LEGO BIONICLE GWP concept reveals one possible direction for full reboot
One of the original concepts for 40581 BIONICLE Tahu & Takua offers an insight into what a full relaunch of the classic LEGO theme could look like in 2023.
The upcoming gift-with-purchase – which recreates two classic constraction characters with modern System elements, all within 219 pieces – doesn’t quite do for BIONICLE what 10305 Lion Knights’ Castle and 10497 Galaxy Explorer did for Castle and Space in 2022. Both of those 90th-anniversary sets went big with their tributes, while 40581 BIONICLE Tahu & Takua offers a more modest approach to boxed nostalgia.
But what if this set was just testing the waters for the full and emphatic return of BIONICLE? (The LEGO designers behind the set have told Brick Fanatics explicitly that that’s not what’s happening, but let’s just imagine for a moment.) What would that look like in 2023? Most of the original constraction element moulds no longer exist, and it’s difficult to envision a future in which the LEGO Group brings back an entire part catalogue.
So… would it look like 40581 BIONICLE Tahu & Takua? Are these tiny brick-built mechs with printed slopes (in lieu of masks) the way forward? Not necessarily: the set’s concept models, as shared by designers Nick Vás and Niek van Slagmaat, include a few different ways to revisit BIONICLE in the current parts library, and there’s one particular option that stands head, mask and shoulders above the rest.
That’s the pitch for Takanuva, who – in BIONICLE lore – was the final form of the Matoran Takua, and the prophesied Toa of Light. The white and gold figure was originally released in 2003’s 8596 Takanuva, and was recreated in System elements as a pitch for the 2023 gift-with-purchase. And of those three concepts, it’s the only one to concentrate on a single character.
“We were just putting all that [budget] into one figure to see, ‘Well, how could we make an articulated figure using System pieces?’” Vás explained to Brick Fanatics and other LEGO Fan Media in a recent roundtable interview. “This is definitely pushing the limit of what can be done – it could be a possibility, but it was working up against limitations.”
Those limitations include the number of new pieces available when designing gifts-with-purchase, encompassing new moulds, new prints and new colours of existing elements. For 40581 BIONICLE Tahu & Takua, Vás only had two to work with, and ended up using them for the masks of Tahu and Takua – offering BIONICLE fans two fan-favourites in one small package.
Splitting the budget across both of those characters does mean they suffer in size and scale next to the original BIONICLE figures, though – which can’t be said for Takanuva. Case in point, the larger concept is built around ball joints that will be familiar to BIONICLE veterans, matching the 2003 version of the character in scale.
You can see such a set retailing for around £24.99 in the UK, which would of course be far more than the original Toa – they cost just £4.99 apiece in 2001 – but for your money you’d get a more detailed, involved and engaging build. More importantly, it’s one that would speak to adult fans of BIONICLE in complexity, while still catering to the appetite for mechs the LEGO Group clearly sees from its wider fanbase.
What’s more, the potential for new pieces would presumably be much greater in a fully-fledged BIONICLE reboot. That includes new moulds, which – at the very least – would be a great avenue for introducing refreshed versions of the classic BIONICLE mask pieces. Even if the rest of the theme is anchored around modern mech pieces, such as ball joints, much of BIONICLE’s DNA would be felt through using unique masks.
There’s plenty of mileage to be had in those pieces, too: all the LEGO Group needs to do is recolour them six different ways, release them in grab bags (like the good old days) and watch collectors snap them up.
While we’ll probably never see BIONICLE return in its original form – the stalled reboot in 2015 has likely put paid to that – there are clearly ways in which it could still make a comeback. And if the response to our original story showcasing these three concepts is anything to go by, System-led interpretations of the original characters (at a larger scale than 40581 BIONICLE Tahu & Takua) would be a fine path to take.
40581 BIONICLE Tahu & Takua will be free when spending £90 / $100 / €100 across LEGO City, Monkie Kid, NINJAGO, Friends, Classic, Creator 3-in-1 and DOTS at LEGO.com from January 27.
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