Image from fbtb on Flickr
I may be a little late to the party on this one, but go easy on me. I only recently learned of the sudden cancellation of the Bionicle series. When I first saw the headline, I was devastated. As I began to actually read the full story, that devastation gave way to hope. When I then looked up the new Bionicle replacement series, LEGO Hero Factory, I was completely & utterly delighted. It wasn't long before I had jumped in head-first and started my own first LEGO Hero Factory MOC.
Bionicle had a good run -- a solid decade. In its heyday its popularity was off the charts, its fans completely loyal and dedicated. The stories were captivating, and the figures & parts just kept getting better with every release. Over the past few years, though, even some of the most devoted Bionicle followers have grown weary of recurring themes in the storylines, some truly bizarre plot spin-offs with the alternate realities, and (arguably) diminishing quality & uniqueness in the figures. The luster has largely worn off.
The ending of the figure series came earlier than planned, and it's sad, but LEGO made the right decision here. Fortunately, the official storyline will continue on the Bionicle site. We will still be able to follow along as Mata Nui fully re-ignites his powers, helps the citizens of Bara Magna re-assemble giant robot #2, and gets in it to go have an epic battle with the Makuta to liberate Aqua Magna and restore the Matoran Universe. What we won't have to bear with is seeing re-hashed releases all of the previous characters in toy stores as the story brings us back to them. We also won't be pacified with random newly-imagined Bara Magna rahi sets or additional forgotten tribe members (and their overpriced or not-so-exciting vehicles).
Instead, we will get Hero Factory figures, a series that continues to build upon the Technic foundation and welcomes the reuse of most of our Bionicle pieces. It will have a storyline, but it will more than likely be shallower and less rigid than what we saw with Bionicle; something a little closer to what they've done with System series. Like most folks who have commented to date, I think the names of the official Hero Factory "good guy" characters are lame and a disgrace. But I can get past that aspect. As a MOCer and big proponent of creativity in general, I like how the Hero Factory concept very strongly encourages fans right from the start to think up their own unique characters and have them interact with the story. Bionicle never really did that. The Bionicle universe had very little building & creation involved in it. All of the official characters existed before we were introduced to them.
I'm hoping to see some Hero Factory kits come in bucket form, a la the Ultimate Creatures set, but with several suggested builds and encouragement to create more. I can see this going really far with some very serious worldwide contests. Online games where you can actually build your custom hero and then play as it would be awesome, too. Imagine a cross-platform game where you can build on a PC computer, upload it, then play it on an XBox 360!
In closing, I have to send a big "thank you" to LEGO for creating the Bionicle universe. As the company moves on, Bionicle fans will continue to move forward with our creations, many of us drawing on pieces from the Hero Factory series, and many of us moving on too, but bringing our buckets of Bionicle pieces with us!
PS: Be sure to visit my new LEGO Hero Factory MOCs site!