Overview of BIONICLE
Myth has always been a powerful basis for storytelling in film, television and books, witnessed by the success of Star Wars, Babylon 5, and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Now LEGO Corp has borrowed the genre for its latest offering BIONICLE, which also represents the company's first foray into the mainstream action figure market.
The name "BIONICLE" is a combination of the words "biological" and "chronicle." The BIONICLE saga deals with the inhabitants of Mata Nui, a once Eden-like island that has fallen under darkness of late by the rule of the Makuta. The legends tell of the return of six great heroes (called Toa) to fight the darkness and who will gather masks of power to challenge the Makuta, and restore peace to Mata Nui. BIONICLE is the story of these heroes return to the island, their search for the masks and eventual challenge of Makuta.
The Toa Onua
The island of Mata Nui was named after the great spirit that brought joy and light to the island, and was initially a paradise. The islanders (called Tohunga) worshipped the goodness of Mata Nui and this made Makuta (the spirit brother of Mata Nui) jealous. Makuta cast a spell that caused Mata Nui to go into a deep sleep. Makuta then thought the Tohunga would worship him: when they didn't, he released darkness and wicked beasts onto the land to punish the Tohunga.
The Tohunga kept faith in Mata Nui as well as in the legend that six heroes would come to help save them from the Makuta and return light and joy to the land. The Tohunga live in six villages and have protectors for each village. While the Tohunga are the common people, the protectors are called Turaga and each protects the legend of one of the Toa. The protectors are leaders of their villages in a political and religious sense and are slightly larger than the Tohunga and use the "minor masks" of power and weapons to protect their people.
The Toa are the heroes of legend and represent six elemental forces - air, fire, earth, water (the traditional four Greek elements) and ice and stone. Each of the six Toa represent one of these forces and each has a mask that aids them as well as a special weapon for their elemental force. The Toa are all much larger than the Tohunga or Turaga and along each elemental theme there is one Toa, one Turaga, and one Tohunga.
The Makuta can express itself as many things and can become various beasts to plague the Tohunga. These are called Rahi and are controlled by infected masks. If these masks are removed, they can be stopped and even tamed in some cases.
The Toa, Turaga and Tohunga all use the masks of power (or Kanohi) to aid them. There are twelve basic mask shapes, six of which are noble masks of power while the other six are the great masks of power. Each mask will come in a variety of colors that can be interchanged among the various characters, and the beasts of the evil Makuta will try to capture the masks from the heroes.
The Action Figure Sets
The BIONICLE line includes not only action figures, but video games, fast food toys and comics. There are many other multimedia aspects (including a CCG game), but this article will deal with the toy aspects of this ambitious line. The line is part of the Technic label for LEGO and is aimed at a slightly older consumer and is recommended for ages 7 and up.
The main characters of this adventure are the Toa, which are individually available at most mass retailers and some online stores. The Toa are sold for around $6.99 USD and come packaged in plastic pods. They each include a mask and the cans have mini-CD's and codes that can be used on the BIONICLE website. Also the lids can double as mask displays. Additionally, three Toa can be combined to create a larger Super-Toa. These combiner figures are named Toa Kaita Wairuha and Toa Kaita Akamai.
The Turaga Nuju
The Turaga are also sold via mass retailers and are boxed. These are smaller than the Toa and will retail for $2.99 USD each. They also have masks and tools.
The Tohunga were available as fast food prizes from McDonald's restaurants in September 2001. These smallest figures came with masks and discs, which they can throw.
The Nui-Jaga (Rahi)
The Rahi (evil beasts) are available as five sets with two Rahi in each set. These feature more actions and even some electronics, and as a result are a bit more expensive than the Toa or Turaga. They vary in price from $14.99 USD to $89.99 USD.
There are also packs that contain two masks, a head and post for mounting them on the Toa pod lids. These are $1.99 to $2.99 USD and are sold at mass retailers. One of the aspects of the masks is that the Toa need to gather all six great masks in their own color, and that every mask will come in a variety of colors. There will be the standard colors plus infected versions and a few other, unique mask colors. Check the official BIONICLE site for more information on the various colors.
The Cast of Characters, Organized by Element
Toa - Lewa
Turaga - Matua
Tohunga - Kongu
Village - Le-Koro
Toa - Pohatu
Turaga - Onewa
Tohunga - Huki
Village - Po-Koro
Toa - Gali
Turaga - Nokama
Tohunga - Maku
Village - Ga-Koro
Toa - Kopaka
Turaga - Nuju
Tohunga - Matoro
Village - Ko-Koro
Toa - Onua
Turaga - Whenua
Tohunga - Onepu
Village - Onu-Koro
Toa - Tahu
Turaga - Vakama
Tohunga - Jala
Village - Ta-Koro
The Great Mask Codes
(Lewa's green mask)
(Kopaka's white mask)
(Gali's blue mask)
(Tahu's red mask)
(Onua's black mask)
(Pohatu's brown mask)
The BIONICLE Websites
The BIONICLE website adds much detail to the world of Mata Nui. The site can be reached at BIONICLE.com and the site has three basic areas - Mata Nui, BIONICLE and BIONICLEMusic.
Mata Nui is an area that you can explore to learn more about the island and its inhabitants. This area has several puzzles at each of the villages that can be solved and also places to talk to many of the Turaga and Tohunga. This part of the site immerses the user into the world of the BIONICLE and focuses on the story aspect of BIONICLE. This area is updated at regular intervals, so the entire story unfolds over time. (In November of 2001, the story is not yet completed, but is still being updated.) You can explore the island to solve some puzzles and keep returning to finish the rest as they are added. It also has a feature where you can login and your progress will be saved as you progress across Mata Nui.
The BIONICLE area is designed to provide supplemental information on the various characters and environs of BIONICLE. It is presented more as an encyclopedia with many links to information on all the characters (good and bad) and even provides a place to buy these directly from LEGO. This section is also be updated from time to time to provide more information on all the products for the BIONICLE line, including the video games as well as the toys.
BIONICLEMusic.com is an interactive site that lets people who enjoy the music learn more about it. The site details a special 'power pack' set that includes a unique Tohunga and also a silver mask for use with one of the Super-Toa and a map of Mata Nui. The site has some samples of the music for each Toa and a sample of the music from the power pack.
There is also a contest for a gold mask. There will be five 14 carat gold masks awarded, 15 BIONICLE monsters and 20 Universal music packages with three full length CD's. The contest rules and entry instructions can be found be searching the various areas of the websites and finding the hidden golden mask. Once you click on it you will be given further instructions for entries.
The photographs of Onua, Nuju, and the Nui-Jaga are copyright LEGO Corp., 2001, and are used with permission.