Real, final, official box art pictures of many of the new Bionicle sets have leaked out to the Interwebs and are now in the process of being copied & re-posted by as many blogs, Twitter streams, Deviantart accounts & YouTube channels as possible as everybody tries to grab their share of the views. I'm not going to follow that trend. If you want to see the pictures, Google Bionicle 2015. They're all over the place. What I am going to do, though, is follow up on my original thoughts that I posted two months ago when the first fuzzy store display concept photo made the rounds.
As expected, the sets are constructed primarily with CCBS ball & socket pieces, a.k.a. "Hero Factory parts." Again, Bionicle sets are now made from Hero Factory parts.
<Insert several minutes of uncomfortably over-the-top laughter here.>
Ahhh. Satisfying. What's not so satisfying to me is the range of new parts, or rather, the lack thereof.
LEGO appears to have introduced only one, single, lonesome new mold for armor add-on pieces. I felt those elements would be really critical to the differentiation of Bionicle from other figure series made using this system, and I'm surprised they didn't make at least four different ones to recolor. Instead, much of the new mold budget went into making slightly updated versions of old weapon & tool pieces from Bionicle's original string of iterations. I guess it wasn't such a good idea to destroy all of those molds after all.
The new masks/helmets look quite good. I feel they do great justice to the well-established characters while fitting the CCBS aesthetic. Great stuff there. I'm also very happy about the use of recolors for masks for all of the Matorans, er, I mean Protectors, as that'll help facilitate creative design of new, non-canon characters. Is it me, though, or do they all look like Toa Mahri Jaller?
It's interesting to see that the new Toa have swinging arms, Mata style. If the young kids (who make up the overwhelming majority of prospective customers, to the perennial shock of 'old' fans) like the actions, that's great. Older kids & teens may want better posing options from standard joints, but hopefully the actions will either have enough friction or be easy to lock or disable. The Protectors also get actions in the form of the new 6-stud shooter assembly that's going to be used in brick-based lines as well.
What about the bad guys, though? It seems there are a lot of heroes in this initial line, and just one real enemy, Lord of Skull Spiders, who looks like he'd barely be a threat to little Pohatu, much less any of the larger Toa. Each set comes with a little Arachnix Drone, er, I mean Skull Spider also, but that's just another little bug to squash into oblivion by simply stepping on it. Where's the challenge? Where's the danger? I know everybody likes to play the good guy, but what are they supposed to fight?
Instead of the glorious revival of a nearly religious experience that the small, but loyal & vocal old school of Bionicle fans begged & prayed for, it feels like we've gotten just another ball & socket figure series. That's not a bad thing by any means, but it's not revolutionary, and it's not going to miraculously turn back time 5 to 13 years to allow today's teens & young adults to feel like they did back when they played with Bionicle the first time. The old days are gone, life has changed forever. Who knows, though, perhaps these new sets will generate nostalgia for a new generation who, 5 to 13 years from now, will lament the discontinuation of Bionicle and beg & pray for it to be revived yet again :D