Recent developments in the LEGO Marvel theme indicate that a BIONICLE revival is still on the cards.
Although not LEGO in the traditional sense, BIONICLE has been a popular topic among LEGO fans in the new millennium. BIONICLE, which was originally an offshoot of the LEGO Technic theme, introduced a set of buildable action figures using a variety of custom items. Theme features included a biomechanical aesthetic, various collectible items (such as masks and discs), and an intricate bonus storyline.
The theme (originally ran from 2001 to 2010) later inspired similar product lines such as Hero Factory and Ben 10: Alien Force. Other themes such as Legend of Chima, Star Wars, and DC Comics Super Heroes also briefly introduced their “shrinkage” characters. BIONICLE itself even had a brief rebound in 2015, though it ended just a year later.
Since then, BIONICLE minifigures have disappeared from the LEGO product line. But some upcoming LEGO Marvel sets suggest a possible way for the theme to come back.
LEGO.com recently revealed three new brick-built characters in the LEGO Marvel line. These recreate Peter Parker Spider-Man, Miles Morales’ Spider-Man, and Venom on a larger-than-usual scale. Each uses standard LEGO elements and is highly expressive, making them great standalone LEGO sets.
The form factor (including ball joints, retractable limbs, and a mask-like face) is, in some ways, a reimagining of BIONICLE’s body design — and many of the character’s looks are on par when it comes to BIONICLE. Most of the characters in the BIONICLE theme had a human appearance, with the basic design becoming more refined as the theme progressed. As such, a question arises: can this form factor be used in a BIONICLE revival?
The LEGO Group is certainly familiar with the BIONICLE fandom and has incorporated it into a variety of LEGO sets. The Mata Nui map (primary BIONICLE location) can be found at 70657 Ninjago City Docks, while the 70436 Ghost Fire Truck 3000 features a Kanohi mask on one side. He also showed off the small brick-sized Tahoe in 11021 90 Years of Play, introducing the theme as a possible inspiration for the standalone LEGO 90th Anniversary Set.
The company is also responding positively to what BIONICLE mentions on social media. The latest response to the tweet indicates that a professional technical institute in Mata Nui will open soon, although the LEGO Group’s tweet is clearly a joke.
So can this translate to a BIONICLE topic? Maybe, but it could just be clever LEGO marketing of products. The LEGO set isn’t shy about pointing out its past in LEGO sets for the nostalgia dollar; 10273 The haunted house is ample proof of that.
However, the vast majority of these referrals do not directly lead to product relaunch. We didn’t get a full hero version of the Junkbot web browser game, for example. Arguably the closest we’ve come to this genre is the 60298 Rocket Stunt Bike, inspired by the LEGO Racers video game series.
While BIONICLE is still popular among older LEGO fans, younger LEGO fans likely won’t have much knowledge of it – something a recent competition has confirmed. And since they’ll be the primary audience for any BIONICLE revival, the LEGO Group likely won’t be willing to restart it again. Especially since the second version had many of the problems (such as unnecessary product duplication) that the original did.
As such, all the pieces may be in place so BIONICLE can decorate store shelves once again. But for now, it’s up to the LEGO Group to put them together. It seems unlikely that they will, but the steady pace of BIONICLE releases (and this new product line) means we’re hesitant to rule them out.
If you’d rather enjoy the next generation of LEGO minifigures, the 76225 Miles Morales Minifigure, 76226 Spider-Man Figure, and 76230 Venom Minifigure are available on LEGO.com starting September 1.
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