Sgathaich: The Legend of Bionicle, Part 2

Like the Toa before them the Bohrok were a huge hit. The element of them being a swarm gave people an excuse to buy multiples of the same Bohrok, plus they all had the ability to curl up into a ball and be suspended inside the capsule they came in.

The end of the Bohrok story, much like that of the previous one, leads into the next part of the story of Bionicle as the defeat of the twin Queens caused a strange material to flood the chamber the Toa were in. They evolved into the Toa Nuva. These were the next main wave of canisters. This too would be a recurring trend in the story, that each chapter’s end would tease towards the next part. The new Toa Nuva shared many of the core components with the original versions but had all new masks, wore silver armour and had some new mechanical features.

After them came the Bohrok Kal which was just Lego trying to get more money out of the success of the Bohrok by releasing a set of 6 powered up ones. They didn’t sell as well and it was very clear these were just made quick as the parts were all just recolours of the existing Bohrok.

It is worth saying that while Bionicle was a success, it did run into some problems. Namely the elements where it drew on Māori names and iconography. This resulted in a letter of complaint being written and Lego agreeing to change some of the names. This included the names of villagers changing from Tohunga to Matoran as well as the names of certain Matoran characters. In Universe this was explained as part of a ceremony which slightly altered the names.

After the misstep of the Bohrok Kal came the next big element of the Bionicle tale, for next was the Bionicle Movie, ‘The Mask Of Light’. This was a Home VHS and DVD CG Movie which would recount the 2003 Bionicle story and was the end of the first full arc of the franchise. It featured the continued story of Takua as he searched for the wearer of the Mask of Light who would become a Toa of Light, a 7th Toa ( for anyone who grew up with Power Rangers, they knew adding an extra member to the team after the original was a big deal) and defeat the Makuta. Much like the other waves before, this came with a set of 6 canisters, this time containing the Makuta’s minions the Rahkshi who also had a collectible element to them. But more interestingly the larger sets contained the Toa of Light and also for the first time a set of the main villain Makuta. The story further increased the mythology of the setting revealing more and more of the world while teasing about future story elements, namely that Matoran can become Toa as it was Takua who became the Toa of Light. But also with the confrontation with Makuta we began to get the first glimpses that there was a lot more going on with this world than first told about in the opening website, especially as the film ends with them discovering the long dormant original home of the Matoran, the city of Metra Nui. The film is ok, it’s a 2003 non Disney CG film but since the characters are all robotic it’s not too bad on the character designs, the only main flaw of the film is it will require you to know about the settings and characters as it doesn’t hold your hand. Two more films would be released that adapted the plots of the next two years stories as well creating a sort of trilogy.

The next chapter then became a prequel arc telling of the story of the fall of Metru Nui. This two year long Prequel arc lasted from 2004 to 2005 consisted of the stories, ‘Secrets of Metru Nui’ and ‘Web of Shadows’. Secrets of Metra Nui added a lot more to the mythos such as revealing the Turaga (the wise leaders of each Matoran tribe/village) had once been Toa. After this arc came what is referred to as the Ignition Trilogy which returned the plot to the point after The Mask of light and featured a race to save the great being by finding the legendary Mask of Life. The adverts at this point now often had licensed music resulting in some truly memorable commercials. I highly recommend the one from the 2007 line the Barraki. It was at the end of the Ignition Trilogy that the big reveal about the true nature of the Matoran universe was shown, which had originally been planned to be revealed at the end of the first year.

The Line was meant to last a full 20 years but sadly was cut short resulting in the next arc Glatorian now set on the planet of Bara Magna becoming its last. So while plot threats that were meant to be used for the second year of the Bara Magna story, such as the villains already planned to be released that second year, the second year instead was used to be the end of the line with Bionicle Stars released. These were a sort of pseudo best of sets for canisters each having a character from an older line and a piece of golden armour.

Despite the Line being retired new stories were written continuing the tale for some time. The Bionicle fandom also remained active, using Lego parts often from older sets to make new characters. It’s worth noting that Many characters like the majority of the dark hunters a faction in the story were from fan designs as they never got official sets.

The line remained well remembered thanks to its role in keeping Lego out of bankruptcy as well as its rich world of characters and setting. Many of its fans feeling the franchise was snubbed by the Lego Movie with only a nod to its existence rather than having a character appear. A Bionicle Character was planned to appear in its sequel however this was dropped by the finished film.

In 2015 a new Bionicle revival line appeared accompanied by web animation to tell its story, but sadly this too was cut short only lasting for a second year to 2016 before the new version of Makuta was released. The line did receive one bit of recognition in the 90th anniversary for Lego by being included in a Lego classics box. but because this was all made up of core Lego pieces and not the more unique parts of the franchise, the Tahu from the classic box is often joked or yelled about. More welcome was a Lego sculpture presented in the Lego Ideas section of a Bionicle Head celebrating 20 years of the line.

To this day the fandom looks on fondly over the franchise, hoping one day for another return to the world of Bionicle either through a rerelease of the classic sets or another wave of new releases. I myself have been looking through various sites to collect some of the those original generation and too had some of the second generation. While I don’t know if another Bionicle line will truly show up again I can look on in the current age of Lego sets and see its legacy. Maybe not in unique parts but in characters and ongoing tales. But who can say one day I will not look up into the stars and seen the shape of a mask forming once more… and then some cryo shell music starts playing and awesome stuff happens.

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