If you talk to me more than once, chances are you will probably know about my obsession with a children’s toy product, Bionicle. For point of reference, Bionicle was a children’s toy line created by Lego at the start of the 2000’s. It featured buildable action figures and had a set of short novels to create a story to go along with the toy line – basically becoming Power Rangers, Pokemon, and/or Transformers, but with a different spin. During the first year of its run (2001) Bionicle generated over $161 Million (£100 Million)  in revenue for LEGO, and roughly the same in first years of its run. This success is a major reason why Bionicle was largely responsible for the continuation of the LEGO Company and its success today. During the 90’s LEGO had been suffering losses and were running out of time and money, and Bionicle came in to save the day.
Now, if Bionicle is nothing more than a children’s toy line that begs the question, what made it so “popular” or least loveable by a child who was born on the wrong side of the 90’s. I will answer that question for myself, and hopefully will instill a degree of understanding to the general audience as to why I remain loyal to a dead franchise. My love of these toys stems from my early childhood. In fact this shares the timing of another one of my hobbies, pipecleaners.
Now like most children, I too, had those few things that I really enjoyed and were permitted by my parents. In my case, a major part of my childhood was Bionicle. I remember I used to ask my parents all the time for them, but never was able to get ahold of many of the figures; luckily this is where pipecleaners came in. With the fuzz covered wires I could create my own action figures and doll out justice upon the evildoers. So, like any loyal fan, some of my first creations were pipecleaner versions of the actual Bionicle characters, and then I fused the pieces and pipecleaners and also created my own characters. You could say that Bionicle was my first fandom. And one could even make the argument that because of my love for these plastic representations of bio-mechanical beings I became a writer.
With Bionicle kick starting the process, I quickly amassed several legions of pipecleaner creations, many of whom were reminiscent of the heroes themselves (the Toa). I quickly began to create stories in my mind where the Toa would fight alongside the heroes of another franchise to defeat a great evil. Those in turn evolved into stories featuring my own characters and my own worlds – simple as I was merely a child then. I credit a great deal of my creativity and storytelling skill to these great, wonderful, and deep Biological Chronicle based beings.
I have many thanks to give to my first fandom. The great Bionicles of the days past are no more and we are left with nothing but memories. I give thanks to the Bionicle series for giving me a great childhood where I believed in heroes. I thank you for the all the good times and stories I have had with you and the plastic figure I still own. I thank you for inspiring me in that early stage of my life to create and tell stories and without that inspiration I might not have written this piece this day. I also have a practical use for my love of Bionicle. Even my online handle, gamer tag, and partial pseudonym are a throwback to Bionicle. The first few stories in the Bionicle Universe feature a character known as the Chronicler, and I have taken that title upon myself in my work to honor my roots and give tribute to the greatness of my childhood fandom.
On my mission, when I was assigned to the Northern Lights Samoan ward, I was also instructed to begin learning the Samoan language. I found that as I learned, the pronunciation of the words, rhythm and air of the language closely mirrored my childhood fandom. (The names of the characters and places in Bionicle are based on the Polynesian Languages). Who knew that after so many years, my love for the toys of my childhood would help me in the real world to partially learn and speak a new language? More than that, it helped me stay sane and keep a grasp on reality. As I had previously explained, the stress of serving a mission is intense and sometimes hard to deal with, and Bionicle helped me get through that. Even though it had originally been canceled in 2010, it was brought back in 2015 for a two year run. 2015 and 2016 would see the release of the Second Generation Bionicles. Almost as if it was brought back for me and my mission, it saw the light of day once more. It was glorious, and I was able to enjoy building these figures to destress on my mission.
In conclusion, to this day, I still love Bionicle. I read the stories, watch the movies, play the games, and build the figures, I still create stories featuring character that I have created and that are already part of the series. Truly, I would say that Bionicle is my first fandom, and it will always have a special place in my heart, even if I have no one to share it with. I will always remember my childhood because of Bionicle. I will always remember the tale of the Bionicle; find your unity, perform your duty, and claim your destiny. I would love to see them revived for another go someday, but I understand that all things must end in time.
The Mask of time,
the first bit of Lore created in the Bionicle Universe.
End in Time, more like begin in time.
Image credit - Biosector01 - Free Use