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Will we ever see another "Bionicle"?

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#41 Offline Sir Kohran

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Posted Dec 18 2013 - 06:29 AM

you do realize that the digital age has made serialized stories more popular than ever, right? With essentially anything being available whenever you want it, it's made jumping into series easier than ever, and as such more and more series are adopting ongoing story arcs.

 

What I was getting at when I referred to the digital era is that there are ever more distractions around with online games, social media, etc. and that erodes many people's focus on a complex storyline. The ability to understand it isn't there if the interest in doing so isn't.

 

And while following a series as it's progressing is fun, it's ridiculous to say that it's no longer enjoyable once it's finished. A good story will always be a good story, the enduring popularity of some long since finished series should be proof enough of that. That's not even getting into series are actually better once they're finished.

 

I didn't say it stopped being enjoyable at all, just that a lot of what made it great was lost once the time had passed. Awaiting the next MNOLG chapter, reading the latest comic, pondering the newest bit of information and discussing it all on here wasn't something you could do years later. By that point, you'd just be wading through a backlog of story, which may still be entertaining but doesn't have the addictive quality that Bionicle had for a lot of its run.

 

Like the difference between reading a newspaper when its headline event has just occurred, and reading it years later when the matter is history.

 

You're either interested in a story or you're not, "commitment" shouldn't be an issue. It's not like getting into a series means you have to absorb everything all at once. You don't have to read all of BIONICLE Legends at once, while also playing MNOG and watching Legends of Metru Nui.

 

I'd say you do. It's difficult to understand a story when the characters are referring to places, people and things you don't know about but should. And Bionicle was such a complex story and universe that this took a huge effort to do, especially when it had to be done almost all at once as new fans had to.

 

Spoilers are a risk you're going to have to take with anything, new or old. Just don't look up plot summaries and stay away from wikis and you should be fine.

 

How can the backstory be learned without the wikis?


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#42 Offline NickonAquaMagna

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Posted Dec 18 2013 - 07:53 AM

I'm not really sure what the debate you, Primis, and the others here are having is really about (return or not? Or method of handling a return?), having skimmed some of the giant posts earlier

 

 

Actually, no. It's about whether or not we'll ever see Lego pour the same passion into a construction figure line as they did with Bionicle, because they sure haven't with Hero Factory. But hey, whatever new line we'll get in 2015 will hopefully be something more interesting than Hero Factory.


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#43 Offline BobaFett2

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Posted Dec 18 2013 - 08:58 AM

It's almost as hard to follow as Star Wars, really.

There's a LOT of Star Wars media.


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#44 Offline Sir Kohran

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Posted Dec 18 2013 - 09:49 AM

It's almost as hard to follow as Star Wars, really.

There's a LOT of Star Wars media.

 

I think it's different to Star Wars, because there's basically two types of Star Wars. The first is the films which are easy to follow due to having just a few plotlines and a compact cast. They're familiar to almost everyone. The second is what is known as the 'expanded universe', a vast collection of books, games, comics, etc. which tell many separate stories and introduce huge numbers of characters that have little or nothing to do with the films. That stuff's only known by a smaller fanbase.

 

Bionicle's first few years took that first approach, but after that it started developing the complexity of the second, and it reached the point where to understand the 'basic' story you had to know a lot of the complex one as well. This wasn't something many fans took to.


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#45 Offline BobaFett2

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Posted Dec 18 2013 - 09:53 AM

 

It's almost as hard to follow as Star Wars, really.

There's a LOT of Star Wars media.

 

I think it's different to Star Wars, because there's basically two types of Star Wars. The first is the films which are easy to follow due to having just a few plotlines and a compact cast. They're familiar to almost everyone. The second is what is known as the 'expanded universe', a vast collection of books, games, comics, etc. which tell many separate stories and introduce huge numbers of characters that have little or nothing to do with the films. That stuff's only known by a smaller fanbase.

 

Bionicle's first few years took that first approach, but after that it started developing the complexity of the second, and it reached the point where to understand the 'basic' story you had to know a lot of the complex one as well. This wasn't something many fans took to.

 

There are four BIONICLE films which are fairly easy to follow and a wealth of other stuff.

 

Star Wars started with just few films but began to include various other media over time.


Edited by BobaFett2, Dec 18 2013 - 09:53 AM.

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#46 Offline Aanchir

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Posted Dec 18 2013 - 10:31 AM

What you say is true to a certain extent, but still, the difficulty in absorbing so many years of past story would still be a major obstacle to any fans who aren't prepared to make that commitment.


You're either interested in a story or you're not, "commitment" shouldn't be an issue. It's not like getting into a series means you have to absorb everything all at once. You don't have to read all of BIONICLE Legends at once, while also playing MNOG and watching Legends of Metru Nui.


I understand that, but for a person to even become interested in the older story, the current story has to get them "hooked". And if so much of the excitement of the current story comes from answering years-old mysteries, then fans who weren't around for the buildup won't understand the appeal as well as people who were.

I'm not saying it's an insurmountable obstacle, but it's an obstacle nonetheless. With a series that's more episodic in nature, it doesn't make a really big difference at all whether or not you start at beginning (I prefer to start at the beginning with most stories, myself, but there are definitely some stories where it makes more of a difference than with others). In Hero Factory and Ninjago, the status quo rarely changes in an incredibly big way. New characters may become part of the main cast, but the story doesn't shift to focus on an entirely different group of main characters at any point. There are new quests, but they can be summed up with the same general premise. There can be new settings and concepts, but the fundamental nature of the universe is never radically redefined. And if backstory of any kind is needed to understand the current story, it can usually be summed up in a few short lines of dialogue.

I'm not saying I disliked the BIONICLE story for this reason by any means! The long, multi-year mysteries were incredibly daring and tended to be resolved quite elegantly. Truly any story that can keep the very nature of its universe hidden for over seven years is something to be admired. But in a practical sense this kind of story has some drawbacks.
 

Furthermore, the BIONICLE story's emphasis on mystery made backtracking less thrilling. Knowing the answer to a mystery before you know there was a mystery in the first place is like hearing a joke for the first time after somebody already told you the punchline. It loses a lot of its impact. While re-reading a story after you experience the resolution is great, reading the resolution to years of buildup before you've had any chance to experience any of the buildup doesn't have the same magic.


Spoilers are a risk you're going to have to take with anything, new or old. Just don't look up plot summaries and stay away from wikis and you should be fine.


No, that's only true if you have the liberty of starting at the beginning. Most BIONICLE fans will first encounter the story through the current story arc because that's the one that's being promoted and advertised. If someone becomes a BIONICLE fan in 2004 or 2005, for instance, then the revelation at the end of the 2003 story that the Toa Mata "were not the first Toa!" is not the least bit surprising, and the Turaga as characters will never seem nearly as mysterious as they would have been for a person who started at the beginning.

Edited by Aanchir: Rachira of Time, Dec 18 2013 - 10:33 AM.

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#47 Offline fishers64

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Posted Dec 18 2013 - 02:17 PM

No, that's only true if you have the liberty of starting at the beginning. Most BIONICLE fans will first encounter the story through the current story arc because that's the one that's being promoted and advertised. If someone becomes a BIONICLE fan in 2004 or 2005, for instance, then the revelation at the end of the 2003 story that the Toa Mata "were not the first Toa!" is not the least bit surprising, and the Turaga as characters will never seem nearly as mysterious as they would have been for a person who started at the beginning.

I started Bionicle in 2005, read 2004-2005 story, read through 2001-2003 story, and I got it. Reading the 2004-05 books, the mystery was the characters (Tahu, Hahli, etc) who were listening to the story. They were the mystery that the 2001-2003 story solved for me.
 
The continuity buildup became a problem in 2006-08, when everything was linear and  complex and there was no way to sum it up simply. But that stuff was somewhat distant from the 2001-05 stuff, so you could look at the website Bionicle.com in 2006 and not be spoiled. It even told you what the other year's story was. 
 
The problem isn't so much continuity as the starting point wasn't fully obvious. With LOST you start with season 1; with LoTR you start with Fellowship of the Ring, with any book series you start at Book 1. But Bionicle had three book series, with three Book Ones. Talk about confusion. 
 

I'm not really sure what the debate you, Primis, and the others here are having is really about (return or not? Or method of handling a return?), having skimmed some of the giant posts earlier ( :P), but just wanted to note that it is not easy even for knowledgeable fans like us to figure out what order the story is meant to be followed in or to even know where to go. And many times in my life I have put off getting into a story franchise if I know it's complicated or long. I'm putting off several right now, in fact. So commitment does matter and starting fresh with nothing else required to get into something can be much better.
 
Plus a nitpick: it's almost oversimplistic just to describe Bionicle's story as a "series." It's more like a patchwork maze of random different types of broken mini-series. As much as I love it, from having lived it, it's the single most chaotic and complex (in terms of types of media and chronology) story I've ever followed, bar none. Of course, I kind of like that about it... but it has major downsides and we should be honest about that.

I think we're talking about whether or not the method of storytelling Bionicle used is effective and can be used again, with Bionicle as the prime example. 

 

This has led to the debate of whether reading past story is a miserable burden to throw on the fans, or whether it's not a big deal. This in addition to the question of whether it's better to follow a series as-it-happens, or after it's done. 

 

(Personally, I prefer "after it's done" because I go through the story at my own pace that way, and I don't have to wait to figure out the next plot development. I dislike waiting. But that's just me.)


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#48 Offline NickonAquaMagna

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Posted Dec 18 2013 - 02:40 PM

Well, to clear things up, I really just mean something with the same... "wow" factor.

 

I mean, I'm gonna be honest. I find Hero Factory to be one of the most DULL things ever produced by Lego, in terms of the story. Most of the sets are decent, to me, save the Brain Attack line, but as for the story, something is missing.

 

With Bionicle, when you bought a toy, that wasn't all you were getting. You also got this huuuuuge world to go with it where everything was so alive and INTERESTING. But with Hero Factory.... I dunno.

 

I mean... Hero Factory FM was amusing an' all, but come on. I get it that "they're keeping it simple for the kids so it's easier for them to understand", but... that's the problem. The morals are too clear cut, the world is too spic an' span, the villains are too silly, and the story... well, there is no story. There just isn't anything INTERESTING, here.

 

With the appropriately named Breakout line, it SEEMED like they were finally gonna get the ball rolling. The story was picking up, with the introduction of "anti quaza" and intriguing implications that someone was going to make a "Villain Factory"... perhaps Von Nebula, himself.

 

But then, they killed any momentum they might've had by releasing Brain Attack... and now, Invaders From Below.

 

It's a collection of non-storylines that aren't nearly as compelling as Bionicle was, even in its worst years. And as some stated earlier in this thread, the reason Lego's being so lax with this line is because... well, they can afford to. They very comfortable right now, financially speaking, so they don't need to make some crazy cool story or setting to draw in the fans, because the toys are enough for them to get by. The only way they'll ever make anything truly inspired and, well, GOOD is if, by some chance, they HAVE to make something that could save them in dire straights, like Bionicle did.

 

 

Anyway, I'm going to remain optimistic about whatever line they plan to introduce in 2015. Whatever it is, I just hope it's got more substance than Hero Factory.

 

Again, I like the Hero Factory Toys, to varying degrees, and some would say that should be all you really need, but... I still find it kinda sad that that's all there is to it.


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#49 Offline bonesiii

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Posted Dec 18 2013 - 05:54 PM

It's about whether or not we'll ever see Lego pour the same passion into a construction figure line as they did with Bionicle

Then arguably wouldn't Ninjago actually be a better example? With Bionicle I see a lack of commitment on LEGO's part, which is why it did turn out being a jumble of half-completed things, but so far Ninjago has had a relatively consistent single primary source, the TV series. Of course, it wasn't so much lack of commitment as experimenting, and the newer stories are benefiting from the results of those experiments. Passion doesn't seem to be the issue IMO but consistency and depth, combined with mystery. Now again, that's not a "buildable figure" line which is what this topic is about, but it shows the potential is there. :)

 

 

 

The comparison to Star Wars doesn't work for me because like I think Kohran is saying, you can understand the core of Star Wars plot by just watching the movies. Even the recent Clone Wars series isn't essential to understand the overarching story. But with Bionicle, watching the movies isn't enough; the "essentials" dive in and out of different media, from an online game and comics to a retro-active book through online updates, comics, and another book, to the same plus another online game and a movie, to comics, books, another two movies, and two canon but less relevant online updates, to more books and comics but no movie, and non-canon online or video game stuff to watch out for (even this is an oversimplification), and eventually the serials etc. It's kind of insane in hindsight. :P

 

Or you could just read my retelling next year. :lookhere: 

 

But I think don't really think Bionicle is a great example for a future storyline, because no matter how crazy or consistent a new plot could be, it would be put out as it comes. This is why I questioned the significance of "following past plot" for a new line. I assume we're talking about how long the line could last, and if it would run into the problems Bionicle did at its end? Then I would have to say it's just inevitable, unless the line totally reinvents itself to be irrelevant to past story, that that past story would become a burden and obstacle to new fans in its later years. This just isn't really debatable. Even if it reinvents itself it loses the "new factor." This is why we've been basically assuming that most lines won't last ten years again. But it seems to me that as the burden increases, the fun quality of the story increases too; there's little burden in HF, but then the resulting story is kind of blah.

 

With Ninjago I'd say the burden is fairly heavy now, but this is where having a consistent primary source media really solves problems, versus how Bionicle worked; it is easy to know where to go, even if it will take time to catch up. (And going on Netflix was a majorly wise decision... although even on Netflix it's a bit confusing since they split them up into multiple titles and you do have to get the order right there.)


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#50 Offline Toa Zaz

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Posted Dec 20 2013 - 03:48 PM

http://www.eurobrick...showtopic=89322 

 

Maybe a return to form?


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#51 Offline I AM MELON LORD!

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Posted Dec 20 2013 - 07:15 PM

Well, I'm not holding my breath for a Bionicle reboot.

 

However, will we ever have that kind of experience in another LEGO franchise?  I'd say it's possible at the very least.  Bionicle was largely popular and lasted an entire decade without reboots or the like.  I can't remember too much from my childhood that focused, mainly, on the same heroes and characters for such a large span of time. 

 

Basically, I think any company that hits a bullseye like that and doesn't learn anything for future releases is pretty dull.  If there's anything I know about the LEGO company, it's that they are far from dull.  They have a lot of employees that come up with some seriously cool and innovating ideas.  Are all of them winners?  No, but that doesn't stop them. 

 

As for a series with such life in it, I did have my hopes up for Heroica, although that didn't seem to catch on and it seemed to be more of a "make your own overall plot" similar to Castle sets.  It gives the games a lot of story potential, however a lot of that is personalized and it's not something everyone can share in like MNOG. 

 

I also have some hope for the LEGO movie.  They seem to have thought out their own sort of universe for the plot to take place in.  There was also LEGO Universe which was fun, but seemed to lack a concrete culture for the in-game characters. 

 

We've had a fair share of swings from Lego (and what appears to be a few more coming), although I can't say if they'll come up with something that's as good as Bionicle any time soon.


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#52 Offline Mohamed Marei

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Posted Dec 20 2013 - 08:16 PM

I, too, belong in camp "Hopeful-but-not-too-bothered-it-ended". 

 

I personally think Bionicle's turning point as a toyline was the year they introduced the Metru Nui line. There was more substance to the MOC's you would be able to make at the time. That's also when I truly became an invested fan in the theme. That is not to say I wasn't before; my first-ever Bionicle set was the Nui-Rama, and I have truly cherished my short-lived time with this specific set, since I lost most of its pieces shortly after (a mystery to this day). I personally prefer the aesthetics of the later year's sets to the previous ones, and this reflects quite well onto my MOCing style, with a very non-aesthetic use of Technic in general. 

 

I think that another reason for Bionicle's decline, though, was that LEGO was not always able to cater for our whims as they launched more and more Bionicle sets. The reviews some of their sets got over the years could have helped steer them away from investing that much more in the theme. That being said, I think that the sets need not be "perfect", as this would leave "revampers" pretty much jobless (and by revampers I mean MOCers who make up to moderate changes to the general look of sets, while keeping the main aesthetics). 

 

Story-wise, Bionicle, despite its enormity, was my realm. Not that I know everything there is to know about it (I genuinely don't), but the story was so engaging for me that I felt it was the only canon I could ever look up to and draw inspiration from, also while trying to visualise some of the unseen characters and locations. I would love it if LEGO actually did reboot Bionicle, but I would genuinely not know what to expect. I think, though, that there is much room to create new characters/canon versions of mentioned characters, like more Dark Hunters, for example, or a line dedicated to characters from the Order vs Dark Hunters, or something crazy like that :P

 

:tohu:


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#53 Offline Kopekemaster

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Posted Dec 20 2013 - 08:45 PM

I certainly hope so, yet somewhat doubt that we will see something with quite the scope that Bionicle did. I might get a bit of flak for this, but I feel that "kids these days" (if I may use the cliche) want more instant-gratification stuff. Things like Ninjago, Chima, and Hero Factory.

 

Bionicle was (and still is, as I know all too well) something that one had to invest a good amount of time in, from reading the comics and watching the movies to reading the books and encyclopedias. I don't feel (yes, I know I'm making a massive generalization, and I know that there are some kids that do like things that take time) that most kids would want to invest that much time into something that, after given time to mature, can and will become something incredible, as Bionicle did.


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#54 Offline JacobLazer

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Posted Dec 20 2013 - 08:51 PM

Other LEGO themes have seen comebacks, like Blacktron/Blacktron II and Space Police.  However, I don't think that it will be for more than a year or two.  We may also see references to Bionicle in future sets (Like the Blacktron logo appearing on the outfits of some of the more recent space-themed minifies).
 
I think we all wish Bionicle would come back.  I just don't think it will ever be as big as it was before.

Edited by JacobLazer, Dec 20 2013 - 08:51 PM.

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#55 Offline Tanu Toa of Earth

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Posted Dec 20 2013 - 09:31 PM

One thing I find sad is that there WAS a point where Hero Factory finally started to get some momentum. The Breakout line's story ended with implications that someone wanted to make a "villain" factory. THAT sounded  interesting. As shallow as Hero Factory is, there was a point where it was finally going somewhere!

 

.... but then they killed any momentum that might've had and are going back to endless non-storylines.

 

And with Chima... geez. I don't get why Lego just keeps shooting themselves in the foot, these days. They're playing it waaaay too safe.

 

I'd say Ninjago is just the right balance of playfulness and substance. Why they can't do the same for Hero Factory or Chima, I have no idea.

 

Dude, this is my EXACT thoughts right here.


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#56 Offline NickonAquaMagna

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Posted Dec 20 2013 - 10:44 PM

Woah, this topic wound up featured on the front page? I'm... I'm flattered.

 

 

Anyway... some look forward to 2015, hoping that Bionicle will return. While I think it's possible for that to happen someday, I honestly don't think this is that time. But again, as I've said, I just hope that whatever it ends up being, it's something inspired and interesting and immersive and all those wonderful things that begin with the letter i... yeah...

 

I hope it's something new that smacks you in the face with how cool it is, something to be truly EXCITED about... like back in that day, you know? Whatever name it goes by, if it has the same spirit that made Bionicle so good back in the day... that's all I need. I just hope Lego understands that.


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#57 Offline fishers64

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Posted Dec 20 2013 - 11:53 PM

http://www.eurobrick...showtopic=89322

 

Maybe a return to form?

Possible, but I don't see indications of a grand story in the works anywhere there. 


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#58 Offline XONAR

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Posted Dec 21 2013 - 12:41 AM

Keep these changes coming! :D This is a nice addition to the usual news posts.

 

I personally don't see LEGO creating another theme as significant as BIONICLE for a while without reviving BIONICLE itself, but even then I'd fear they aren't ready to make it as good as it was in 2001-2003 yet. 


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#59 Offline Aanchir

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Posted Dec 21 2013 - 08:25 AM

Other LEGO themes have seen comebacks, like Blacktron/Blacktron II and Space Police.  However, I don't think that it will be for more than a year or two.  We may also see references to Bionicle in future sets (Like the Blacktron logo appearing on the outfits of some of the more recent space-themed minifies).

I would LOVE more BIONICLE references in modern-day sets. We've got a minifigure with a Fabuland T-shirt in the new LEGO Movie sets, so anything's possible! I'd love to get a BIONICLE baseball cap for my sigfig like the one I have in real life!

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#60 Offline Lucina

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Posted Dec 21 2013 - 11:00 AM

 

It's almost as hard to follow as Star Wars, really.

There's a LOT of Star Wars media.

 

I think it's different to Star Wars, because there's basically two types of Star Wars. The first is the films which are easy to follow due to having just a few plotlines and a compact cast. They're familiar to almost everyone. The second is what is known as the 'expanded universe', a vast collection of books, games, comics, etc. which tell many separate stories and introduce huge numbers of characters that have little or nothing to do with the films. That stuff's only known by a smaller fanbase.

 

Bionicle's first few years took that first approach, but after that it started developing the complexity of the second, and it reached the point where to understand the 'basic' story you had to know a lot of the complex one as well. This wasn't something many fans took to.

 

 

The problem is, starting in the middle of Star Wars would be kinda like starting in the middle of Bionicle.

 

If last decade you had just plopped yourself into a seat with only a passing knowledge of Star Wars and watched Revenge of the Sith, you may get a slight grasp of the movie, but many things would have confused you. What is the Force, exactly? What are the glowsticks theyre brandishing? Wait, why does Anikin become Vader? Why should I care about any of this?

 

(This is, of course, ignoring the fact that the prequels sucked)

 

Something similar went for Bionicle, but oddly, I'd say it handled it better. If you just sorta snuck in in 2007, a lot of the media for the year sets up a small gateway story you can get into. The Barraki are hunting for a mask, a powerful mask, and a Matoran from a local city has got it. Fairly simple, and if that appealed to you, you could worm your way into the story with that understanding, and then realized there's more to it than that.

 

The overarching mystery of the line was a part of it's appeal, but I wouldn't say it made the line inaccessible to newcomers any more than The Clone Wars is inaccessible to someone who hasn't watched the prequel trilogy. It simply meant that, if you scratched beneath the surface of the yearly story, you'd find a grander story than that waiting to be tapped.

 

However, to answer the original question of the topic, no, I don't think a story quite like Bionicle will happen, or at least not in the near future. The truth of the matter is, the purpose of Lego is to sell toys. Selling toys is easier with an episodic story than an epic. There's a reason why there are so many different tellings of the Transformers story, and why the Transformers series shy away from anything more complicated than "To save Cybertron and protect Earth". Bionicle had its success, yes. However, its story, however good it was as a story, wasn't enough to sell toys.


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#61 Offline FactualNation

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Posted Dec 21 2013 - 05:07 PM

I know, it sucks, but there are comics by greg farshtey still being made!Would you know a local bookstore to find any kind of bionicle comics?

 


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#62 Offline Sir Kohran

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Posted Dec 22 2013 - 07:00 AM

What is the Force, exactly?

 

You're not supposed to know. Midichlorian nonsense aside, the Force is kept mysterious throughout the films.

 

What are the glowsticks theyre brandishing?

 

The fact that the heroes and villains are swinging them at each other might clue you in on the fact that they're weapons.

 

Wait, why does Anikin become Vader?

 

He has to wear the Vader armour due to the burns and wounds he suffers in the duel with Obi-Wan. The movie makes that perfectly clear.

 

Why should I care about any of this?

 

Why should you care about anything in any movie?

 

The Barraki are hunting for a mask, a powerful mask, and a Matoran from a local city has got it. Fairly simple,

 

You're overlooking the fact that the main characters want it. What do they want it for? To save Mata Nui's life, a plot point from early '06. Where did they set out from? The city of Metru Nui, a location established in '04. Who is Mata Nui and why is he significant? The Great Spirit who is revered and longed for by the Matoran, established in the MOL prologue in '03.


Edited by Sir Kohran, Dec 22 2013 - 08:04 AM.

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#63 Offline Lucina

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Posted Dec 22 2013 - 07:50 AM

 

What is the Force, exactly?

 
You're not supposed to know. Midichlorian nonsense aside, the Force is kept myserious throughout the films.

 

 
Yes, but what of the concept? Iirc, the third prequel movie doesn't explain it like earlier movies did. Why? Because by then, someone going through the franchise probably knows.
 

 

What are the glowsticks theyre brandishing?

 
The fact that the heroes and villains are swinging them at each other might clue you in on the fact that they're weapons.

 

 
But, as with Bionicle, that's a simple understanding from a first impression.
 

 

Wait, why does Anikin become Vader?

 
He has to wear the Vader armour due to the burns and wounds he suffers in the duel with Obi-Wan. The movie makes that perfectly clear.

 

 
Yes, but someone who just stepped into the franchise would not understand the significance of Anakin becoming Darth Vader.
 

 

Why should I care about any of this?

 
Why should you care about anything in any movie?

 

 
I don't see how that disproves my point in the slightest.
 

 

The Barraki are hunting for a mask, a powerful mask, and a Matoran from a local city has got it. Fairly simple,

 
You're overlooking the fact that the main characters want it. What do they want it for? To save Mata Nui's life, a plot point from early '06. Where did they set out from? The city of Metru Nui, a location established in '04. Who is Mata Nui and why is he significant? The Great Spirit revered by the Matoran, established in the MOL prologue in '03.

 

 
The main characters didn't show up until the second half of the year, giving someone who was unfamiliar with them ample time to figure some things out. When they do show up, I'm pretty sure it's explained that they need the mask to save the life of the Great Spirit. A simple way of putting it, but also one that leaves room for looking further into it.
 
I still stand that getting into Bionicle later in the story was not much more difficult than getting into any other franchise for the first time. (accounting for other factors, of course; the cultural influence of star wars makes some of my points shaky because, unlike Bionicle, it's hard to avoid some basic knowledge of Star Wars.)


Edited by Baron Alberto, Dec 22 2013 - 08:53 AM.

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#64 Offline bonesiii

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Posted Dec 22 2013 - 08:08 AM

Can I just say it strikes me as odd to talk about it being bad to start in the middle of Star Wars, when every movie opens with a summary of events leading up to what (I think it was him) Lucas has described as intentionally starting in the middle, and the whole series originally started in the middle of what ended up being the six movies (for the moment).

 

Also, I've heard this idea that the Force wasn't defined so often I had started to buy it, but I've recently been rewatching them, and the second (original) movie has a pretty clear definition of it from Yoda. In hindsight, it's really hard to see what else he could say to define it. The main mystery was just what set those with naturally stronger sensitivity to it apart from others, which is what the oft-abused miticloriens line was about (IMO the dislike of that has a lot to do with the ugly name, though... but anyways, that's a whole 'nother discussion :P).

 

(Plus, let's not treat personal opinions as 'fact', okay? A lot of people actually liked the prequels. ;))

 

But the idea that "what is the Force" would be a problem doesn't really work, because it really doesn't get a clear definition until the second movie, and if it was really relevant in a new story, then guess what? A character in that new story could mention it. To continue the Force example, its definition is also summarized in countless other places, from Kenobi's hints in the first movie to occasional mentions in the Clone Wars series. You might not notice these since they aren't new information to you, but a new viewer could start either in Episode 4 or Episode 1 -- real-world chronological or in-story chronological, and it would work about as well. At least some viewers in fact did start with 1, and now that 2 and 3 are done, that's just as valid a route and arguably implied by the numbering anyways.

 

 

Aaanywho, if we do get "another Bionicle" (something new, but comparable, versus a return), then it would start at its own beginning, so I still gotta wonder if it's really all that relevant how hard it is or isn't to start a story in the middle. :shrugs:


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#65 Offline Lucina

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Posted Dec 22 2013 - 08:50 AM

Can I just say it strikes me as odd to talk about it being bad to start in the middle of Star Wars, when every movie opens with a summary of events leading up to what (I think it was him) Lucas has described as intentionally starting in the middle, and the whole series originally started in the middle of what ended up being the six movies (for the moment).


The point wasn't that it was bad to start in the middle, but the complete opposite. I was countering the point made countless times that Bionicle-type stories shut out newcomers because they start in the middle. I thought I made it pretty clear that my point was that it's not necessarily bad or offputting to come in in the middle.
 

(Plus, let's not treat personal opinions as 'fact', okay? A lot of people actually liked the prequels. ;))

 
It was a joking reference to my own opinions regarding the prequels. The passive-aggressive winky face falls on deaf ears (er, blind eyes).
 

Aaanywho, if we do get "another Bionicle" (something new, but comparable, versus a return), then it would start at its own beginning, so I still gotta wonder if it's really all that relevant how hard it is or isn't to start a story in the middle. :shrugs:


The argument was that a story like Bionicle came up, it would shut people out if they started in the middle.

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#66 Offline Sir Kohran

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Posted Dec 22 2013 - 09:13 AM


What is the Force, exactly?

 
You're not supposed to know. Midichlorian nonsense aside, the Force is kept myserious throughout the films.

 

Yes, but what of the concept? Iirc, the third prequel movie doesn't explain it like earlier movies did. Why? Because by then, someone going through the franchise probably knows.

 

Which earlier movies are you referring to? The previous prequels or the original trilogy?

 

What are the glowsticks theyre brandishing?

 
The fact that the heroes and villains are swinging them at each other might clue you in on the fact that they're weapons.

 
But, as with Bionicle, that's a simple understanding from a first impression.

 

The point therefore being that you don't need to have seen previous instalments to know what they are. It's clear within the work itself.

 


Wait, why does Anikin become Vader?

 
He has to wear the Vader armour due to the burns and wounds he suffers in the duel with Obi-Wan. The movie makes that perfectly clear.

 
Yes, but someone who just stepped into the franchise would not understand the significance of Anakin becoming Darth Vader.

 

The significance is clear within the movie. His becoming Vader completes his fall to the Dark Side.

 


Why should I care about any of this?

 
Why should you care about anything in any movie?

 
I don't see how that disproves my point in the slightest.

 

I gave that response because I don't see what point you're trying to make with that initial question. We're discussing whether or not the storyline can be understood within the movie itself. Whether you care about what happens in the storyline has no bearing on that.

 


The Barraki are hunting for a mask, a powerful mask, and a Matoran from a local city has got it. Fairly simple,

 
You're overlooking the fact that the main characters want it. What do they want it for? To save Mata Nui's life, a plot point from early '06. Where did they set out from? The city of Metru Nui, a location established in '04. Who is Mata Nui and why is he significant? The Great Spirit revered by the Matoran, established in the MOL prologue in '03.

The main characters didn't show up until the second half of the year, giving someone who was unfamiliar with them ample time to figure some things out. When they do show up, I'm pretty sure it's explained that they need the mask to save the life of the Great Spirit. A simple way of putting it, but also one that leaves room for looking further into it.

 

Your argument here seems to admit that new fans should have to learn the storyline of many previous years. I think it's largely agreed that in the case of Bionicle that's not a realistic expectation.

 

And even if it was mentioned that they needed to save Mata Nui's life, I don't think his overall significance was made clear.

 

I still stand that getting into Bionicle later in the story was not much more difficult than getting into any other franchise for the first time. (accounting for other factors, of course; the cultural influence of star wars makes some of my points shaky because, unlike Bionicle, it's hard to avoid some basic knowledge of Star Wars.)

 

This was something I discussed earlier. A lot of the Bionicle storyline was only available through the books which were only available for a year at a time in North America, and the comics which were only available with the Lego Magazine (though they could be tracked down online). That leads to a very difficult to follow storyline.


Edited by Sir Kohran, Dec 22 2013 - 09:18 AM.

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#67 Offline Lucina

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Posted Dec 22 2013 - 09:25 AM

 

 

 

The Barraki are hunting for a mask, a powerful mask, and a Matoran from a local city has got it. Fairly simple,

 
You're overlooking the fact that the main characters want it. What do they want it for? To save Mata Nui's life, a plot point from early '06. Where did they set out from? The city of Metru Nui, a location established in '04. Who is Mata Nui and why is he significant? The Great Spirit revered by the Matoran, established in the MOL prologue in '03.

 

The main characters didn't show up until the second half of the year, giving someone who was unfamiliar with them ample time to figure some things out. When they do show up, I'm pretty sure it's explained that they need the mask to save the life of the Great Spirit. A simple way of putting it, but also one that leaves room for looking further into it.

 

 
Your argument here seems to admit that new fans should have to learn the storyline of many previous years. I think it's largely agreed that in the case of Bionicle that's not a realistic expectation.
 
And even if it was mentioned that they needed to save Mata Nui's life, I don't think his overall significance was made clear.

 


I didn't say they HAD to, I said they had ample TIME to. The Bionicle story still took place in story arcs that could be seen as an equivalent to a single movie in a series of them.

They called him the Great Spirit for Christ's sake. Even if you had no idea who he was it should be obvious what significance he bears. And I mean specifically Great Spirit, not just Mata Nui.
 

 

I still stand that getting into Bionicle later in the story was not much more difficult than getting into any other franchise for the first time. (accounting for other factors, of course; the cultural influence of star wars makes some of my points shaky because, unlike Bionicle, it's hard to avoid some basic knowledge of Star Wars.)

 
This was something I discussed earlier. A lot of the Bionicle storyline was only available through the books which were only available for a year at a time in North America, and the comics which were only available with the Lego Magazine (though they could be tracked down online). That leads to a very difficult to follow storyline.

 

That doesn't sound like a fault with the storyline itself but with its presentation, and even then I'd argue that they did a good job keeping at least the current story arc of comics on their website, so you could at least see for yourself the current story, and maybe even some of the past story.

 

(Also jeez why does everyone keep implying you had to BUY the books? Did libraries go extinct in your areas of the world?)


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#68 Offline Lyichir

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Posted Dec 22 2013 - 11:09 AM

(Also jeez why does everyone keep implying you had to BUY the books? Did libraries go extinct in your areas of the world?)


I'm just going to latch on to this one point, since it actually does represent a way in which Bionicle was less accessible than many modern themes. Even if you didn't buy the books and sought them out in a library, that still involves deliberately seeking them out. TV is a much more accessible medium for kids than books (especially chapter books), partly because the visual nature of it is eye-catching, telling you much more about the story at a glance, but also because you don't have to seek it out. In the U.S. at least, the vast majority of kids (at least, those whose families have disposable income for toys) have access to television. And shows like Ninjago have commercials telling them that they don't have to go anywhere; they just have to tune in at the right time to find out what's happening in the story. It's a remarkably efficient system of content delivery.

In the years from 2006 to 2008 especially, the majority of the story was conveyed through the books. The Bionicle comics were almost never any good for giving more than a cursory overview of the story, although they admittedly did better at that in '06 and '07 than in any other year (even in 2001, the comics focused solely on the quest for the masks and lacked any sort of climax), and those years lacked any online storytelling on the level of the Mata Nui Online Game. 2004 and 2005 also used the books to tell most of the story, but at least in those years there were movies that dealt with the most important story points.

Bionicle's decentralized method of storytelling was an amazing feature in the early years, having something for everyone and managing to tell the same story from different angles. But in the later years this approach just made the story more and more disjointed. The lack of a consistent and accessible core story medium could make the story more confusing even as more and more backstory got added to the theme. Going back to the Star Wars example, even though the story is told in many ways, the core of it is the movies, and everything else draws from those. And as a media franchise, the older movies are always accessible to newcomers who want to start from the beginning. Bionicle didn't always have that. Things were taken down from and readded to the website all the time. The books were only as accessible as your local bookstores and libraries made them, and there was no budget for promoting the older ones. The movies, while great for attracting fans and explaining the story to them, gave an incomplete picture of the story and were noticeably absent for a great deal of Bionicle's run. And the comics often omitted key plot points (including climaxes) and were only moderately accessible, to Lego Club members and as back-issues online in a few years (which, again, were not promoted very consistently).

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#69 Offline NickonAquaMagna

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Posted Dec 22 2013 - 12:51 PM

What you said about TV and books kinda reminds me of the head honcho at 4kids saying kids don't read... but that's just me.


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#70 Offline Aanchir

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Posted Dec 22 2013 - 05:56 PM

What you said about TV and books kinda reminds me of the head honcho at 4kids saying kids don't read... but that's just me.

Well, there are some kids who don't, and they're just as valid an audience for a toy line as any other. But for the most part, a lot of kids DO read. The issue is what Lyi stated, though: as a general rule, books cost money. And there are THOUSANDS of books out there to compete with. As such, it's harder to introduce your story to kids if it primarily exists as a book series. Even the BIONICLE comics had extremely limited distribution.

In contrast, pretty much any kid whose family has cable TV can see a TV show, as long as the timeslot is convenient for them. It reaches a wide audience without the kids themselves having to make any investment of their own. And it reaches them over and over again, rather than a kid having to make a new purchase (and a new book needing to be published) every time they want to read a new story.

TV is also a more powerful medium in many ways because it is multimodal. It has the potential for dynamic images, sounds, effects, and music that a book can only suggest through descriptive language. As such it tends to stick in a person's memory. As far as advertising is concerned, this is exactly what you want. Why else do you think TV advertising is such a huge business?

Obviously there's still money in books and comics for LEGO themes and other toy lines, but in most cases this is supplementary media, not the core media for a theme. It can deepen your understanding of a brand's story, but it is not essential to following a brand's story.

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#71 Offline Lyichir

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Posted Dec 22 2013 - 06:10 PM

What you said about TV and books kinda reminds me of the head honcho at 4kids saying kids don't read... but that's just me.


I would never say that kids don't read. I was a voracious reader as a child. I WILL say that books are nowhere near as easy to market as TV, that they require more effort and investment on the part of the reader, that they are not a visual medium, and that because of those first three factors they are significantly less effective as a way to advertise and promote a toyline.

I would have had little interest in the Bionicle books if I was not already a fan of the toys. I wouldn't have that connection that allowed me to visualize and relate to the characters, so all I'd see was a chapter book with some sci-fi robot on the cover. But if I weren't already a fan and one of the movies came on the TV after I watched something else, it'd be much more compelling. I'd see the characters interacting on the screen, and if I liked the story that was being told, it'd make me want to be able to further the story in my own play—and that would make me want to own the sets.

The Bionicle books (and the chapter books for Lego's other themes) are not tools for creating new fans; they're supplemental media that helps keep existing fans interested. But for a long-running Lego theme, the former is much more important, since a sad fact of the toy business is that the majority of fans are going to grow out of your product eventually, and you have to keep bringing in new fans if you want your product to be succesful. That's why it's important to have the core story medium be as accessible as possible, so that Lego can maximize the exposure of their product.

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#72 Offline bonesiii

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Posted Dec 22 2013 - 08:00 PM

The point wasn't that it was bad to start in the middle, but the complete opposite. I was countering the point made countless times that Bionicle-type stories shut out newcomers because they start in the middle. I thought I made it pretty clear that my point was that it's not necessarily bad or offputting to come in in the middle.

I know, and my point is, Star Wars isn't probably a good example to make that argument. Most Star Wars stories are designed to be "started in the middle" of something or another, but Bionicle was a very different story. But what's the point in disputing that Bionicle's complex story format could shut people out, when we know it did and this was a big factor in why they had such trouble, despite many attempts, bringing in new fans in later years? (I know you're saying it "wouldn't necessarily", but I think you're missing the brunt of our arguments -- we're not saying there aren't exceptions, but that these wouldn't be enough to carry the line!)

 

Anyways, I challenge the notion that a story that would feel as good to us as Bionicle necessarily has to be as hard to follow anyways. I know what you're trying to say, that it wasn't that hard, and nobody's saying it would be impossible, but what we're really saying is LEGO would learn from mistakes made in how Bionicle was presented to work harder to bring in new fans in each year. Most past discussions on this have centered around HF's "episodic" nature which is easier for new fans to come in to.

 

Now I'm not saying HF is a model for "another Bionicle." But the things I think it is missing have a lot more to do with the feel of it than how easy/hard it would be to start in the middle. I really think the feel of Ninjago is fairly comparable to the feel of Bionicle, albeit for System, and it seems to me it's fairly easy to start in the middle there -- good guys ninjas with elemental powers, bad guys whoever opposes them.

 

To the idea that you needed to follow the books in Bionicle, I don't feel this is necessarily relevant either, since "another Bionicle" would hopefully have one consistent prime media. You could get some of the gist of it from just comics and movies and MNOG, but yeah. Definitely right that libraries are an option, though.

 

But I think it would probably try to be "TV" type things, since that seems to have become the new tradition and it is much more accessible. And there, I think, may be the meat of the question of "will there be another Bionicle?" -- can you do the kind of in-depth story of Bionicle and put it on a kid's toons network? Does that really work with that audience? I dunno. Ninjago comes close, but it also has a consistent quality of humor alongside it, not taking itself so seriously as Bionicle did. Bionicle actually had a rule that if they laughed at their own thing, fans would just laugh at it too and not like it as much. But Ninjago apparently succeeds while operating on a vastly different philosophy -- they poke fun at their own world all the time and somehow it works. I think that has a lot to do with the medium.

 

So IMO that means that "another Bionicle" probably wouldn't feel as serious as Bionicle, but otherwise might feel more mysterious and stuff versus HF. :shrugs:


Edited by bonesiii, Dec 22 2013 - 08:02 PM.

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#73 Offline DeeVee

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Posted Dec 23 2013 - 10:25 AM

What is sort or irksome in thus topic are all the comments on TLG needing "to learn from BIONICLE". They did- and the first line they put those lessons into was the most successful line in company history. While it isn't constraction, Ninjago is where the lessons of BIONICLE have been truly put into practice- consolidated media, consistent characters, collectible merchandise, solid and engaging story that continues to move forward. What they have dropped is what many here keep arguing for- more spread out media, and a large, sprawling, complicated (but gets more complicated) story. We will never see those things again, because TLG DID learn from BIONICLE, and it discovered those were detriments to the line, and one if the reasons the last several years saw stagnant and declining sales.
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#74 Offline NickonAquaMagna

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Posted Dec 23 2013 - 12:33 PM

And as Ninjago has shown, this more focused approach works. I actually really like the Ninjago show. Yeah, it's a kid's show, but it's got just the right balance of playfulness mixed with actual substance. COMPARED to that, Chima and Hero Factory are so dull.

 

I'm just hoping that whatever they introduce in 2015 has more meat to it than HF does. Something inspired, you know?


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#75 Offline fishers64

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Posted Dec 23 2013 - 03:46 PM

I'm not sure that one medium could contain that yinourmus complex story Bionicle had. A centralized medium generally means a reduction in complexity. 

 

Now, granted, the "new Bionicle" could have a TV show, then serials or books to expand on it like HF, but that wouldn't be as inherently complex and full of mystery because of the need to "cut around" the details in the books/serials for the TV show viewers. 


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#76 Offline Aanchir

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Posted Dec 23 2013 - 05:13 PM

I'm not sure that one medium could contain that yinourmus complex story Bionicle had. A centralized medium generally means a reduction in complexity. 
 
Now, granted, the "new Bionicle" could have a TV show, then serials or books to expand on it like HF, but that wouldn't be as inherently complex and full of mystery because of the need to "cut around" the details in the books/serials for the TV show viewers. 


You can still have the same complexity and diversity of media, though. It's just a matter of keeping all the essential stuff together in the core media and putting supplementary stuff in other media, versus having essential continuity spread out across all media so people have to actively hunt it down to get a full understanding of the story.

One could maybe argue that if you don't force people to hunt down the books and comics in order to follow the main story, they won't bother with those media. But clearly that has not been the case with the Ninjago graphic novels, which NEVER feature essential continuity but are still consistently a success. Nor is it true of supplementary stories for other franchises, like My Little Pony. Again, the comics for that series are not essential continuity to the main story told in the show, but they still rank among the best-selling non-superhero comic books.

Funnily enough, one of the most popular BIONICLE books today is Time Trap, most of which is not essential to following the main story. It still has some important details, but nothing as important as what was covered in the movies and comics.

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#77 Offline NickonAquaMagna

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Posted Dec 23 2013 - 06:00 PM

To go along with Aanchir's post, I think something along the lines of Bionicle could easiy be centralized the way Ninjago is. However, the Schoolastic Bionicle books are, in their own way, a good example of this. Even with all the story serials on the side, showing what else was going on in the universe at the time, the books in 2007 and 2008 did well to focus on what our heroes were doing in the moment, which was most important. Yeah, you may not completely understand WHY certain things worked out the way they did, but the central plot was firmly anchored where it needed to be, making things easier to follow for those not interested in delving into all the other going-ons of Bionicle's world.

 

Now... let's say whatever replaces Bionicle and/or Hero Factory one day gets 13-20 episodes to tell its story, like Ninjago or Chima. That should be more than enough time to cover all the essnetials.

 

Even then, if Bionicle did have such a medium back in the say... Well, let's say it had a full season of, like, 26 episodes throughout 2008. You'd only need half of those to focus on the Toa Nuva in Karda Nui, and if one was willing to follow some other plot threads, they could dedicate a few episodes to Takanuva's adventures on the side.

 

And heck, a story like Federation of Fear or Brothers in Arms could EASILY be covered in... like, 2 episodes. 3, tops. They could even be presented like a special, an event, and aired on the same night, a la Justice League.

 

And then, everything, all those dangling plot threads would coleasce together in a super-tense, three-parter finale.

 

And I know this may seem like a bit much to you guys, but it's not like this approach hasn't worked before. Heck, look at how long the 2003 TMNT series ran. Now, I know it's a bit of a stretch to compare something like Bionicle, however awesome it is, to a GIANT such as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but my point is that long, complex stories featuring different factions comflicting with each other, and journeys to faraway lands and worlds an' all that CAN and DOES work, as that show has proven.

 

 

In the end, I'm not saying Lego HAS to go that far or should even be expected to... it would just be nice if they tried.


Edited by NickonAquaMagna, Dec 23 2013 - 06:04 PM.

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#78 Offline fishers64

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Posted Dec 23 2013 - 07:43 PM

It's actually an arguable thing whether the books or the comics were the "main media" for Bionicle. IMO it's the books, but I haven't read all the comics, so I can't judge. 

 

But if you just read the books, you didn't really miss much in terms of story. In fact I just read the books and serials for years and didn't even know that the comics even existed, and was quite content with the story that I got. It didn't seem gappy or anything.  


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#79 Offline bonesiii

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Posted Dec 23 2013 - 09:37 PM

Yeah, Aanchir stole me thunder. I wasn't saying one medium would contain all the story, just the core. Bionicle had side stories too, that the core plot "cut around", it just put those in the same chaotic mixture of story sources, often right in the comics which were supposed to be the core (especially in movie years). Just rearrange that a bit and you've got what I had in mind; same complexity, even, could be possible (though I think most of us agree it wouldn't happen most likely), but the side stuff would go in side sources.

 

Re: which one is the core medium in Bionicle, it was definitely originally supposed to be the comics, but even in 2001, we see it doesn't work, because you have to see at least the end of MNOG to understand the plot. The first comic of 2002 refers back to that battle as if all fans know it. And similar with movies,serials, and a few things from some of the books. The books end up being the one source you could follow to get most of the core essentials, but also along with much side plot. So I would say that Bionicle technically failed to have a proper core medium, but if you have the patience for it, the books suffice (mostly), if you want to understand the chain of plot as you go along, while the comics can suffice if you don't mind running into significant gaps that might leave you scratching your head but you just figure "they beat the previous bad guy somehow."


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#80 Offline DeeVee

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Posted Dec 23 2013 - 10:12 PM

I'm not sure that one medium could contain that yinourmus complex story Bionicle had. A centralized medium generally means a reduction in complexity. 

 

Now, granted, the "new Bionicle" could have a TV show, then serials or books to expand on it like HF, but that wouldn't be as inherently complex and full of mystery because of the need to "cut around" the details in the books/serials for the TV show viewers. 

Good- too much complexity was the problem with BIONICLE.


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