a Saturday morning cartoon, and the tone seemed more comical as well.

While the series did not have the mystical appeal that Bionicle had in its stories, Hero Factory was able to tell new stories that were seen as appealing when they were announced. For instance, when Hero Factory announced the Invasion From Below construction sets and the accompanying television special, people who saw the movie Pacific Rim were excited because Lego was making a story involving giant robots and giant monsters fighting each other. Unfortunately, due to the simplistic storytelling, childish dialogue, lackluster fight scenes, and quick resolution made Invasion From Below one of the more weaker examples of storytelling for the Hero Factory franchise. Needless to say Hero Factory was cancelled after this story and Bionicle relaunched and replace it.

Same Old Song and Dance

One of the major assets to Bionicle's popularity was its vast storyline and steady world building that occurred as the franchise grew older. What initially started as six heroes referred to as Toa saving an island from some dark entity became a story that involved stopping an infestation, fighting new enemies in new bodies, a prequel story where another group of Toa existed, another new story involving a new group of Toa came to save the Toa fans were first introduced to, and a final story involving that same first group of Toa in a new setting, Bionicle retained its popularity for as long as it did because it introduced new story elements which made the overall story seem more complex that what Lego usually made fro its products.

2009 was an interesting year for the franchise
2009 was an interesting year for the franchise

One of the major plot twist that really made Bionicle interesting for fans was that the island the first set of Toa people were introduced to were made to save was actually the face of a giant robot. Rather than an island of Mata Nui, what the original Toa were meant to save was the giant robot named Mata Nui. The year 2009 marked a really big event for Lego because at the end of 2008 Makuta, the initial villain of the story, won. While the good guys won by the very end of Bionicle's long saga, it was unprecedented that the villain would ever really win like Makuta does compared to older Lego products.

The new 2015 relaunch of Bionicle has many story elements of the initial 2000 story of Bionicle, but with some changes. There is an island, but it is not named Mata Nui, there is a Makuta, but he is an actual being rather than some shadowy entity when introduced, and many old plot elements are reintroduced, but in a different manner compared to the old continuity. But at its heart the new Bionicle story is surprisingly similar to the old story.

What Was Old is Now New

With the new relaunch of Bionicle comes a few changes. While the heroes of this story are still referred to as Toa, they are the Masters of their respective element. SO now you have Tahu, Master of Fire, Kopaka, Master of Ice, Gali, Master of Water, Onua, Master of Earth, Pohatu, Master of Stone, and Lewa, Master of Air. While the names and their identities have remained the same in the reboot, there are changes that indicate that there will be some differences.

Someone's childhood
Someone's childhood

As this image shows aesthetically the Toa still retain enough aspects of their original selves, but with some changes. Their bodies have been altered to look stronger than their 2000 incarnations, Onua most of all, They all possess different weapons compared to the originals , or in the case of Pohatu, entirely new weapons have been given to him, and their masks have undergone some alteration, although Tahu and Kopaka's masks have had very little alterations. Even their way of arriving on the island they have been tasked to save has been altered.

Rather than arrive in a canister, the Toa were magically summoned to the island, now named Okoto, and arrived via crashing into the ground. While the Toa of 2000 had to complete whatever quest they were on to save the island of Mata Nui, the Toa of 2015 look to receive help from the locals on their quest to save the island of Okoto. Little changes to the story like the one in Bionicle helps fans of the original series reminisce about their nostalgia while newer fans have a slightly new story that they can enjoy while buying the models.

Popularity Dictates Reboot

Bionicle as a story received its reboot because it was an insanely popular product from Lego when it was created. Because its popularity exceeded that of later successors like Hero Factory and delivered a more engaging story, Lego most like thought a reboot would result in larger profits. However, while the story from the reboot and the characters used are similar to the previous continuity, Bionicle still included enough changes that its story would still remain its own separate continuity. Which will hopefully attract new fans for the series.


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