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Many people have been saying how Hero Factory has been doing so much better than Bionicle. However, without actual sales reports from Lego or Lego employees to back up these claims (as far as I know), I have been very skeptical about it.I have also become very interested in Dungeons and Dragons and so, with the announcement of D&DNext, there was much talk across the blogs. One blog used Google Insights to show how Pathfinder (the competing RPG) had surpassed Dungeons and Dragons a little after 4th Edition D&D was released in Google searches. Now, while Pathfinder didn't actually start outselling D&D until this past year, it was a good indicator of what people were interested in.So, I decided to put Bionicle and Hero Factory in. The results I got are shown below.bionicle_herofactory.png(Blue is Bionicle, Red is Hero Factory)I found this graph to be rather interesting. A few notes before I go on: Bionicle didn't dip below Hero Factory until around 2011 and HF didn't have a definite "lead" over Bionicle until the second half of 2011. That's after two waves of Hero Factory. It also doesn't really seem to show that Bionicle was dying in 2008-2009 compared to earlier years. While this only goes back to 2004, 2005 looks like it was a rather weak year, but late 2006 through early 2007 look stronger. The time TLR was released (approximately) is one of the top 3 or 4 peaks for Bionicle since 2004.Hero Factory, at least as far as Google searches indicate, has not been nearly as successful as Bionicle. That's not to say that it's been a complete flop, but it doesn't look like it is as much of a hit as Bionicle. Now this could potentially be attributed to Bionicle having a stronger fan base. I disagree. Hero Factory has had several TV series that got much more publicity than TLR did by having them premiere on TV rather than go directly to DVD.It is also worth noting that Ninjago has completely passed any levels that Bionicle or Hero Factory had, leaving them in the dust.bionicle_herofactory_ninjago.png(Blue is Bionicle, Red is Hero Factory, Yellow is Ninjago)Because we don't have actual records from Lego, I don't think it can be said that Hero Factory is more successful than Bionicle and that Bionicle was a dying franchise. These numbers seem to suggest otherwise.(Or maybe this just means that whatever Greg Farshtey works on turns out to be really successful product lines :P)Please correct me if I’m not reading these graphs correctly or am not aware of some announcements from Lego saying the HF is doing better than Bionicle was.Let's Keep Bionicle Alive,Lewa Krom

Edited by Lewa Krom
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Keep in mind that if Star Trek fans had, as a group, said, "No point in talking about this anymore, it's never going to come back," it never WOULD have come back.
-- Greg Farshtey

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I'm honestly not surprised. BIONICLE, in its heyday, had a huge storyline and thus a huge fan presence on the Internet. Hero Factory has very little story, and as such very little to talk about. LEGO has said that HF is aiming for a younger audience, one that might not often be Googling "Hero Factory" to see what comes up.Thus, Ninjago's rise isn't surprising. It's the storyline successor to BIONICLE, and it shows. The same target market as BIONICLE had was getting into a completely new line - but, without the bizarre, convoluted backstory that turned so many potential fans off in BIONICLE's latter years, Ninjago was able to skyrocket.If they end up ending Ninjago in 2013, I wouldn't herald that as an incredibly intelligent move business-wise, but this isn't the topic to discuss that.

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I found the Google Insights thing a while back, and while I did put Bionicle in it, I never thought of comparing it with HF. What should be noted as that while it had a peak at TLR in 2009, it was pretty much nothing but downwards from there. I'd go so far as to guess that the event that caused the smaller, final spike of 2009 was that announcement of Bionicles cancellation. Some consolation is that Bionicle is still searched more than Hero Factory was when it didn't exist. :P


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I had not heard of this Insights thing, and found it a little puzzling that your post also did not mention what it was. If you don't know what it is, your post could be misconstrued as talking about anything financial. But this is what Wikipedia says about it:

Google Insights for Search is a service by google similar to Google Trends[1], providing insights into the search terms people have been entering into the Google search engine.
So these charts have nothing to do with sales data at all. The sales of HF could be through the roof for all we know (though I doubt it too, or we probably would have heard about it).Let's face it, there's far less to search for in HF, and you could argue that that's a good thing, as the overcomplexity of Bionicle has often been brought up as a reason many people had trouble getting into it. So searching less doesn't necessarily translate to buying less sets. :shrugs: Especially since the later years got even more complex and web-based, exactly along the trend in lowered sales that we have heard about.It's reasonable to theorize these might roughly follow sales, but I'm just saying, be very careful not to take this as anywhere near conclusive... I do think it's somewhat convincing just because this would fit with the trends of which sales reports LEGO has tended to give us and not give us (presuming they tell us about the most successful ones), at least as far as I recall. But they often didn't report on Bionicle's sales like they have with other lines, so it's possible HF is a little more popular. Take with much salt, methinks.
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While I'm not going to argue the validity of graphs, especially when the data is quite clear, I would like to point out one simple fact you've clearly missed.Hero Factory's been out for about two years, give or take a bit. Bionicle was out for Ten.Which do you think would have more Google Searches?Data is Data, but i don't think a Google Search is a proper variable to measure - especially when trying to decide what's been more productive, and successful. Just because Someone Googles something more than another, relates nothing to sales data. Success is determined by sales data. Not a google Search.Again though, I don't doubt that Bionicle's been google searched much more often, but that means literally nothing in the business world.


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It should not be ignored that Google search results really measure cultural saturation more so than popularity. If more people were looking for info about BIONICLE before 2011, that might simply mean more people had heard of it than Hero Factory. Similarly, it makes perfect sense that Ninjago would have surpassed BIONICLE and Hero Factory because its extremely diverse multimedia angle (including a full TV series) strengthens its saturation in pop culture.Also, of course, keep in mind that the success of a merchandise-driven franchise is based on product sales, not on how many people are talking about it. A lot of BIONICLE fans remained involved in the fan community for many years after they stopped buying sets or taking an interest in new story developments-- in fact, if that weren't the case today then BIONICLE discussion online would hardly exist at all, since there are no new products for people to buy.This is one reason I firmly believe that neither success nor popularity can accurately predict how long a LEGO theme can last, because there are a lot more factors in play. After all, all it takes is a wave that is either too repetitive compared to the previous wave or a wave that is too radically different from the previous wave to drive off previously-established fans. And how well a theme attracts new fans can depend on how well it can meet the expectations of a younger fans who grew up in different cultural contexts.Nobody is under the illusion that BIONICLE was obscure or unpopular at any point in its lifetime. I think I'll always get a lot more of a reaction from people if I tell them I'm a fan of BIONICLE ("Aren't those the guys who roll up into little balls? I used to love those guys.") than if I tell them I'm a fan of LEGO Hero Factory ("Never heard of it."). Part of this is because Hero Factory, while it's got a similar budget to BIONICLE as far as I can tell, is no longer the LEGO Group's ace-in-the-hole. It's just one of many successful themes TLG has at the moment, and hardly one that defines their brand image as well as their minifigure-based and brick-based themes.Incidentally, how does LEGO Technic compare to BIONICLE and Ninjago as a Google search term? If it is weaker, then I think that would demonstrate my point quite effectively. LEGO Technic, after all, has never been as successful as The LEGO Group's more kid-oriented themes as far as I'm aware, but it continues to exist because it is successful in a smaller market that overlaps very little with the vast market for their kid-oriented offerings.

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A lot of BIONICLE fans remained involved in the fan community for many years after they stopped buying sets or taking an interest in new story developments-- in fact, if that weren't the case today then BIONICLE discussion online would hardly exist at all, since there are no new products for people to buy.
I was going to edit that point into my post, and then you stole my thunder. :P Basically, the kids who are buying sets and playing with them aren't talking online about it or searching as much. The ones who search a lot about Bionicle are story geeks like me who no longer bought as many sets in the later years, and are older than the target audience, at least if BZP's membership is any indication towards a 'scientific sample'.Also, let's not forget that Ninjago is System, while Bionicle and Hero Factory are buildable figures. LEGO's hope for Bionicle has been stated to have been that it would draw people into System. As I understand it, it didn't do this as much as they hoped, rather ushered fans into a Bionicle niche where they typically remained. But System itself already has a vast following, and is much more well-known, so Ninjago was bound to already get a ton of fans in there. Plus, HF very well might be moving people into System, including Ninjago, more than Bionicle was, so even if HF itself is not selling as well, it may be doing its "job" more.That logic might be a bit hard to follow so sorry if I'm being unclear. :P But it seems to make sense to me. Edited by bonesiii

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LEGO's hope for Bionicle has been stated to have been that it would draw people into System.
How was this supposed to occur?Given Bionicle's more complex builds, extensive storyline, dark/mysterious tone, and reliance on multimedia (which took more effort to access ten years ago), I'd assume it was aimed at a slightly older age group, one which had begun to move on from the sunny and smiley imagery of System, and was unlikely to return (unless as T/AFOLs). Also, Bionicle was originally branded as Technic, which has always seemed to be the reserve of older fans, and never incorporated any System parts (before anyone mentions the playsets, they weren't until five years in). Some people I've casually spoken to about Bionicle in the past were surprised to learn it was actually a Lego product at all, being as totally removed from the standard Lego lines as it was.So how could the kids who'd spent their earliest years with System and were maturing into Bionicle be expected to subsequently 'grow down' to System?

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LEGO's hope for Bionicle has been stated to have been that it would draw people into System.
How was this supposed to occur?Given Bionicle's more complex builds, extensive storyline, dark/mysterious tone, and reliance on multimedia (which took more effort to access ten years ago), I'd assume it was aimed at a slightly older age group, one which had begun to move on from the sunny and smiley imagery of System, and was unlikely to return (unless as T/AFOLs). Also, Bionicle was originally branded as Technic, which has always seemed to be the reserve of older fans, and never incorporated any System parts (before anyone mentions the playsets, they weren't until five years in). Some people I've casually spoken to about Bionicle in the past were surprised to learn it was actually a Lego product at all, being as totally removed from the standard Lego lines as it was.So how could the kids who'd spent their earliest years with System and were maturing into Bionicle be expected to subsequently 'grow down' to System?
I kinda back this up - I was surprised to hear that Bionicle was related to Lego bricks. These days System is widely used among T/AFOLS as a creative medium, however, so I'm not sure what you mean about "growing down" to System.
Know why HF isn't doing as good?Because it's not as good!
Or at least, less people are curious about it.

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LEGO's hope for Bionicle has been stated to have been that it would draw people into System.
How was this supposed to occur?Given Bionicle's more complex builds, extensive storyline, dark/mysterious tone, and reliance on multimedia (which took more effort to access ten years ago), I'd assume it was aimed at a slightly older age group, one which had begun to move on from the sunny and smiley imagery of System, and was unlikely to return (unless as T/AFOLs). Also, Bionicle was originally branded as Technic, which has always seemed to be the reserve of older fans, and never incorporated any System parts (before anyone mentions the playsets, they weren't until five years in). Some people I've casually spoken to about Bionicle in the past were surprised to learn it was actually a Lego product at all, being as totally removed from the standard Lego lines as it was.So how could the kids who'd spent their earliest years with System and were maturing into Bionicle be expected to subsequently 'grow down' to System?
For the most part, what you are saying is probably why that expectation for Bionicle did not work as well. HF by contrast has moved away from the old Technic connection methods, and has incorporated System parts much more. As such it may be serving that purpose better, not sure.Some nitpicks though: Bionicle 2001 actually used a lot of System, but then so did the Technic that was around then. Basically Bionicle/Slizers/Throwbots were appealing to young roleplaying boys by adding the emphasis on balljoints and simpler constructions, that has been ramped up in later Bionicle years and in HF even more (especially with the balljoints for armor attachments and the like).But I'm not sure of the timing of this. Obviously the Rahi were expected to appeal more towards older fans. As I understand it, but this is just me piecing together what LEGO has said, they did originally expect Bionicle to appeal to older fans who were into Technic, as well as young boys. The Toa were successful with young boys, while the Rahi were not very successful. Thus the path was chosen for the future of Bionicle from there, and Bionicle pulled in many young boys -- however, too many apparently stayed with Bionicle only and did not move into System. Instead it seems that they just stayed with Bionicle until the end and tended to leave.I've seen many fans on here say that of themselves, in fact, so it makes sense, but not sure just how many it was and the like, percentagewise. :)
Know why HF isn't doing as good?Because it's not as good!
But we don't know if it's not doing as good.Personally I would have to agree it's not as good though. :P But in a lot of ways that's just my personal taste... It may be that to the target audience it is better in enough ways that it's outselling Bionicle -- a google search tracker doesn't say either way. :shrugs: Edited by bonesiii

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These days System is widely used among T/AFOLS as a creative medium, however, so I'm not sure what you mean about "growing down" to System.
I mean that Lego apparently expected kids to go from something aimed at older kids to something aimed at younger ones, hoping the ageing process of interests would effectively reverse itself. Like expecting teenagers to move from Scream back to Pokemon (an exaggerated example, but hopefully it gets my point across). There's no way it would realistically happen.On the matter of T/AFOLS, they're an exception to the general trend. The vast majority of kids build with Lego, but only a miniscule minority of adults continue to. Lego, as a global company, wouldn't factor such a small group into their plans (though to their credit, they have frequently interacted with and consulted the AFOL community).
For the most part, what you are saying is probably why that expectation for Bionicle did not work as well.
Okay, but given that the reasons that I listed for why it didn't work are all pretty obvious (even for a non-professional), I'm still curious as to how it was expected to work.
Some nitpicks though: Bionicle 2001 actually used a lot of System,
Where? The only System part I can think of is the Koli ball that came with Pohatu.

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These days System is widely used among T/AFOLS as a creative medium, however, so I'm not sure what you mean about "growing down" to System.
I mean that Lego apparently expected kids to go from something aimed at older kids to something aimed at younger ones, hoping the ageing process of interests would effectively reverse itself. Like expecting teenagers to move from Scream back to Pokemon (an exaggerated example, but hopefully it gets my point across). There's no way it would realistically happen.On the matter of T/AFOLS, they're an exception to the general trend. The vast majority of kids build with Lego, but only a miniscule minority of adults continue to. Lego, as a global company, wouldn't factor such a small group into their plans (though to their credit, they have frequently interacted with and consulted the AFOL community).
For the most part, what you are saying is probably why that expectation for Bionicle did not work as well.
Okay, but given that the reasons that I listed for why it didn't work are all pretty obvious (even for a non-professional), I'm still curious as to how it was expected to work.
Some nitpicks though: Bionicle 2001 actually used a lot of System,
Where? The only System part I can think of is the Koli ball that came with Pohatu.
Yes, that makes sense in terms of mass-market appeal. As for the System, I thought I read somewhere that the balljoints in 2001 could connect to System somehow.

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I forgot about the Kolhii ball. (Koli at the time.)So, Pohatu's ball/rock (2 pieces), Kopaka's shield, Tarakava bodies & eyes (many pieces), Muaka arrows (2 pieces, I believe; 6 if you count the Technic/System crossover pins), same for Kane-Ra, Manas eyes (4 pieces), Jaga eyes. I may have missed a few.And yes, the 2001 balljoints could (and often did in later LEGO sets) connect to System studs. The faces and masks used a System stud connection as well. (As did later the Krana and Kraata; they were only changed to Technic pins in 2004.)Of course, even if it was just one piece, it still wouldn't be accurate to say it "never incorporated any System parts". If anything they moved away from that in later years; they started out with some. Not many, though.

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Know why HF isn't doing as good?Because it's not as good!
Or HF's target market simply isn't Googling "Hero Factory."A graph like this isn't indicative of the quality of one line versus another, but simply how many people are searching for it. Those are two completely different things. Edited by Sumiki

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So, Pohatu's ball/rock (2 pieces), Kopaka's shield, Tarakava bodies & eyes (many pieces), Muaka arrows (2 pieces, I believe; 6 if you count the Technic/System crossover pins), same for Kane-Ra, Manas eyes (4 pieces), Jaga eyes. I may have missed a few.And yes, the 2001 balljoints could (and often did in later LEGO sets) connect to System studs. The faces and masks used a System stud connection as well. (As did later the Krana and Kraata; they were only changed to Technic pins in 2004.)Of course, even if it was just one piece, it still wouldn't be accurate to say it "never incorporated any System parts". If anything they moved away from that in later years; they started out with some. Not many, though.
True, but apart from perhaps the shield, none of the System pieces featured prominently in the sets. The pieces that did - the Toa/Matoran bodies, limbs and weapons - were made specifically for Bionicle. Creating and launching Bionicle must have been quite a gamble, considering the cost of designing all those new pieces alongside the cost of the MNOLG, Ghost clips, comics and advertising. Lego must have had very high hopes for it.

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True, but apart from perhaps the shield, none of the System pieces featured prominently in the sets. The pieces that did - the Toa/Matoran bodies, limbs and weapons - were made specifically for Bionicle.Creating and launching Bionicle must have been quite a gamble, considering the cost of designing all those new pieces alongside the cost of the MNOLG, Ghost clips, comics and advertising. Lego must have had very high hopes for it.
Well the same was true for both Throwbots/Slizers and Roboriders, which had several pieces that carried over into BIONICLE. They had numerous new molds, including torso pieces.As for the graphs, I agree with the people who're saying they mean pretty much nothing. You can't take its first year and say that it's not doing as well, partly because there's nothing to compare it to. Since the insights only go back to 2004, you can't see how BIONICLE's search trend started, but I doubt it was a massive spike.Ninjago I can understand getting more traffic, given that it has an actual TV show rather than some twice-yearly one-hour shows. That's the sort of thing that would translate from Google searches to sales figures.

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Hero factory is marketed to little kids, and seven year olds do not know of wonderful sites like this, while BIONICLE was marketed to an older fanbase. If you got this data completely from the internet, I see how Hero Factory's popularity could be a bit lower. Ninjago on the other hand, has a strong story and also attracts to older fans, who know about wonderful sites like this, so that kind of explains why it shot for the stars in the graph.


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Yeah, these statistics are pretty much meaningless. I for one used to search Bionicle terms all the time, but even as a Hero Factory fan I've never had to look beyond Lego.com, BioSector 01, or BZPower for info on the new theme. And as others have pointed out, Google searches mean diddly-squat when it comes to product sales, which is the only accurate measure of any Lego theme's success. However, on another note...

LEGO's hope for Bionicle has been stated to have been that it would draw people into System.
How was this supposed to occur?Given Bionicle's more complex builds, extensive storyline, dark/mysterious tone, and reliance on multimedia (which took more effort to access ten years ago), I'd assume it was aimed at a slightly older age group, one which had begun to move on from the sunny and smiley imagery of System, and was unlikely to return (unless as T/AFOLs). Also, Bionicle was originally branded as Technic, which has always seemed to be the reserve of older fans, and never incorporated any System parts (before anyone mentions the playsets, they weren't until five years in). Some people I've casually spoken to about Bionicle in the past were surprised to learn it was actually a Lego product at all, being as totally removed from the standard Lego lines as it was.So how could the kids who'd spent their earliest years with System and were maturing into Bionicle be expected to subsequently 'grow down' to System?
As someone who actually did "grow down" into system to some extent, I can explain.I was a fan of all things Lego for many years, from System to Technic to Throwbots/Slizers. But I eventually "grew up" into Bionicle, and started buying fewer and fewer non-Bionicle sets. I missed out on many themes during this period: passing up on the majority of Alpha Team and Orient Expedition is one of my biggest regrets as a Lego fan during that era. However, just as I was starting to grow out of Bionicle's target age range, new System themes started drawing me back in. Chief among these was Exo-Force, which drew me in with the promise of Bionicle parts in unique colors, and held me there by showing me that there were aspects of System builds which were even more complex than Bionicle. So while I still collected Bionicle, I was also back to collecting System themes like Exo-Force, Agents, and Power Miners.AFOLs describe the period between when a child feels they have grown out of Lego, and the time when (and if) they rediscover it, as a "Dark Age". What Bionicle did for me, and what I expect Lego hoped it would do for other fans, is keep me invested in Lego sets during my "Dark Age". Bionicle wasn't aimed at older builders the way themes like Technic and Mindstorms or product collections like the Ultimate Collector Series were. It was aimed specifically at kids between the ages of seven and sixteen who might otherwise have quit buying Lego altogether. It was aimed at those teens and pre-teens who hold delusions of maturity, who fail to realize that maturity is a state of mind and not a set of interests. Whether it was ever realistic for Lego to expect that any substantial majority of Bionicle fans would mature into full-blown AFOLs, especially after being converted to an entirely different building system, is up for debate. But I can affirm that that very thing happened at least in some small number of cases, my own included.
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Hero factory is marketed to little kids, and seven year olds do not know of wonderful sites like this, while BIONICLE was marketed to an older fanbase. If you got this data completely from the internet, I see how Hero Factory's popularity could be a bit lower. Ninjago on the other hand, has a strong story and also attracts to older fans, who know about wonderful sites like this, so that kind of explains why it shot for the stars in the graph.
Hero Factory and Ninjago are actually aimed at about the same age range as BIONICLE, as far as I know. But of course more complex stories like BIONICLE and Ninjago attract more of a periphery demographic of older fans (as well as female fans, which Ninjago seems to have a lot of in certain corners of the internet) and give people online a bit more to discuss.

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Would you care to do the honors?

 

It could be that this person created the account specifically to post in this thread. I've seen people do things like that sometimes. No need to read forum rules for one post, right? ... Sarcasm.

 

Fellow BZP Member, Laval is correct. You are not allowed to post in topics that have passed 60 days since their last post. It has been just under seven years.

 

So, yeah, I'd say report it.


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