First of all, yesterday I actually didn’t know what Bionicle masks or Bionicle was but now I know that it’s “a line of toys created by the Lego Group that is marketed towards those in the 7–17-year-old range. The line was launched in January 2001 in Europe and June/July 2001 in the United States.” You can see some pictures at the official Bionicle site at Lego.
The Bionicle launch have been a controversy and not only because of the marketing. “In 2001, Lego faced legal action by Maori activists from New Zealand for trademarking Maori words used in naming the Bionicle product range. Lego agreed to stop commercially using the Maori language, which included a number of existing Bionicle words being changed or removed”
… but still Lego are using some terms that was introduced early in the Bionicle series.
What about their marketing, have Lego done anything out of the ordinary?
According to a discussion that I found yesterday from 2001, Lego was (and maybe are still) selling a lot of different masks. Probably different shapes and colors. And when you want to buy one, you can never tell which one you are buying before you open it. So, if your kid wants to collect the masks (and I guess a lot of kids want to do that), he or she would have to buy a lot of Bionicle masks.
This is an interesting marketing trick and you can probably call it greedy marketing or sly marketing (LOL). I remember this from when I was a kid and we were all collecting football (soccer) cards. You would buy a pack of five cards or so, and you would never know the players on them before you opened them. This way we would have to buy more and more cards to get the players we wanted, or we could trade them with other friends (because everybody was collecting). The problem was that the same players were popular among all kids, so you would never get your favorite players if you didn’t actually buy them.
It seems to me that Lego is doing exactly what they and other companies have been doing for a very long time, at least as long as I can remember. They are trying to create a demand, by making something popular and making something that kids will collect. When kids start to collect it, they want everything related to it, and especially the most popular figures and the most popular masks. If they never know which masks they are buying, they would have to buy more… and the more masks they buy, the more money Lego will be earning.
It seems to be as simple as that.