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2005 Wasn't That Bad

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It always gets mentioned as the worst year of Bionicle. I was surprised the first time I heard it called the worst year, and even more surprised when I really knew just how popular the idea was. Not only do I like 2005, I think it may have been one of the best years of Bionicle. (2007 was the best, but 2005 might be a second-place winner for me).

I admit, the reason I love the Great Rescue so much might be somewhat subjective. 2005 was when I really began to lean in to the Bionicle comics and understand the complexity of the storyline. 2005 is the year I spent having awesome sleepovers with my friends, reading the comics, watching Web of Shadows back-to-back with Pokemon: Destiny Deoxys, another mediocre film I admittedly only enjoy because I associate it with childhood. But I maintain that, personal memories aside, 2005 remains a worthy year and not meaningfully worse than the surrounding years.

What do we mean when we talk about Bionicle being "good" or "bad"? I see three possible angles we may analyze it from: sets, story and marketing. Let's break down how 2005 did in each category.

Sets: 2005 sets were awesome. The Visorak were some of the most innovative canister villains we had gotten. The Toa Hordika, too, I think offered many things we had not seen before. Personally, I was never in love with the gear functions, especially not the way the Toa Metru utilized them. (For the Metru, it always looked more to me that they were just running as opposed to fighting). I enjoyed how easy to integrate into sets the Rhotuka Spinner was. The Titans were my favorite, though. I maintain that 2005 is when Bionicle Titans came into their own and, without becoming repetitive, established an expectable level of quality and complexity.

Story: I don't think Vakama turning evil was the worst possible decision. It could have been executed better, maybe with more foreshadowing in '04, but it was a feasible direction for his character to go in. Even better than that, though, 2005 is the year that really made the Brotherhood of Makuta a thing. The Bionicle world began to feel more like a world and not an island on top of another island. When Roodaka reminisced about the Mountain, it really made it tangible that Metru Nui was only one small land, and there were a plethora of worse places to be in the universe. Between the movie, comics, books and web animations, 2005 was also arguably one of the densest in terms of content and most difficult to pierce together. I consider this a good thing. Even as a kid, I enjoyed the experience of trying to figure out what order events happened in and how they impacted each other. I recall trying to figure out when, during Web of Shadows, Matau and Nokama had their excursion in the Visorak Battle Ram. It made me feel like an archaeologist and was a taste to me of what studying actual history can be like sometimes.

Marketing: 2006 had worse marketing in every way. Gangsters and chain link fences aren't Bionicle, and I'm thankful that Bionicle never tried to be that modern ever again. The nicest thing I can say about 2006 was that it paved the way for Cryoshell, and their music actually manages to sound Bionicle-centric and not like Earth music transposed onto it. In contrast, I consider 2005 the real final year of classic Bionicle. While it was not emphasized as much, the tribal element was still there. The Rahaga filled a wise sage role that the Turaga on Mata Nui had, and Bionicle did not feature elder-type characters in a major way after 2005. It was the final time that a major section of the story was the six heroes splitting up with their little companions to go on solo missions, which I consider to be a hallmark of 2001 and the mask quests. There's something I can't put into words about how 2005 appeared in magazines and promotional art that indicated to me continuity with '01 that I don't get from the latter half of Bionicle.

This analysis did end up being more subjective than I expected, but I still hope someone understands what I'm saying here. The Piraka were the first time I remember looking at new Bionicle sets and thinking "These don't look like Bionicle." The Toa Inika (and everything in late 2006) make it a great year overall, but 2005 gives us a more consistent, more Bionicle experience in the month-to-month. Sometimes, I feel like the 2005 hate ignores the progress that had been made. Neck, elbow and knee articulation was unknown except for the Rahkshi until 2003. Mask of Light was mostly a truncated version of The Lord of the Rings. The Visorak were a step toward diversity in clone sets, and 2005 was the final year every canister model was included in at least two combiner models. 2005 doesn't deserve to be the go-to worst year of Bionicle.

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"You are an absolute in these uncertain times. Your past is forgotten, and your
future is an empty book. You must find your own destiny, my brave adventurer.
-- Turaga Nokama


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I think the reason 2005 gets harped on has more to do with how 2004 ended, we saw were the plot was going with Legends of Metru-Nui depicting the end of the Great Rescue. Had that scene been saved for Web of Shadows instead of Legends, I think 2005 would improve ten fold simply due to rearranging a few of the story bits. It robbed a lot of the drama 2005 did have, by instead showing us the arc's resolution before the climax took place a year earlier.

But there is a lot '05 did right. We got introduced to the Toa Hagah and the greater world outside the Mata-Nui/Metru-Nui set up. The titan sets are amazing (I own all three myself). Play scale sets were introduced and while they weren't great, they were a neat experiment in something new for Bionicle to try out. While I think the Vakama turns evil thing was rushed, there is a lot of potential there had it been fleshed out more in the movie and books. 


All aboard the hype train!




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Also, I think another reason '05 is put down more often than most other years is that a lot of people were getting flashback fatigue. 2004 had been a nice little jaunt away from the present to show where the characters had come from; but after a year away, a good chunk of the fandom was itching to get back to the Toa Nuva and find where they went from there. From that perspective, especially since, as Xboxtravis mentioned, we'd already seen the end result of the '05 arc, I remember that people tended, at the time, to regard the second flashback year as unnecessary padding that kept them away from their favourite characters, and that perspective has persisted down through the years.

I mean! Personally, I don't think 2005 is the worst, by any means! However I have to admit that a lot of my appreciation for it only came in hindsight: here in the UK, at least, the comics were sporadic at best and we didn't get any of the novels (I only ordered them from overseas in later years), so - apart from two comics and the Mask of Light animations online - I honestly hadn't much idea what was going on, story-wise, until Web of Shadows arrived late in the year and clarified everything for me; I don't know if that was anyone else's experience, but it certainly made it more difficult for me to enjoy the year's story as it was happening. The fact that it was the same year Revenge of the Sith dropped and big-time distracted me didn't exactly help matters either!

Speaking of, I think Vakama's turn would have taken significantly less flack, too, if it hadn't come quite so hot on the heels of another hero character's highly-advertised fall to the dark side...


But yeah, in hindsight, I can see a lot to appreciate in '05. Like you say, it was the last year of the 'classic' Bionicle aesthetic, especially noticeable in the packaging art - for the next three years, every set in a given wave shared the same background, rather than the uniquely-coloured ones sported by their predecessors, which robbed them of a certain degree of character. The movie was certainly enticing enough to hook me... honestly, without it I might have fallen out of Bionicle for good around that time, but the trailer drew me back in when I was on the fence, and I thoroughly enjoyed it at the time. The titans were absolutely spectacular, especially the villains who felt tall, powerful and very unique compared to previous models: like you say, they were easily the first "greats" of the Titans line and paved the way for later models. And even if they were just a revisit to the Metru design, the Toa Hagah were also highly appealing in their own right as they, too, gave us another glimpse of the wider world beyond Metru Nui.

(Though I also completely get what you mean about subjectivity; many of the personal reasons you give for loving '05 are similar to the reasons that, for all its flaws, make '03 one of my own favourites!)

Edited by That Matoran with a Vahi


"New legends awake, but old lessons must be remembered.
For that is the way
of the BIONICLE."

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2005 wasn't all that bad, it just needed to fit better into the overarching story somehow. After all, the only reason it even exists is because they wanted to use Metru Nui again.

#makeBionicleG1andHeroFactorysharethesameuniverse and #giveBionicleansHeroFactorytheirownliveactioncinematicuniverse 
GENERATION 5: The first time you see this, copy it into your sig on any forum and add 1 to the generation. Social experiment.

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On 7/7/2021 at 4:15 AM, That Matoran with a Vahi said:

if it hadn't come quite so hot on the heels of another hero character's highly-advertised fall to the dark side...

I completely forgot that Episode 3 came out in 2005 lol, I thought the prequels were all in the 90s.

#makeBionicleG1andHeroFactorysharethesameuniverse and #giveBionicleansHeroFactorytheirownliveactioncinematicuniverse 
GENERATION 5: The first time you see this, copy it into your sig on any forum and add 1 to the generation. Social experiment.

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I think Bionicle fans are very lucky in that we don't have any truly bad years to pick on. I think That Matoran with a Vahi's point about flashback fatigue is probably the biggest reason why 2005 failed to gain the traction that some other years enjoyed, thus meaning it isn't always looked back on as the greatest year. That being said, perhaps our time away from the characters established from 2001-2003 helped make their 2006 return feel more triumphant and truly needed, helping the story and theme overall springboard into the Ignition trilogy's success?

I've been really happy to see Web of Shadows get some love on Twitter over the last few months, as I feel it truly deserves it. While Vakama's turn can appear rushed, the themes of a leader corrupting under the pressure to do the right thing were always very interesting to me and seeing Vakama redeemed and accepted back by his team was something I loved to see and still take a lot of meaning in today.

Set-wise, while I currently have a great appreciation for everything 2005 had to offer, I remember being disappointed by the lack of true Kanohi masks for the Toa Hordika. I was pretty young at the time, and I think the head builds / face aesthetic of the Hordika may have alienated some of the younger fans, but not too badly.

The Toa Hagah will forever be some of my favourite sets in Bionicle history, and I still can't wait to get my hands on Keetongu. 

I hope this post prompts a lot of discussion! 2005 may not be the most popular year, but there's no denying that it had a lot of depth and content to discuss even now, 16 years later!



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 the hordika were...odd but i liked the visorak, and iruini looks cool.

the story was very edgy, though not as edgy as 2006.

plus, web of shadows was pretty good.

and rhotuka will always be cool. i mean who doesn't like spinny things that fly up into the air and end up miles away in the sea?




Edited by Heyzorks




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