Posted Apr 01 2014 - 03:22 PM
The idea that My Little Pony is too feminine for guys to enjoy is kind of like the idea that BIONICLE is too masculine for girls to enjoy. In other words, it's entirely untrue and based on out-of-date stereotypes about what interests are appropriate for one gender or another.
It's true that My Little Pony (all generations, including the current one that most "bronies" are into) was created with young girls in mind, just as BIONICLE was created with young boys in mind. Still, both franchises have quality storytelling and diverse characters that have inspired a "periphery demographic" — people outside the target audience who are still able to appreciate the franchise in one way or another.
Some of the greatest artists and writers in the BIONICLE fan community — Lady Kopaka, Nikira, GaliGee, Turakii #1 Lavasurfer, Jiayi, Brave Dragon, and others — are girls. And we as a community couldn't be happier that they didn't trouble themselves with preconceived notions about appropriate interests for their gender and instead tapped BIONICLE's rich mythology and colorful, diverse characters for creative inspiration.
As for the amount of overlap between the BIONICLE community and the brony community? Part of it is just coincidence resulting from the size of the brony community. Lots of online communities have a sizable brony contingent. But there are also other reasons. The cartoon My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic debuted in 2010 when many BIONICLE fans were looking to fill the void that BIONICLE's cancellation had left.
The two franchises also have a surprising amount in common. They both feature a team of six main characters with diverse personalities who go on amazing fantasy adventures. The start of both franchises deals with a conflict between a kind and benevolent leader and their jealous sibling (though Makuta is not literally Mata Nui's brother, and probably was never intended to be, that was how he was originally introduced), which the six heroes have to resolve. And in order to defeat the evil threat, the heroes have to collect magical artifacts: the Great Masks of Power in BIONICLE, and the Elements of Harmony in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.
Also, both franchises were created to sell toys, and both have been held up as examples of how a merchandise-driven storyline can be more than just schlocky advertising disguised as entertainment. Of course, the merchandise is where they begin to diverge. BIONICLE is a creative construction toy with an emphasis on articulation, while My Little Pony toys started out as dolls with brushable manes, and their efforts to expand into other toy categories have had mixed results. My Little Pony toys tend to target a considerably younger demographic than BIONICLE sets as well (three and up instead of seven and up). But both franchises have managed to court a much broader audience than the target audience for their respective toylines, and have plenty of fans with no interest in most of the toys.
I hope this sort of helps you understand the overlap between the two fanbases a bit better. I count myself among those who are fans of both BIONICLE and My Little Pony, as of 2011, and have even created some crossover art involving the two franchises. But I didn't become a brony because I was looking for something to replace BIONICLE. I just saw a lot of excitement for the show online, so I checked it out and I happened to like it. It's not like a franchise has to be similar to BIONICLE for BIONICLE fans to like it. I remember the days when the web cartoon Homestar Runner was all the rage here on BZPower. Quality storytelling has a way of attracting all kinds of people, regardless of whether it has a lot in common with their other interests.