Due to the success of earlier character-based kits, Throwbots and RoboRiders, LEGO decided to launch a new robotic LEGO Technics series: Bionicle. The title is a combination of the words biology and chronicle. The general theme of the series is based on Polynesian mythology, and the names of characters, places and artifacts sound more than a little Polynesian. Also, the collectible nature of the masks is most likely inspired by the Pokémon phenomenon.

The Story

The world of Bionicle is a planet covered by an enormous ocean, with the exception of a single island, Mata Nui. This island is named after the supernatural being that created the world, and is inhabited by biomechanical beings who worship him.

Makuta, Mata Nui's brother, was jealous of his brother being worshiped. To get even, he put Mata Nui into a deep sleep and took control over several of the wild animals, called Rahi, living on the island. The Rahi terrorized the inhabitants while Makuta himself prepares to take on physical form.

The Turaga, leaders and priests of the different villages around Mata Nui, tell of a prophecy. Six mighty warriors will come and defeat Makuta. The warriors, called Toa, will use mystical masks, Kanohi, to grant them the strength they need. Makuta also draws strength from such masks, but his are infected and are used to control the Rahi. The Toa must find more powerful masks as Makuta's power increases.

The six Toa are:

Six metallic canisters have drifted ashore on Mata Nui. The Toa have arrived.

The Toys

The Bionicle kits use LEGO Technics bricks and several custom bricks. Most models have some kind of action feature, and all of them incorporate Kanohi masks in some way.

The six Toa are all similar in design. They have different color schemes, weapons and masks, but are all humanoid. They come in plastic canisters that can also be used to store the figure (if you remove any big weapons). The lid can be used to store and display up to six masks mounted on heads, and a single mask can be placed in the middle. The Toa themselves are fairly stable and posable, and look robotic. Their action feature is a gear in the back that, when turned, moves the Toa's arms (or in Pohatu's case his leg) up and down. The kits are easy to put together, sturdy and fun to play with or display. Each comes with a mask that matches its wearer's personality.

There are also six kits representing the six Turaga available. These are smaller then the Toa, and a lot less posable. They come in standard small LEGO cardboard boxes, and their action features are rubberband-based. Each has its own mask that, according to the story, is less powerful than the masks the Toa wear.

The Rahi are also covered. Several kits are available in a range of sizes (and prices). Most of them have advanced action features, and one kit, two Manas, is even remote controlled. They come with infected masks that are used by Makuta to control them. Knocking the masks off frees the Rahi from Makuta's influence.

As the key element in the story (and in LEGO's marketing) are the Kanohi masks, they are available separately in cheap mask packs. Each contains a couple of masks (I don't know the exact number currently) and heads to mount them on. There is also a box containing an audio CD/CD-ROM, a silver mask and a small Tuhunga villager.

Also planned for release are: Games (PC/Windows and Gameboy Advance), a CCG from Upper Deck, promotional Bionicle comics from DC Comics and probably a whole lot more.

Time will tell if Bionicle catches on. Who knows, maybe Pohatu is the next Pikachu? ;)

  • http://www.bionicle.com/
  • http://www.maskofdestiny.com/

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