Posted Jun 13 2013 - 09:39 AM
In terms of story, I think I have to say 2008. It brought about the revelation that so many subtle hints had been leading up to, and had a phenomenal twist ending. It was one of the more convoluted story years to be certain, with a lot of important story developments taking place in the serials or in other supplementary media, rather than in the core media like the comics and chapter books. But at the same time, everything did end up coming together in the end, unlike 2009 and 2010 which had more trouble tying their supplementary stories together in the end. In 2008, we returned to a series of characters who hadn't been in the spotlight in a while, and it was remarkable to see how much they'd grown since their juvenile squabbling in previous appearances. There was a team chemistry that made this perhaps the best year for the Toa Nuva.Sets are a trickier question. Most BIONICLE years had sets that were good for their time, but many don't stand the test of time that well, and some extremely good years for sets had a few duds that really brought them down. I think I'm going to have to say 2007. Sets in 2007 were not without flaws, but most of those flaws came about as a result of an experimental attitude that did away with some of the trends that had become commonplace. 2007 was the first year to really do away with clone builds on a grand scale: the only series with clone builds that year were the Mahri Nui Matoran and Hydruka, which were nevertheless brilliant builds in their own right. As a non-humanoid warrior set, Gadunka helped prove the versatility of parts like the Toa Inika torso, Hydraxon had an elegant sort of simplicity to his design along with a lot of innovation, and Maxilos became the set to most effectively incorporate waist articulation throughout the whole of BIONICLE's run.Now, this isn't to say that 2007 didn't have major flaws. While I love the shape of Kalmah's "squid armor", its very specialized texture makes it very difficult to incorporate into a MOC without it looking out-of-place. All in all, the Barraki introduced a number of parts with similarly-specialized textures, eschewing textures that had been traditional staples of BIONICLE in favor of newer, more specialized ones. At the same time, together with Carapar's armor shells it took an important step forward in that unlike previous thigh armor pieces, it could be used in an assortment of configurations, paving the way for Hero Factory's shell-and-beam system many years later.Color, too, was an issue with some sets. While the two-color blends of the Barraki sets, particularly those incorporating transparent colors, looked brilliantly unique, this was a major limitation as far as MOCs were concerned. Thankfully, MOCists didn't let this hinder them, finding ways to use even the small selection of parts with these two-color blends in unique-looking models.And of course 2007 was the year of unreliable launchers, between the Cordak Blasters which struggled to unload all six rounds at times and the Squid Launchers that required an extraordinary amount of finesse to launch properly. But I hardly think these brought down the quality of these sets.Overall, taking both sets and story into account, I'd have to say 2007 wins out. After the fast-paced 2006 storyline which left little time for characterization, 2007 offered more time for introspection. We got really wonderful moments in the books like when Kongu explains to Jaller his change in attitude since his Matoran days, and Matoro's inner struggle to understand the responsibility he had as the bearer of the Mask of Life, and the most insight into Makuta's twisted psyche that we had gotten since Time Trap. There's a reason why BIONICLE Legends #7 was for a long time my favorite of the BIONICLE books. 2008's story was great, but its sets don't compare to the experimental nature of the 2007 sets: there was a sort of formula that many of the smaller sets tended to follow, and while there were some brilliant and innovative designs like Takanuva and the assorted vehicle sets, there were also some far weaker designs like Icarax or Mutran & Vican. So I think 2007 was perhaps a peak year for BIONICLE with regard to sets and story. This isn't to say I didn't thoroughly enjoy the sets and story of later years, though.