BIONICLE is a constraction (construction/action) theme with a series of sets using TECHNIC pieces. The theme was introduced in 2001 and originally discontinued in 2010, being succeeded by Hero Factory. It is well-known among the LEGO community for the extreme popularity it had when it was in stores, before its hiatus. In 2014, the return of Bionicle was announced and new sets were produced for 2015.
BIONICLE is normally attributed to the TECHNIC line, due to the inclusion of TECHNIC specific elements and building-styles, although being a largely independent product series. The sets were tied together by an elaborate original storyline that centred around bio-mechanical characters, such as the Toa, which are generally large, powerful beings that usually serve for good. The primary antagonists are the evil Makuta warriors, who are servants of Makuta Teridax, Miserix, or any of the other head of the Brotherhood of Makuta, though the Makuta were not always evil. The story stresses the Three Virtues: Unity, Duty, and Destiny. BIONICLE is one of the most successful and longest lasting LEGO brand series, having “saved” the company in the 1999 through 2001 financial crisis.
The name “BIONICLE” is short for BIOlogical ChroNICLE. A common misconception is that it stands for Biomechanical Chronicle, or from Bionic with a -le suffix.
Origins and initial concepts
The LEGO Company's financial state was poor during the late 1990s, and decided that a LEGO theme with a storyline would appeal to children. Their first attempt to do so was the Star Wars line, which became an instant success, but the required royalty payments to Lucasfilm cost LEGO dearly. The company decided that they needed an original story, created by the LEGO group itself and made to appeal mainly to boys aged 8–12.
Many ideas were postulated by LEGO design staff. Its final choice was to base a new story on the Throwbot (or “Slizers” in Europe) and RoboRiders themes. They were designed with TECHNIC pieces, but contained innovative ball-and socket joints, never before used by LEGO. More importantly, they hinted at storylines, the RoboRiders especially. The planned line would feature more original pieces, as well as some reused parts from previous lines.
The BIONICLE line was originally to be titled “Bone-Heads of Voodoo Island,” and its first year was intended to end with the Great Spirit awakening. However, the storyline was changed to last seven years without the Great Spirit awakening, and two years following that. A major influence was Bob Thompson, the leader of the BIONICLE story team, who changed the names of the six main protagonists from Axe, Blade, Flame, Kick, Hook, and Claw to Lewa, Kopaka, Tahu, Pohatu, Gali, and Onua. The name was also changed to “BIONICLE.” According to Greg Farshtey: "Boneheads of Voodoo Island was a “working title” for BIONICLE before a final name was decided upon."
The story eventually began to come together. The six canister sets would be the Toa, who protected the Matoran villagers and Turaga elders from the evil Makuta Teridax and his Rahi minions. To do so, they first had to overcome a series of challenges to retrieve the Kanohi masks, which when collected can release great power. The setting was the island of Mata Nui.In 2001, BIONICLE was first released and became a smash hit in both Europe and the United States. No other themes at the time came close to the amount of profits generated by BIONICLE. The sets were accompanied by a series of comics, truck tours, a contest to build a BIONICLE website as well as computer and video games.
A notable fact about the year 2002 is that the Maori people, angered at LEGO’s lack of respect for some of their words, sued the LEGO Company and won. As a result, many characters’ names were changed (i.e., Maku was changed to Macku, Huki to Hewkii, etc.). LEGO used this to bring about the idea of the Naming Day Ceremony, where brave Matoran recieve longer and better names, though they are still pronounced the same. Takua, who had saved all six of the villages, was not renamed, so he had his own private “ceremony” where he renamed his Ussal Crab from Puku to Pewku.
In early 2001, the Rahi, creatures of the BIONICLE saga, were released. Each of them came in boxes and had one or more easily removable Kanohi masks. Each set included two Rahi. They were able to knock off the mask of the other Rahi by using one of its attacks, such as 8549 Tarakava boxing with its long arms or 8538 Muaka & Kane-Ra launching their heads forward.
Also available were the Turaga, the village elders of the Island of Mata Nui and leaders of the Matoran. The Turaga were available in small boxes. Their right arm held a staff and could swing by pressing down a lever on their back. They were also available in Japan as Kabaya promotions, packed with sweets.
The McDonald's fast-food restaurant released sets of the inhabitants of the island, called Matoran, originally called Tohunga. They were small and each had a total of eight pieces. They could launch a Bamboo Disk with their arms, similar to the Slizers or Throwbots. The Matoran came in Polybags.
The main feature introduced in this year were the Masks, which granted special abilities to the Toa, such as water-breathing or extra strength. The masks were collectible, having various colours and shapes. Special masks packs included gold and silver Kanohi. The Kanohi masks were attached to the face by an irregular knob, making them easy to take off. In this way, the characters could aim to hit the mask off their opponent. The canister lids of the Toa Mata had axle holes to hold the Toa faces, holding a maximum of six Kanohi plus one in the center.
The first releases of 2002, were the Bohrok, insectoid creatures controlled by the rubber brain-like Krana. By pressing down a lever at the back of each Bohrok, its head could snap out. The headplate could be opened to reveal its Krana by pressing on its eyes. By leaving the headplate open and pressing the lever, the Bohrok could launch its Krana at an opponent. The Krana could be fitted on a figure’s head in the same way as a Kanohi. The Bohrok were also capable of rolling into a ball, and with the help of a special peg, each Bohrok could be hung up inside its oval canister. The label on the canister would then be peeled off to reveal the hanging Bohrok inside. The Bohrok were accompanied by the smaller Bohrok Va, similar in size to the Turaga, and packed in boxes. They carried dormant forms of the Krana.
At the end of the year, the Toa Nuva, transformed forms of the Toa Mata, were introduced. They wore silver armour and larger, more organic-looking masks, which did not come off the Toa’s faces as easily. They wielded silver modifications of their former weapons; for example, Toa Mata Gali’s hooks transformed into water axes. Their canister lids had new designs and could be stacked. They also had axle holes in the lid, as they did in 2001.
In spring 2003, the Bohrok-Kal were released. They wore Krana-Kal, which looked like shinier, metallic versions of Krana. The Bohrok-Kal were the same size and shape of Bohrok, with slightly different weapons and some silver components, with their heads showing the symbol of their elemental Bohrok group. Their canisters were mainly the same design as that of the Bohrok as well, having a peg from which to hang the Bohrok-Kal.
In the second half of 2003 the Rahkshi were introduced, a group of six warriors of Makuta controlled by collectible slug-like creatures called Kraata. Each of these Rahkshi came in one of the six standard colours and wielded a unique staff with the power of their Kraata. Their spine plate could be flipped open to reveal the Kraata inside. The Kraata were also available in packs. They had different powers and power levels, depending on their colour and their pattern. The Rahkshi containers were triangular and could be stacked. The lids featured niches and holes to fit all six types of one Kraata in it. There were up to forty-two Kraata variations.
In 2003, four non-canister, or “titan,” sets were released. 8593 Makuta included the primary antagonist, Makuta, in one of his various forms, carrying a shadow staff. He wears black, gunmetal, and red armour. 8594 Jaller and Gukko and 8595 Takua and Pewku each included a Matoran with a rebuilt design (some of these rebuilt Matoran were released as standalone sets) with a tame Rahi. 8596 Takanuva Included a special, Toa Nuva-shaped figure with copper armor and a copper Mask of Light, plus his vehicle, the Ussanui.
In 2004, the form and shape of the Toa and Matoran changed entirely. The Toa Metru were larger, used almost entirely different pieces,and had new weapons and new masks. One of the most notable changes was a new head with a balljoint, that could attach to any masks except those from before the Toa Nuva (and the later Toa Inika). Adapting the Rahkshi's leg design with its poseable knees, the Toa Metru's whole leg was built upon ball-and-socket design, with a new double-sided upper-limb element. In addition to poseable knees, the Toa Metru had poseable elbows as well. The canisters of the Toa were round, having screw lids. By combining two lids a Matoran Sphere could be created, used in the storyline to transport Matoran.
The Matoran came in small boxes. They wore remakes of the 2001 Turaga masks, but with new colors, and had larger bodies. They were the first BIONICLE set wave to have a uniform weapon, called the Kanoka Disk Launcher, which fired Kanoka Disks, similar to the Bamboo Disks of the 2001 Matoran and the Disks of the Slizers (or Throwbots). The Kanoka Disks, which came in an ammunition pack called 8613 Kanoka Disk Launcher Pack, had a three-digit code printed on them which indicated the origin, the ability and the power level of each disk.
In summer, the Vahki were released. These security robots could fire Kanoka Disks from their mouths and could transform from a bipedal walking mode to a four-legged hunt mode. Their secondary weapons were staffs with special powers they could inflict on their targets. The arms could rotate with a wheel on their backs similar to the Rahkshi. The Vahki sets also included Kanoka Club codes to enter on Bionicle.com, printed on a cardboard piece. Their canisters were triangular, with a transparent lid in their respective colour.
In 2005 the Toa Hordika were released, along with the Visorak. The Toa Hordika were the first Toa to have uniform weapons, which were called Rhotuka Spinners. They could be launched by pulling a zipcord from a launcher on which the spinners were mounted. The Rhotuka spinners had a code consisting of Matoran letters and numbers to enter on Bionicle.com as a Kanoka Club code. The canisters of the Toa Hordika were nearly round, having the appearance rivets on the side. The lid was screwed onto the top of the canister, and had space to hold two Rhotuka.
The spider-like Visorak also used the Rhotuka Spinners, mounted on their backs. Additionally, by pressing the backs of the Visorak down, their pincers would open and close. Their canisters were similar to those of the Toa Hordika. The lids had a transparent plastic dome which could be opened to remove a Rhotuka Spinner. These also had a code printed on them.
2005 was also the first year of playsets, models of large buildings and vehicles of the BIONICLE universe, with a combination of both System and TECHNIC elements. The figures included in these sets didn’t have any articulation points and consisted of two parts: the figure and its weapon.
During spring 2006 the Piraka were introduced. They featured light-up eyes, glow-in-the-dark faces, rubber spines, and a new weapon called the Zamor sphere launcher, which fired plastic balls called Zamor Spheres. The secondary weapon of the Piraka was a double-sided weapon which could be flipped in the character's hand. 8903 Zaktan, for an example, featured a weapon with a three-bladed scissor on one side and pincers on the other. Each Piraka’s canister was bullet-grey with a screwable lid. The lid contained the light-up eyepiece, which had to be removed before it could be put into the model There was also a plastic mold of the respective Piraka head, which in turn could also be removed from the lid, although it wasn’t compatible with any TECHNIC piece. Notably, these were the first large BIONICLE figures not to use gears to move their arms.
The Toa Inika, which were released in summer 2006, carried a modified version of the Zamor Launcher: it had an additional piece that allowed it to hold four Zamor Spheres at once. The Zamor Spheres included with the Toa Inika came in the colours yellow-orange, blue and green. Each Toa Inika's primary weapon was a strobe-light tool which glowed either red, blue or green and could be activated by pressing a small black button on the side. Each set came with removable batteries for the tool. The head of Toa was designed with a rubber mask, and could not accept any other mask. The lids of the Inika canisters were two-piece: the bottom piece could hold the four Zamor spheres and the strobe-light weapon, while the top piece fastened everything into place.
Five titans were also released in 2006, all of whom guarded the Mask of Life. Two of them were Axonn and Brutaka, friends who had turned enemies. Axonn was dark red and silver and carried a double-bladed axe. Brutaka was dark blue and gold and carries a double-ended sword. Three of the titans guarded the cave to the Mask of Life. One was Umbra, based on the Latin word for shadow. Another extremely rare titan, named Irnakk, and had a golden spine with golden Zamor Spheres. Another titan set included Vezon and Fenrakk. Vezon wore a Piraka-like mask with a version of the Mask of Life fused to the back of it and carried the Staff of Fusion. The Vezon and Kardas set, including pieces from Axonn, Brutaka, and Vezon and Fenrakk, made up one of the largest BIONICLE characters yet seen, the 14-inch-tall Kardas Dragon.
Also sold at this time were six Voya Nui Matoran, packaged in small boxes, and Zamor packs filled with bronze, silver and gold Zamor Spheres. Additionally, this year there were four Playsets, and many promotional sets.
Up until this time, each series of canister sets had the same type of body (legs, arms, feet, torso), and the only major differences were in the masks, colors, and weapons. In 2007, although the series had some uniform characteristics, each wave had variation in each character’s arms, legs, torso, and armor.
In early 2007, the Barraki were released. The Barraki carried squid launchers, which launch orange and blue Sea Squids, and a secondary weapon like claws or swords. Each Barraki had pincers on its mouth, giving it a water creature-like appearance. These canisters had the lid on the bottom resembling a rock, and a transparent canister part representing air bubbles. The canisters were also slanted to the right.
The Toa Mahri were released in the third quarter of 2007. They carried Cordak Blasters which fired red Cordak missiles. The Cordak Blaster was based upon a pump system; by pushing the back of the blaster, the Cordak missile came flying out. The Toa also carried a secondary weapon, like a shield or a talon, except for 8910 Kongu, who wielded another Cordak Blaster. Their containers were not canisters in the traditional sense, but rather a large plastic frame around a transparent plastic window. Behind this, there was a cardboard piece with the image of the set and plastic bags containing the pieces. The canister/box was sealed with another cardboard piece on the back, showing the set from another view.
The Matoran and Hydruka of Mahri Nui came in small boxes. There were two Matoran and two Hydruka available. The titans were also packaged in boxes. The sides of the boxes were decorated with the image of a rusted, metal frame. These titans also featured the first appearance of a mask with a removable axle; until then, all axles of the masks were part of the mask. This year also marked the end of the playsets, with 8925 Barraki Deepsea Patrol, 8926 Toa Undersea Attack, and 8927 Toa Terrain Crawler being the last playsets released.Phantoka and Av-Matoran were introduced. The three Toa Nuva of this wave were armed with Midak Skyblasters, which could fire Midak Sky Spheres, silver-coloured Zamor spheres. The first half of the year concentrated on battle in the skies, so the Toa, Makuta and Matoran all had means of flight. The three Phantoka Makuta carried Tridax Pods, which were orange transparent spheres that could break open, releasing Shadow Leeches, creatures capable of draining the light from an individual. The Phantoka canister design featured a plastic box with a lid and a plastic frame, representing rock columns, fitted to the side. These canisters could not be stacked. The only box set of this first wave was 8697 Toa Ignika, the first set to include the Ignika, the Mask of Life, although it was silver rather than its usual gold.
In summer 2008, the Mistika were released. Like the Phantoka, this line featured three Toa and three Makuta. The Toa, as well as the Makuta, carried Nynrah Ghost Blasters, which shot rubber projectiles in either lime green or silver. The Makuta were released as a mutated form of their original selves, but they too wore Kanohi masks, although mutated into insectoid forms. The canisters of the six Mistika featured a lid with a Kanohi Ignika on the side. The Ignika had two sides: one smooth, representing the mask when it was created, and the other scarred and pitted, representing the damage the mask received over time. The canisters had a notch in the bottom so they could be stacked.
The Matoran were the largest Matoran to be released, but also the ones with the least pieces, all of them having 14 pieces, except for 8947 Radiak. They did not have uniform weapons or even uniform means of flight; the Av-Matoran, or Matoran of Light, had jetpacks, while the Shadow Matoran had black bat-like wings. Their canisters were a mix of box and canister: the top and bottom part was a plastic piece, shaped like rocks. The middle part, however, was made out of cardboard with an image of the set printed on it.
In Spring 2009 the Glatorian were released, along with six Agori and two titan sets, 8990 Fero and Skirmix and 8991 Tuma. The Glatorian all wielded Thornax Launchers with rubber Thornax fruits as projectiles. They also all had secondary (and sometimes tertiary) weapons. Rather than having masks attached onto the face, these figures had helmets that were attached from the top. The lids of their canisters wore an unknown pattern, which could be stacked using the bottom of another canister. In summer 2009, the Glatorian Legends were released, with 8989 Mata Nui wearing a yellow Ignika. These sets also had Thornax launchers and secondary weapons. Their canisters had a different lid pattern but could also be stacked.
The Agori sets bore a large resemblance to the 2008 Matoran sets, having nearly the same design, piece count and price. Their canisters weren't different from those Matoran canisters except for the color.
The spring titan and summer vehicle sets were packed in boxes. The piece count and price increased with the number of the vehicle: V1, V3, V7, V5, V9 and XV1. The vehicles also had all one Thornax Launcher, 8995 Thornatus V9 and 8996 Skopio XV-1 having additional “Force Blasters” which were the same weapon as the 2008 Midak Skyblasters. In summer 2009 a titan Mata Nui set was also released, wearing a golden Ignika. This set was bigger, but in the storyline it represents Mata Nui in his original size, not as large as the set was. As a tie-in to the release of the fourth film, a BrickMaster promotion was released: 20012 Click, the Scarabax beetle that befriended Mata Nui.
The 2010 saga only featured six set releases due to the end of BIONICLE: The BIONICLE Stars. The sets’ piece count varied from 15 to 21 pieces. The sets used the same system as the 2008 Matoran and the 2009 Agori, but with armor on the chest and shoulders. Each set included a piece of the Golden Armour, which in-storyline was worn by Tahu. This set line didn't have uniform ranged weapons, like the 2004 Kanoka Disk launchers or the 2006 Zamor launchers. Instead they had different weapons, similar to the 2001-2003 saga. Each set included a character from somewhere in the storyline previously. Stars brought the renewal of Tahu, Takanuva, Gresh, and Skrall and introduced the Skakdi Nektann and the yellow Rahkshi of Heat Vision.
The canisters were smaller than previously released canisters. The lid featured a Skrall shield symbol, the map of the Valley of the Maze. The bottom of the canisters had a notch to stack them.
The End of the original run
The BIONICLE story ended in 2010, with the final sets being that of the BIONICLE Stars, stated by Jan Faltum, Global BIONICLE Director in his letter. According to him, a newer, more flexible buildable figure property, created by the same people who were responsible for BIONICLE, would be created to replace BIONICLE, that system being Hero Factory. Although Bionicle stopped making products, Greg Farshtey still continued the story on BIONICLEstory.com until 2013 when the site (currently accessible here) was taken down. This left many questions unanswered and some story serials unfinished.
Hero Factory was generally considered BIONICLE’s replacement, although at first Ben 10: Alien Force was thought to be the replacement of BIONICLE. Hero Factory was released in August of 2010 and features factory-made robot heroes, which at first were made mainly of the same construction style as the BIONICLE Stars sub-theme characters (the final toy-line and story for BIONICLE), so they were much simpler to build. The canisters are similar to the BIONICLE 2010 set canisters, too, with the exception of different lids. The Hero Factory characters included new leg, torso, foot, and armor molds. The villains had the bending leg design from the Toa Metru, but usually with only 2008 Matoran limbs as arms.
In 2011, Hero Factory 2.0 was introduced, with a new system based on new limb elements, furthering Hero Factory’s style from BIONICLE.
BIONICLE is known to be re-released in 2015. The story will be a reboot rather then a continuation of the original story. The sets will feature the Toa Mata, Villagers known as Protectors, the Mask Maker, and the evil Skull Spiders. The sets are made using many pieces that originated in Hero Factory. The story will take place on the island of Okoto where they will be searching for masks; mainly the Mask of Creation, the Mask of Control, and the Mask of Ultimate Power. A new Makuta is on the island, but is allegedly in a deep sleep. The current villains are the Skull Spiders and their master.
- The first BIONICLE movie was one of the ten most popular direct-to-video movies of 2003.
- BIONICLE’s traditional logo did not appear during the course of 2006 or 2007.
- With the coming of the 2009 Bara Magna saga, My LEGO Network added BIONICLE characters to the networker list, creating the largest mini-rank in My LEGO Network.
- As the series progressed, the use of gears in sets became increasingly rare until being dropped entirely by 2006. As of 2015 they have been reintroduced.
- After BIONICLE was originally discontinued in 2010, most pieces used in the line were also retired from being manufactured. A very small amount remain in production.
- The Toa Mata from this theme cameo briefly in The LEGO Movie, implying the BIONICLE Universe (or, most likely, a version of it) is one of the worlds in The LEGO Movie.
- The 2015 wave of this theme is a reboot, set in a new universe.
List of BIONICLE sets and products
List of BIONICLE comics
- See: BIONICLE Comics
This section mentions only the major online games of BIONICLE.
- Mata Nui Online Game: In the Mata Nui Online Game, players could explore and play themselves through takua's on the island Mata Nui with the Matoran character Takua. The game was released in 2001.
- The Battle for Mata Nui: In The Battle for Mata Nui the Bohrok swarms have overrun the island and the objective of the game is to collect all of their Krana.
- Mata Nui Online Game II: The Final Chronicle: The Mata Nui Online Game II is the continuation of the Mata Nui Online Game. This time, the player was able to navigate through Mata Nui using the Matoran Hahli. The game was released in 2003.
- Stop the Morbuzakh: This game was played out of the view of Toa Vakama's mask. The objective was to decimate the steady growing ranks of the Morbuzakh plant. It was released in 2004.
- Piraka Attack: Players had to choose a Piraka to play with. The objective was to hit Matoran to enslave them and levelling up. The game was released in 2006.
- Matoran Escape: The Matoran of Voya Nui, being controlled by the player, had to navigate through Voya Nui and escape the Piraka. It was released in 2006.
- Voya Nui Online Game: The player controls one of six different Toa Inika and navigates through the whole island Voya Nui. The goal is to collect items and improve the stats to defeat all six and the seventh Piraka and retrieve the Mask of Life. The game was released in 2006.
- Inika Island Assault: Again, the player uses a Toa Inika to play his way through the Piraka districts of Voya Nui. The goal of the game is to complete all six levels with a Piraka as the boss at each end to defeat. It was released in 2006.
- Creeps from the Deep: The goal in this game is to cut away the blocking seaweed to move forward as far and fast as possible. If the player is too slow, he loses and "gets caught by" a Barraki. It was released in 2007.
- Command the Mahri: This game is divided into seven sub-games. Each one features one of the Toa Mahri. The player has to play six levels in each game, the games being specialised on the Toa's abilities. In the seventh game, the player has to play the last level of each of the six previous games in order to have the respective Toa participate in the final level. The game was released in 2007.
- Battle for Power: This game features the fight between the Phantoka Toa and the Phantoka Makuta. The player can decide on which side he wants to play. The levels of each side include playing with the Toa, Makuta, the Av-Matoran and Toa Ignika. It was released in 2008.
- BIONICLE: Mistika: BIONICLE: Mistika is divided into two sections: The Story Levels and the User Levels. The goal of the Story Levels is to navigate through the Swamp of Karda Nui and reach the Codrex as fast as possible, either using characters or unlockable vehicles. By playing the User Levels the players can create their own level layout and play in their level or in levels other users have created, in four different games. The game was released in 2008.
- BIONICLE Campaign: In early 2009, The LEGO group released several new BIONICLE-themed Networkers, Items, Badges and Blueprints at My LEGO Network to promote the Spring BIONICLE 2009 sets.
- Glatorian Arena 1, 2, 3: By playing the Glatorian Arena, players can participate in Arena Matches against other Glatorian, playing against a computer. The goal is to improve stats and defeat the other participants. Glatorian Arena 1 features the classic Glatorian of Spring 2009. Glatorian Arena 2 uses new techniques and the Glatorian Legends of Summer 2009. Glatorian Arena 3 is a combination of both, having even more techniques to use. All three games were released in 2009.
- Agori Defender: The goal of the game is to defend the Agori from the troops of Makuta following a special path (similar to the tower defence games) from reaching the Agori entrance. In this game the player does not play as a singe figure, but is able to place multiple defender figures along the path, which attack the enemies automatically. Being the last online game of BIONICLE, it was released in 2010.
From 2005 to 2007, several BIONICLE Playsets were released. These were built like normal LEGO models, and contained minifigure versions of various BIONICLE characters. The original figures were not posable, but in 2006 the minifigures were redesigned so they had 6 points of posability. BIONICLE minifigures did not last long likely due to popularity.
- ↑ 
- ↑ The History of LEGO BIONICLE at BZPower.com
- ↑ BIONICLE: The Early Years at Papercutz blog archive
- ↑ Bob Thompson at BIONICLE Sector 01 Wiki
- ↑ 
- ↑ Tohunga#Matoran at BIONICLE Sector 01 Wiki
- ↑ BIONICLE: Mask of Light (movie) on The Bionicle Wiki