Since the re-launch of LEGO BIONICLE, there has been some interesting changes that are worth to discuss. The 2016 LEGO BIONICLE sets are markedly different than the 2015 ones, noticeable even by those who are not deeply involved with the LEGO BIONICLE universe. So let’s take a closer look at what happened, and what does this mean to LEGO fans. 🙂
To get a full understanding on how LEGO BIONICLE evolved, it is helpful to briefly look back at the history of Constaction (Construction + Action) Figures, as this is what BIONICLE uses for the large, articulated characters. As a building system, LEGO BIONICLE was an offshoot of LEGO Technic, which meant that from the very beginning the characters looked very mechanical and robot-like. Besides using standard LEGO Technic elements, the look of the characters was improved by the addition of many-many specialized pieces. In fact there were so many unique pieces in the LEGO BIONICLE line, at some point it just didn’t make sense to maintain them. Also, because the pieces were quite detailed they were prone to breaking, and the joint pieces were also finicky.
LEGO BIONICLE was discontinued in 2010, and was replaced by LEGO Hero Factory. With the new theme the entire Constraction System was also renewed, with improved ball-joints and a simplified selection of pieces. The playability and poseability of the characters much improved with the updated system. No more dealing with breaking pieces and cranky joints. Aesthetically speaking, the reduced number of pieces meant that the new characters looked more uniform, and the improved quality resulted in chunkier, simpler forms.
In 2015 LEGO Hero Factory was discontinued, and after much prodding from LEGO fans, LEGO BIONICLE was brought back. For the new line of LEGO BIONICLE sets LEGO used the new and improved Constraction Figure System that was introduced with LEGO Hero Factory. In fact, the 2015 LEGO BIONICLE characters look very much like the ones in LEGO Hero Factory; simple, uniform and chunky.
While the LEGO Hero Factory building system was definitely much better and much improved over the original Constraction System, LEGO BIONICLE fans were not happy that the same style was applied to their own beloved heroes and villains. They wanted them to look more like the ones in the original sets.
LEGO designers listened to these wishes and complaints, and in 2016 they updated all the characters in the LEGO BIONICLE theme with a more complex design. While the pieces are still strong and sturdy, and the skeleton system is still the same improved design, the armor pieces got more detailed and textured to mimic the pieces in the original sets. This change is most noticeable on the Toa, as they all have both a 2015 and a 2016 version. In the video below JANGBRiCKS will show you these differences and upgrades in more detail.
At least to me, the new LEGO BIONICLE heroes still look more chunky than the original versions. Personally I don’t mind this – especially since I’m a fan of LEGO Hero Factory – but I’m curious to hear the opinion of original LEGO BIONICLE fans. LEGO definitely made a good effort making the characters more detailed with texturing the armor pieces and even printing some of the details to make them more interesting. I think this is a good compromise that LEGO designers can continue to refine as they get feedback from their fans.
If you are not a LEGO BIONICLE fan, these changes can be beneficial to you as well. The original LEGO BIONICLE parts are well known to be some of the best and most interesting pieces to use for detailing (also referred to as greebling) vehicles, machinery, spaceships and other LEGO creations that need to look mechanical. The LEGO Hero Factory system with its simple and smooth pieces, and less connection points did not serve the same need. But now that LEGO BIONICLE is getting more detailed again, some of the new parts can add unique details to standard LEGO creations. For example, take a look at this dwarf by Djordje, using a new BIONICLE piece for the beard! 😀
In summary, I would say that it is worth continuing to follow the development of BIONICLE, even if you are not a fan of the original line, or may not even be a fan of the new story. The characters, pieces and building techniques are interesting, and it seems like LEGO is committed to continue to improve them. If you haven’t done so already, you can take a look at all the new sets under the LEGO BIONICLE section of the Online LEGO Shop.
So what do you think? How do you like the upgrades and changes to LEGO BIONICLE, and how do you think the new system compares to the old? Do you use LEGO BIONICLE parts for your other LEGO creations? Feel free to share in the comment section below! 😉
And you might also like to check out the following related posts: