BIONICLE was a theme with series of sets using some of the TECHNIC pieces created by LEGO in 2001 to 2010. It is usually attributed to the TECHNIC line due to the inclusion of TECHNIC specific elements and building-styles although being a largely independent product series. The sets were tied together by an elaborate original storyline that centred around bio-mechanical characters such as the Toa, which are generally large, powerful beings that usually serve good. The evil Makuta warriors, which are servants of Makuta Teridax himself fight against the Toa. The story stresses the Three Virtues, unity, duty, and destiny. BIONICLE is one of the most successful and longest lasting LEGO Brand series, having "saved" the company in the 1999 through 2001 crisis.
The name "BIONICLE" is short for Biological Chronicle (A common misconception is that it stands for Biomechanical Chronicle. Another misconception is that the word is derived from Bionic with a -le suffix). Many ideas were postulated by LEGO design staff. Its final choice was to base a new story on the Throwbot (or "Slizers" in Europe) and RoboRiders themes. They were designed with TECHNIC pieces, but contained innovative ball-and socket joints, never before used by LEGO. More importantly, they hinted at storylines, the RoboRiders especially. The planned line would feature more original pieces, as well as some reused parts from previous lines.
The BIONICLE line was originally to be titled "Bone-Heads of Voodoo Island", and its first year was intended to end with the Great Spirit awakening, but the storyline was changed to last seven years without the Great Spirit awakening, and two years following that. A major influence was Bob Thompson, the leader of the BIONICLE story team, who changed the names of the six main protagonists from Axe, Blade, Flame, Kick, Hook, and Claw to Lewa, Kopaka, Tahu, Pohatu, Gali, and Onua. The name was also changed to "BIONICLE."
The story eventually began to come together. The six canister sets would be the Toa, who protected the Matoran villagers and Turaga elders from the evil Makuta and his Rahi minions. To do so, they first had to overcome a series of challenges to retrieve the Kanohi masks, which when collected can release great power. The setting was the island of Mata Nui.
In 2001, BIONICLE was released and became a smash hit in both Europe and the United States. No other themes at the time came close to the amount of profits generated by BIONICLE. The sets were accompanied by a series of comics, truck tours, a contest to build a BIONICLE website as well as computer and video games.
A notable fact about the year 2002 is that the Maori people, angered at LEGO's lack of respect for some of their words, sued the LEGO Company and won. As a result, many characters' names were changed (i.e., Maku was changed to Macku, Huki to Hewkii, etc.). LEGO used this to bring about the idea of the Naming Day Ceremony, where brave Matoran recieve longer and better names, though they are still pronounced the same. Takua, who had saved all six of the villages, was not renamed, so he had his own private "ceremony" where he renamed his Ussal Crab from Puku to Pewku.
Release History Edit
In early 2001 the Rahi, creatures of the BIONICLE saga, were released. Each of them came in boxes and had a Kanohi mask, which could be removed. They usually came in pairs, although they were available in singular boxes too. The Rahi were able to rip off the mask of the other Rahi by using one of its attacks, 8549 Tarakava by boxing with its long arms or 8538 Muaka & Kane-Ra by launching their heads forward.
Then, the Turaga were available. They are village elders of the Island Mata Nui and they guide the Matoran. The Turaga were available in small boxes. Their right arm with their staff could swing by pressing down a lever on their back. They also came as Kabaya promotions, packed with sweets.
The McDonalds fast-food restaurant line released promotions of the inhabitants of the island, called Matoran. They were very small and all had a total of eight pieces. They could launch a Bamboo Disk with their arms, similar to the Slizers / Throwbots, which were also able to fire disks with their arms. The Matoran came in Polybags.
They then released Toa, called Toa Mata, were larger, with gear-movement and big weapons. The main feature introduced in this year were the Masks, which granted special abilities to the Toa, such as water-breathing or extra strength. The masks were collectible, having various colours and forms. In special mask packs there were golden and silver masks included. The Kanohi masks were only attached with a knob to their actual face, making them easy to take off. This way, the Toa could battle other Toa or Rahi, the aim would be to hit the mask off the opponent. The canister lids of the Toa Mata had axle holes to stick in axles, which in turns hold the Toa faces with their totem of six different masks of one form.
In 2002 the Toa Nuva, transformed forms of the Toa Mata, were introduced. They included silver armour and larger, more smooth masks. They wielded silver modifications of their former weapons, for example Toa Mata Gali's hooks transformed into water axes. Their canister lids had new designs and could be stacked. The lids also had axle holes in the lid, similar to the 2001 lids.
Also released were the Bohrok, insectoid creatures controlled by the brainlike Krana. By pressing down a lever at the back of each Bohrok, its head could snap out. The headplate could be opened to reveal a Krana. By leaving the headplate open and pressing the lever, the Bohrok could launch its Krana at an opponent. The Krana could be fitted on a figure's head. The Bohrok were also capable of rolling into a ball. With a special peg the Bohrok could be hung up inside its oval canister. The image of the set could be peeled off to reveal the set inside. The Bohrok were accompanied by the smaller Bohrok Va, similar in size to the Turaga, and packed in boxes. They carried dormant forms of the Krana.
In spring 2003, the Bohrok-Kal were released. They wore Krana-Kal, which in appearance are more shiny and metallic versions of Krana. The Bohrok-Kal are the same size and shape of Bohrok, with slightly different weapons and armour in silver, with their heads showing the symbol of their group. Their canisters were mainly the same design as that of the Bohrok, having a peg to hang the Bohrok-Kal up.
In the second half of 2003 the Rahkshi were introduced, a group of six warriors of Makuta, being controlled by collectible slug-like creatures called Kraata. Each of these Rahkshi came in one of the six different colours. The Rahkshi wielded six different staffs with the power of their Kraata. Their spine plate could be flipped open to reveal the Kraata inside. The Kraata came also in special containers, called 8580 Kraata. They had different powers and power levels, depending on their colour and their pattern. The Rahkshi containers were triangular and could be stacked. The lids featured niches and holes to fit all six types of one Kraata in it.
In 2003, the bigger sets 8593 Makuta, 8594 Jaller and Gukko, 8595 Takua and Pewku and 8596 Takanuva and Ussanui were available. Makuta came in one of his various forms, carrying a shadow staff. He wears black, dark-copper and red armour. Also released was Takua with his crab Pewku and Takua as the Toa of Light, Takanuva, with his vehicle Ussanui. Also released were the Matoran in their new, rebuilt forms.
In 2004, the form and shape of the Toa and Matoran changed entirely. The new gears of the Toa Metru now rotated in a different way, and both the Toa and Matoran were taller. The Toa had bigger weapons and different masks. In addition, the heads forms changed, a mask could now be fixed on the head via an axle. Adapting the Rahkshi leg bending design and improving it, the Toa Metru's whole leg was built upon ball-and-socket design, with a new double-sided hip-joint holding onto the ball hip and the ball piece of the bottom leg section. Along with that, each design was designed to be almost independent from the other, with small modifications including height adjustment and neck position. Along with neck positions were actual head pieces designed for the purpose of movement on the head, a technique which evolved from the Rahkshi design, and was used on later sets right up to present time. Though they hadn't yet adapted the arm bending technique to today's standards yet, they had progressed further than the Toa and Toa Nuva arms which hadn't flexed at all. The canisters of the Toa were round, having screw lids. By combining two lids a Matoran Sphere could be created, used in the storyline to transport Matoran.
The Matoran came in small boxes. They wore masks with a tint of silver at the top, and had larger bodies. They were, besides of the Vahki, the first BIONICLE set line to have a uniform weapon, called the Kanoka Disk Launcher, which fired Kanoka Disks, similar to the Bamboo Disks of the 2001 promotion and the Disks of the Slizers / Throwbots. The Kanoka Disks, which came in an ammunition pack called 8613 Kanoka Disk Launcher Pack, had a three-digit code printed on them which indicated the origin, the ability and the power level of each disk.
In summer, the Vahki were released. These security robots could fire Kanoka Disks with their mouths and could transform from a biped walking mode to a four-legged hunt mode. Their secondary weapons were staffs with special powers which were needed to track down criminals. The arms could rotate with a wheel on their backs, very sinilar to the Rahkshi. The Vahki sets also included Kanoka Club codes to enter on Bionicle.com, printed on a cardboard piece. Their canisters were triangular, with a transparent lid in their respective colours.
In 2005 the Toa Hordika were released, along with the Visorak. It varied in several countries on which set line came out first. The Toa Hordika were the first Toa to have uniform weapons, these were called Rhotuka Spinners. They could be launched by pulling a line. The Rhotuka Spinners had a code consisting of Matoran letters and numbers to enter on Bionicle.com as a Kanoka Club code. The canisters of the Toa Hordika were nearly round, having some rivets on the side. The lid could be screwed and on top there was a notch to fill with Rhotuka Spinners.
The Visorak also used the Rhotuka Spinners, mounted on their backs. Additionally, by pressing the back of these spider-like creatures down, their pincers would open and close. Their canisters were similar to those of the Toa Hordika. The lids had a transparent plastic dome which could be removed to remove a Rhotuka Spinner. These also had a code printed on them.
This year the Playsets were introduced, LEGO models of big buildings and vehicles of the BIONICLE universe. The figures included in these sets didn't have any articulation points and consisted of two parts: the figure and its weapon. The Titans were packed in big boxes, all of them including Rhotuka Spinners.Piraka were introduced. They featured light-up eyes, rubber faces and spines and a new weapon called the Zamor Launcher which fired plastic balls called Zamor-Spheres. The secondary weapon of the Piraka was a double-sided weapon which could be flipped. 8903 Zaktan, for an example, featured a secondary weapon with a three-bladed scissor on the one and pincers on the other side. Their canisters were bullet grey with a screwable lid. The lid contained the light-up eyepiece and it had to be taken out before it could be built with. There was also a plastic mold of the respective Piraka head, which in turn could also be removed from the lid, although it wasn't compatible to any LEGO TECHNIC piece. Additionally, these were the first BIONICLE figures not to use gears to move their arms.
The Toa Inika, which were released in summer 2006, carried a modified version of the Zamor Launcher: It had an additional piece that made it able to hold four Zamor-Spheres at once, instead of one. The Zamor-Spheres included with the Toa Inika came in the colours orange, blue and green. As their secondary weapon, although used as a primary one, was a strobe-light tool which glowed either red, blue or green. It could be activated by pressing a small black button on the side of the weapon. The weapon pre-included small batteries, which were removable. Each head of the Toa was designed with a rubber mask, and could not accept any other mask. This caused problems for some builders who wished to use the new masks on custom characters but wanted the original eye colour of that character, not the green they had. The plastic canisters of the Toa consisted of two parts. The bottom part could hold the four Zamor-Spheres and the strobe-light weapon. The top part fastened everything into place. The sides of the canisters showed the word "BIONICLE" on them.
Two Titans were released at this time, both of which guarded the cave to the Mask of Life. One was Umbra, based on the Latin "shadow", and had one of the Matoran, Garan's, Mask on it. He carried a double-bladed sword, on one end Hewkii's, on the other, Jaller's. The other Titan was extremely rare, named Irnakk, and had a golden spine with golden Zamor Spheres.
Also sold at this time were six Voya Nui Matoran, packaged in small boxes, and Zamor packs filled with bronze, silver and gold Zamor-Spheres. Additionally, this year there were four Playsets, six Titan sets and many promotional sets released.Silver Zamor spheres come with newer BIONICLE sets.
The Toa Inika are transformed into Toa Mahri and the storyline continues underwater. In early 2007 the Barraki were released. This was the first year that every canister set were completely different. They carried a squid-launcher to launch orange and blue Sea Squids and a secondary weapon like claws or swords. The Barraki had all got pincers in front of their mouths, giving them a water creature-like appearance. Their canisters had got the lid on the bottom, which looked like rock, and a transparent canister part representing air bubbles. The canisters were slanted a bit to the right.
The Toa Mahri were released in the third quarter of 2007. They carried Cordak Blasters which fired red Cordak missiles. The Cordak Blaster is based upon a pump system, by pushing the back the Cordak missile came flying out. The Toa also carried a secondary weapon, like a shield or a talon, except for 8910 Kongu, who wielded another Cordak Blaster. Their canisters were composed of a big plastic frame and a transparent plastic window. Behind it there was a cardboard piece with the image of the set and plastic bags containing the pieces. The canister/box was sealed with another cardboard piece on the back, showing the set from another view.
The Matoran and Hydruka of Mahri Nui came in small boxes. There were two Matoran and two Hydruka available. The titans were also packaged in a box. The sides of the boxes were decorated with the image of a rusted, metal frame. These titans also featured the first appearance of a mask with a removable axle, until then all axles of the masks were fixed in them. This year also marked the end of the BIONICLE Playsets, with 8925 Barraki Deepsea Patrol, 8926 Toa Undersea Attack and 8927 Toa Terrain Crawler being the last playsets released.Phantoka and the Av-Matoran were introduced. The three Toa were armed with a Midak Skyblaster, which could fire Midak Sky spheres, silver coloured Zamor-Spheres. The first half of the year concentrated on battle in the skies, so the Toa, Makuta and Matoran had flying devices. The three Phantoka Makuta carried Tridax Pods, which were orange transparent spheres which could "explode" by hitting the ground, releasing "Shadow Leeches", which could drain the light of a being,turning them into a "shadow" being. These Makuta were the first Makuta to have real Kanohi masks with a certain power instead of having normal faces. The Phantoka canister design is unique, it features a plastic box with a lid and a plastic frame representing rock columns which can be fitted on to the side. These canisters could not be stacked. The Titan sets all came in a box, one of them being 8697 Toa Ignika, the first set to have an Ignika included, although it was silver.
During summer 2008 the Mistika were released. This line again featured three Toa and three Makuta. The Toa were released with swamp armour because of the plot playing in a swamp. The Toa, as well as the Makuta, carried Nynrah Ghost Blasters with rubber projectiles in either lime green or silver. The Makuta were released as a mutated form of themselves, but they too wore Kanohi masks. The canisters of the six Mistika featured a lid with a Kanohi Ignika on the side. The Ignika had two sides: the one side was scarred and rough, the damage the Ignika received in time. The other side was smooth and without any scars, the appearance it had when it was created. The canisters had a notch in the bottom so they could be stacked.
The Matoran were the biggest Matoran to be released, but also the ones with the least pieces, all of them having 14 pieces, except for 8947 Radiak. They did not have uniform weapons and flying devices, the Av-matoran, or Light-Matoran, had a jetpack and the Shadow Matoran had black wings. Their canisters were a mix of box and canister: The top and bottom part was a plastic piece, representing rocks. The middle part however was made out of cardboard with an image of the set printed on it. It was held together via a plastic band.
In spring 2009 the Glatorian were released, along with six Agori and two Titan sets, 8990 Fero and Skirmix and 8991 Tuma. The Glatorian all wielded Thornax Launcher with rubber Thornax fruits as projectiles. They also all had a secondary weapon. The masks from 2001 - 2008 were now helmets, having no notch where the mouth was, but on top of the head. The lids of their canisters wore an unknown pattern, which could be stacked using the bottom of another canister. In summer 2009 the Glatorian Legends were released with 8989 Mata Nui wearing a yellow Ignika. These sets also had Thornax launchers and a secondary weapon. Their canisters had a different lid pattern but could also be stacked.
The Agori sets had a big resemblance with the 2008 Matoran sets, having nearly the same design, piece count and prize. Their canisters weren't different to the 2008 matoran canisters either, except for the colour.
The spring Titan and summer vehicle sets were packed in boxes. The piece count and price increased with the number of the vehicle: T1, T3, T7, T9 and XV1. The vehicles also had all one Thornax Launcher, 8995 Thornatus V9 and 8996 Skopio XV-1 having additional "Force Blasters" which were the same weapon as the 2008 Midak Skyblasters. In summer 2009 there was also a Titan Mata Nui set released. This set was bigger but in the storyline it represents Mata Nui in his original size, not as big as the set was. Due to the release of the fourth film there was a Brickmaster promotion released: 20012 Click, the Scarabax beetle friend of Mata Nui.
The 2010 saga only featured six set releases due to the end of BIONICLE: The BIONICLE Stars. The set's piece count varied from 15 to 21 pieces. The sets were mainly designed as the recent 2008 Matoran and the 2009 Agori, having a bit more armour. They included one of the six pieces of the Golden Armour to fit on to 7116 Tahu. This set line didn't have uniform weapons, like the 2004 Kanoka Disk launchers or the 2006 Zamor launchers. Instead they had different weapons, similar to the 2001-2003 saga.
The canisters are smaller than previous released canisters. The lid features a Skrall shield symbol, the map of the Valley of the Maze. Their bottom have got a notch to stack the canisters.
The End Edit
The BIONICLE Sets as a whole ended in 2010, with the final sets being that of the BIONICLE Stars, stated by Jan Faltum, Global BIONICLE Director in his letter. According to him, a newer, more flexible buildable figure property created by the same people who were responsible for BIONICLE, will be created to replace BIONICLE, which is Hero Factory. The BIONICLE Story will still be updated by long-time BIONICLE writer Greg Farshtey on BIONICLEstory.com. In addition, there have been quite a few recent pop-ups of the metal prize objects. A solid-gold Hau, and Sterling Silver Krana Kal, and a white metal Krana Kal have all been auctioned on ebay recently, possibly due to the fact that BIONICLE has ended.
Hero Factory is BIONICLE's replacement. It was released in August 2010 and features factory made robot heroes, which at first were made mainly of the same design as the BIONICLE Stars sub-theme characters (the finale toy-line and story for BIONICLE), so they were much simpler to build. The canisters are similar to the BIONICLE 2010 set canisters too, with exception of different lids. The Hero Factory characters have different helmets, new armour, weapons and more. In 2011, with the new "2.0" and "3.0" heroes, many new pieces were released so that they would less resemble the BIONICLE Stars.
- The first BIONICLE movie was one of the ten most popular direct-to-video movies of 2003.
- BIONICLE's traditional logo did not appear during the course of 2006 or 2007.
- With the coming of the 2009 Bara Magna Saga, My LEGO Network added BIONICLE characters to the networker list, creating the largest mini-rank in My LEGO Network.
- One of the predecessors of BIONICLE, Slizer, like Blacktron, was reinstated to the LEGO vocabulary via Space Police III, in the form of Slizer (Space Police), (In the case of Blacktron, it was Rench).
- The series is considered to be one of LEGO's most popular toyline series.
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