Bionicle is a series of Lego, the best one. Basically, a reference. I compare every setting, lore, story with Bionicle, and most of time Bionicle ends up being better. Not only that, the toys themselves are very cool.
Biosector is the most detailed wiki about Bionicle. Read it.
Alastair Swinnerton tells about his involvement in the development of Bionicle.
It had a kind of Easter Island vibe to it I felt, and I’d always been fascinated with that subject. The basic story was there – a bunch of characters on an island, not knowing why, or that the ‘island’ was actually a partially submerged giant robot. But that was about it. So I pretty much started again with the concept, introducing the whole Polynesian feel, and changing the names from ‘Hook’, ‘Claw’ etc to real Polynesian names that reflected the characters I’d created. In those days there were no online dictionaries – there was barely any ‘online’ at all to be honest – and we couldn’t find a Rapa Nui dictionary (the Easter Island language), so we went for the next best thing, which was Maori. To be honest we borrowed words from a few other similar languages too, although this many years later I really can’t remember which ones were which language. There are some out there who have put a lot of time into working that out though! What I do know is that the character names meant the same as the words that we borrowed – I figured that if we were going to use a language, we’d better use it properly, and respectfully. The Maoris didn’t see it that way of course, and it cost Lego quite a bit of money in ‘cultural compensation’. But by then Bionicle was selling in its hundreds of millions, so I guess it didn’t hit their pockets too hard. And so my four original main heroes became Tahu (fire), Lewa (air), Gali (water) and Onua (earth). The four elements. It wasn’t exactly an original way to create four heroes, but Lego seemed to like it. Or so I thought.
It was only when we got into the meeting room that I realised Bob hadn’t actually shown my rewrite to anyone yet. So there were Ken and I, standing at a whiteboard pitching my idea at a whole bunch of Lego executives I thought had already bought into it. It’s not easy pitching big execs when there are two guys playing with prototypes at the back – they turned out to be Martin and Christian, and I got to keep the prototype, which I still have…
- Before Bionicle: Part One: The Time Before “The Time Before Time”
- Before Bionicle Part Two: Electric Booga-Doo
Good articles that describe how Bionicle came to be. Slizers, Roboriders, Voodooheads.
However, when LEGO had a group of children play with the prototypes, their feedback wasn’t as positive as they’d hoped for. It turned out that the youngsters didn’t have the bloodlust that the designers and marketers were counting on, and they were more concerned that the heads were designed to come off too easily, making them easy to lose. The highly-stylized heads were scrapped in favor of something that would be easier to secure to the figures and also had a higher collectable factor: masks.
The main heroes gradually began to take shape. Named after the weapons they wielded, Flame, Hook, Claw, and Axe represented the classical elements of fire, water, earth, and air. LEGO wanted six figures in the first wave (like RoboRiders), so Kick and Blade were added to represent the elements of stone and ice, which are apparently distinct from earth and water… somehow.
Indeed, an afterthought. I always felt like that.