Lego David

Is Constracion Dead?

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Since 1999, when constracion was first introduced with Slizers (or Trowbots), there wasn't a single year that didn't have it. In 1999 we had Slizers. In 2000 we had Robo Riders. In 2001-2010 we had Bionicle. In 2010-2014 we had Hero Factory, in 2015-2016 we had Bionicle Generation 2, and in 2016-2018 we had the Star Wars Buildable Figures. So, 2019 marks as the first year without any constraction sets.

What do you think? Is constraction gone for good, or will it continue in 2020 or something? 

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Hard to predict. It's entirely possible that LEGO might have been developing a new constraction line for a 2019 release and had to delay it for some reason or another. It's not unheard of them to do that — I've seen posts asserting that the Dots theme intended for release this year has been delayed due to one of the materials not meeting the LEGO Group's quality standards, and even Ninjago's release was held back a year so as to get it just right before its big debut. There's always the very real possibility that LEGO wanted to avoid launching too many new themes this year since they didn't want the huge marketing emphasis on The LEGO Movie 2 to drown them out.

Conversely, it's also possible that with the company's growth trajectory looking a little less reliable than it had seemed from 2005 onward, LEGO might be purposely trying to avoid too much emphasis on themes that depend so heavily on a parts palette that few other themes employ. And in that case, if/when a constraction theme does come back, it might employ a totally different building system, perhaps one utilizing 10.2mm ball joints like the Mixels so that the parts are easier to spread out across other themes than G1 Bionicle or CCBS parts were.

It would certainly be poetic if a new constraction theme were to come out in 2021 for the 20th anniversary of Bionicle's launch, but usually I get the sense that LEGO prefers to schedule product releases they have long-term plans for according to when both the product line is ready for market and the market is ready for the product line, not according to what would be most "poetic".

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22 minutes ago, Aanchir said:

Conversely, it's also possible that with the company's growth trajectory looking a little less reliable than it had seemed from 2005 onward, LEGO might be purposely trying to avoid too much emphasis on themes that depend so heavily on a parts palette that few other themes employ. And in that case, if/when a constraction theme does come back, it might employ a totally different building system, perhaps one utilizing 10.2mm ball joints like the Mixels so that the parts are easier to spread out across other themes than G1 Bionicle or CCBS parts were.

Perhaps as a potential replacement for the BrickHeadz theme, maybe Lego could introduce a System-based line of licensed six-inch/twelve-inch action figures, utilizing a mix of new System-based constraction parts, printed features like BrickHeadz, and other preexisting System components. :shrug_confused:

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Buildable figures from mainly system parts - especially ones using Mixel style joints - might be very popular with both figure builders and regular / system builders. Even more so if this means they introduce the towball parts in more useful colours such  for flesh. They would also be much more easily customised.

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Say, could a line of System-constructed, Minifigure-piloted mecha sold individually like constraction figures be considered as such? 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Digger of Bricks said:

Say, could a line of System-constructed, Minifigure-piloted mecha sold individually like constraction figures be considered as such? 

It's a good question. I would say so — after all, the Knights' Kingdom II constraction sets were System-based, and the Invasion from Below battle machines were minifigure-scale piloted mecha.

At the same time, that raises the question of how broadly you can define constraction before it loses all useful meaning as a discrete category. After all:

  • There's no lower bound on how much articulation a constraction set must have (the Turaga had fewer points of articulation than even a LEGO minifigure)
  • Constraction sets do not need to be humanoid or even bipedal in form (the Visorak, Tunneler Beast, and many of the Elemental Creatures were not)
  • Constraction sets do not need to contain any type of "action features" like swinging arms or shooting projectiles (the 2010 Hero Factory heroes and General Grievous did not).
  • Constraction sets can contain System or Technic-based props and vehicles regardless of size (such as the catapult in the King Jayko set, the trap in the Karzahni set, or the Drop Ship)

Ultimately, I would perhaps be willing to include such sets as the Nexo Knights Battle Suits or even the Creator 3-in-1 Rescue Robot under the broad umbrella of how "constraction" is defined. But I would be much more wary about opening the definition up to include such sets as the Ice Dragon Attack, Shadow Crawler, Recon Robot, or Park Animals.

Perhaps, though, we should be taking that as a sign that the terms "constraction" or "buildable figure" are no longer a useful way of classifying specific themes and subthemes now that there are so many different ways of creating a buildable LEGO action figure, and so many different themes and subthemes containing them.

After all, a lot of this probably comes down to the similar messiness of how the term "action figure" is defined, since action figures are defined not by their subject matter so much as their intended play pattern and target demographic, both of which tend to be a lot more flexible with a versatile building toy like LEGO than with non-buildable toy brands.

Edited by Aanchir

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2 hours ago, Aanchir said:

Perhaps, though, we should be taking that as a sign that the terms "constraction" or "buildable figure" are no longer a useful way of classifying specific themes and subthemes now that there are so many different ways of creating a buildable LEGO action figure, and so many different themes and subthemes containing them.

For me, the term "constraction" has always denoted various sub-systems of construction parts rather than a collection of lines/playthemes that utilize it (if I were being more specific with the term, that is).

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22 hours ago, MAB said:

Buildable figures from mainly system parts - especially ones using Mixel style joints - might be very popular with both figure builders and regular / system builders. Even more so if this means they introduce the towball parts in more useful colours such  for flesh. They would also be much more easily customised.

Oh, you mean like the 2019 Minecraft brick-built figures?

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20 hours ago, MatthewRC said:

Oh, you mean like the 2019 Minecraft brick-built figures?

I am sorry to say it but I don't consider those yo be Constraction. Considering them this way would be like saying that the Mixels are also constraction.

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We are in an age where many of Lego's themes are inclusive of things that used to be their own thing. Take mechs for example- Lego's first major attempt at getting System based mechs out there was Exo Force, a line entirely dedicated to that concept. IMO, we will never see a one-for-one replacement for that line, because now mechs are everywhere. Marvel, DC, Ninjago, Overwatch, TLM2, etc. 

There are a few companies that tried buildable action figures- Mega Construx tried with Halo buildable figures, Hasbro tried with Construct bots, etc- I think the market out there just isn't big enough for these things now. Now, we have things like those mechs I mentioned above, we have large dragons in Ninjago, Mega has buildable Pokemon and ultra poseable/realistic minifigures... builds that are more compatible with the standard Lego system and existing themes. Lego has tried a lot of different avenues, from doing theme specific buildable figures like Star Wars and Chima, to the more story driven Bionicle, and less so Hero Factory. There was a time when Bionicle was Lego's story and media giant- and I think now, Ninjago carries that torch. It's one of, if not the, most successful in-house story driven brands LEGO has. In 2018, it continued to be in their top 5 selling themes. It follows in that standard "Hero for each element" style, and even sells these minifigures in individual packs with the spinners and whatnot.

With that in mind, I feel like Lego is moving past the need to create figures with the CCBS system. Technic exists in it's own right because of sales, and continues to be a massive driver of functions and structure in system sets. I wouldn't count out the possibility of ever seeing dedicated buildable figures lines again, especially ones that utilize the Mixels system- but I have a feeling much of what we consider traditional constraction is not going to continue, because Lego finally found a ball-and-socket system that is more compatible with system, something that is better able to enhance other lines.

 

TLDR, I think CCBS is dead (except for the odd use of a large ball joint here and there), but constraction lives on in a way through LEGO's current day system themes.

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17 hours ago, VBBN said:

With that in mind, I feel like Lego is moving past the need to create figures with the CCBS system. Technic exists in it's own right because of sales, and continues to be a massive driver of functions and structure in system sets.

Well then, Lego should really bring functional Mecha to the Technic theme! :smug: For that matter, being as unrestrained as they are compared to others, both the Technic and Creator themes ought to incorporate more of the fantastical to each of their annual line-ups. 

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6 hours ago, Digger of Bricks said:

Well then, Lego should really bring functional Mecha to the Technic theme! :smug: For that matter, being as unrestrained as they are compared to others, both the Technic and Creator themes ought to incorporate more of the fantastical to each of their annual line-ups. 

True,  that also brings up a different point that Lego's overall portfolio definitely leans more on licensed themes now than ever before. Yes in-house themes like City and Ninjago exist, but where licensed themes lie, we don't really have in-house themes to match. Star Wars is a powerhouse and we never really get original space themes, Speed Champions has taken out Racers, and to your point- Many of Technic's flagship sets are now massive licensed vehicles with less functionality than many other similarly priced (or cheaper) sets, whereas previously they focused on more original vehicles and we saw them branch out to things like Spybotics, Slizers and Bionicle in a way. Creator even touches the licenses now by offering the licensed car each year, but I think of any line that's the one that could and does offer the biggest variety already.

 

It's not necessarily that constraction is dead, it's that Lego is far, far more selective with their in house themes. The early 2000s were a period of weird shit because Lego was experimenting. They still do that today, but we see it in the form of one-and-done licenses, IDEAS sets, etc. I'm not saying they are cutting them completely, we've had some interesting stuff like Chima, Nexo Knights, and now the upcoming Hidden Side, but it's definitely a much different portfolio than before.

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Posted (edited)

Ideally, it would definitely be great if a new original action figure theme comes out. G2 was great to me personally and I was quite sad to see it go. Been waiting for one ever since.

However, in the absense of it, I begin to turn more into system themes so yeah, realistically I'm also glad it's not coming as the current system themes heavily taking my budget hardly leaving room for extras as having a new action figure theme would really get me.*huh*

But if it ever does come back! I definitely would be whooping in joy regardless of budget.:laugh:

Edited by JJ Tong (zfogshooterz)

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On 3/18/2019 at 10:42 AM, VBBN said:

It's not necessarily that constraction is dead, it's that Lego is far, far more selective with their in house themes. The early 2000s were a period of weird shit because Lego was experimenting. They still do that today, but we see it in the form of one-and-done licenses, IDEAS sets, etc.

This, right here people. You want to see something pure constraction? You create something GOOD on Ideas and market the hell out of it.

My frequent suggestions to marketing of another Master Builder type kit notwithstanding, something huge and towering would be lovely...

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Posted (edited)

Lots of sets in recent years have had brick built articulated figures/mechs/monsters.

I do personally prefer brick built, and ratcheted joints over the old Slizer ball joints.

A lot of designs that were once technic only, gotten smaller, into more clip/bar and small ball joints/hinges as well.

That said, a more recent System theme like Nexo Knights did have quite a lot of Technic parts integrated in it's designs.

Edited by TeriXeri

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Posted (edited)

The problem with a lot of older CCBS-styled themes and builds was that, at a certain point, they became incredibly outdated. We saw that with Bionicle, when pretty much every other single theme relied on universal pieces Bionicle still had to work with an extreme amount of specialized pieces that weren't even reusable (in many cases) within the series self. By 2010, when the series died they were a strange, nearly absurd, relic of the early 2000's, when all the series were like that (think of Galidor, Dinosaurs or Jack Stone. There exists a reason why they all finally vanished around 2004-2005.). In fact, if one looks at the timeline and the changes that occurred back then, then the old G1 system should already have started to fade out around the time of the Piraka and completely disappear when the Glatorian's rolled around. Even Knight's Kingdom, the only line that even came close to the level of Bionicle specialization back in the day had a large degree of regular Lego-compatible pieces and was canceled around 2006. Lego tried, of course, to keep the series on a sort of nearly artificial life support by introducing themes like Exo-Force, Power Miners and Atlantis with them using some degree of Bionicle parts (especially Exo-Force and Power Miners) but even they weren't enough to make the Bionicle pieces as universal as the regular Lego Brick became by that point. 

Same goes for Hero Factory. I appreciate their attempts at trying to finally create a system that would be just as versatile and compatible with pretty much anything as the Lego brick was with the CCBS systems, but they crashed and burned too when time came to adapt to a new, more...gimmicky, I guess...structure that a lot of other lines had. Stuff like Chima, Nexo Knights, and Ninjago all had collectibility and online compatibility, two things that are now apparently essential for an action Lego theme. Bionicle G2 tried that as well but failed for a lot of reasons, some of which I will talk about later. (BTW - I think that Bionicle might have lasted a couple more years if they went all in into the adult nostalgia angle, but more about that later on.) 

Right now Lego primarily focuses on two - wildly different - core demographics, both of which have their own unique subset within the Lego genre and both of which appear to be relatively satisfied by the way things are going (if sales are anything to go by.)  The future of CCBS might be two completely different things, depending on which demographic Lego will try to address if they try to make a new construction line. 
The first one are those that are usually seen as Lego's core demographic, in other words - the kids, like between 6 and 12 years old. Those are the ones that lines like Ninjago, Chima or Nexo Knights are made for - flashy, simple, with easily recognizable villains, a collectible aspect, a battle-in-a-box aspect, a transforming gimmick of some sort and usually some kind of online connection. This evolution has gotten so far that even licensed lines like Jurassic Park are already part of this trend. If Lego decides to go this route we can probably expect something vaguely Exo-Force like, with a clear distinction between the good guys and the bad guys, simple mecha's (with a transforming function) that probably have some kind of small antagonist to accompany the bigger vehicle, an collectible aspect and some kind of online game/mini-series attached to it. 
Funny enough, a couple of those things were what brought G2 down as well - stuff like villains being too similar to the protagonists (made even more difficult by just dual-molding and rereleasing the same mask that the heroes had), a very limited focus on online connection and gameplay and the lack of a proper battle-in-a-box aspect (yeah, Skull Spider vs Toa. OMG, hours of fun.) 

The other one, that has only become the focus in recent years is the older, mature, nostalgic crowd. Strangely enough, Lego never seemed to actually pander to this demographic (with the exception of Technic) until Lego Ideas (or whatever it was called back during the first years) rolled around, with sets like Back to Future's Delorean. Then they realized that a lot of money could be made from the more mature crowd and those people are the ones that stuff like D2C sets, Lego Dimensions (especially the final waves. I mean, Gooneys? Mission Impossible? Beetle-freaking-Juice? And I am not even talking about the ones that got canned, like Universal Movie Monsters and Godzilla - I highly doubt those were designed with little kids in mind.), Lego Ideas, Brickheadz, Speed Champions, and even the current Harry Potter line are designed for. 
If Lego decides to focus on this demographic - which I doubt - then we probably going to get models of popular pop-culture figures that Lego can get their hands on and that still look semi-realistic within Lego's parameters. If we are really lucky we might get an actual original line with those people in mind, but I doubt either one of those will happen - mostly because Lego's main major competitor on the market, Mega Brands, has that slice of the pie completely covered with sets that often focus on r-rated pop-cultural artifacts (the likes of Aliens or Predator come to mind) so I doubt Lego will go and directly compete against them. Then again, Mega Brands mostly releases sets for the American market - in Europe, they are as good as non-existent, so Lego might actually try it. 
I also think that if Lego decided to focus on this demographic for Bionicle G2 and released sets that had a much stronger connection to G1 the line would've lasted for a couple more years, partly being pushed forward by nostalgia and partly by little kids who would often buy these sets because they would actually draw the attention much more than the actual G2 sets did. The latter would probably happen due to the distinct style and feel of the sets and their ability to stand out next to other Lego products. 

TL;DR - based on current evolutions within Lego chances are big we get Exo-Force by way of Nexo Knights as our next CCBS line. Think whatever you want of that. 

Edited by Frozen Assasin

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Posted (edited)

Looks like Bionicle concept mastermind Christian Faber is earnestly working to pitch new Bionicle to Lego...

I mean I don’t expect that to come to anything really but uh... I’d love if it does. 

 

Edited by SpiderSpaceman

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On 4/10/2019 at 2:33 PM, SpiderSpaceman said:

Looks like Bionicle concept mastermind Christian Faber is earnestly working to pitch new Bionicle to Lego...

I mean I don’t expect that to come to anything really but uh... I’d love if it does. 

 

Hey, it's fun to dream anyway. That's what we all did post 2010, and look what happened. I'm not trying to imply it's going to happen in any way or is even realistic, just that it's fun to keep the spirit alive. Who knows what the future may bring.

 

On topic, perhaps constraction just needs a rest so Lego can get it back in shape with something fresh. Or maybe kids today just aren't into this kind of thing, only time will tell. I think it's too early to make a definitive call.

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I'm in the minority here, but I've only ever cared about Constraction and Technic, so if Constraction were to go the route of system mechs piloted by minifigs I'd honestly much rather it stay dead

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On 3/15/2019 at 5:03 PM, Digger of Bricks said:

Say, could a line of System-constructed, Minifigure-piloted mecha sold individually like constraction figures be considered as such? 

YES! THIS IS WHAT WE WANT! 

Imagine the mechwarrior figures we could make! 
Not to mention a lego based mechwarrior boargame with battle damage! 

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@Frozen Assasin

Your analysis was a real pleasure to read.

Thank you very much for the time and effort you put into that. I fully agree with your conclusions.

All the best,
Thorsten

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On 4/10/2019 at 9:33 PM, SpiderSpaceman said:

Looks like Bionicle concept mastermind Christian Faber is earnestly working to pitch new Bionicle to Lego...

I mean I don’t expect that to come to anything really but uh... I’d love if it does.

There is a whole discussion about this topic on the TTV Message Boards, here is a link if you are interested:

http://board.ttvchannel.com/t/310n-discussion-christian-faber/48962/473

It's been a whole lot of debate on there whether this will potentially succeed or not, but I've never seen the fans so excited in a long time.

From what I can tell, Faber really wants to take this project seriously, so who knows? Bionicle may not be completely dead yet.

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