Heeeeeeeeeeeey everybody! How are we fairing this INSERT WEATHER HERE day? Great, good...yep. Anyhoo, my unplanned LEGO Month in celebration of the recently released movie (which I reviewed last week right here) continues on into its penultimate week with this follow-up Top 10 to my first one which can also be read here. I'm such a whore. In that one I ranked my Top 10 LEGO Themes, but left Bionicle out in order to make things more interesting because that would have easily won out over the others. In that blog I also asked if people would be interested in seeing a list dedicated entirely to the theme, and a lot of people were...so here we are, my Top 10 Bionicle Sets!
So, before we begin, I need to lay out the specifications for what I mean by 'sets'. Being more action figure than proper Lego set, most of the main Bionicle products came out in groups of six, covering different "elements" including air, fire, water, ice and so forth. I'm including each of these waves of six as one group of sets, rather than individual products in order to give the list more variety. Initially the sets were pretty much the same minus a few altered masks and weapons (and colours, obviously) which is what I'm going on, and I know it became less clear cut further on, but these are my rules, so deal!
Couple of other things, no sets from after the 2007 period were included in deliberations because that was the point where I stopped buying them as a kid, due to being a teenager and "oooh, can't buy toys, blah blah". A lot of the early big sets were also missed off because, naturally I can only include things I owned and I just didn't have the money for the big stuff, similarly no "playsets" (proper Lego sets based on the theme) are included because, again, they were out of my price range. Still, plenty to choose from...and this was a tough one to rank...so, reacquaint yourself with Bionicle using the video below, and then let's begin!
WARNING : STUPID NAMES AND BATSHIT PLOTLINES INBOUND.
10. Rahaga (2005).
So, starting things off a bit random and a bit...small...there was just something about these little guys that I loved. So, the story for these went that they used be Toa who were deformed and mutated into Rahaga by a sinister force, and they then went on in search of a means of a cure, and a way to stop said sinister force. They later became something of a mentor to another group of Toa, but really they're on here because...ohhhh, they so cute! When new waves of sets came out, they often came in three lots, you got the Toa, the Baddies and the Little Dudes. These were the little dudes of 2005 and complemented the other sets of the year well. They were tiny, squat little reptile creatures with a spinning disc on their back (Which could be fired off via ripcord...which is awesome) and a little weapon in their itty bitty hands. They were a simple, cheap(ish) set but still had a lot of character and posability in them, which is exactly what you want, really. It may seem like a random, stupid choice for the start of the list, but these were major characters, they appeared in the 3rd film and everything...so TAKE THAT. Dawwr, they so cuuuute, I hope aaall the Bionicles on this list are cute...
9. Visorak (2005).
AHHH OH GOD, OKAY, NEVERMIND. Remember when I was saying about the whole 'Toa/Baddy/Littledude' waves? Well, coincidentally enough these were the baddies of that same wave as the Rahaga, which may be somewhat obvious given they both feature the same spinning disc weapon motif. In case you're in any doubt, yes, these are basically giant four legged spider things, and they do indeed look badass. The Visorak were deadly soldiers who had an array of venomous weapons at their disposal. That disc on his back? Yeah, looks innocent enough...but if it touches you it'll infect you with venom which can mutate you into a feral beast and eventually lead you to join the daaaark side...awwooooooo!!! They spin poison webs, they can infect you with their poison mandibles and their poison discs...these guys were packing a lot of poison, and not the good 'shitfaced in the early morning' kind. These guys were pretty much unstoppable until the Toa came along and, already being infected with the venom, managed to save the day, like you do, and stuff. Still, these guys were awesome. Oh, in case you were wondering, yes green Bionicles were my favourite. Not sure if I was subtle enough about that with the images and all.
8. Matoran (2004).
For clarification, there were several different kinds of 'Matoran', who were very much the general population of the Bionicle universe. You had the heroes and villains, but these were the guys they were fighting for/against more or less, although every now and then a few of them would fight back themselves for children's toyline moral forming purposes. The Matoran are really the crux of the confusing storyline of Bionicle...since technically the same ones have been around over the course of the entire era-spanning saga, they've just been memory-wiped/energy-drained/moved-about and all that. It doesn't help that there are alternate forms and names that are both canon and non-canon to the actual story for various reasons...but ignoring all that I've gone for the 2004 Matroan of the Metru-Nui era...which is actually set before the original wave of sets on Mata-Nui...urr...yep...as a kid you just sort of absorbed all this information like it was the word of god and never questioned it. Unlike the wimpy villagers of Mata-Nui who were mainly damsels in distress for the Toa to save, these dudes came packing with weapons and strength of their very own, and lived a far more advanced lifestyle than their regressed islander future selves did/do/does?! AHHH. Again, the main reason these guys are on here are because they look cool, they were rocking these sexy two-toned coloured masks, and had a fucking massive disk launcher which could be strapped to their back for added awesomesauce. Sadly these guys lost their home, and their badassery thanks to EEEEVIIL, but we can always remember them for what they were, not who they are/were again because...AGHGH FUCK TIME.
7. Toa/Toa Mata (2001).
Perhaps a controversially low placement for the original heroes of the Bionicle word, the Toa, later renamed the Toa Mata due to...mm, yep, I got nothing. These guys were what kicked off the popularity of the theme all the way back in 2001, and they were indeed very awesome. So why are they ranked so low, you ask? Well the fact of the matter is these were the first of their kind on sale, they are the most basic of the many Toa created and also perhaps the most flimsy to boot. I adore them as I adore all the series, and naturally they hold a place in my heart for being what started Bionicle for me but when it came to ranking the Top 10 best sets, these guys just couldn't win out against the legacy they themselves created. But these are very much still the iconic Bionicles (Iconic Bionic?) that most of everyone growing up at that time would recognize, hell they even got their 5 milliseconds of fame in The LEGO Movie (That's not really a spoiler, by the way...it's nothing to get excited for) so a whole new generation have now lay eyes briefly upon them. Although Lewa (green dude) was my firm favourite by a long way, I remember the first one I got being Kopaka (white dude) who was also pretty damn badass. Really, the only one out of the 6 I don't like is Pohatu (brown dude) because...fuck...he just looked stupid and had stupid legs and...stupid...and he aaallwayyys was. Sorry Toa, this was one fight you just couldn't win.
6. Takanuva (2003).
Aww yeah, here we go! The first non-wave of 6 set on the list and what a one to start with! Although towards the very end things got a little batshit crazy for Bionicle, in 2003 things were far more simple...you had the 6 Toa, they had 6 new enemies to defeat, Matoran to protect and the whole Mata Nui/Makuta thing hanging in the balance above them. And then Taknuva came along and BLAM...you had SEVEN Toa! Seven is a bigger number than Six. Not only was he the first new Toa since the theme began, but he was also the Toa of Light who went on to (seemingly) defeat Makuta, who was the big baddy of the series and kick off an entirely new arc on an entirely new island...set in the past...hmm....So yeah, he was a pretty big deal, he was very much the main theme of the first Bionicle movie (Which was, like the biggest deal ever for me as a kid) and naturally, that meant he had to have a cool set. Takanuva didn't come in no stinking canister like no common Toa, no no sir, he came in his own box and with his own flying motorbike dealy, which was awesome as fuck. He was a golden and white Toa with a flying machine who's job was to take down the main bad guy of the story...so...yeah...this guy was awesome. What was also cool about him was that he evolved(?) from a fan favourite Matoran character who was the main protagonist of the 'Mata Nui Online Game', which was an awesome flash game in a similar style to Myst, but with more...animation. He didn't even have his own set before that, but he went on to be the main character of the film, and then the Toa of Light...so yeah, this set meant a lot to me as a kid, and it also set into stone the rule that Matoran could become Toa...so that's....something.
5. Toa Nuva (2002).
Although these are indeed the same characters from number 7, they come from an entirely different set, and since I'm doing this list based on the toys, rather than characters, I'm not counting them as the same thing. So, the Toa Nuva were basically just upgrades for the Toa Mata, which, yes is a bit of a cash grab on LEGO's behalf, but they were still awesome as fuck...except Pohatu...again...The story behind the Nuva was that, after defeating the Bohrok and Bahrag, they found themselves submerged in a sentient goo known as 'Protodermis' which transformed the forms of beings deemed worthy of it, and killed those who weren't (Oh...). Thankfully for them, they were worthy, and the Toa Mata were upgraded into the Toa Nuva, with better armor and better weapons as a result. So, these were the same characters as before, with the same elements and personalities...but upgraded...what's not to like about that whenyou'reakidwithahandfullofpocketmoneyandnosense? These were far better products than their original forms, beloved to me as those are, with more functionality and rocking massive shoulder pads in a way that has not been seen since the 80's! Once again Lewa was the best for me, his twin swords doubled up as wings for him to glide on...which is awesome! IT'S AWESOME. Tahu Nuva's (red dude) weapon doubled up as a surf board...for lava...yes...YES. These guys rocked. Except Pohatu....just...just get out of here man, nobody likes you! JUST GO.
4. Rahkshi (2003).
Being the big baddies of perhaps the most important year arc of them all (Makuta vs Toa of Light) is a big responsibility, and requires a villain who looks as cool as it is deadly. That's where the Rahkshi come into play, these dudes were actually big suits of armour containing the spawns of Makuta himself within them, called the Kraata, and each of them possessed a unique power recognizable by their colour, not unlike the Toa themselves. For instance, the red dude at the front? That one had the power of fear....which meant he could drive anyone to insanity through sheer terror at the slightest touch of his staff. The white dude? Anger...he could fill you with violent rage. The blue one? Oh...just a little thing known as Disintegration....oh yeah...these guys don't fuck around. Not only are their powers a force to be reckoned with, they also look cool as fuck, although not meant to be seen this way in the story/theme, they very much look like the grown up version of number 10, which for me as a kid was hard to ignore, given they had the same colour schemes and faces. Which meant I had a big Rahkshi and a lil Rahkshi...which was cool, and not at all going against the canon of the series...what's that? NOPE, NOT STUPID...IT'S IMAGINAAAAATIOON!
3. Toa Lhikan & Kikanalo (2004).
Now this one is very much the oddball of the list, in that the Toa isn't particularly a major character, at least not in this form, and the rhino dude he's riding? Never even meets him in the 'story' of the theme. Still, this is another one of those big sets, and it's a badass one at that, trumping a lot of the main cast of heroes and villains due to sheer looks and appeal. If you want some context, this is the guy who's at the very start of the second Bionicle movie, the one who gives all the future Toa's the stone things. No? Oh well, I tried! Basically this guy does a few things and then turns into a Turaga, which is a wise elder figure, a former Toa, and 'Set Not Appearing in this List'. The rhino is what's known in the Bionicle universe as a 'Rahi', which is their equivalent of wildlife and he...has no relevance to the story whatsoever, and no, Lhikan never rides him in the film, or the story itself. But...fuck...look at them! They look awesome! I have them still on display on the top of my desk right now, that's how cool they are! I think this placement is testament to the fact this is about the coolness of the sets, rather than their relevance to the Bionicle world as a whole. It's probably the most obscure set on the list, because it wasn't part of a wave, and it wasn't a major player in the story, it was just a cool ass set that I'm glad I own, and easily one of my favourites of the ones I bought as a kid...hence its inclusion!
2. Toa Hordika (2005).
I guess the fact that all three of this wave of sets have managed to make the list is testament to how much I liked the theme of the 2005 Bionicles. Both in terms of story and design they're just really fucking cool, and surprisingly dark for a kids toyline...like these guys? These are former Toa who were captured by the Visorak and mutated, deformed and devolved into beastly shadows of their former selves, battling to keep control of their sanity and minds in general as they attempt to stop their home from being overrun by the corruption, whilst also trying to save themselves from the same grisly fate. Although I very much liked the pre-mutation Toa Metru (Who haven't ended up on this list due to...yeah it was tricky), I must say I found their mutated forms much cooler in a lot of ways. Firstly, like numbers 10 and 9, they have the cool spinning disks, but they also had some rather neato two toned, flexible weapons and a generally more beastial appearance which, in my book makes them generally more awesome as well. I'm firmly in the camp of 'its good to be bad' in terms of toys, generally the baddies are more badass in form than the heroes because they often represent a clean-cut, goody gumdrops side of things whilst the villains are unrestrained by such notions and are free to be as menacing and creepy as they desire. The Toa Hordika saw the good and bad of the Bionicle world blur together for one year, and that led to a cool story arc, the best of the (still awful) Bionicle movies, and the best Toa group of them all...wait...so there's no Toa left on this list? What could thaaat meaaannn....?
1. Bohrok/Bohrok Kal (2002-2003).
Oh daaaaaaaaamn! Evil hath prevailed over good! Oh well, nevermind...yeaaah, the Bohroks are awesome! I've decided to place the Bohrok and Bohrok Kal together because, for all intensive purposes they are the same product, just with a different colour scheme...although if I had to choose, I'd say the Bohrok Kal were cooler looking in general. So, whilst it may seem like this theme always followed the same release pattern of 6 good/bad/small guys each year, in actuality, the first year didn't have any villains of this template, instead you got the original Toa, the Turaga and a few big Rahi Beasts (which I could never afford, sadly) for them to fight, with Matoran being offered as McDonalds Happy Meals toys...in America...*SIGH* It wasn't until the following year, 2002 that the Toa finally met their match in the form of the Bohrok, who were a swarm of a hiveminded insectoid machines with mind controlling parasites known as Krana stored within their heads, ready to fire out at unsuspecting victims at a moments notice, taking complete control of their body be they villager or hero. The Bohrok as a toy were insanely cool, their squat, smooth form gave them a solid structure and a sleek appearance, and they had a lever on their back which caused their head to shoot forwards like some kind of evil robotic chicken. Not only that, but you could fold them up into a ball...and then you could use their canister (Which most Bionicle sets came in...and were awesome, and I'm not sure why I haven't mentioned them on this list beforehand) as a cocoon, with the lid having an apparatus which let you suspend them upside down...damn they were cool. Bohrok Kal were basically the same toy, but in the story they were the six elite Bohrok who's sole mission was to free their imprisoned masters at any cost. They threw a metallic silver into the mix which made a cool toy even cooler, and although like the Toa Nuva felt like a bit of a cheap follow-up to the originals, were very much the superior products. It may seem a bit strange to have these guys at the top of the list, but that's just how I felt...both as a kid and now as a grown up. I was always on the side of the Toa...but deep down I knew these guys were the cooler of the two.
And there you have it! My Top 10 Bionicle Sets...what do you think? What were your favourites as a kid? At what point, at all did you stop buying them? What's your thoughts on all the spin-off merch...including the movies, comics, games and such? I'd love to hear your thoughts, so drop me a comment down below, and until next week where we'll be doing our final blog of 'Unplanned LEGO Month'...Later Gators!