Today we are going to turn up the dial and jump ahead to 2001. Ah yes, 2001 – the Space Odyssey is upon us, Homeland Security is made to forever listen in on our boring phone calls, and I received the greatest give I have ever received, my first Lego Bionicle.
Yes for those of you who know me well, Bionicle became the gift that kept on giving; not only by granting me an obsession that would last till the toy-line’s cancellation in 2010, but also because we all have Bionicle to thank for a lot of what we all love about the Lego company today.
Bionicle was a multimedia endeavor by Lego that proved to be widely successful, setting the stage for Lego’s great rise:
- There was a line of great comics published by DC for the Lego magazine.
- Books Published By Scholastic
- A large multimedia endeavor on bionicle.com with flash games music and cinematics
- Four direct to DVD Movies (Lego first attempt at such projects)
- Licencing of the Bionicle name out to other companies to make non-Lego Bionicle products
Yes, all these things came together to make a rich, interesting, and complex mythology – and a story that made Bionicle so special. My Bionicles feel a lot like all the the action figures everyone else was playing with at the time, but mine did not need to have a highly successful movie or TV series to get its toys made. No, my toys came first.
There is one other reason that Bionicle might just be the best Christmas gift ever…
- Bionicle Saved Lego (also Star Wars and Harry Potter deserve credit too)
That’s right, in 2001 Lego was a company in shambles. The family owned company was fighting off bankruptcy and a myriad of offers from larger companies interested in takeover deals. Lego needed a way to bring in a new audience, they needed to do something they had never done before.
First, Lego signed its two most important and first ever licencing deals, Star Wars and Harry Potter.
But Lego also needed practice becoming a company that took advantage of the world they were living in in the 21st century, and Bionicle became that experimental building block for them. Bionicle would lead them to relationships with DC, which would lead to DC superhero themed Lego sets. Bionicle’s active fan community would lead to the creation of Lego ideas and a thriving network of creators where people build Lego sets that get made into real sets. The Bionicle Movies would start Lego’s relationship with Warner Brothers which would give us Lego specials and TV shows and eventually the gem that is The Lego Movie. Bionicle did all this, and was a financial and critical success, proving to Lego that this experiment was more than a flight of fancy. It was an important part of growing as a company, and grow they have. Since 2001, Lego has become one of the strongest brands there has ever been.
I’m proud of Bionicle and I am very excited for what I am sure will be 2015 favorite gift ever as well.
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