In 2001, the LEGO® Group introduced a new and innovative toy: BIONICLE. These constructable action figures were built from LEGO® Technic elements. The toys spawned an entire world of lore told through movies, TV series, comics, books, and video games, inspiring a dedicated fan base and paving the way for other beloved, story-led LEGO® lines.

Join us for a look back at this iconic theme as we explore the history of BIONICLE and revisit some of our favorite sets.

The Origins of LEGO BIONICLE®

In the late 1990s, designers at the LEGO® Group began to experiment with new ways to create with LEGO® elements. In 1999, they released LEGO® Slizer (also known as Throwbots in the U.S. and Canada), which featured a new ball joint element which allowed the figures to move freely, almost like human beings.

This was the beginning of constractable toys: constructable action figures with flexible joints and built-in functions. LEGO® Slizer toys were the precursor to one of the most popular LEGO® lines of all time: LEGO BIONICLE®.

A combination of the words “biological chronicle,” the BIONICLE line featured characters that were a combination of both mechanical and organic elements. The line proved to be a cultural phenomenon, enriched by a long-running story about the Matoran universe that reached far beyond the toys themselves. Between 2001 and the line’s original end in 2010, there were a large number of interconnected media, including books, movies, TV series, comics, video games, and other licensed products.


The world of BIONICLE is vast and complex. Spanning thousands of years and generations, the full lore of the Matoran Universe would take far longer than this article to explain. It is a rich and thrilling story; we encourage you to explore it further! To get you started, here is a brief background of the characters, setting, and eras.

The Toa Mata (2001 – 2003)

The story of LEGO BIONICLE® primarily follows the Matoran, bio-mechanical beings comprised of both robotic and organic elements. The 2001 storyline begins on the moon of Aqua Magna, on the island of Mata Nui. The island is named after the Great Spirit himself, Mata Nui, a protector of the Matoran and all life in the Matoran universe, who was cursed into a deep sleep by the evil Makuta Teridax and members of the Makuta brotherhood.

The heroic protectors of the Matoran universe, the Toa, were created by the Great Beings of old to protect the Matoran and other creatures that inhabit the universe. (Hence the name Toa Mata.) Each Toa has powers that correspond to an element: fire, water, ice, earth, air, and stone. They also use special Kahoni masks to unleash their supplemental powers, such as super-speed or levitation. Each Toa team has their own mission and destiny.

The first Toa introduced in 2001 were known as the Toa Mata, who embark on a quest to awaken the Great Spirit, Mata Nui and return to their home city of Metru Nui. This story is explored further in the 2003 film BIONICLE: Mask of Light – The Movie.

Metru Nui (2004 – 2005)

In 2004, the story shifted to the events that lead to the Great Cataclysm. Taking place a thousand years before the 2001 – 2003 arc, it explores the Toa Metru of Metru Nui and the growing evil of Makuta Teridax.

Toa Inika and The Mask of Life (2006 – 2008)

This picks up where we left off in 2003. The Toa Nuva discover that Mata Nui is dying and can only be saved by the mythical Kanohi Ignika, or Mask of Life. They set off for the island of Voya Nui to retrieve it, but when they do not return, a team of Matoran set off to find them. On their journey, they are transformed into a new team of Toa: The Toa Inika. They are ultimately successful, with the Toa Nuva and Toa Inika working together to fulfill their destinies. The Toa Inika find and use the Kanohi Ignika to heal Mata Nui, and the Toa Nuva use their powers to awaken him.

The Final Battle (2009 – 2010)

Set on the desert planet of Bara Magna, this is the final arc of the original BIONICLE storyline, ending with the ultimate clash between Mata Nui and Makuta Teridax, joined by their respective allies within the Matoran universe.

Remembering the LEGO BIONICLE® Sets

These toys were popular with children ages 8 and up but were enjoyed by fans of all ages. Here are some of our favorite sets from the LEGO® BIONICLE® line.

The Original Toa Mata

Toa Kopaka

Released in 2001, The LEGO Group released the six original Toa Mata figures. Each Toa was associated with a natural element and were designed in a color scheme that matched that element. The six original Toa Mata figures were:

The Toa Mata figures also came with accessories and Kanohi masks. The figures featured articulated limbs which allowed them a wide range of motion. Kids could stage epic battles with the figures as they attempted to knock the Kanohi mask off their opponent. The figures came in unique cannister packaging. These cannisters were woven into the story of BIONICLE — the Toa arrived on Mata Nui inside tubes of energized protodermis.

Toa Lewa

The Bohrok

Bohrok Tahnok (8563)

In 2002, fans saw the release of the Bohrok swarm, a villainous group of insectoid machines. These creatures were awakened by the Makuta to clear all matter from the island of Mata Nui. Like the Toa, different types of Bohrok were associated with different elements. For example, Kohrak (8565) controlled the element of ice and Tahnok (8563) controlled the element of fire.

The Bohrok sets came in cannister packages as well. They featured a snapping head action which kids could use to knock the Kahoni masks off the Toa figures in play battles.


Rahkshi Guurahk (8590)

The Rahkshi, another villainous species, were released in 2003. The Makuta released them to stop the Toa Nuva from finding the Mask of Light. The Rahkshi figures carried staffs with different powers. For example, Guurahk (8590) carried the Staff of Disintegration that could turn objects to rubble and Turahk (8592) carried the Staff of Fear, striking terror into the hearts of the Toa. The figures featured a knob in their backs that, when turned, could swing the staffs from side to side in epic battles with the Toa.

Takanuva, Toa of Light

Takanuva, Toa of Light (8596)

Takanuva (8596), the legendary Seventh Toa and bearer of the Mask of Light, was released in 2003. Takanuva wore the golden Kahoni Avohkii (Mask of Light) and wielded the Kolhii Staff of Light to challenge the Makuta. This set also included his vehicle, the Ussanui, which allowed him to travel through ancient tunnels to the Makuta’s lair. Kids could lower the landing gear on the Ussanui with the push of a lever and use a gear on Takanuva’s back to swing his arm.

The Battle of Metru Nui (8759)

The Battle of Metru Nui (8759)

The Battle of Metru Nui (8759) was a playset released in 2005. This set was different than many other sets in the LEGO® BIONICLE® line, using traditional LEGO bricks to build the Coliseum of Metru Nui. Kids could reenact the epic battle between the Toa Hordika and Visorak. Instead of the full-size action figures, this set featured the mini versions of the 6 Toa Hordika and 7 Visorak, as well as a giant Kahgarak spider. The set also included a working catapult and glow-in-the-dark elements.

LEGO® BIONICLE® Revival: 2015 – 2016

The LEGO® BIONICLE® series had a brief revival in 2015. This new line was set on the island of Okoto and featured a brand-new story, though the Toa were designed and named after the original Toa Nuva. The series also featured several new characters, like Ekimu the Mask Maker (71312) and Umarak the Hunter (71310). This line was retired in 2016.

Tahu and Takua

Early in 2023, BIONICLE fans were treated to a special surprise: a small set of Tahu and Takua (40581). This Gift with Purchase set featured buildable figures of two of the central characters in the original line. It was only available for a limited time in January and February 2023.

The Legacy of LEGO BIONICLE®

While the LEGO BIONICLE® line has been retired since 2016, the legacy of this iconic theme can be found in many other LEGO® products. The first elements used to create the BIONICLE figures came from LEGO® Technic™ sets. Love story-led lines? Check out LEGO® NINJAGO® or LEGO® DREAMZzz™. A fan of constraction-type figures? Dive into our collection of mech sets, featuring mechs from some of your favorite series.