The Great Archives Blog

by Planetperson
BIONICLE Tiers of Canonicity, Version 2

Back in April, a number of us in the Great Archives Discord server concocted a document called the “BIONICLE Tiers of Canonicity” – a systematic, objective way of ranking the “officialness” of different BIONICLE media. We based this document as best we could on past statements BIONICLE author Greg Farshtey has made about canon, which we researched in the Official Greg Discussion Archive. We felt the Tiers would be useful both to ourselves and to the broader community of BIONICLE lore enthusiasts, because it has never been 100% clear how to handle different versions of BIONICLE canon that contradict each other. The Tiers can help resolve these ambiguities in an impartial way, which is useful when writing fanfic, designing games, writing wikis, and so on.

After publishing the Tiers, we immediately got some very useful feedback and suggestions for revisions. (It was even translated into French and Russian!) We discussed the Tiers further, did some more research and quote mining in the Official Greg Discussion Archive, and realized that we agreed with some of these changes. So we wrote up a new edition: the BIONICLE Tiers of Canonicity, Version 2! Not only this, but we were able to send this updated version to Greg Farshtey for feedback, to which he added his stamp of approval with a terse “Looks fine to me” (more on that below).

What Changed?

The main changes we made to the Tiers of Canonicity are:

  • We now rank books, comics, and other written material above movies, except we treat movie novelizations as a special case that ranks below the movies.
  • Magazines and non-story pages in the comics have been put into their own category, which ranks below other written material.
  • Product descriptions have been moved so that they rank lower than websites but higher than video games.
  • The non-serial content on bioniclestory.com has been put into the same category as websites and CD-ROMs.
  • We explicitly list the trading card games as non-canon.
  • We provide a citation confirming that only the functionality, not the backstory, of the winners of the Xian Weapons contest is considered canon.
  • We provide a citation confirming the canon status of “Protection” by InnerRayg, since the contest it won was not originally a canonization contest.
  • We have clarified that, with only a couple of exceptions, video games are generally considered non-canon, except for one-off cases such as the Mask of Elemental Energy and some of the creatures and locations in VNOG.
  • In many places we have made clarifications in the wording of the rules.
  • We ran the final Tiers by Greg Farshtey to see if he had any suggestions or corrections, to which he responded that it “looks fine.”

The BIONICLE Tiers of Canonicity, Version 2

Here we present Version 2 of the BIONICLE Tiers of Canonicity. First, I’d like to thank the following people for co-authoring this new version (in alphabetical order): Dag, Gonel, HahliNuva, JSLBrowning, Lehari, maxim21, Nicrophorus, SurelNuva, toaskello, and Wolk. I would also like to thank Turaga of Force for additional research and suggesting some of the revisions we made.

The list of rules below defines canonicity rankings for the various sources of BIONICLE lore. They are applied in decreasing order of precedence, from most canon to least canon. These rules were designed with the following principles in mind: (a) sources whose authors have lower degrees of separation from the core story team should have higher precedence; (b) since Greg Farshtey by his own admission is not a visual thinker [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8], visual details in other media can take precedence over his work; (c) they follow explicit quotes about levels of canonicity from Greg Farshtey when they are available.

  1. Quotes from Greg Farshtey can override any of the rules below when they directly acknowledge past statements and context.
  2. The LEGO sets. Certain visual aspects of the BIONICLE LEGO sets (weapons, masks, colors, etc.), including the system play sets, take highest precedence, even over movies and written story [9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15]. The set designs coexist with the more organic visualizations from the movies and books (as well as the illustrations in the comics, which are sometimes a little different), all of which are simply different artistic expressions of the sets. The sets are considered the most authoritative, but neither the sets nor the movie visualizations are considered non-canon [16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23]. The forms of the 2010 BIONICLE Stars sets are considered canon, though not their scale compared to previous set waves [24, 25, 26, 27]. The representations in video games (e.g. BIONICLE Heroes), on the other hand, are not considered canon, as those games were never intended to be canon [28].
  3. Books, comics, and, more broadly, any officially published material written by Greg Farshtey. This includes Greg's published written work and the storyline of any visual media for which Greg wrote the script. More precisely, this category includes:
    • comics written by Greg Farshtey (except for adaptations of scenes from the movies, which are a special case to be covered below; this also does not include extra content featured outside of the main comic book panels, such as character descriptions)
    • the Greg Farshtey novels (except for the movie novelizations, which are a special case to be covered below)
    • guide books
    • web serials and podcasts
    • web content written by Greg
    • The Legend Continues game on maskoflight.com [29, 30]
    • the Level 3 readers
    • the 2005 web animations
    • any of the character "stats" used from 2007 to 2010, which were written by Greg [31]
    The books and comics are equal in canonicity [32, 33, 34]. In Greg's work, the story and plot details take precedence, but since Greg by his own admission is not a visual thinker, some visual details may be overridden by other visual media that otherwise have lower precedence. Published work takes precedence over online quotes from Greg by default [35, 36, 37]. In cases where sources within this tier contradict, later sources take precedence over earlier ones, as they presumably represent a change in the story team's view of canon. As mentioned above, any adaptations of scenes from the movies are a special case; they rank below the movies rather than above, since the adaptations were usually based on earlier versions of the movie scripts.
  4. Movies. Books, comics, and movies are all about equal in canonicity, but some visual details and plot details in the movies may be overridden when there are contradictions (e.g. the Rahaga's propellers in BIONICLE 3: Web of Shadows contradict the sets) [38, 39, 40]. Otherwise, the movies rank highly, as their stories were developed by multiple story team members. The movies generally take precedence over their respective novelizations or adaptations in the comics, which were typically based on earlier versions of the final scripts [41].
  5. Movie novelizations, or, more generally, any adaptations of scenes from the movies in books or comics. When movies and their adaptations contradict, the final movie takes precedence, since the adaptation is often based on an earlier version of the script [42]. However, scenes that exist in the adaptations but not the movies are canon, since they were approved by the movie makers [43].
  6. Cathy Hapka books. Certain plot and visual details in Hapka's books conflict with other sources. (For example, BIONICLE Chronicles #1: Tale of the Toa does not mention the Makoki Stones when the Toa pass through Kini-Nui, but MNOG and the BIONICLE Encyclopedia do. The book also has a different version of the Shadow Toa fight that conflicts with BIONICLE Encyclopedia.) This is a separate category because Hapka was never a member of the story team, although she did have access to the story bibles [44] and was advised by Greg Farshtey [45]. Despite this, Hapka reportedly went in a different direction from the story team when writing the way the Toa received the golden masks and the Shadow Toa fight. Hapka's books take precedence over Templar's work, since the books were approved by the story team, whereas Templar's work was not [46, 47, 48, 49].
  7. LEGO Magazines [50, 51] and extra content featured in the comics outside of the main comic book panels, such as character descriptions [52]. Greg wrote the magazines along with Daniel Lipkowitz; Greg wrote the BIONICLE-related material in the magazines [53, 54, 55].
  8. Visual media by Advance/Ghost, including visual media on bionicle.com. This covers much of BIONICLE's CGI animations and stock artwork. Christian Faber worked closely with this group, so visual details here generally override versions in other sources, including comics [56].
  9. Visuals from media for which Greg Farshtey served as the writer, including the comics, guide books, 2005 animations, and level 3 readers. Although Greg wrote the storyline for these media, visual details sometimes got lost in translation between Greg and the artists [57, 58]. The comics also sometimes made concessions for the sake of advertising the sets [59].
  10. Websites, CD-ROMs, and, more broadly, officially published material not written by Greg or a member of the story team. Such things were often written by people in Denmark [60, 61]. For a time, the website was developed by Leah Weston and her team in Denmark [62]. More specifically, this category includes:
    • much of the content on bionicle.com [63]
    • content from official micro-sites such as the movie micro-sites and the Metru Nui Ministry of Tourism
    • promotional CD-ROMs such as the Bohrok-Kal CD-ROMs and the Toa Metru CD-ROMs
    • written material on bioniclestory.com besides the story serials
  11. Work by Templar Studios (MNOG, MNOG2, and the Bohrok and Bohrok-Kal episodes). Although most BIONICLE games are considered non-canon, MNOG and MNOG2 are a special case in that much of them is official [64]. MNOG and MNOG2 were never approved by the story team; MNOG was not approved by the story team because the story team did not exist at the time [65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71]. Some specific things have been retconned from MNOG; for example, Bob Thompson hated the idea of "taxi crabs" [72], and Lewa getting his golden mask from his suva contradicts other canon material.
  12. Product descriptions for the BIONICLE LEGO sets [73]. On rare occasions they contain inaccuracies, such as the 2010 Skrall set having shadow powers [74].
  13. Fan-created work canonized by Greg Farshtey, such as short stories, artwork, and LEGO models (MOCs). This includes the canonization contests run on BZPower, BS01, KanohiJournal, The Unofficial German Bionicle Magazine, and TTV. This does not include the results of canonization contests that were ultimately never approved by Greg, such as "Memoirs of the Dead," which are non-canon. In the case of the Xian weapons contest, only the functionality of the weapons is considered canon, not the backstory provided alongside them [75, 76]. The story "Protection" by InnerRayg is considered canon [77].
  14. Online Q&A with Greg Farshtey. This includes the "Official Greg Discussion" topics on BZPower, the "Chat with Greg Farshtey" topic on the LEGO Message Boards, the "Ask Greg" section on TTV, and any other correspondences with Greg posted online.
    1. In general, when Greg quotes contradict, earlier answers take precedence. This applies to quotes from both the BZPower era (2003-2011) [78] and the LEGO Message Boards era (2013-2017) [79]. Greg quotes which inadvertently contradict previously established canon should be considered non-canon [80, 81], especially on the LEGO Message Boards. Later quotes override earlier ones only when specifically acknowledged as a retcon. Note that published material sometimes revealed new information that rendered some earlier Greg quotes inaccurate, in which case the published work (or any item from a higher tier) takes precedence.
    2. Responses along the lines of "fine" or "sure", though weak affirmations, are still affirmations and should be considered canon.
    3. Responses along the lines of "I guess" are considered a weaker form of affirmation than the above. They should be considered canon on a case-by-case basis.
    4. Responses along the lines of "maybe", "most likely", and "probably" mean exactly that – they affirm that something might be true or probably is true, not that it necessarily is true. This information should be qualified as such when documented on the Great Archives and should not be stated as fact.
    5. Similarly, responses along the lines of "possibly," "it's possible," and "anything's possible" should be qualified as such on the Great Archives, if they are documented at all. Whether or not they are documented should be decided on a case-by-case basis. Affirmations of frivolous hypothetical scenarios (e.g. "would character X do Y in situation Z?") should not be included. However, there is precedent for hypothetical things being considered canon despite not appearing in story, especially when they pertain to world-building or pre-existing LEGO models, such as Toa Nui, Bohrok Kaita, Akamai Nuva, or Makuta-Nui.
    Note that Greg quotes sometimes canonize or confirm the canonicity of visual details or lore details in work that is otherwise not considered canon. Specific, one-off examples of this include: the Mask of Elemental Energy from BIONICLE: The Game, and some of the creatures and locations from VNOG.
  15. Video games with story elements that are compatible with the rest of the story. This includes the BIONICLE: Quest for the Toa and BIONICLE: Maze of Shadows GameBoy Advance games. The events of BIONICLE: Quest for the Toa are canon [82]. Greg Farshtey never played BIONICLE: Maze of Shadows to verify how much of it was canon [83], but the story "Protection" by InnerRayg was written to explain canonically why Bohrok appear in the game [84, 85, 86, 87]. Otherwise, video games are generally considered non-canon, since they were not made by LEGO and often had to make concessions to suit the needs of gameplay [88, 89, 90, 91, 92].
  16. Trading card games are considered non-canon, as they were only approved by marketing and not the story team [93].
  17. Unpublished work that was later uncovered through unofficial means, such as the Legend of Mata Nui PC game or the written material in the 2003 style guide, is considered non-canon, although it may be interesting to record for posterity's sake [94, 95].

You can also find these Tiers of Canonicity on this wiki page.

Email with Greg Farshtey

Back in August, we had a short chat with Greg Farshtey about figuring out how to resolve inconsistencies in BIONICLE canon, and he agreed to help us out as he was able. So we polished up Version 2 of the Tiers, and in September, via Gonel, we were able to send an email to Greg to get his take on them. Here’s how that went:

Email with Greg Farshtey about the Tiers of Canonicity

Gonel:

Dear Greg,

Thank you again for taking the time to chat with us earlier, and for agreeing to help us figure out how to reconcile some inconsistencies in the BIONICLE lore.

Our small group of BIONICLE story enthusiasts has something we’d like to run by you. When we first came together, one of our earliest orders of business was to define a consistent, impartial method of ranking BIONICLE media in terms of canonicity. For example, we wanted to come up with consistent rules for figuring out whether details from books or movies should take precedence when they contradict. This isn’t to say that we want to dismiss some versions of the BIONICLE story as completely unofficial, but for the purposes of writing new stories or documenting the BIONICLE story on wikis, it’s often really useful to point to one version that is “most official.”

We did a lot of research on past statements you’ve made about the canonicity of books, comics, movies, video games, etc., and after a few months of development, and after getting feedback from the broader BIONICLE community, we’ve come up with a comprehensive set of rules that we call the “Tiers of Canonicity.” The latest version of this document is here:

https://wiki.thegreatarchives.com/index.php/User_talk:Planetperson/Tiers_of_Canonicity_Version_2

If you don’t mind, would you please read through this document and let us know your opinion on it? We did our best to include citations to justify all of our decisions, but we think it would still be very valuable to get your feedback. Do you see any inaccuracies, and are there any changes you would suggest? And finally, would you be willing to endorse it for the rest of the BIONICLE community as a set of guidelines for resolving contradictions?

Thank you for your time,
Gonel, Planetperson, and co.

Greg Farshtey:

Looks fine to me.

So, that’s a thumbs-up from Greg! Now, there is a point at the end of our message where we ask if Greg would be willing to endorse the Tiers for the rest of the BIONICLE community, but Greg did not specifically respond to this, so we don’t recommend interpreting his response as endorsing the Tiers as something that everyone needs to use. In fact, we kind of regretted asking that after sending the message, because it was never our intention to step on other people’s toes and try to force them to adhere to the Tiers if they don’t want to – but we hope it will be useful for many of you nonetheless! At any rate, Greg did take a look at the Tiers and apparently didn’t spot any problems, which gives us confidence that the Tiers are a worthy standard to abide by.

That’s all for now, and let us know what you think on Discord and Twitter!

by Planetperson
Updates to the Great Archives website

Happy International 810NICLE Day! This may be hard to believe, but we’re back with some site updates. This blog post will bring you up to speed on what’s going on at the Great Archives.

MaskOfDestiny and the Tryna Initiative

If you blinked you may have missed it, but there was a momentous announcement about the Great Archives back in August during 810NICLE Day. The Great Archives has teamed up with MaskOfDestiny and several other BIONICLE-related groups to support creative projects in the BIONICLE community, an effort called the Tryna Initiative. The stated goals of the Tryna Initiative are:

  1. Preserve existing BIONICLE content and present it to new and old fans in the best way possible.
  2. Consolidate resources for producing new content (both stories and sets), allowing the BIONICLE legend to live on in the hands of fans on a scale that hasn’t been seen before.

The hope is that this collection of community projects can serve as a spiritual successor to the original BIONICLE storyline and inspire others to contribute too. In the words of Toa Matoro, the wearer of the Kanohi Tryna, “We’ll take it from here.”

Clearly, the Great Archives fits the bill for goal #1 with the Official Greg Discussion Archive and the work-in-progress encyclopedia (more details below), so it made perfect sense to join forces with the likes of BioMedia Project and Wall of History to form a supportive network of sites under the banner of MaskOfDestiny, which, in case you’re not familiar with it already, is a website that has been reporting BIONICLE news since the theme began in 2001. So, what does the Great Archives’ affiliation with MaskOfDestiny mean in practical terms? The Great Archives will still be the Great Archives, but now you’ll see updates about the Great Archives in MaskOfDestiny’s news feed as well. When you get a chance, you should definitely check out all of the other projects in MaskOfDestiny’s Tryna Initiative as well:

  • BioMedia Project – the definitive repository of old BIONICLE games, videos, and other media
  • Litestone Studios – a group working on enhancing the long-lost BIONICLE: Legend of Mata Nui PC game
  • Wall of History – a place to read all of the BIONICLE books, comics, etc. on the web
  • Myths and Legacy – a hub for canon-compliant BIONICLE fanficion
  • Red Star Games – a group working on a lore-heavy BIONICLE tabletop game, 3D-printed custom masks, and more
  • Team Kanohi – a group developing an awesome-looking game called BIONICLE: Masks of Power strongly inspired by the original 2001 BIONICLE aesthetic

Encyclopedia Updates

Although still a work in progress, the encyclopedia has gotten some love recently. The most significant update is that almost all articles now include info boxes that document all of the different forms that each character, location, or item has taken in the story. Take the Ahkmou page for example:

Ahkmou info boxes

If you’re at all familiar with the BIONICLE story, then you know that characters tend to transform and mutate a lot. The info boxes include helpful arrows between them so readers can easily keep track of these transformations at a glance. Even better, these info box charts and their arrows will now display correctly at all screen sizes, even on mobile devices.

Responsive info boxes

Getting this to work properly was more difficult for some articles than others! Here’s a list of articles with more “interesting” info box layouts you might want to check out if you’re curious:

Keep in mind that all of this is still a work in progress. For one, very few of the info boxes have any images yet. So, the next thing to do is to get to work adding them! The ultimate goal is to add the best info box pic available for every BIONICLE character, in every form, in every artistic style (LEGO set, movie, comic, Flash, etc.). If you’re interested in helping gather images to fill in the info boxes, I encourage you to join our Discord server and mention it there. If you have ideas for how to make the info boxes look better or feedback in general, feel free to share it on Discord too. Finally, if you spot problems with the information included in the info boxes, feel free to mention it on Discord or the wiki. I did my best to fill them in accurately, but mistakes will be made. I’d like to thank everyone on the Discord server who helped me out over the summer whenever I was unsure of something!

As a result of adding the info boxes, the encyclopedia has benefitted from better page organization. None of the articles listed in the index are missing anymore, and pages have been split and combined more logically (for example, Krahka (Being) and Krahka (Species) are separate pages now, and Toa Inika and Toa Mahri now share a single page).

That’s not all. Thanks to the amazing efforts of toaskello on the wiki, this update also includes a huge amount of new information collected from the Official Greg Discussion from 2006-2007. Overall, toaskello has personally added information from 100 pages from the OGD topic, spanning all the way from May 2005 to March 2007. Wow!

That’s all for now. Join us and the rest of the Tryna Initiative for more cool updates in the future, and get involved by following @GreatArchives and joining the Discord server.

by Planetperson
BIONICLE Tiers of Canonicity

In the BIONICLE fandom the issue of “canon” comes up very often. The BIONICLE story was presented through a variety of media during its run, often made by different authors, different artists, or different contractors outside of LEGO. Naturally, these different pieces of the BIONICLE storyline didn’t always agree in the details. For example, the scene where the Toa descend to Makuta’s lair through Kini-Nui in the Mata Nui Online Game (MNOG) by Templar Studios is very different from the scene described in the book BIONICLE Chronicles #1: Tale of the Toa by Cathy Hapka. In one version, the Toa’s golden masks appear on their faces, and they unlock Kini-Nui with the Makoki Stones. In the other, the Toa get their golden masks by putting their collected Masks of Power on statues, and then a tunnel opens up in Kini-Nui, and no Makoki Stones are involved. The book is supposed to be “more official,” but then the fully canon BIONICLE Encyclopedia also says that the Toa used the Makoki Stones to open Kini-Nui. So, what’s the official version of this story that all BIONICLE fans should agree on?

In the Great Archives encyclopedia and timeline, our mission is to present all of these differing versions in parallel – the reader gets to decide which version he or she likes best. But, for simplicity, we BIONICLE fans often like to stick to one, official, “canon” version of events. Plus, there will always be cases even on the Great Archives where we have to choose one version which will be presented more prominently (for example, we have to pick a version to write first, and sometimes we might put one version in the main text of an article and another in a footnote). On top of this, there’s also the issue of deconflicting the nitty gritty details of Greg Farshtey’s answers in the Official Greg Discussion topics. For example, what are we supposed to do with quotes like these?

14.Is Fenrakk a native species to Voya-Nui??
14) No, and Vezon is the only one who has one. The other Piraka don't.
Official Greg Discussion, Apr 22, 2006
13. Are Fenrakk native to Voya Nui?
14. If so, are they common?
13) Yes
14) I wouldn't call them common, no
Official Greg Discussion, Jun 14, 2006
4. How many Fenrakks are on Voya Nui?
4) A fair number
Official Greg Discussion, Jun 24, 2006

We’ve had countless similar situations pop up in BIONICLE lore discussions on our Discord server, which can best be summed up with the following video:

It would be nice if there were a consistent way of resolving these conflicts. That’s why I and several other BIONICLE enthusiasts have come up with a systematic way of ranking sources of BIONICLE lore: the BIONICLE Tiers of Canonicity! The Tiers of Canonicity are a list of rules that helps us rank the “officialness” of different sources of the BIONICLE story in an automatic, impartial way. This is actually a concept already used in at least two other fandoms: Neon Genesis Evangelion and Star Wars. The Tiers are a tool that we will be adopting on the Great Archives website and wiki, but we encourage others in the BIONICLE lore community to use it to their advantage as well!

I’d like to thank the following people for co-authoring this set of rules (in alphabetical order): aikuru, Dag, Gonel, HahliNuva, JSLBrowning, Lehari, maxim21, Nicrophorus, SurelNuva, toaskello, and Wolk. Believe me when I say that we didn’t simply pull arbitrary rules out of a hat. We did a lot of sleuthing in the Official Greg Discussion Archive to make sure that the rules we came up with are as consistent as possible with what Greg Farshtey (who was a member of the core BIONICLE story team) has stated on issues of canonicity in the past. We also tried to design the rules according to the general principle that the closer a source’s author was to the core story team, the higher it ranks in canon. We also took into account the fact that Greg Farshtey, by his own admission, is not a visual thinker [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8], so sometimes visual details in other media can take precedence over his written work. In all cases, we tried to source our rules in explicit quotes about levels of canonicity from Greg Farshtey when they were available.

The BIONICLE Tiers of Canonicity are as follows, where rules are listed in decreasing order of precedence:

  1. Explicit Greg quotes can override any of the rules below.
  2. The LEGO sets. Certain visual details about the LEGO sets (weapons, masks, colors, etc.), including the system play sets, take highest precedence, even over movies and written story [9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15]. The set designs coexist with the more organic visualizations from the movies and books, which are simply a different artistic expression of the sets [16, 17, 18]. The sets are considered more authoritative, but neither the sets nor the movie visualizations are considered “non-canon” [19, 20, 21, 22]. The forms of the 2010 BIONICLE Stars sets are considered canon, though not their scale compared to previous set waves [23, 24, 25, 26].
  3. Movies. Some visual details and plot details may be overridden when there are contradictions (e.g. the Rahaga’s propellers). Movies, books, and comics are all about equal in canonicity [27, 28], but the stories for the movies were developed by multiple story team members, and the movies generally take precedence over their respective novelizations, which were typically based on earlier versions of the final scripts [29].
  4. Published written work by Greg Farshtey. This includes novels, guide books, web serials, podcasts, magazines, some web content, and the written part of any visual media worked on by Greg, including the 2005 web animations. The story and plot details take precedence, but since Greg by his own admission is not a visual thinker, some visual details may be overridden by other visual media that otherwise have lower precedence. Published work takes precedence over online quotes from Greg by default [30, 31, 32]. This category also includes the character “stats” used from 2007 to 2010, which were written by Greg [33].
  5. Movie novelizations. When movies and their novelizations contradict, the final movie takes precedence, since the novelization is often based on an earlier version of the script. However, scenes that exist in the books but not the movies are fine, since they do not contradict the movies [34].
  6. Cathy Hapka books. Certain plot and visual details are often in conflict with other sources (for example, BIONICLE Chronicles #1: Tale of the Toa does not mention the Makoki Stones when the Toa pass through Kini-Nui, but MNOG and the BIONICLE Encyclopedia do). Reconciling this with the Templar work might be a special case, since the Templar work came first and is well-loved. The reason this is a separate category is because Hapka was never a member of the story team, although she did have access to the story bibles [35].
  7. Any visual media by Advance/Ghost, including visual media on bionicle.com. This can override the comics [36]. Christian Faber worked closely with this group, so visual details here generally override versions in other sources.
  8. Visuals from media for which Greg wrote the script, including the comics, 2005 animations, and level 3 readers. These were written by Greg, but sometimes visual details got lost in translation between Greg and the artists [37]. See [38].
  9. Websites and CD-ROMs. More generally, officially published material not written by Greg or a member of the story team. These things were often written by people in Denmark. This includes: much of the content on bionicle.com; content from official micro-sites such as the movie micro-sites, the Metru Nui Ministry of Tourism, and The Legend Continues; promotional CD-ROMs such as the Bohrok-Kal CD-ROMs, the Toa Metru CD-ROMs, and so on. The Legend Continues is mostly official [39].
  10. Work by Templar Studios (MNOG, MNOG2, and the Bohrok and Bohrok-Kal episodes). Although most BIONICLE games are considered basically non-canon, MNOG and MNOG2 are a special case and are mostly official [40]. Some specific things have been retconned; for example, Bob Thompson hated the idea of “taxi crabs” [41], and Lewa getting his golden mask from his suva contradicts other canon material. MNOG and MNOG2 were never actually approved by the story team [42, 43].
  11. Product descriptions for the LEGO sets. On rare occasions, they contain inaccuracies, such as the 2010 Skrall set having shadow powers.
  12. Fan-created work canonized by Greg, such as short stories, artwork, and LEGO models (MOCs).
  13. Greg quotes.
    1. In general, when Greg quotes contradict, earlier answers take precedence. This applies to both BZP-era quotes [44] and LMB-era quotes [45]. Greg quotes which inadvertently contradict previously established canon should be considered non-canon [46, 47], especially on the LMB. Later quotes override earlier ones only when specifically acknowledged as a retcon.
    2. Responses along the lines of “fine” or “sure”, though weak affirmations, are still affirmations and should be considered canon.
    3. Responses along the lines of “I guess” are considered a weaker form of affirmation than the above. They should be considered canon on a case-by-case basis.
    4. Responses along the lines of “maybe”, “most likely”, and “probably” mean exactly that – they affirm that something might be true or probably is true, not that it necessarily is true. This information should be qualified as such when documented on the Great Archives and should not be stated as fact.
    5. Similarly, responses along the lines of “possibly,” “it’s possible,” and “anything’s possible” should be qualified as such on the Great Archives, if they are documented at all. Whether or not they are documented should be decided on a case-by-case basis. Affirmations of frivolous hypothetical scenarios (e.g. “would character X do Y in situation Z?”) should not be included. However, there is precedent for hypothetical things being considered canon despite not appearing in story, especially when they pertain to world-building or pre-existing LEGO models, such as Toa Nui, Bohrok Kaita, Akamai Nuva, or Makuta-Nui.
  14. Written material from bioniclestory.com (not serials). Although it generally accurately reflects the storyline, it is sometimes inconsistent with it. It is not clear who wrote it.
  15. Other video games with story elements that are compatible with the rest of the story. This includes the BIONICLE: Quest for the Toa and BIONICLE: Maze of Shadows GBA games. Otherwise, video games are generally considered non-canon, since they were not made by LEGO and often had to suit the needs of gameplay [48, 49].
  16. Certain visual details or lore details from work that is otherwise not considered canon. These cases are documented in the OGD anyway. Most video games and online games fall into this category, including BIONICLE: The Game, VNOG, and BIONICLE Heroes. The trading card games would fall into this category as well. This category would specifically include the Mask of Elemental Energy from BIONICLE: The Game and some of the creatures and locations from VNOG. However, many other visual details from these sources are not considered canon. See [50] and [51].
  17. Any unpublished work that was later uncovered through unofficial means, such as the Legend of Mata Nui PC game or the written material in the 2003 style guide.

The most up-to-date version of the Tiers can always be found on their Great Archives wiki page.

Do you have comments or criticisms about the Tiers? Let us know on our growing Discord server or Twitter!

by Planetperson
Image of the BIONICLE image database.

Today I’m unveiling a project that I’ve actually been sitting on for several months and finally summoned the willpower to write about: the BIONICLE Image Database. It’s a huge collection of about 7,700 images related to official BIONICLE content, which I started in an effort to gather high-quality images to add to the Great Archives encyclopedia. I shared this project several months ago with a few other people, who made some excellent contributions of their own. This is likely to be one of the most comprehensive collections of BIONICLE images you’ll see around – it should even contain a few files that aren’t included on BioMedia Project, although BMP definitely has some images that haven’t been added here yet. Don’t worry – the BMP staff (especially emily/peri) has already been aware of this database for a while and used it in their most recent pictures update.

Something I wanted to improve upon over BMP was to add a way to document where each image comes from. To that end, a lot of images and folders in this database have an associated text file that explains where the images were originally downloaded from, which is useful when they come from obscure places like artists’ personal web pages. The database can also contain several different versions of the same image: different resolutions, different overlay text, different backgrounds, and so on. The images in the database come from all sorts of sources imaginable – the official BIONICLE website, retail websites, style guides, decompiled Flash objects, artists’ personal web pages, Faber Files, DeviantArt, ancient Brickshelf galleries, you name it. I also used some tricks to make sure certain images, like images from the Faber Files, Mata Nui Saga, and some artists’ websites, were downloaded in the highest possible resolution by modifying the URLs. Because of this, some of these images are preserved in higher quality than you will find anywhere else.

I’m also partial to the way I’ve organized images into folders. All images are organized by story year, then further organized by type. Here are some of the most common sub-folders:

Scenes
Official artwork, usually made by Advance, that depicts "storyboard" scenes from the storyline (like the ones found in the old instruction booklets)
Sets
Official artwork of sets set against some sort of illustrated background (like the ones used as box art or the Bios on bionicle.com)
No Background
Official images of sets against a blank (white/black/transparent) background
Packaging
Images of packaging for the sets
Comics
Images of comics, which can be scans of physical comics or files with just the artwork without any text
Collectibles
Images of collectibles such as masks, krana, kraata, etc.
Assets
Miscellaneous images, sprites, or other files extracted from games, animations, websites, etc.
Miscellaneous
Things that don't really go anywhere else; the sub-folders within it are organized by source if possible

I originally based this database on a folder full of BIONICLE images that I had lying around ever since the 2001-2010 days, and it continues to be a work in progress. That’s why you should help contribute too! If you are aware of any BIONICLE-related images that are missing from the database, please join our Discord server and let us know in the #image-database channel. We’ll be sure to give you due credit for the find. The image database itself is being hosted as a git repository on GitLab, which allows us to keep a permanent record of all changes made to the database. For the more tech-savvy people, you can clone the git repository directly from GitLab and open a merge request.

You can find more detailed instructions and information about the database on the GitLab page. I can’t wait to see others’ contributions – the BIONICLE community is bound to do a much better job at finding images that I can do alone!

by Planetperson
Screenshot of links to additional Greg interviews.

Hey folks, I’ve got a new update to the Official Greg Discussion Archive today! On the Sources page, I’ve gone ahead and added a bunch of links to additional interviews and Q&As with Greg Farshtey that have not been included on the site up to now. This includes Greg’s BZPower blog, various BZPower news stories and topics, podcast interviews, and a bunch more stuff you might never have even heard of! Although this content isn’t yet hosted on the OGD Archive site and isn’t integrated into its search system, I felt it still made sense to have links to all of this material under one roof for the time being. Hopefully, more and more of these sources will be included in the OGD Archive and made searchable soon.

Of course, if you know of any more BIONICLE-related interviews with Greg Farshtey that aren’t included in the list, please let me know on Twitter or Discord. I’m particularly interested in hunting down a copy of the old 2004 Ask Greg interview from bionicle.com. Do you have an old screenshot or Word document lying around? Did you write it down on a napkin? Let me know, and I’ll be happy to give you credit on the site.

Speaking of which, I’ve added a new Acknowledgments section on the About page to give credit to people who have helped out here and there. Check out the list and see if you’re famous!

I’ve also taken care of some housekeeping in this update:

  • I improved the behavior of line selection so you can select additional lines with Shift + click right after clicking on a line in search results. I found it annoying that I would click on a line in search results, and a new page would load, but Shift + click wouldn’t properly extend the selection without deselecting and re-selecting the line. So I fixed it!
  • I added a helpful note in the Official Greg Dialogue at the point where data was lost in March 2009, pointing to the posts in the Farshtey Feed that cover the lost time period. Can you find it?
  • I fixed some outdated links across the site.

That’s all for now. As always, let me know your thoughts on Twitter and Discord. I think there are some exciting things coming down the pike.

by Planetperson
Screenshot of the Great Archives wiki.

Hi everyone, hope you’re all hanging in there. Today I’m unveiling another major addition to the site! The Great Archives website is probably best known for hosting the Official Greg Discussion Archive, but one of its lesser-known features is its partially-complete encyclopedia and timeline, which aim to be a comprehensive guide to anything and everything about BIONICLE lore. Today I have an exciting announcement that hopefully will speed up their development: they can now be edited by anyone, including you!

Until now, the encyclopedia and timeline have been a solo project of mine, and I had not provided a way for other people to easily collaborate on it or make changes to it. I love BIONICLE lore, and for a long time I wanted to realize my vision of what an ideal BIONICLE reference site would look like, which is a bit different from existing sites like the BS01 wiki (more on that below). I first started working on it for fun on a private MediaWiki instance on my laptop in 2013, without any serious plans for making it public. But it slowly grew over time, to the point where I felt it made sense to share it online in 2019. Since then, I have been working on improving the look and feel of the website and making technical improvements behind the scenes. Now, I feel the time is right to open it up to editing by the public.

All you need to do to start contributing to the website is to join the new Great Archives wiki at wiki.thegreatarchives.com. This wiki will not replace the encyclopedia and timeline on the main site, but it will serve as a convenient staging area where everyone can collaborate on changes before they are published on the main website (up to now, the site has been generated from a private MediaWiki instance anyway). In other words, the wiki is like a rough draft for everything that appears in the encyclopedia and timeline on the main site.

So, you’re probably asking yourself, why bother with a new BIONICLE reference site when we already have BS01 and the BIONICLE Wiki on Fandom? To answer that question, I need to explain the philosophy behind what drove me to create this site in the first place.

The Purpose of the Great Archives

The telling of the 2001-2010 BIONICLE story was scattered through a variety of media, including comics, video games, websites, novels, guidebooks, four direct-to-video movies… as well as promotional booklets included in the BIONICLE sets from LEGO, long-defunct Flash games and animations, and obscure forum posts that were permanently deleted years ago. Intelligibly arranging these pieces of lore, some of which are canon, some of which are non-canon, and some of which occupy a dubious place somewhere in between, is so complex that it has spawned multiple projects that attempt to organize them into a comprehensible reading order. Even then, they cannot cover everything, because miscellaneous tidbits from bionicle.com, guidebooks, forums, and so on do not fit neatly into a chronological retelling of the story.

The purpose of the Great Archives is “to document the BIONICLE saga,” both by preserving some of the media that has become the most difficult to access (such as the Official Greg Discussion forum threads), and organizing BIONICLE media and lore into a succinct (yet complete), easy-to-read website in the form of an encyclopedia and timeline. In fact, my main motivation for building the Official Greg Discussion Archive was to make it extremely easy for me to cite specific Greg answers on the Great Archives site, although to my delight it is being widely used in other places as well, including BS01, TTV, Reddit, and various Discord servers. This is especially useful now that canonization contests are running again on TTV, where design criteria often depend on old Greg quotes.

Citations for Everything

So, what makes the Great Archives different from any other BIONICLE wiki? One of the central goals of the Great Archives is to document everything with citations to original sources, since many important facts were made known through extremely obscure sources (for example, the term “Toa Mangai” was introduced in a BZPower forum post by Nuhrii the Metruan that seems to have been completely lost to time). Every statement made in the timeline and encyclopedia (with some specific exceptions) must have at least one citation attached to it.

Sources First

The content for the Great Archives is in the process of being written, and it is being constructed according to a special procedure which I have adhered to since I started the project by myself way back in 2013. Most wikis are written by choosing a list of things to make articles about (Toa, Kanohi, Tahu, Makuta, Mata Nui (Being), Mata Nui (Island), etc.) and then collecting information for each page from the source material. On the Great Archives, it works in reverse. We start by systematically going through each book, comic, web serial, forum post, etc. and organizing the information in them into the timeline and encyclopedia. Events and plot points in the BIONICLE story are sorted in chronological order in the timeline. All other information, such as descriptions of characters, powers, personalities, and other world building aspects, is sorted into the encyclopedia. The timeline can later be used as a reference for writing biographies and histories in the encyclopedia. This way, all information in the BIONICLE mythos will eventually be included on the Great Archives, with proper citations. It’s a long process, and you can find a full list of the sources being scanned on the Status page.

In order to make the task of organizing this information easier, for now, I have been simply dumping facts from sources into the timeline and encyclopedia without attempting to integrate them together and make them readable. It is much more efficient to save this for later, after most of the biggest sources are done. This is why the timelines and especially the encyclopedia read like a laundry list of trivia. Just know that eventually it will be improved.

Canonicity

I believe that the Great Archives should not be in the business of deciding what the one and only version of canon is (however, it does not contain any fanon content, unlike the Custom BIONICLE Wiki (nothing against that site – it’s great!)). On this site, we allow multiple interpretations to coexist in parallel. Whenever two sources disagree, we document both and explain if one is considered more canon than the other. Also, BIONICLE has multiple “design universes,” for lack of a better term, including the LEGO sets, the more organic-looking movie designs, and the video game designs, each of which is valid in its own way. For this reason, we include images of all designs in info boxes and make it easy for readers to make the site show different styles by default based on their preferences.

Image Quality

Visuals are an extremely important part of the BIONICLE experience, so it is essential to use attractive images in the encyclopedia. Unlike on BS01, images on the Great Archives should consistently default to the promotional artwork made by LEGO and Advance instead of comic book panels, with easy options for switching the visuals to movie style, video game style, comic book style, etc. for those who prefer those instead. Images should have aesthetically pleasing dimensions (roughly square for encyclopedia info boxes) and should be cropped to include a reasonable amount of background space around the subject matter, rather than being cropped to its edges without any padding.

Writing

The introductory text to encyclopedia articles should generally be written under the assumption that they are being read by someone who is relatively new to the BIONICLE story and is just trying to quickly get up to speed. This is a good way to generate interest in the BIONICLE story and invite new people into the community!

Content

The Great Archives should include anything and everything about the BIONICLE story, including out-of-universe information about sets, creative professionals, source material, and so on. It will only cover the 2001-2010 BIONICLE story. It will not host copies of full novels, comics, animations, etc., because there are already multiple projects that take care of that.

Not a Wiki

Although we use a wiki for collaborating on the Great Archives, the main, public-facing place for enjoying the Great Archives is on the main Great Archives website, not the wiki. Presenting the content on a separate, non-wiki website lets us curate content more carefully, style things more flexibly, and make the website faster and more efficient technologically speaking.

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Finally, the site will remain ad-free.

Tasks

So, what can you do to help on the wiki? I’ve made a page of tasks that need to be done, if you feel so inclined, including:

  • Write intro text to each article (for example, see the Tahu page)
  • Fill in info boxes for each article, including images, set numbers, and stats
  • Comb through parts of the OGD Archive for useful information to add
  • Add articles about books, comics, and other media
  • Add articles about BIONICLE sets
  • Acquire better scans of certain media, such as the Rahi and Dark Hunter guides

Another Update: Info Boxes

In addition to setting up the wiki, I stealthily added another cool feature to the site: info boxes on encyclopedia articles. Here’s an example from the Pohatu page:

Info boxes for Pohatu

As you can see, it gives you a quick visual breakdown of all the forms a character has taken, what their powers are, and so on. I hope to have these added to more and more articles very soon.

What’s Next?

If any of this interests you, make sure to create an account on the wiki and let us know your thoughts on Discord. And if not, don’t worry, there are lots of planned additions to the OGD Archive on the horizon.

Advanced Search

by Planetperson
Screenshot of advanced search.

The people have asked, and I have listened.

Dume

Advanced search options are HERE!

In this major update, I have added the following features to the search page on the Official Greg Discussion Archive:

  • The search box now supports special syntax for exact matches and excluding keywords. Use “double quotes” to search for exact words or phrases, and use -minus -signs in front of words or phrases to exclude them.
  • You can now filter results by topic or source (BZPower topics, LEGO Message Boards, or Farshtey Feed).
  • You can also filter and sort results by date.
  • You can filter results by user name or choose to show only posts by Greg Farshtey.
  • The ranking of search results has been improved so that exact phrase matches have higher precedence.
  • The upper limit on search results, which used to be 10 pages, has been increased.
  • There is now an option to turn off keyword highlighting.

Give it a try here, and let us know what you think on Twitter and Discord!

by Planetperson
A directory of archived images.

We have a mostly-invisible but very important update to the OGD Archive today! This one has to do with the preservation of image files. As of now, all image files that are included in or linked to from the OGD Archive have been copied to the OGD Archive server and will be hosted there from now on. Why does this matter? For one, this guarantees that the images in the archive will outlive the sites where they were originally hosted. This is especially important for images hosted on Brickshelf, since Brickshelf is known to go offline without warning from time to time. As you can see from questions like this one, or posts like this, losing those images would lose a lot of important information!

This update also restores some images that were previously lost to time but were able to be recovered from web.archive.org. All images that were unavailable from their original sources were checked against web.archive.org and replaced if possible (this recovered 18 lost images in all). For example, instead of this post (which originally revealed the Blade Burrower map to be the Unity, Duty, Destiny symbol) showing a great big void, it shows the original image, providing crucial context.

That’s all for now, and don’t forget to join our Discord!

Discord!

by Planetperson

The Great Archives now has a Discord server! Feel free to join or invite others using this invite link. We ask that you please observe the rules posted in #rules. If you want to chat about deep Bionicle lore or leave feedback about this site or the Official Greg Discussion Archive, you should drop by. It’ll be fun.

by Planetperson

Got a minor update for you today in the OGD Archive. Clicking a line number with the Ctrl key pressed allows you to select multiple ranges of lines. However, up until now, this feature has not worked on MacOS, because Ctrl + click opens up a context menu instead! You can now perform the equivalent operation on Macs by holding down the Option or Command key instead. Holding down the Alt key in Windows will also work.