Takua Nui, on 04 May 2012 - 04:15 PM, said:
Bionicle, of course. Even if I was not a long time Bionicle fan, I would say the same. Galidor was one of Lego's worst selling lines, based off of a downright strange TV series, and was hardley even recognizable as Lego. The plastic was cheap and the toys didn't have that much playability or customization ability. Bionicle on the other hand...I could write a ten page (maybe more) report on why Bionicle was great and Lego's best ever line, but I won't do that here on EB.
I think the "not recognizable as LEGO" thing was probably intentional, just looking at when the theme was introduced. Again, I think Galidor was in many ways trying to take the ways BIONICLE had been different than regular LEGO and push them to their absolute limit in hopes that the result would mirror or even outdo BIONICLE's early success.
As I've often noted when comparing BIONICLE to Hero Factory, BIONICLE was fairly unique among LEGO themes in that it did
try to distance itself from the LEGO brand. BIONICLE packaging usually had the LEGO logo at the bottom of the package, either centered or off to the side, with the BIONICLE logo much larger and more conspicuous. There are very few other themes that do that-- in most cases, TLG's brand manual dictates that the LEGO logo should always appear directly beside the theme logo. Likewise, when used in text, TLG insists that most themes be accompanied by the word LEGO® (i.e. LEGO® DUPLO®, LEGO® MINDSTORMS®, LEGO® Hero Factory, LEGO® Technic. Even as late as 2010, BIONICLE followed different rules than other themes-- in text, it's just BIONICLE®. Allegedly BIONICLE has its own separate style guide from the regular LEGO brand manual, though I haven't found any copies of this online.
In many ways it's easy to understand the justification for this. In the late 90s and early 2000s, the LEGO Group was suffering financially. It's easy to see how they might feel the LEGO brand was a liability rather than an asset for some themes, especially ones like BIONICLE that were very, very different than the other products they were selling. They might also have been concerned that the LEGO branding would make the products feel like "little kids' toys" and thus the products and story would fail to appeal to the preteen and young teenage demographics they were targeting. And of course it can't be ignored that since BIONICLE was one of the first LEGO action figure themes, the LEGO Group may have wanted it to compete more with other (non-buildable) action figures, so they didn't want to connect it too closely with a brand name people associated with building blocks and not quality action figures.
The same could apply for Galidor. Chances are that besides being a building toy with compatible connection points, it was not meant
to be recognizable as a LEGO product range. And I imagine that even more so than BIONICLE it was intended to compete with other action figures and TV shows, not with other building toys. It's understandable, then, that they would sacrifice the brand recognition that they sought with their other themes for high-detail, lifelike creature parts. Overall I think they did an OK job with this-- the Galidor figures certainly had higher quality than many other action figures on the market, with several points of articulation, high-quality materials and printing, and of course interchangeable parts.
Obviously this experiment failed. The Galidor TV show performed poorly, at least in the critical United States market. The toys also did poorly, and I think one of the main reasons for this isn't that they were too different from LEGO products but rather that they were too similar in one key respect: price.
If the theme was
intended to compete with non-buildable action figures, then it's understandable that people wouldn't want to pay LEGO prices for them, even if they were higher quality than some action figures on store shelves. One of the main reasons people pay high prices for LEGO products is that they associate the LEGO brand identity with quality building toys. By distancing the theme from this brand identity, TLG lost their usual justification for those prices, and the Galidor figures could easily be overlooked in favor of cheaper Transformers, Power Rangers, or superhero action figures which had their own, less expensive gimmicks.
Fast-forward two years and it becomes clear TLG learned from this mistake. The Knights' Kingdom theme, their next attempt at an action figure theme, used similar joints to Galidor but didn't for a minute try to hide that it was a LEGO product. Studs were evident on most of the sets. Faces were yellow. The LEGO branding once again took precedent over the theme branding. And the action figure sets were balanced out by basic LEGO playsets using standard minifigures. Even without a TV show or a complex story to promote it, Knights' Kingdom lasted nearly two years longer than Galidor.
More recently, Ninjago has had an extremely successful TV show, despite its traditional minifigure-based character designs and building toys. And this is in part because it was developed in a different climate: the LEGO Group has been experiencing great success with their traditional products in recent years, and there is now greater precedent for heavily story-driven LEGO themes. People associate the LEGO brand not only with quality building toys, but also with quality media like the LEGO Star Wars video games. And of course TLG now has ten more years of precedent for which ideas are successful and which-- like Galidor-- are not.