The End of Bionicle and What it Means for You
Sunday, November 29th, 2009 at 11:55pm by Andrew, BZPower News Manager
Recently LEGO made the announcement that the Stars would be the "last BIONICLE sets for the foreseeable future." This has obviously stirred up a lot feelings within the Bionicle community. Unfortunately, there's also been a lot of confusion and misinformation spreading around as a result. Hopefully I can clear up some of that and give everyone a better idea of the implications this announcement has.
What We Know
Here are the facts:
- The six Stars sets will be the last Bionicle sets we're seeing for a while (maybe ever).
- In Winter 2010, six new Ben 10 sets will be coming out. They are similar in some ways to Bionicle but have larger and generally more simplified pieces.
- In Summer 2010, a new line will be released that is "based on the same building platform as BIONICLE," so it will be completely compatible with existing Bionicle sets.
- There will be two Bionicle comics next year in January and March.
- There will be one more book available in some parts of Europe and online in the US as a serial.
- The two Bionicle movies that had been tentatively scheduled for 2010 and 2011 will not be released.
- The Bionicle story will continue online through at least the end of 2011.
What We Don't Know
Some things have yet to be made clear. We don't know:
- What this new line will be called.
- How many sets will be released.
- How story-driven the line will be.
Some Random Clarifications
There's been a lot of misinformation going around that I feel needs to be clarified.
First off, Bionicle is not The LEGO Group's best selling toy line. We have been told that, at least recently, Star Wars and City have outsold Bionicle. Also, do not confuse 'best selling' with 'most profitable.' With the canister packaging, many new pieces, comics, books, intricate website, and other tie-ins, I'd wager that Bionicle is one of the more expensive lines LEGO has made. This means that while it may sell well, LEGO makes less money from each Bionicle set than they do from other themes like City or Space Police. So by removing Bionicle, LEGO has the opportunity to make more money from each set. It remains to be seen if the new line will be as expensive as Bionicle is. Also, to reiterate, I have no hard facts on the financial information of the company - I'm merely using common sense and taking some information I've gleaned over the years.
As a followup, Bionicle did not single-handedly save LEGO from going out of business. LEGO started having problems in 1998 and continued to have deficits as late as 2004, three years after Bionicle was released. There were many issues within the company that caused this, and many things that helped. I'd argue that the selling of the LEGOLand theme parks played a larger role in LEGO becoming profitable again than the sales figures of Bionicle. While I'm sure Bionicle has helped LEGO remain popular, it's not necessarily the cause of its profitability.
Next up, we do not control LEGO. We are a small community based on a popular theme, but we do not represent a large consumer segment that purchases Bionicle sets. In fact, compared to all people out there that buy Bionicle sets, BZPower is relatively small. So while we are for sure the most hardcore and diehard fans with lots of ideas about Bionicle, we're technically not the most important. While many fans are interested in the story of Bionicle, I'm sure there are plenty of younger kids that don't know much about it at all and make up their own story. For them, Bionicle or the new line makes little difference as I'm guessing the sets will be fairly similar.
On a very unrelated note, people are saying that LEGO Star Wars will be canceled in 2011. I can already tell you what LEGO's answer is to that: "We can't really even talk about too much in 2010 yet, there's no way we can talk about 2011." So I don't know what's going to happen then and neither does anyone else - it's just an unsubstantiated rumor.
What This Means For LEGO
At the end of the day, getting rid of Bionicle sets will probably not hurt LEGO financially. In fact, depending on how well the new sets sell and how much the line costs for LEGO to create, they may end up better off. At the same time, they can hope that the new sets will appeal to Bionicle fans, even the hardcore ones, based on the similar pieces used. They can also keep us interested by continuing the story - which is rather unheard of for a toy company to do and frankly has surprised me greatly. I personally think that boycotting this new line would either have little effect or hurt LEGO (probably the former), and that the opportunity will still be there for them to continue Bionicle a few years from now if it's clear the interest is still there.
What This Means For BZPower
Speaking of the interest, that brings us to BZPower. We're not going anywhere, and we hope to maintain Bionicle as our primary focus. That means we need you guys, the fans, to stay interested and to keep building creations, making art, writing stories, programming games, and everything else you do already to show your love for Bionicle. The Administration is currently discussing our options as far as what we should do specifically in light of this news, and you'll no doubt hear more about that as time goes on. Until then, keep doing what you're doing - having fun and enjoying Bionicle!
Hopefully this has helped you understand what's going on and what will be happening with LEGO and Bionicle in the future. If you have any other questions, comments, or discussion points, please leave them in the Talkback.
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