LEGO Company enters the world of music

Together we are strong

Bionicle: The Heroes of Mata Nui

LEGO Company Teams with Skateboarding Pro Andy Macdonald

New dimension for the BIONICLE™ universe: Trading Card Game
"Together we are strong"

An interview with Martin Riber Andersen, design manager at LEGO® TECHNIC® and Erik Kramer, director at LEGO® TECHNIC®

You two gentlemen were responsible for the development of LEGO TECHNIC Bionicle. Would you like to tell us something about the concept?
Martin: "The scene for Bionicle is set totally out of time and place. It is not 1000 years ago or 1000 years into the future. It is not on Earth, Mars or any other planet – it is on Mata Nui, a tropical island lying in an endless ocean.

"The inhabitants of Mata Nui have been on the island for so long that their knowledge of why they are there has turned into a prophesy: One day the six mighty Toa will arrive and save them from the curse placed on the island by the evil Makuta. "We start with the arrival of the Toa in their canisters. The only way to find out more is to get on board ..."

What gave you the idea?
Martin: "The concept is a natural – following on the very successful product lines in the LEGO TECHNIC range: Throwbots and Roboriders. These product lines are based on small, low-priced, character-based models.

"With LEGO TECHNIC Bionicle our approach was different. What if we had an epic story from which everything originated? We reckoned that with a story like that it would be easy – or should I say, not as hard – to create a concept.

"We created an image in our minds that there was a blockbuster movie out there called Bionicle – and that we were making products for the movie. Viewed from this angle, we got a clear idea of what things were really about – and why it was so important 'to stick with it'.

"Development of the story was a parallel process that took place in many brains. The design team in Billund, Denmark, took a quantum leap with the creation of the first concept models. Those inspired our 'graphic cornerstone' (read: Art Director) and he created some very cool graphics. That again inspired the model design team, game developers and scriptwriters and so on ... This parallel process combined with a very clear aim formed the concept."

How long does it take to develop a new product?
Erik: "There are many layers and processes in the development of such a huge concept as LEGO TECHNIC Bionicle, and it is hard to say exactly when we start and when we cross the finishing line. But making a rough cut: probably about a year."

How do you keep a product secret until it is ready for the shops?
Erik: "The team behind LEGO TECHNIC Bionicle was kept in a maximum-security, deep underground facility at a very, very secret location! The only thing I can reveal is that they are still down there working on something new...."

What does Bionicle mean?
Martin: "Bionicle is a mix of two words: Biology and Chronicle. Instead of saying: this is an epic story that takes place in a bio-mechanical fantasy universe set totally out of time and place, we say Bionicle."

How many people have been involved in the product development?
Erik: "It is hard to say exactly how many people have been involved in the creation of Bionicle. But it couldn't have been realised without the whole LEGO Company organization supporting it.
"The process of bringing Bionicle to the market has been led by a project team consisting of four people."

Why have you decided to put so much emphasis on the story-telling elements in the universe?
Martin: "Story-telling is what really ties it all together – but not story-telling in the traditional sense. Traditionally, you tell a story by showing a TV series or a full-length feature film. Another – and even more traditional – way is to flip pages in a book from chapter one through 10.

"We wanted to challenge the youngsters. The only way they can 'read' our story is to go buy them and discover. One bit they find in the products, another on a poster, another on a promotional CD-ROM, another at and so on. By doing this, we make sure that every element the youngster gets hold of contains a piece of the story.

"We set the scene, or establish the framework, so to speak. The youngster does the rest. Our philosophy is that kids don't like to be told – they want to find out themselves."

Will the story continue next year?
Martin: "The guys in the high-security facility are working full speed on the creation of the next 'chapters' in the Bionicle universe."

You have linked up with several partners to market the product. Who are they and why were they chosen?
Erik: "Our target group/boys are interested in a wide range of possibilities in the fantasy universe in which we have placed the product. So it is only natural that we should brighten our universe with music from the Universal Music Group, games, watches, clothing, etc.

"It's also pretty obvious that partners are extremely interested in getting in on the action and expanding the universe even more."

What other products are you planning to market to join the Toa and the Turaga?
Martin: "Later this year we're launching five very mean – and unlucky – beasts. They have been cursed by Makuta. And there are persistent rumours that the people in our secret facility have develop a three-channel radio-control unit."

Which product are you most satisfied with?
Martin: "That's a tough one. It's like having to choose between your own kids. If we are really under pressure, you could force us to pick one of the Toa or one of the products due for launch later this year. Personally Onua is my own favorite – but don't tell the others!"

LEGO® Company is the world leader in providing quality products and experiences that stimulate children's creativity, imagination and learning. It does so through playful activities that encourage hands-on, minds-on creation, fun, togetherness and sharing of ideas. The family owned LEGO® Company was founded in Denmark in 1932. By the year 2005, the company wants the LEGO brand to be the strongest in the world among families with children.

 Mata Nui Press Support English  Deutsch