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Bionicle as a brand. Could it survive ?

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Alrighty, here are my two widgets:

 

If Bionicle gets a second reboot, anything could work as long as the sets, story, and marketing have plenty of effort put into them. 

 

The story should be neither as complicated as G1, nor as simplistic as G2. Bring back the 'dictionary', but there shouldn't be a bunch of characters running around without getting a set at some point. Also, no serials. Flesh out whatever world G3 is in, but keep it open for the fans to make up their own stuff. A G1 continuation Beast Wars-style (but not with animal Toa :P) would work, since it wouldn't be necessary to read the G1 lore, but it paints a bigger picture and would please even hardcore G1 fans. (Maybe.)

 

The sets should be slick, fun to play with, and affordable. I think that G2 ended because of poor marketing and overpriced sets, which created an overall lack of consumer interest. Thus, I feel that smaller sets (like $10 Toa, not unlike 2001. Think Mata-meets-Master in terms of design.) would be the best, because kids are more likely to be drawn to the main protagonists of the series. If they can pick 'em up for a decent price, ka-ching! Plenty of profit will be generated, but only if LEGO markets it properly, which brings us to the last bit.

 

Marketing should consist of commercials for sets of each price point (impulse, canister [also, bring back canisters pls], titan), a full-length TV show on CN or Nick (tone wise, it should be something like TF Prime IMO), several Flash games (maybe something like MNOG?), and plenty of advertising on LEGO.com. 

 

That's it. 


 

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A big thank you to Toucan Sam for the Okotian name.


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:vahi: [ON HIATUS]  :vahi: 


 


 

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Alrighty, here are my two widgets:

 

If Bionicle gets a second reboot, anything could work as long as the sets, story, and marketing have plenty of effort put into them. 

 

"It will be good as long as everything is good"

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Alrighty, here are my two widgets:

 

If Bionicle gets a second reboot, anything could work as long as the sets, story, and marketing have plenty of effort put into them. 

 

"It will be good as long as everything is good"

 

It sounds silly but that's the extent of it. Remaking Bionicle as a media brand first and MAYBE a toyline second, as this topic suggests, neither makes it more likely to be good nor makes it more likely to be successful. If anything, it makes those things less likely, since rather than being able to learn from the successes and failures of past themes, Lego would basically be going in blind with a completely untested marketing strategy and hoping it'd work. Meanwhile, a more traditional strategy with more minor innovations would provide much more security, since it could apply practical lessons from Lego's main area of expertise (toys)—all while at the very least having a better chance of doing the classic theme justice (since a Bionicle without toys would have to be crafted exceptionally well to avoid losing sight of the many merchandise-based factors that led people to love the theme in the first place).

 

All that said, neither strategy guarantees success, because ultimately that depends on factors beyond anyone's control. The whims of audiences are never completely predictable, even with the unusually high level of market research that Lego puts into each new theme launch. For that reason I think asking whether Bionicle could "survive" in one way or another is a little misguided, when no one (not even Lego themselves) has any idea of what the context of a future Bionicle launch would be like this far in advance.

Edited by Lyichir

Formerly Lyichir: Rachira of Influence

Aanchir's and Meiko's brother

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I think it'd be for the best to do it the way Gundam does by having a core universe telling a good, mature story (the original Mobile Suit Gundam for example) and side universes that can appeal to younger or niche audiences (like Gundam Build Fighters). Both can sell toys and aim at different audiences. Of course, Bionicle doesn't have anywhere near the level of cultural impact that Gundam has so it's more risky to set up a duality with a (mostly) non-established franchise but being in the age of reboots and alternate continuities, I think it wouldn't be as confusing as if it was attempted long ago. Of course, that's not to say that the core universe can't appeal to both. I think that 04 was a sweet spot between a slightly darker and more complex story yet still being relatively straightforward enough in its plot to not be confusing.

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Bionicle could definitely survive as a brand if Lego knew/cared what they were doing. G1 started out so strongly because Lego was failing pretty badly at the time, and it was a last-ditch effort to keep the company going. They threw everything they could into it, with massive multi-media marketing we haven't seen before or since. And considering the fact that we're still here talking about it 15 years later, I'd say it worked.

 

I think the general issue is that G2's marketing was pretty bad, even compared to the twilight years of G1. And I don't mean as in the amount of money they poured into it (although that could've been better imo), I mean the quality of the actual material. Marketing for things like G1 and Ninjago worked because it was good marketing from a story perspective; they each managed to engage kids in new, mysterious worlds with fun characters and cool ideas. Stuff like Hero Factory and G2, on the other hand, were really just completely average cookie-cutter stories if you ask me.

 

G2 relied way too much on name recognition and nostalgia, which, while it worked great for the old fans, did all of jack and nada to pull in new fans. For old fans, G2 Ekimu and Makuta are cool because they're friggin Ekimu and Makuta! For new fans, they're just generic mentor and generic bad guy number 3 thousand and 78 whatever. For old fans, the G2 Toa are great because they're the friggin Toa! For new fans, they're just a collection of "team" stereotypes that couldn't be any more average if they tried.

 

I'm not gonna act like G1 was completely original with its characters and setting, but it combined all sorts of different elements together in new, engaging ways. G2 is just like "Here are some things from G1! Remember G1? G1 was awesome!" without anything really interesting to bring to the table on its own.

 

So, could Bionicle survive as a brand? I'd say it would probably need the story and marketing of G1 combined with the great toys of G2 to work, but yeah, it probably could.

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"Whether that is right or not...I also...as a Rider...have a wish that I want to fulfill."

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It's tough to say whether or not Bionicle could survive only as a storyline.

Most of Bionicle's fans were only interested in the sets.

 

If a writer could somehow make Bionicle's story transcend it's image as merely a toy theme, maybe it could succeed.

Edited by You just lost the game

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Bionicle could definitely survive as a brand if Lego knew/cared what they were doing. G1 started out so strongly because Lego was failing pretty badly at the time, and it was a last-ditch effort to keep the company going. They threw everything they could into it, with massive multi-media marketing we haven't seen before or since. And considering the fact that we're still here talking about it 15 years later, I'd say it worked.

I think a level to this that a lot of people neglect is that Bionicle G1 isn't the only huge new initiative that LEGO invested heavily in around that time. LEGO was pushing and heavily promoting new innovations left and right in the late 90s and early naughts. Bionicle G1 is, however, the only successful new initiative they invested heavily in at that time.

 

Let's not forget that they followed up Bionicle G1's launch with Galidor, which remains pretty much the biggest failure they've ever had. Galidor wasn't at all lacking for "massive multi-media marketing" — it got a LEGO Club Magazine comic that was intended to be the start of an ongoing series, a 20-episode TV series, a month-long McDonalds promotion including toys and a mini-comic, an extremely detailed website full of mystery and world-building, an online adventure RPG, and a video game on several platforms. Galidor is what happens when LEGO attempts a marketing campaign like they had for Bionicle G1 without first taking steps to ensure that there's a big enough and receptive enough potential audience to justify that kind of campaign in the first place.

 

Since then, the LEGO Group has been more cautious with their new innovations and look long and hard at what precedent can tell them about any new initiative's potential. LEGO Ninjago, for instance, started with a 44-minute TV special, not a full TV series, and probably wouldn't have gotten even that if its predecessor LEGO Atlantis hadn't done well with a 22-minute TV special, which it might not have gotten if Power Miners hadn't done well with a shorter 3-minute mini-movie, etc. Also, rather than rushing LEGO Ninjago to market ASAP, its launch was actually postponed a year so the creators could manage to get everything just right. There was extensive kid testing to make sure it really had the makings of a hit and wasn't just something "conventional wisdom" said would be a hit. And all that diligence paid off, with it achieving better single-year sales than any theme before it. The LEGO Group waited two years before launching another "big bang" theme like it, Legends of Chima, with a marketing profile further bolstered by Ninjago's monumental success.

 

"But why didn't LEGO follow the same procedures in developing Bionicle G2 as they did with Ninjago?" some might ask. Well, in many respects, I imagine they did. But Bionicle G2 didn't come about at a time when its product category was seeing one success after another with both sets and marketing. It came about after Bionicle G1 had experienced a long decline and its intended replacement, Hero Factory, had declined even further. It would've been foolhardy to market it the same exact way Bionicle had been marketed in 2001 or even the way Hero Factory had been marketed in 2010. Rather, its marketing had to be informed by the most recent precedent for what resonated with today's kids and what didn't.

 

Quoting from a post I made about Hero Factory on Eurobricks last week…

 

…for its first wave in 2010 — which was not even a full year of sets — it got four twelve-page comics (drawn by the same artist as the first Bionicle comics, no less), 15 sets with 31 new parts, at least two online games, a twelve-episode "Hero Factory FM" podcast, and a four-episode TV series. That's 88 minutes of animation, longer than ANY of the Bionicle movies, and twice the length of the 2011 LEGO Ninjago TV special! They even set up a call center to take live phone calls from Hero Factory fans, some of which they then featured in the podcast.

 

It's true that there were no books for Hero Factory in its first two years (in the United States, at least — I think Poland may have had a couple), but the same could be said for G1 Bionicle. Hero Factory got a pretty substantial promotional campaign prior to its launch, including a detailed teaser site and a panel at San Diego Comic-Con. And Hero Factory was supported with contributions from some of the same people and agencies who made Bionicle G1 what it was: artists like Christian Faber, writers like Greg Farshtey and designers like Christoffer Raundahl.

 

LEGO clearly invested a huge amount in Hero Factory. And that huge investment was apparently not rewarded the way they hoped it would be. I guarantee you it was no accident that Hero Factory's marketing profile and number of sets per wave got smaller in year two (and each year after that), instead of bigger as happened with Bionicle G1, LEGO Ninjago, or LEGO Friends. 88 minutes of TV episodes in 2010 to 66 minutes in 2011 to 44 minutes in 2012 to 22 minutes in 2013. Four comic issues written and drawn in 2010 to three in 2011 to two in 2012 (some of which didn't even see hard-copy publication). Fifteen sets per wave in 2010 to eleven per wave in 2011 to nine per wave in 2012 to seven and a half per wave in 2013 and 2014. This is not a theme that LEGO never invested sufficiently in — it's a theme that, in spite of a huge upfront investment, never performed well enough to justify the same investment each year as the year prior.

 

Honestly, I often hear people say things about how G2 Bionicle should have been handled — more people from the original Bionicle team, a broadcast TV series starting in year one, detailed character bios and backstories, a series of free comics in the LEGO Club Magazine, more story-driven online games, less marketing targeted toward adult nostalgia, impulse-priced sets for the main protagonists, etc. — and all I can think is "Hero Factory. You literally just described Hero Factory." But it didn't work the way LEGO hoped back then, so is it any surprise that LEGO was in no hurry to promote Bionicle G2 using the exact same strategies? Is it any surprise they decided to go back to the drawing board and approach the Bionicle reboot from a decidedly different direction? As much as some people would like to believe Bionicle G2 failed due to being "Hero Factory by a different name", many people's best suggestions for what Bionicle G2 should have done differently are the exact same strategies that Hero Factory used in the first place!

Edited by Aanchir
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Bionicle could definitely survive as a brand if Lego knew/cared what they were doing. G1 started out so strongly because Lego was failing pretty badly at the time, and it was a last-ditch effort to keep the company going. They threw everything they could into it, with massive multi-media marketing we haven't seen before or since. And considering the fact that we're still here talking about it 15 years later, I'd say it worked.

I think a level to this that a lot of people neglect is that Bionicle G1 isn't the only huge new initiative that LEGO invested heavily in around that time. LEGO was pushing and heavily promoting new innovations left and right in the late 90s and early naughts. Bionicle G1 is, however, the only successful new initiative they invested heavily in at that time.

True, but I think this and the rest of your post sort of ties into my main point; that is, the actual quality of the marketed material. Method and quality shouldn't really be confused (which I'm probably not helping with since I don't know how to word this right).

 

Lines like Galidor and Hero Factory didn't fail because the marketing was lazy; I think they failed because the material being marketed just wasn't very good, and I think that applies to G2 as well. You can market a dog turd with as much money, effort, and tie-in promotions you want, but in the end, you're still working to promote a dog turd. Now, G2's actual product wasn't the turd; the toys are probably some of the best Lego's ever produced. The problem is that the toys were marketed as part of a storyline that wasn't very interesting. If you're a kid, would you rather have a toy that you really have zero investment in, or a toy that comes with your favorite superheroes/characters/whatever? From my own personal experience as a kid, I would've chosen even a poorly-made interesting toy over a well-made boring toy any day.


"Whether that is right or not...I also...as a Rider...have a wish that I want to fulfill."

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Aanchir, you state that Hero Factory got solid marketing, but despite that, the line's success declined, if fairly slowly, and that from this experience, Lego decided that lots of marketing isn't a good idea, and so launched the Bionicle reboot with very little...and now that line's declined to the point of being cancelled after less than two years.

 

In light of this I ask - is the success of constraction bound to decline with and without marketing? Does constraction have much of a future if so?

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True, but I think this and the rest of your post sort of ties into my main point; that is, the actual quality of the marketed material. Method and quality shouldn't really be confused (which I'm probably not helping with since I don't know how to word this right).

 

Lines like Galidor and Hero Factory didn't fail because the marketing was lazy; I think they failed because the material being marketed just wasn't very good, and I think that applies to G2 as well. You can market a dog turd with as much money, effort, and tie-in promotions you want, but in the end, you're still working to promote a dog turd. Now, G2's actual product wasn't the turd; the toys are probably some of the best Lego's ever produced. The problem is that the toys were marketed as part of a storyline that wasn't very interesting. If you're a kid, would you rather have a toy that you really have zero investment in, or a toy that comes with your favorite superheroes/characters/whatever? From my own personal experience as a kid, I would've chosen even a poorly-made interesting toy over a well-made boring toy any day.

Fair enough. But then the issue becomes how to make material that resonates with audiences. I say "that resonates with audiences" because I'm not convinced there's some objective aspect of Bionicle G1's storytelling that made it "good" and less successful themes "not good". I'm sure there are a lot of fans of Bionicle G1 who might consider LEGO Ninjago and LEGO Friends no better than Hero Factory when it comes to storytelling, but they're some of the LEGO Group's most successful ongoing IPs.

 

Creating successful story material is certainly not just a matter of putting people with a track record for success at the helm. As I mentioned about Hero Factory, Christian Faber and his colleagues at Advance had considerable involvement in Hero Factory's creative direction, and Greg Farshtey wrote comics and chapter books for Hero Factory just as he had for Bionicle G1, but nevertheless, Hero Factory never achieved the same heights that Bionicle G1 had. And the Galidor TV series was helmed by Hollywood producer Tom Lynch, who the New York Times had praised as "The David E. Kelley of tween TV" for his streak of successful shows for 8–14-year-olds (he's still creating shows for Nickelodeon to this day). By contrast, the LEGO Ninjago TV special in 2011 was literally the first thing Dan and Kevin Hageman wrote that actually got produced: LEGO actually only offered them the gig after they were pulled off the writing team for The LEGO Movie so Phil Lord and Chris Miller could take over from them. I can't tell you how many people I've heard say "Bionicle can be great if they just hire *insert famous and successful person here* to write it!" but even if you do get a big-name writer on board, that's no guarantee that it'll take off.

 

So back to the main question of the topic, sure, Bionicle could become a successful brand/IP once more with the right combination of factors. But that doesn't make it any easier to identify what those factors are, or how many are factors the creators of new Bionicle sets and media can control versus more capricious factors like what today's kids are interested in. The LEGO Group's successful IPs certainly don't become such purely by chance, but all the best writing and marketing in the world can't change the cultural landscape back to what it was in 2001.

 

Aanchir, you state that Hero Factory got solid marketing, but despite that, the line's success declined, if fairly slowly, and that from this experience, Lego decided that lots of marketing isn't a good idea, and so launched the Bionicle reboot with very little...and now that line's declined to the point of being cancelled after less than two years.

 

In light of this I ask - is the success of constraction bound to decline with and without marketing? Does constraction have much of a future if so?

That's definitely a concern I have. Of course, it's also possible that the LEGO Group just hasn't hit upon the specific combination of factors it would take to make constraction resonate with today's kids again. Or that the shifting interests of kids might wind their way back to being more receptive to constraction themes on their own. In the very least we know the LEGO Group is definitely committed to exploring what the future of constraction might hold moving forward. But who knows when, if ever, we might see another constraction theme become as big a hit as Bionicle was in the early naughts? The failure of recent constraction themes to really be sustainable in the long term is definitely troubling for me as a fan of those themes.

 

Remember, the LEGO Group's interest isn't in bringing back Bionicle specifically. There are definitely people at LEGO who would like Bionicle to get another chance one day, same as with other discontinued themes like Legends of Chima or Classic Space. But what initiatives they focus on in the future will be grounded on which seem the most promising at the time, not which ideas of the past "deserve" a second chance. If constraction gets its next big break through spin-offs of System IPs, that's not necessarily a bad thing as far as the LEGO Group is concerned, though I'm sure they'd like to make sure some of their own IPs like Ninjago and Nexo Knights are a part of that equation instead of just licensed ones like Star Wars.

Edited by Aanchir
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To piggy-back off the above, never underestimate the power of luck or being in the right place at the right time.

 

Success requires a combination of both luck and skill, but especially the skill to leverage the luck when it appears. It's entirely possible for Bionicle to flourish as a returning brand, but some portion of that chance is entirely out of Lego's control.

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I just want to see some new themes that aren't licensed, and could be comparable to Bionicle. Nexo Knights and Elves are the first original properties they've released in a while.

 

 

And of course, I just wanna see a new constraction theme. The idea of "the brick-filled future!" as TTV put it where lego only ever makes system sets (And some technic on the side) is just depressing to me.

Edited by NickonAquaMagna

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The Toa- A Bionicle Retelling by NickonAquaMagna http://www.bzpower.com/board/topic/25275-the-toa-a-retelling-of-bionicle/

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That's definitely a concern I have. Of course, it's also possible that the LEGO Group just hasn't hit upon the specific combination of factors it would take to make constraction resonate with today's kids again. Or that the shifting interests of kids might wind their way back to being more receptive to constraction themes on their own. In the very least we know the LEGO Group is definitely committed to exploring what the future of constraction might hold moving forward. But who knows when, if ever, we might see another constraction theme become as big a hit as Bionicle was in the early naughts?

 

Maybe when/if System sales aren't performing well? Surely it isn't coincidence that the original Bionicle was a huge hit when almost every other Lego line was faltering, and now the new one has faltered whilst System lines are selling very well.

 

I wonder if - in the aftermath of The Lego Movie and in the midst of Ninjago and Elves, and the Star Wars, Jurassic World and superhero licenses - the new Bionicle just got a bit lost.

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That's definitely a concern I have. Of course, it's also possible that the LEGO Group just hasn't hit upon the specific combination of factors it would take to make constraction resonate with today's kids again. Or that the shifting interests of kids might wind their way back to being more receptive to constraction themes on their own. In the very least we know the LEGO Group is definitely committed to exploring what the future of constraction might hold moving forward. But who knows when, if ever, we might see another constraction theme become as big a hit as Bionicle was in the early naughts?

Maybe when/if System sales aren't performing well? Surely it isn't coincidence that the original Bionicle was a huge hit when almost every other Lego line was faltering, and now the new one has faltered whilst System lines are selling very well.

 

I wonder if - in the aftermath of The Lego Movie and in the midst of Ninjago and Elves, and the Star Wars, Jurassic World and superhero licenses - the new Bionicle just got a bit lost.

 

Maybe. In any case, I don't think it makes much sense to go about anticipating some point where the LEGO Group's crisis in the late 90s and early naughts repeats itself, considering that the reasons for that crisis are now well-understood and the LEGO Group has taken many steps to ensure they don't make those same mistakes again. Bionicle is actually one of the things that helped teach LEGO how NOT to make those same mistakes, and its development has been adapted into a roadmap they use when developing any new IP.

 

I just want to see some new themes that aren't licensed, and could be comparable to Bionicle. Nexo Knights and Elves are the first original properties they've released in a while.

I dunno, I think there have been quite a few new original properties in the past several years. 2013 had Legends of Chima and Galaxy Squad. 2014 had Ultra Agents and Mixels. 2015 had Bionicle and Elves. 2016 has Nexo Knights. So yes, this is an off year in terms of having only one new original IP… but that might be to make up for the fact that so many IPs (City, Ninjago, Friends, Elves, Mixels, and Bionicle) continued from previous years.

 

You might not consider all of these examples "comparable to Bionicle", of course, but all things considered the LEGO Group probably doesn't WANT all of their original IPs to be comparable to Bionicle — they want to differentiate their properties as much as possible so they cast as wide a net as possible.

 

Furthermore, licensed products only make up roughly a third of the LEGO Group's business, and that's been the case for over a decade. While LEGO may be acquiring a wider range of licenses than in the past, particularly considering things like Dimensions and Ideas allowing them to use licenses without building entire themes around them, they aren't making up a substantially larger part of the company's market share than in the past.

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I just want to see some new themes that aren't licensed, and could be comparable to Bionicle. Nexo Knights and Elves are the first original properties they've released in a while.

I dunno, I think there have been quite a few new original properties in the past several years. 2013 had Legends of Chima and Galaxy Squad. 2014 had Ultra Agents and Mixels. 2015 had Bionicle and Elves. 2016 has Nexo Knights. So yes, this is an off year in terms of having only one new original IP… but that might be to make up for the fact that so many IPs (City, Ninjago, Friends, Elves, Mixels, and Bionicle) continued from previous years.

 

You might not consider all of these examples "comparable to Bionicle", of course, but all things considered the LEGO Group probably doesn't WANT all of their original IPs to be comparable to Bionicle — they want to differentiate their properties as much as possible so they cast as wide a net as possible.

 

Furthermore, licensed products only make up roughly a third of the LEGO Group's business, and that's been the case for over a decade. While LEGO may be acquiring a wider range of licenses than in the past, particularly considering things like Dimensions and Ideas allowing them to use licenses without building entire themes around them, they aren't making up a substantially larger part of the company's market share than in the past.

 

 

I knew Chima and Mixels would be brought up. That was years ago, though, and I'm not sure I can count Bionicle as a new theme, even if everything about it was made to feel new. I don't have any "beef," with lego city, I like Ninjago, I think friends is all right though I think Elves is superior. The difference with themes like Galaxy Squad and Ultra Agents is they were kind of short lived, and I don't mind seeing lego experiment with stuff like that that's just around for a little while to keep things diverse and ever-changing. All these evergreen themes are nice, but it leaves less room for fresh, new ideas to come along. I think there is a niche to be filled with something that could replace Bionicle, not something exactly like it, just something with a similar sense of adventure an' all that. Ninjago's filled that niche to an extent, I'd say, even though it's a system theme. In fact, part of me wonders if G2 would've fared better AS a system theme, since that seems to be what kids want nowadays more than anything else. I dunno.

 

The only thing that bugs me about the licensed themes is how they seem to get top billing at times, like lego wants THAT to be the first thing kids see when they walk into the lego aisle, or at least retailers do. There is a section of the market of kids that are only interested in seeing lego's representation of existing characters and properties they already like, and don't care at all about Ninjago or City or Fiends or whatever. It might not be a big chunk of the market, but I do see it being catered to as a priority sometimes, and I'd be lying if I said that sort of marketing didn't bother me. I've always seen lego as "That company that takes you to amazing new places you never knew you wanted to go to and makes you imagine things," first and foremost, not "That company that makes things you already know about and already knew you wanted."

 

And I'm not even saying that latter is what lego has become, or anything cynical like that. But that does seem to be the image that's being presented.

Edited by NickonAquaMagna

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The Toa- A Bionicle Retelling by NickonAquaMagna http://www.bzpower.com/board/topic/25275-the-toa-a-retelling-of-bionicle/

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The only thing that bugs me about the licensed themes is how they seem to get top billing at times, like lego wants THAT to be the first thing kids see when they walk into the lego aisle, or at least retailers do. There is a section of the market of kids that are only interested in seeing lego's representation of existing characters and properties they already like, and don't care at all about Ninjago or City or Fiends or whatever. It might not be a big chunk of the market, but I do see it being catered to as a priority sometimes, and I'd be lying if I said that sort of marketing didn't bother me. I've always seen lego as "That company that takes you to amazing new places you never knew you wanted to go to and makes you imagine things," first and foremost, not "That company that makes things you already know about and already knew you wanted."

Well, I can't speak for stores everywhere, but this February upon entering my local Toys 'R' Us, you'd have been greeted first with a big LEGO Nexo Knights arch over the main aisle. Then, at the front of the LEGO department, which faces the entrance, you'd see giant panel displays advertising (from left to right) LEGO City, LEGO Nexo Knights, and LEGO Ninjago, with the corresponding sets shelved immediately beneath them. The center Nexo Knights panel even had a scannable Nexo Power. So I feel like in my area, at least, the LEGO in-house IPs get a fair shake.

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