(Lorne, my original Bionicle self-MOC)
(Originally posted August 1, 2014. Moved to the forefront due to daily questions about this very subject.)
For at least a month now, rumors of LEGO's Bionicle theme returning in 2015 have been gaining significant steam with the help of a series of pictures of a picture, with a list of possible set names thrown in for extra flavor.
(UPDATE: Confirmed, September 8 per official image upload on LEGO.com, Bionicle is returning.)
Read on for all of my thoughts at this time.
Bionicle is coming back. That could be cool, I suppose. It all depends upon how it comes back, and what's done with it thereafter. They could introduce the most convoluted storyline yet. They could re-introduce such a rigid and strict concept of "canon" as to strongly discourage kids from making anything custom. In other words, they could really screw this up.
What's most likely with the figures, though, is that they will use the current universal action figure ball & socket building system, "CCBS," commonly referred to by YouTube commenters as "Hero Factory parts." Let me re-state that in shorter form. New Bionicle sets would be made from Hero Factory parts. If/when that happens, I will not restrain myself. I will laugh at the old school of Toa Mata-obsessed Hero Factory parts haters for at least a year. Continuously. After that, I will dedicate a further year to laughing at the Hero Factory 2.0+ hyperfans who viciously chastised me for making all of my pre-2.0 Hero Factory MOCs from "Bionicle parts" (you know, before "Hero Factory parts" even existed on the planet).
Jadedness & cynicism aside, the use of the ball & socket system would be the correct and only reasonable choice, and it would be great for the theme and for future buyers & fans. I, myself, have sold off ~70 lbs. of old Bionicle-specific parts over the past few years, while my snappy-clicky bone & armor collection has ballooned. I need something exciting to do with these parts, as Hero Factory has not been inspiring my creativity over the past few seasons.
Speaking of Hero Factory, it would be a shame to see it discontinued. The theme had tremendous potential right from the start. The premise of building heroes, truly creating them from scratch, had the makings of something truly great. It inspired and validated creativity in a way the old Bionicle never, ever did. The backstory of Bionicle was all about definitions & constraints. Things were the way they were. When you got Tahu, you got a Hau mask, but it was Tahu's Hau mask. Wherever you used it, it was still Tahu's Hau. If you put it on Kopaka, that was blasphemy & sacrilege, because Kopaka never wore that mask in the canon. You were "wrong" to try it. Yes, many people did amazing custom creations under the Bionicle umbrella, but many more did as LEGO told, and kept Tahu as Tahu, Kopaka as Kopaka, so as not to offend the holy canon.
Hero Factory from the start had no inflexible story that directly linked physical aspects of figures to specific characters. Unfortunately, in the first HF product season, Stormer's helmet was Stormer's alone, and anything you put that helmet on, became a custom form of Stormer. Etcetera. They took a giant leap in the right direction with the configurable head system in HF 2.0, but then they ruined it on Quatros with a return to character-bound pieces. They could have done so much to empower the creative side of even the youngest kids with "design a hero" sets and multi-colored armor & helmet packs, but instead, they gravitated towards the traditional non-creative, character-centric action figure model, with simply an "assemble it yourself" gimmick.
A Bionicle revival will likely come with a new rigid backstory, and I fear the masks may again be strongly character-specific, and that's too bad. It's LEGO, and the action figure department really needs to act like it's a part of LEGO too. Regardless, if the products themselves are genuinely good, I will be happy. Even if the whole sets aren't good, if they introduce really useful & interesting new parts, I will be happy.
The one thing I'm not looking forward to at all, is that first year of moderating & deleting Bionicle vs. Hero Factory fan bickering & flame wars. That madness isn't LEGO's fault at all, and it's certainly unbecoming of the LEGO customer community. It's certain, nonetheless. Be warned that while others may be hands-off with comments or take the "if you don't like it, ignore it" stance, I wholeheartedly refuse to allow my content to be used as foundations for the propagation of hatred & profanity-laced vitriol.
How ever Bionicle is reincarnated, whether Hero Factory goes away or not, I'm going to keep doing what I do. Change is constant, and I'm always ready for it.