Thursday, July 4, 2013

New book about LEGO and innovation

This is a very interesting book about LEGO and their innovation revolution and it has a whole chapter about BIONICLE.
I have given a couple of interviews for the book and there are a couple of untold secrets in there, enjoy:)

Below you see a outtake from the Amazon Q&A with the David Robertson. I think all BIONICLE fans can take that as a great tribute to their role in bringing LEGO back to being the best toy in the world:

Q. You call Bionicle the toy that saved LEGO, both in terms of financial impact and the lessons the company learned from it about innovation. Can you explain?
A. Bionicle was the toy that saved LEGO, even though it’s always been a controversial toy within the company. There are those in LEGO who still believe it’s not an appropriate toy to carry the LEGO brand. But without the revenues from Bionicle to carry them through the crisis years of 2003 and 2004, the company would not have survived.
But Bionicle also taught LEGO some lessons about how to work with external partners, how to interact with passionate customers, and how to manage an intellectual property. LEGO had seen from its partnership with Star Wars how a rich story can captivate kids and drive sales of toys. But making toys around someone else’s story is a different challenge than creating your own story and characters, and building toys around it. Bionicle boys loved the toy, and loved the T-shirts, books, comics, backpacks, sneakers, and everything else that had a Bionicle image on it. LEGO had to learn how to not only develop a toy with a rich story, but also work with a group of outside partners and bring them along as the story progressed. And by interacting with the fans online, Greg Farshtey, the guy in LEGO responsible for story and character development, could understand where the story was confusing or unclear and fix the issue in the next release.


  1. I look forward to picking up this book. I am always fascinated with the human side of the LEGO brand, and the people who make it so engaging through passionate design and marketing.

    I watched the video and wasn't totally impressed with everything in it (Jack Stone, for instance, was more meant as a "transitional theme" between Duplo and LEGO than as something for "kids who don't like building with LEGO", much like Fabuland before it). But the main idea — that LEGO was too caught up on innovation in the late 90s and early naughts to maintain a focus on their core product — is very valid.

    BIONICLE was truly groundbreaking for LEGO in a lot of ways and I'm very grateful I got to live through it. It was handled so much differently than previous themes, with much more ambitious goals, and while it unfortunately had to be cancelled it was certainly not a failure. I think you and your colleagues at Advance deserve a round of applause for that, and it's good that with themes like LEGO Friends you have continued to play a key role in redefining the LEGO play experience.

    I'd love to one day read a book all about all the thought and imagination that went into BIONICLE, including your work at Advance, the work of the various set designers, and the work of writers like Greg Farshtey who put your ideas on the printed page. I don't know if anyone will ever write such a book or whether it can ever live up to the detailed case study I'm imagining, but if anyone does I hope you will be able to share your unique and personal insights. =)

  2. Great comment, thanks. I would love a case study like the one you descripe but for now I will have to do with the blog posts I can get the time to post on this blog. This book is nevertheless a really detailed piece of work based on numorous interviews with key people in and around LEGO. and I can say that my best kept secret about how BIONICLE came to be the way it was, is in that book. So I look forward to someone finding it:) and what the BIONICLE fans thinks about that info.

  3. I've only read the excerpts on Google Books so far (which are admittedly pretty extensive), and I'm just amazed that there's still so much info surrounding the origin of BIONICLE that most of us fans haven't known about. The things posted on this blog and written in this book are incredibly intriguing, and I really appreciate the amount of insight and understanding that they give us of how and why this franchise became what it is (or rather was, anyway). And it's also very fun to read about this stuff. Also, if that "secret" is what I think it is, then it's a pretty awesome piece of info and explains a lot!

    Yeah, some of the details in the book may be a bit incorrect (such as what Aanchir pointed out, and I thought one part detailing the BIO story was somewhat confusingly worded), but the book as a whole seems like a good read, so I'll likely get it. I'm interested in the whole read, not just those preview pages.