BIONICLE commercials were more than just typical product showcases showing children interacting with the latest LEGO products – many of them told a story. Blocks, the LEGO magazine for fans, is looking back at some of the best ads.
It’s 20 years since BIONICLE launched as a unique LEGO theme and went on to be a smash hit. The entire story was spread across many different mediums, including animated films, books, video games, comics and even TV commercials. Each commercial stood out not only from other toy adverts, but other LEGO ads as well. When a BIONICLE commercial came on, the unique visuals, music, and storytelling captured the attention of children everywhere. Each advert stands as a testament to the sheer creativity and effort the LEGO Group put into BIONICLE. To have a quality product is important, but how an audience perceives that product is the only way to have people experience it in the first place.
Toa Mata (2001)
The first BIONICLE commercial aired back in 2001, introducing the world to the theme for the first time. The plastic canister in which each set was packaged became part of the story – they transported the six Toa heroes onto the beaches of the island of Mata Nui. Viewers witness each Toa being built, and their unique masks of power being placed on their faces. Each character gets a chance to shine in their own environments – 8435 Tahu, Toa of fire, can be seen jumping around an exploding volcano. The narrator’s voice is mysterious. The soundscape, eerie. This first commercial really set the tone for what was to come.
Find out the full story of LEGO BIONICLE in Blocks magazine Issue 85, as creators Christian Faber, Bob Thompson, Alastair Swinnerton and Greg Farshtey exclusively share their story. To get Blocks, the LEGO magazine for fans, every month – at a discount and earlier than the shops – order a 12-month or 24-month subscription. Direct debit payment options are available too; to find out more get in touch via email@example.com.
In this 2008 BIONICLE commercial, the Toa heroes take to the skies with brand new jetpacks. But the evil Makuta lurks in the shadows, ready to take flight with their monstrous wings. This commercial is a prime example of how to show off a play feature and tell a story at the same time. The smaller Matoran 8944 Tanma is running from the Makuta, and jumps off a cliff, connecting to 8686 Toa Lewa in midair. The Toa and their Matoran counterparts were designed to combine into an impressive flying force, which is highlighted in this short but sweet commercial.
Barraki: Creeps From The Deep (2007)
This BIONICLE commercial focused on all six Barraki, mutated sea creatures who were once kings, before being banished to underwater prisons. A narrator explains why everyone wants the Mask of Life, which can be seen floating to the bottom of the ocean. The smaller, helpless Matoran 8930 Dekar picks it up, but it is not long before he is attacked by all six Barraki. Time is spent showing the unique properties of each Barraki – 8920 Ehlek’s electricity, 8918 Carapar’s strength, and 8917 Kalmah’s orange tentacles. This commercial plays like a horror movie, ending with poor Dekar being pulled down into the bottomless depth of the ocean. The music featured is ‘Creeping in My Soul’ by Cryoshell.
Mistika: Rise of Mata Nui (2008)
Both the BIONICLE Mistika wave of sets as well as the rise of the great being, Mata Nui, are shown in this commercial. Even though BIONICLE continued for a few more years after this, this era was marketed as the ‘final battle’. After having followed the Toa Inika/Mahri since 2006, all six of the original Toa that started it all were now back and better than ever. We see the Toa battle evil insectoid Makuta, like 8696 Bitil, and successfully unite all the keystones. This allows them to unlock massive vehicles like 8943 Axalara T9. But a Makuta steals 8942 Jetrax T6, leading to an epic battle in the skies. 8697 Toa Ignika is also shown, sacrificing himself to bring the great spirit Mata Nui back to life. But the commercial is not over yet. The biggest plot twist is finally revealed – Mata Nui’s giant robot body was under all the lands the whole time. The body rises from the earth, and Mata Nui is finally back- or is he? His green eyes turned red, and viewers watched in horror as the evil Makuta took over. Mata Nui’s spirit was put into the Mask of Life, which was shot into space. The heroic Toa had lost. How often does a toy commercial end in the hero’s defeat?
Toa Mahri (2007)
The most cinematic of all BIONICLE commercials, 2007’s ‘The Mahri’ feels like a movie trailer or scene rather than a toy commercial. All six Toa heroes of the wave are highlighted, as well as all the titans. BIONICLE is most remembered for its large constraction figures, but even the system set, 8927 Toa Terrain Crawler, plays a prominent role. The commercial starts off with the Toa gearing up within an enlarged and more realistic 8927. Unlike other commercials, the Toa are given voices in this one and before they exit their craft one says: ‘Mission objective: Retrieve the Mask of Life’. After an epic team shot, the music picks up as the Toa battle creatures of the deep. It isn’t long before the colossal creature 8922 Gadunka, and the warriors 8923 Hydraxon and 8924 Maxilos and Spinax join the battle. The final shot is of 8915 Matoro wielding the mask of life, moments away from his pivotal sacrifice (a common theme). The song ‘Crashed’ by Daughtry is featured throughout.
How many other LEGO themes have commercials been as important as BIONICLE? This themes influence can still be felt today, and still has a substantial fan base. Check out Blocks issue 85, which features interviews with the creatives who brought the BIONICLE theme to life.
Video Credit: Special thanks to YouTube user LordFindogask734, who has remastered each iconic commercial in beautiful 4K.