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thedefeaterdragon

Can we talk about the business practice of Bionicle for two minutes?

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Hey there! So I've been lurking on these forums for a while now but never involved myself in them.

 

I've been thinking, lately, about what might be holding this franchise down and how to make it better for consumers and fans alike.

 

First of all, if the ideas in this post have already been discussed I'm sorry to repeat them; but I think it is most important that, if LEGO ever makes another remake, that they understand why these toys keep on flopping. And here's the thing, I love Bionicle and its story and I hope to Mata Nui that they will give the Toa a chance to save the universe again, but this particular story is only gonna go on as long as they sell the toys related to it.

 

So, without further ado, here's how I think they should go about to make their toy as interesting as possible for us all!

 

1. Stop giving us six time the same model. It's true, for the longest time we've had six Toa and six villains... then they reduced it to three Toa and three villains. Some of the times we got lucky and the villains didn't look the same and that is fine. In fact, it would be much better if they did this for every model!

 

Now, now, I realize that's a lot of time designing things and that's money they can't afford if they think the series is not gonna make money. Here's my solution... or rather, how I would go at it!

 

Focus on a single Metru or part of the island, at a time. Simple; that gives us one Toa model and one obvious villain model. Then, for the rest of the cast, you can probably give us a Turaga and a Matoran and... some other villains or just creatures or other races! Let's expand on that idea as I pitch more cool stuff, shall we?

 

2. Bring back the element of collection. It's simple really, when you like a series and when its not too costy, it's a pleasure to get more stuff to personalize your characters. It's even better if it allows to rebuild your old model as another one! Masks, limbs or even tools(and not weapons! :P) are a great start. And if you don't like randomness, you can always make what I would call 'partner kits' that you can buy once you have this specific character... tho I am not too much of a fan of that kind of product for the reason that as the story will develop and the universe will grow, some characters could come with weapons or pieces for previous other characters. Let's take for example the first metru explored by the customers: the Ta-Metru. Well maybe the villain for that Toa at the time was a water Rahi with a chain to fight him and try to drag him underwater(where it has the advantage). But when its time for the water Toa to be promoted, that Rahi could come back for a vengeance. But rather than re-sell the toy, LEGO could sell the water Toa with a harpoon for that Rahi!

 

3. More diversity! Haha, I bet I just surprised a bunch of you with that. But no worries, all I mean by that is: wouldn't it be cool to be surprised once in a while and rather than have a Toa as protagonist the promoted product is some other species that receives guidance from a Turaga? Maybe a Toa from last years fulfilled its purpose and is now helping a friend or something character(that may be shady or not) to get out of trouble or something? Maybe that character becomes a hero? Maybe its Makuta in disguise, who knows? At this point I'd make the story evolve in many directions. Makuta could still be some big bad guy but I'd keep him in the shadows... maybe enraged at Mata Nui and himself for bringing down his brother more than a conquered seeking to control all. I don't think big bad villains add a lot to a story and makes the story too 'good vs evil'. Beside, if defeated too often they start to get boring-weak and that's never good.

 

Anyway, that's all I have for now, I'll leave this discussion open; I'm eager to see what you guys come up with to make the next remake better! Thanks for reading! :D

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I definitely agree with you on the collectables. The fact that 2004 onward did not have collectable mask variants was disappointing (though I discovered recently that the Karzahni set has a dark blue variant of Toa Whenua's Ruru). I never bought mask packs when I was younger and they were actually in production, but if they brought them back now I'd buy them frequently. The random chance involved makes people buy more, like what's happened with the random minifig bags. 

Edited by trayn0r

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I definitely agree with you on the collectables. The fact that 2004 onward did not have collectable mask variants was disappointing (though I discovered recently that the Karzahni set has a dark blue variant of Toa Whenua's Ruru). I never bought mask packs when I was younger and they were actually in production, but if they brought them back now I'd buy them frequently. The random chance involved makes people buy more, like what's happened with the random minifig bags. 

Yeah, the same set that gave us the only recolor of any Hordika head, and yet also stuck with the same boring red Great Huna for Sarda. There were actually quite a few mask/head/helmet pieces that Lego only ever produced once for Bionicle-I went through and made a list recently:

 

  • Metru and Makuta-you mentioned the blue Ruru of course.

    • Huna (despite being in 4 sets)

    • Matatu (despite being in 3 sets)

    • Mahiki (despite being in 2 sets)

    • Rau (despite being in 2 sets)

    • Komau (despite being in 2 sets)

    • Kraahkan (Special Editions that came in Toys R Us alternate model sets)

  • Hordika and Lhikan-the mutated Huna came in green in the Karzahni set

    • Lhikan’s Hau (despite being in 2 sets)

    • Matatu

    • Mahiki

    • Rau

    • Komau

    • Ruru

  • Visorak+Axonn-the Vohtarak and Keelerak shells were rereleased in gold for the play sets

    • Rode (5 sets)

    • Suukorak

    • Boggarak

    • Roporak

    • Oohnorak

  • Inika

    • Calix

    • Iden

    • Suletu

    • Elda

    • Kadin

    • Sanok

  • 2006 Villains-Thok's spine was recolored in gold for Irnakk.

    • Hakann

    • Olmak (3 sets)

    • Zaktan

    • Vezok

    • Avak

    • Reidak

  • Mahri Nui 1-Hahli's mask was recolored for Lesovikk the same year

    • Arthron

    • Tryna

    • Zaath

    • Gadunka

    • Garai

    • Volitak (despite being in 3 sets)

  • Mahri Nui 2-Carapar and Takadox's heads were recolored and reused for playset Rahi, Nocturn's head (in Carapar's case), and 2008 Takanuva's shoulder armor (Takadox)

    • Kalmah

    • Pridak

    • Ehlek

    • Maxilos

    • Spinax

    • Mantax

  • Phantoka-the Great and Noble Shelek were both released in two different variants

    • Jutlin: Great, Noble, and Pilot forms

    • Akaku: Adaptive and Noble forms

    • Miru: Adaptive, Noble, and Pilot forms

    • Avsa: Great and Noble

    • Kakama: Adaptive and Noble

    • 2008 Avohkii

  • Mistika

    • Hau: Adaptive

    • Felnas

    • Kaukau: Adaptive

    • Mohtrek

    • Pakari: Adaptive

    • Scavenging

  • Glatorian Helmets

    • Malum

    • Strakk

    • Gresh

    • Tarix

    • Vorox

    • Skrall

  • Agori Helmets-Berix's was recolored for Ackar's

    • Raanu

    • Metus

    • Tarduk

    • Zesk

    • Atakus

  • Legends Helmets

    • Gelu

    • Vastus

    • Kiina

    • Mata Nui

    • Stronius

  • Stars+Tuma-the Hau was of course released in both red and gold, while the Skrall head was the same from the previous set and also used for Fero.

    • Avohkii

    • Gresh

    • Nektann

    • Rahkshi

    • Tuma

  • G2 Masks

    • Golden Mask of Fire-we never got a "corrupted" variant

    • Golden Mask of Water-see above

    • Masks of Control-it would have been cool to get both versions in another color

    • Uniter Mask of Jungle-again, no corrupted version like we got with Tahu

    • Uniter Mask of Water-no corrupted version like Kopaka

    • Uniter Mask of Stone-no corrupted version like Onua

 

Additionally there were a few masks that had variants which appeared in storyline or artwork that we never got produced in a physical form: the Vahi in Nuva red, infected versions of various masks, the Ignika in black, the Okotan Masks of Tree-Cutting and Tree-Growing-I would even have gone for one in the "rusted" or whatever grey coloring seen in the animations for Ekimu before he takes up the hammer.


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Collectibles I think were one of the staples of early G1, and pretty much everyone remembers them fondly. Plus, as a business practice, they're proven, so I'm baffled as to why they were skipped for G2, especially considering Lego does this with other current themes (nexo knights, for example). I would have been all over G2 mask packs with both sets of Toa masks in all colors plus blended colors, as well as Protector masks in more wacky color combinations. Another thing that would have been cool but to a lesser extent would be getting Skull Spiders in more colors too, like red, yellow or black.

 

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I'm glad people agree with me on this, not that I wouldn't mind a discussion because I do want to figure out what's best for the franchise that I love, but it just goes to show that if we as fans can figure out a way to make Bionicle better... why didn't the LEGO company change its way of doing business? Was the Bionicle reboot doomed from the beginning? :(

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Lol the sets weren't the problem for me with G2 but I do agree that collectibles would've been a more than welcome addition. G2 sort of did have collectibles but they didn't really mean anything or have any canonical purpose. The golden skull spider mask and dual molded toa masks were sort of just dropped into sets as a welcome but confusing bonus. I would've loved to have seen actual mask packs that further what G1 did, having not just different colors of each mask but also unique printing. Collecting them then would be so much more exciting and it would encourage MOCing.

 

Otherwise though I didn't see you cover many more of LEGO's actual business practices like marketing or branding. Adding collectibles is great, but it's not that intricate of a change. If kids didn't like Bionicle as a line they weren't gonna care for the sets anyway. None of us here seem to have any real experience or background in business/marketing so I guess we can only make unqualified guesses, but thinking about it logically I think the biggest thing LEGO should do is improve how they market Bionicle. I really appreciated the attempt they had at giving Bionicle a strong social media presence with contests but it was executed pretty poorly and the line otherwise seemed forgotten. It started off really strong by having a big presence at NYCC but unfortunately didn't seem to reach the audience of people that grew up liking and knowing Bionicle but dropped out of it. I think part of reaching that audience is having a stronger story with a better medium to communicate it. I think it would've been really cool if LEGO put together a comic to serve as an example for the story of G2 and gave it out at NYCC and put in LEGO Magazines.

 

I think it's important for a toy line to have awareness outside of the toy store. Most kids probably learn what they want before they go to the store/order it because of what they've seen on TV or online. Even if they just know they want LEGO, it takes a lot to make Bionicle sets stand out in stores even from other LEGO sets, so having story and marketing to boost awareness of what Bionicle is makes a huge difference. I'm starting to get the impression that CCBS or buildable action figures just don't really click with people anymore but that's a discussion for another day.

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I find it frankly quite impressive that you are criticizing LEGO for G2's flaws on BZPower and not being descended upon by flocks of apologists. 

 

Yeah, you folks have generally hit it on the nose. G2 just missed out on some huge things that made G1 big, like major marketing campaigns, collectibles, a strong story, etc.

Edited by Wazdakka
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Wants: 2003 Jaller (from Jaller and Gukko), Exo-Toa, Turaga Nuju, Turaga Vakama, Shadow Kraata, Axonn, Brutaka, Vezon & Fenrakk, Nocturn, ORANGE FIKOU.

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Banana Gunz mentioned that Bionicle G2 had a strong social media presence.

Even so what 8 to 12 year old has a Facebook account?

Most kids still learn about a product from television commercials.

Just look at Ninjago it has a strong tv presence and is selling like crazy.

If G2 was given a strong tv presence similar to Ninjago or Chima the line might have done better.

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Well I did not just argue in favor of collectibles; variety of models and pieces and to use tactics to give relevancy to previous models are all part of my suggestions to make Bionicle better. I don't see anything wrong with it. Sure I have no studies in marketing but I can still figure out what I want and how I assume it would be better for the other customers. I personally think they should let go of trying to make Bionicle for children only. I mean at this point it is clear adults like them too; without going into mature territory, I think it would be great to see some good character development and epic art of a Rahkshi ripping a Matoran to pieces(they're robots after all) and seek out some cool effects.

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Banana Gunz mentioned that Bionicle G2 had a strong social media presence.

Even so what 8 to 12 year old has a Facebook account?

Most kids still learn about a product from television commercials.

Just look at Ninjago it has a strong tv presence and is selling like crazy.

If G2 was given a strong tv presence similar to Ninjago or Chima the line might have done better.

 

Very true; Even though Bionicle had a lot more going on with social media than G1 did it was often inconsistent. There were long periods of time where nothing new or interesting was happening and like you said, Facebook doesn't strike me as a place to reach people, esp. kids. A Bionicle tv show would've been stellar, and in fact I think the Netflix thing they did had a TON of potential that was just wasted.

 

 

Well I did not just argue in favor of collectibles; variety of models and pieces and to use tactics to give relevancy to previous models are all part of my suggestions to make Bionicle better. I don't see anything wrong with it. Sure I have no studies in marketing but I can still figure out what I want and how I assume it would be better for the other customers. I personally think they should let go of trying to make Bionicle for children only. I mean at this point it is clear adults like them too; without going into mature territory, I think it would be great to see some good character development and epic art of a Rahkshi ripping a Matoran to pieces(they're robots after all) and seek out some cool effects.

 

Oh absolutely, I completely agree with you, I think there's a lot more they could do with the sets to make them more appealing even though I really liked the first wave and there were a lot of cool functions/ideas in the waves that followed. I think I just have a more story-based perspective and I'm still wondering if the CCBS/buildable action figures idea is just unappealing to kids now. Your ideas on how to improve the sets are really cool but if people just don't like CCBS... well then it ultimately won't matter. I do think though that G2 did away with clone sets though, and although all the toa/villains had things in common they were for the most part relatively unique, at least to me.

 

Bionicle is in such as weird place that I don't really know how many people actually like and understand Bionicle. The meme craze convinced me that a lot of people know the name and what G1 looked like but it's impossible to guarantee Bionicle as a line will seriously ever get their attention again. I'd also really like a more serious Bionicle, just perhaps not as dark as you're imagining it though lol. All I need is good/interesting story telling.

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I a see future reboot most likely not even being called Bionicle.

 

Hear me out and put away the pitch fork.

 

It be best if LEGO made a villager focused theme and the creatures they fight. Have big sets be villains and creatures. Small sets would be villagers either protectors, Matoran or something new.

 

Then once it reached the point to expand past the three year mark have six of the villagers find stones that turn them into mighty warriors called Toa. Then bing bang boom Bionicle came back without calling it Bionicle.

Edited by Toa TimeLord

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I a see future reboot most likely not even being called Bionicle.

 

Hear me out and put away the pitch fork.

 

It be best if LEGO made a villager focused theme and the creatures they fight. Have big sets be villains and creatures. Small sets would be villagers either protectors, Matoran or something new.

 

Then once it reached the point to expand past the three year mark have six of the villagers find stones that turn them into mighty warriors called Toa. Then bing bang boom Bionicle came back without calling it Bionicle.

What could that even accomplish, besides not being able to take advantage of the strength of the Bionicle brand name? Of all the conceivable weaknesses of Bionicle G2, being called Bionicle wasn't one of them. I don't see any advantages to changing the name if you're creating something so fundamentally similar.


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[snip]

What could that even accomplish, besides not being able to take advantage of the strength of the Bionicle brand name? Of all the conceivable weaknesses of Bionicle G2, being called Bionicle wasn't one of them. I don't see any advantages to changing the name if you're creating something so fundamentally similar.

 

To be fair, it is debatable as to whether or not BIONICLE in some way or another were to come back if store would even stock shelves with the sets, given how poorly G2 apparently sold. Not calling it BIONICLE with said regards in-mind isn't too farfetched if this is taken into account. As to if it would actually work as a theme I think is dependent upon the atmosphere, ascetic, and feeling that the theme initially brings, and to evolve it on from there. Intentional or not, that's kinda how BIONICLE G1 was successful partially, other than the story and interesting sets of course. The overall atmosphere was surreal and enchanting. But that's just my two cents.


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I think part of the issue is LEGO's refusal to release sales figures; we don't know exactly how poorly it did to conclude whether the brand name BIONICLE is necessary.


Steam Name: Toa Hahli Mahri. Xbox Live Gamertag: Makuta. Minecraft Username: ThePoohster.

Wants: 2003 Jaller (from Jaller and Gukko), Exo-Toa, Turaga Nuju, Turaga Vakama, Shadow Kraata, Axonn, Brutaka, Vezon & Fenrakk, Nocturn, ORANGE FIKOU.

I got rid of my picture, are you happy?

 

 

 

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One thing I really agree with about this is the idea that the Toa teams need to be made smaller - and if we go for a full-on reboot, there's no reason to be tied to the same characters or elements. Though I think 5 Toa rather than 3 would make for a better team dynamic with diverse personalities.

 

I think too that G2 made a mistake by making the heroes to "big" and the villains...not that much bigger. Hate on Hero Factory all you like, but they got this dynamic correct most of the time. 

 

Firstly, by having hero sets smaller, it makes them more affordable, and the first sets you're going to gravitate towards when you buy a first BIONICLE for yourself, or as a present for someone else. Especially since BIONICLE would have to compete with other brands, a lower price compared to other figures out there will be very important. Secondly, from a story perspective, it just doesn't make the villains very intimidating when the heroes tower over their opponents. This is why the rahi and rahkshi were great.

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One thing I really agree with about this is the idea that the Toa teams need to be made smaller - and if we go for a full-on reboot, there's no reason to be tied to the same characters or elements. Though I think 5 Toa rather than 3 would make for a better team dynamic with diverse personalities.

 

I think too that G2 made a mistake by making the heroes to "big" and the villains...not that much bigger. Hate on Hero Factory all you like, but they got this dynamic correct most of the time. 

 

Firstly, by having hero sets smaller, it makes them more affordable, and the first sets you're going to gravitate towards when you buy a first BIONICLE for yourself, or as a present for someone else. Especially since BIONICLE would have to compete with other brands, a lower price compared to other figures out there will be very important. Secondly, from a story perspective, it just doesn't make the villains very intimidating when the heroes tower over their opponents. This is why the rahi and rahkshi were great.

Funnily enough, I believe the original plan was for there to be only four Toa for the traditional four elements of Fire, Air, Water, and Earth; they had six production lines at the time-not sure if that's expanded since-so it was decided to add two more.

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Voicing your opinions with tact is the best way to keep a discussion from becoming an argument.
So far as I'm aware, it's pronounced like this: We're ee ah moo.
 

Check out my Creations:

Epics

G1 Battle for Spherus Magna - G2 A Lingering Shadow


Short Stories

G1 Fallen Guardian - G2 Shadows of Past and Future (The Legend Continues Entry) Head of Stone, Heart of Jungle


MOCs

Mask Hoarder, Desert Scourge

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