This Isn’t Your Daddy’s LEGO

Gabriel Silvas, Columnist

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In the time before time, the Great Spirit, Mata Nui, was sent by the Great Beings to the Matoran people, bringing with him the Three Virtues: Unity, Duty, and Destiny. Enlightened by these virtues, the Matoran honored the Great Spirit by naming the island paradise they called home after Mata Nui. However, this era of peace and prosperity was not to last. Mata Nui’s brother, Makuta, became jealous of his brother and betrayed him, striking him down with a spell that sent the Great Spirit into a deep slumber. With nothing to stand in his way, the Makuta sent out his minions of darkness, harassing the defenseless Matoran and keeping them confined to their villages, ruling over their fear. Not all was lost, however, as according to prophecy, six mighty heroes known as the Toa would be sent by the Great Beings to Mata Nui, save the Matoran, defeat the Makuta, and reawaken the Great Spirit. Eventually, that tale became reality as the Toa stepped onto the island to complete their destiny. So began the legend of the BIONICLE.

LEGO’s iconic and long-running franchise, BIONICLE tells the tale of this world of bio-mechanical beings in a fantasy/sci-fi setting that spans thousands of years. The first few arcs, following the Toa’s journey to defeat Makuta and reawaken Mata Nui, had a more mystical tone to it that is not as prevalent in later arcs, which started to shift a bit more to the sci-fi side of things and became more heavily action packed, but each arc is surprisingly in-depth and well-written for a toy property. From books, comics, and movies to online serials, the story, headed by Greg Farshtey for the majority of its lifespan, spun a fantastical universe filled with heroes, villains, beasts, and everything in between.

The six Toa that land on Mata Nui are the closest things to being the series’ central protagonists. Each one represents the six elements and use that as their power, combined with their Kanohi Masks that grant them additional abilities. Their leader is Tahu, a hot-headed and stubborn fighter, but with an honest heart and undying loyalty to his friends; Kopaka is as cold as the ice he commands, but can be just as hot-blooded and passionate as Tahu when it comes down to it; Gali is the heart of the team and is usually the one that has to resolve spats between Tahu and Kopaka, but her patience can only hold out for so long before she becomes even more fierce than her brothers; Pohatu is perhaps the most easygoing and friendly of the six, even managing to be the first to befriend Kopaka when they first met; Onua is as wise as he is strong, always having an answer to most things and an open ear for his people; and Lewa is as free as the wind, goofing off to play with his villagers, but is ready to protect them when need be.

The Makuta does not take a direct role in opposing the Toa. A masterful manipulator with plans within plans, he’s content to control and corrupt others to carry out his will. The local wildlife, the Rahi, have been outfitted with infected Kanohi, turning them rabid and enslaved to Makuta’s will, from the Nui-Jaga scorpions, the Muaka and Kane-Ra bulls and wildcats, to the incredibly dangerous Manas crabs, the most deadly Rahi on the island. With their freedom from the infected Kanohi masks, Makuta’s next plan in the form of the Bohrok swarm hatched, where they would stop at nothing to raze the entirety of the island down to the bedrock, enslaving the Matoran with their Krana parasites. With the swarm contained, the six advanced Bohrok-Kal sought to release the trapped Queens to bring back the swarm after the Toa defeated them. When the prophecy of the Seventh Toa, the Toa of Light, makes itself known, Makuta not only becomes personally involved, but he sends out his most powerful agents, the armored abominations known as the Rahkshi, to divide the Toa and hunt down the Herald of the Seventh Toa to prevent their arrival.

The next few story arcs act as a prequel to the first four, taking place a thousand years or so ago in the city of Metru-Nui, the original home of the Matoran of Mata-Nui. There, before the Great Spirit was struck down by his brother, a group of Matoran become the new Toa protectors of the city, but unlike the Toa of Mata-Nui, these Toa have to learn to fight, to control their powers, and to learn the responsibility of protecting the city and working together. Behind the scenes, a conspiracy plotted against the inhabits of Metro-Nui stirs, and once it kicks off, all the Toa can do is minimize the damage, taking as many Matoran to safety as they can. By the time they make it back to rescue the rest of the population, the spiders of the Visorak Hoard have taken over. Once the story jumps back to the modern age, a new quest to save the dying Great Spirit is taken on, culminating in the titanic final battle for all of existence.

Spread out over different mediums, the story of BIONICLE is much more in-depth than a lot of other properties for children, even older ones. With a cast of memorable characters, the ingenuity of the fandom in creating original characters with the toys, and its lasting impression on those who grew up with it, this is one LEGO property the won’t be easily forgotten.

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