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G2 villain marketing: A deviation from tradition?


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Something that confused me about G2 of BIONICLE was their villain lineup. There always seemed to be for the main lineup (at least in G1) 6 heroes, and 6 villains, there were smaller supporting characters that could be heroes or villains (Bohrok Va, or Rahaga for example), and there might be more heroes and villains in the form of large titan/warrior sets as well, but for the most part, there were 6 heroes and 6 villains. (the exception to this was 2009 when with the glatorain, the heroes and villains were really mixed up, with the Skrall being the main baddies, and then minor villains in the story as well, e.g. Malum, Strakk, Vorox etc.)

Come G2,  you get the 6 toa and their smaller helpers, but you only get the LoSS, and little spiders mixed in with the Toa/protectors. Later in the year the skull villains are introduced and you have 4 sold individually. the fifth one is Skull Basher and he is sold with Ekimu so he's more of a titan set than stand alone.

Fast forward to the 2nd year of G2 and you have the 6 toa and their critters, you have Umarak as the villain, but you only get 3 elemental creatures for the second wave.

So what happened? Was it a marketing ploy? Were they winding stuff down that last year and decided "we only need 3 villains to fight the Toa."? What do you all think/know?




Formerly Iron_Man5


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I have a few ideas...

I think swapping in one villain per Toa wave was to avoid the problem G1 had where each wave of Toa would release without their respective villains (unless it was an odd year were the US got the villain wave while Europe got the Toa wave and then in the summer they each got the other wave). Lego likes the idea of play conflict being accessible, so having small villains like the Skull Spiders in each Toa and Protector set (or the elemental traps with each Creature) give the heroes something to fight right out of the box. 

Then in reverse for the villain waves we get one hero (Ekimu variants in both cases). Again the idea is the same, have one hero available now to fight the new horde of villains the theme introduced. Its a neat idea in theory and avoids the "heroes who have nothing to fight" that plagued many G1 release waves. In 2015 at least we have six villains, six Toa, Ekimu and six Protectors; so despite the staggered release schedule the end result looks very very similar to a G1 year makeup minus their titans. 

My guess is 2016 got messed up though with the line's cancellation, since counting both Umarak's as separate figures, we end up with five villains. It wouldn't shock me if as sales were declining, Lego decided to cut the sixth villain slot early (could be something like a "Tornado Beast," "Tsunami Beast" or a "Sand Beast" or just something that tied into the elements that were not represented by the sets we got, don't cite me on that though I am just speculating off the cuff here) . As the cancellation became apparent they just sort of kicked the final wave unceremoniously out the door with a very limited release. 

But I also think Lego was experimenting with 2016 anyways, I don't know if that was before they knew the line was going to be cancelled or if it was something they planned from the start; but including Kopaka in a combined box with Melum for $25 makes him the most expensive "main team" Toa of the entire franchise. Lhikan, Takanuva, Lesovikk, Toa Ignika, etc. were all sort of secondary characters that were available in larger and more expensive sets in G1 yes, but Kopaka was the first time one of the main six Toa of a year came that expensive. G2 experimented a lot with price points for the main Toa going all the way from $15 to Unity Kopaka's $25, and I wonder if those higher prices compared to say the $7 canisters of 2001 are another factor to G2's demise. G2 was always a pricier toy. Yes Lhikan was a $30 set in 2004, but the rest of the Toa Metru were $8. Gali, Pohatu and Lewa were the cheap Toa at $15 in G2, and in 2016 to "complete them" you needed to buy another $10 Creature to attach to their backs, so $25-$30 for each Toa and Creature pair. 

I think there are other things I can blame on the villain sets of G2 too, while they are all excellently built with some cool functions... "skull raiders" and "elemental beasts" are not as original concepts as the Bohrok, Rakshi or Piraka in G1. Oh I love each G2 villain set I own, but on a conceptual level something like the Bohrok are just so much cooler and more memorable as villains because they tell us something about the world. The only G2 villain that ever got as close to a G1 villain in memorability (outside of the never set released Makuta) was Umarak, since the idea of a Wendigo Hunter in Bionicle felt unique, was cool in G2, and would have even worked in G1 as an antagonist. Sadly I think Umarak the Destroyer while more imposing as a figure looses the thematic stuff that made Umarak the Hunter so cool. 


All aboard the hype train!




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Well, I believe that it’s the budget issues. As you can see, each set has an awfully a lot of parts, and it is expensive, while the early years of G1 has much less parts and smaller prices. If I remember the prices correctly, it would go like this: 

Winter 2015:

6 Protectors (small): $10 each = $60 in total 

Pohatu, Gali, and Lewa (medium): $15 each = $45 in total 

Tahu, Kopaka, and Onua (large): $20 each = $60 in total 

Lord of Skull Spiders (medium): $15

Summer 2015:

4 Skull Villains (medium): $15 each = $60 in total 

Mask Maker vs. Skull Grinder (larger): $30 

Winter 2016: 

5 Elemental Creatures (small): $10 each = $50 in total 

Pohatu, Gali, and Lewa (medium): $15 each = $45 in total 

Tahu and Onua (large) $20 each = $40 in total 

Umarak the Hunter (large) $20

Kopaka and Melum Unity Set (larger): $25 

Summer 2016:

3 Elemental Beasts (medium): $15 each = $45 

Ekimu the Mask Maker (medium): $15 

Umarak the Destroyer (larger): $25 

According to my calculations: Winter 2015 had $180, Summer 2015 had $90, Winter 2016 had $180, and Summer 2016 had $85. 2015 had $270 while 2016 had $265. Sounds like a decline a little. If Kopaka Uniter were to be separate from Melum, Kopaka would be $15 while Melum would be $10. If Agil came out as a set that costs $5, it would make 2016 have $270. 

I always question why the G2 sets are like this. They never capture the same essence of G1 much. I mean, why are Tahu Master, Onua Master, Kopaka Master, Tahu Uniter, and Onua Uniter Titans? Shouldn’t they be medium-sized, too, since the Toa are not mutated to be the size of the Hulk from Marvel? Why combine Kopaka Uniter and Melum into one set? Why there are four medium-sized villains in 2015 and three in 2016? Shouldn’t there be six medium-sized villains each year (Tahu and Gali don’t have their Skull enemies, and Pohatu, Gali, and Lewa don’t have their Elemental Beast enemies in terms of looking at the back covers of the Elemental Beast sets)? Plus, the Toa Uniters and Melum don’t have their own Shadow Traps (it would have been 12 STs rather than five). The villains have worse problems than the heroes while there is a lot of inequality around. Melum has less bull than his fellow Elemental Creatures.

It’s understandable that in each of the four waves, you gotta have a villain or minion to fight. In the winter waves, the good guys fight the minions while there is a villain. In the summer waves, you have a hero, three or four bad guys, and a bigger bad guy. The villains have weird color schemes and designs a little bit. 

Lego probably didn’t have enough budget or focus on working with the sets, so the sets have these problems, including the low sales as people say. Lego was very busy with Ninjago, Lego Super Hero themes, Star Wars, etc. That’s how Bionicle G2 ended prematurely. It’s very sad to look at. :(

I like Lego, Bionicle, and Hero Factory!:)

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I still think 2008 had one of the smartest waves to go about it: just have three heroes and three villain sets for each wave, that way each character has a rival assigned to them. Now, it wouldn't have worked for G2 since each wave had a narrative focus in which all Toa were involved: Wave 1 if 2015 was finding their masks of power, Wave 2 was about finding Ekimu and battling the Skeletons. Another problem is the fact that both factions are split and they never appear together in promotional arts.

2009 also intruded a verse where basically all the characters could fight, since you had good guys, neutral guys and evil guys. The closest source of conflict G2 (and early G1) had conflict to Wave 1 by having the Skull Spiders (Kraana for G1) that could take control the Toa, forcing the other heroes to fight them to free them of the spider. But you probably want a full-fledged set with the same amount of pieces as the heroes and with a name, like the Piraka or the Barraki.

The problem in separating heroes and villains in two separate waves is the fact that they don't feel like they belong in the same real, like you don't see them clash in promos. The Barraki were nowhere to be found in the Mahri short film and the best the Piraka had was Vezok's face on a signal in the Inika commercial.

The best we ever had was the Breakout year of Hero Factory: in each wave, you had the same number of heroes and villain sets, which means you could play out several conflicts that didn't rely on plot devices such as mind control in the same wave. It's probably also due to heroes going solo on each villain, which parts from the concept of unity found in Bionicle.

I've only got three sets from G2, so I'm no expert on the subject, but I'm interested in the different ways you can introduce conflicts in a limited wave.

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