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More than a toy: why we love Bionicle

The designer who not only gave US a happy childhood, but also saved LEGO from collapse
Bionicles. Everyone who grew up in the early noughties, this word causes a smile and a pleasant warmth in the chest. Then every boy, and even a girl wanted these combined cyborgs that possess the forces of the elements. But not every parent could buy a child such an expensive toy. In addition, it was not enough to possess it to truly feel the universe and appreciate the ideas of the authors. Even more: if you live in Russia or other CIS countries, you missed the lion’s share of what Bionicle is so good at.

Biological Chronicles
The designer aimed at an audience of 8 to 16 years old and first appeared in Australia and Europe in 2000. A year later, when the toy proved its viability, it was released in the most desirable market: North America. That’s when LEGO turned the ignition key in the car to earn money and began to fill it every six months, releasing both large sets (figures, vehicles, decorations) and small ones (masks and projectiles that were fired by “Bionicles”).

More than a toy: why we love Bionicle
For us and our parents, these “Bionicles” have become a household word for the Toa, the six elemental warriors, and their enemies. In fact, Bionicle is a fusion of two words: biological chronicle. Which translates as “biological Chronicles”, in other words, the chronicle of the cyborg world, an epic about the struggle of good with evil and the three virtues: unity, duty and destiny.

The goal of invention is tricky
Bionicle has a history with a rich mythology, full of drama and unexpected twists. Oddly enough, all three virtues went against the idea of LEGO, where imagination is king and God. Like, the child collects the toy and comes up with her adventures. Therefore, when the Danish company’s bosses were offered the opposite in 1999, they were skeptical and even hostile. For the latter, we should also thank the military theme of Bionicle: swords, shields, and other weapons were also not combined with LEGO’s peacefulness.

So how does the “Bionicle” gave the green light? It’s simple: in 1998, LEGO was in a serious crisis. The Danish company experienced financial losses for the first time, and in the following January it announced a loss of 1.4 billion kronor, which was equal to 140 million euros. To stay afloat, the Corporation first laid off a thousand employees, and then another five hundred. I think the most annoying thing for LEGO bosses was that the toy market itself felt great and grew by 4% a year. The problem was clearly the conservatism of the Danes.

LEGO head office lobby LEGO head office Lobby
Remembering the saying about desperate times, LEGO forgets about the principles and releases story sets for “Star Wars”. Then the galaxy far, far away returned to the big screens in the form of prequel movies. Their popularity was transferred to boxes with assembled Jedi and Sith and turned into large sales. However, they did not help LEGO much, because it paid royalties to George Lucas and his Empire. What does this mean? To hell with licenses, you need your own fantasy Saga that will print money for years.

Realizing this, the Corporation announced a brainstorming session: “Offer your stories — we will choose the best one and implement it.” This idea came to the mind of the British screenwriter and producer Alastair Swinnerton. He would later become best known as the co-Creator of Bionicle, along with Bob Thompson and Martin Andersen of LEGO and Christian Fabe of the Danish advertising Agency Advance.

Alastair Swinnertondyer Swinnerton
Their work was translated into toys, which for the first year brought the company 100 million pounds sterling. Success came not only in monetary terms, but also in recognition: in 2001, Bionicle won the “most innovative toy” category from the Toy Association — the American toy trade Association. These and other professionals will enthusiastically say that Bionicle has changed the way children have fun with LEGO. “Biological Chronicles” has absorbed the best of two worlds: the Assembly inherent in the designer, and adventures in the spirit of GI Joe, Transformers and other action figures.

Three kingdoms for children
The authors of stories for many toys seem to work on the principle: why try? What’s the point of bothering with a story if you’re dealing with the most unsophisticated audience — children? The Bionicle writers clearly thought differently, since they created a kind of “Journey to the West” or “three kingdoms” for teenagers. If you do not understand the comparison of one of the most multi-page novels, let’s explain: the plot of “Bionicles” is very extensive. Ten such articles will be needed to set it out. And even more, if you go into details. In order not to write an encyclopedia, we will present only part of the epic, which can be used to judge the rest of the “biological Chronicles”. And then we will focus on the most basic points, simplify a lot and sacrifice accuracy in places. May the hardcore Bionicle fans forgive us!

The scale of the Bionicle universe is clearly visible in its history sometimescan Bionicle universe is clearly visible in her chronology of events
The story begins on the island of Mata-Nui, which is inhabited by a race of cyborgs Matoran, divided into villages led by wise elders-Turaga. Canisters are washed up on their banks, from which six legendary Toa heroes are selected. They, like the rest of the cyborgs, live thanks to the masks of Kanoha: take them off, and the robot will not last long. Toa are going to look for more Kanohi and meet with Makuta — ancient evil who want to rule over the Matoran. The heroes lose the first battle and surrender through the teleport.

Makuta sends Borroks in pursuit — a kind of swarm of large, Curling up in balls, insects. At first it seems that they are aliens, but in fact the army is controlled by two Queens located underground. The Toa hunt them down and defeat them by combining the forces of the elements and imprinting the monarchs in a substance called protodermis. This attitude to blue blood does not like the elite group Borok-Kal: they steal artifacts, without which the Toa can not control the elements. With the help of the same aggregates, the Borok-Kals want to free the Queens, but the brave six go to a trick: they send energy to the villains, from an overabundance of which those are shortened.

Borok-Cavaroc-Cal
The Matoran is idle victory over Borokai, and at the same time and local Day Name. And so the joyous event becomes even more solemn when an ordinary cyborg Takua finds a mask of Light. It belongs to the seventh Toa, which has yet to be found. Takua is sent on a search with His sidekick. Makuta does not want them to succeed and sends his six Raksha sons to intercept them. Yes, those humpback toys with rotating torsos! Rakshis destroy the village of fire and even poison the local Toa: it becomes toxic and attacks its own. The same reptiles kill Takui’s friend: he is filled with grief, but even more with a sense of duty. Until now, Takua did not realize that He was chosen, but now he puts on a mask and becomes a Toa of Light. Collecting a car from the corpses of a Raksha, he tracks down Makuta, fights with Her, but does not win: both opponents fall into the protodermis lake. Together, they become one creature Takanuva. It raises a gigantic block, dies under its weight, but opens the way to Metru-Nui-an ancient city under Mata-Nui.

On the left-Takua, on the right-he is in the form of Toa Svetasleva-Takua, on the right-he is in the form of Toa Sveta
Six Turaga tells us about it: it turns out that the elders did not just live in Metru-Nui a thousand years ago, but were also its heroes — the Toa. They revealed the plan of Makuta, who pretended to be the ruler of Metru-Nui and under his guise forced Matoran to climb into the cryocapsules. In them, the inhabitants would have spent as much time as it took them to lose their memory and take Makuta for the Lord. But the Toa revealed the plans of the villain, joined forces and imprisoned him in protodermis. And zadno saved part of Matoran from sleep by transporting them to the island of Mata Nui. Returning for the rest, the Turaga find themselves in a truly grim cycle of events: the team is turned into animal-like creatures of the Hordik, which makes them slowly begin to go crazy. Red Toa even goes to the side of evil and turns against former comrades. In the end, the friendship still prevails and the team combined to overthrow the Empress of the spider-like Visorak. The villain receives a charge of six elements in the chest: the beam hits directly into the pendant that was associated with the Makuta. As a result, the Empress is defeated, the remaining matorans are transported to Mata-Nui, and Makuta has escaped to freedom, thanks to her mnogohodovochka.

We feel that you are starting to yawn — we will tell the rest of the story even faster. The Toa find another legendary kanohi-Mask of Life. It acquires a mind and increases the body (insert the joke about It’s alive! and Frankenstein) in the form of another Toa. He sacrifices himself and awakens Mata-Nui, the ancient spirit that the island is named after. The one who told the matorans about the three virtues: unity, destiny, and duty.

The Toa thought they would summon a spirit, but in fact they awakened a giant robot. He dozed (or rather died, until a life-giving mask was connected to him) for so long that his body was covered with forests, deserts and mountains, where the matorans settled. In General, a turn in the spirit of Shyamalan, and then another — back in ancient times, one of the Makut sabotaged the giant, put him in a coma and intercepted the control to take possession of the body upon awakening. Villainous mnogohodovok made him all-powerful tyrant. He immediately gets rid of the competitor: shoots a mask of Light into space with a sharpened Mata-Nui.

Mata-Nui falls, sabotaged by Makutoimata-Nui falls, sabotaged by Makuta
The exile lands on Bara Magma. It turns out that this is the home world of Mata-Nui and Matoran, where they were created and sent to explore the planets and surf the space. In the absence of the Wanderers, Bara Magma survived the earthquake: it turned the surface into wasteland and separated two giant fragments that became bara Magma moons. On one of them, Mata-Nui passed out for the first time.

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