Hero Factory was a line of constructible figures produced by the LEGO Group. The successor to BIONICLE, Hero Factory continued the theme of buildable action figures, with an episodic story to support the line.
The Hero Factory line was conceived by the LEGO Group in 2009 prior to the cancellation of the BIONICLE series as a way to attract younger children to the constructible action figure line and renew interest. The Hero Factory sets were designed to be smaller and simpler than the previous BIONICLE ones, and the story was made into an episodic format, with single stories not connected to one another. Releases were planned for every six months in order to avoid drawing out the story, a perceived failure of the BIONICLE line. Sets in the Hero Factory line, while simpler than previous BIONICLE ones, utilize similar pieces and styles to BIONICLE.
Hero Factory was officially released in the second half of 2010. Each Hero Factory set in the first wave was marked with an emblem reading "From the Makers of BIONICLE Characters" as a way to keep the line familiar to BIONICLE fans. The line breaks the traditional BIONICLE set release structure, with smaller hero sets released concurrently with larger villain sets rather than as separate waves of similarly-sized sets. The Heroes, the primary focus of the line, were made more affordable in order to increase sales.
The Hero Factory website was first released on May 10, 2010, helmed by BIONICLE.com webmaster Kelly McKiernan. Later that year, the website was finalized when a full update was released in July.
In early 2011, a new wave of Hero Factory sets premiered, with a new design and new structural parts emphasizing a building system based on ball and socket joints. The line was named "Ordeal of Fire", and featured less sets overall than the previous wave. In April the Hero Recon Team website was launched, allowing users to design and purchase Heroes with this new building system as part of the LEGO Design byME service. LEGO Design byME also added a Hero Factory category of parts and four Hero Factory-based starter models to the LEGO Design byME mode of LEGO Digital Designer.
The third wave of Hero Factory sets was released in mid-2011, further expanding the new building system. Titled "Savage Planet", it featured a jungle theme and animal-based villains. The Hero Recon team gained a greater palette and allowed for increased parts selection.
In 2012, the fourth wave of Hero Factory (entitled "Breakout") was released. However, this line departed from the traditions set by the previous waves and removed canisters and boxes from the set lineup. Instead, the Heroes and Villains all came in resealable plastic bag containers (except for Black Phantom, the only large set, which was still packaged in a box). The sizes, which were previously the same among the Heroes and standard among the villains, were now varied, with two different sizes in each division, as well as the boxed Black Phantom. Each set also contains a redesigned Hero Core, with a code for a brand new online game Breakout. Two of the sets, Breez and Thornraxx, received a limited release in Europe, with a wider release as an addition to the summer line in the United States and elsewhere. The Hero Recon Team service, following the cancellation of the similarly based Design byME, had the purchasing aspect discontinued, initially in order to focus on the digital experience.
The Breakout theme continued into the fifth wave of Hero Factory sets in summer 2012. Like the previous wave, the plastic bags were retained, with two large sets (Stormer XL and Speeda Demon) released in boxes. Previous set elements, including the new Hero Cores and Hero Cuffs, remained consistent elements of this wave. Hero Recon Team was cut from the website, though a replacement online building system was briefly introduced.
2012 also saw the expansion of Hero Factory's character and creature building system across additional themes with the release of "Ultrabuild" action figures in the LEGO Super Heroes licensed theme. This was moving towards a goal which the LEGO Group's community coordinators had expressed at fan conventions, which was for LEGO to have multiple action figure themes running concurrently.
In early 2013 a new series was released under "Brain Attack" branding. This series maintained the Hero Core design of the Breakout series, with double the game points for each price point. The game points of this year's sets were for use in the new game Brain Attack. In the Brain Attack series, larger sets began to appear in resealable foil bags just as the small and medium-sized sets had in the Breakout series.
2014's line, "Invasion From Below" introduced an overhaul in the style of the series; Heroes were re-imagined as mini-figures, similar to (and compatible with) the standard minifigs as seen in most of LEGO's other lines, while the constraction aspect was found in mechs that held the minifigs as pilots; the villains retained the typical constraction design, though several minifigs of the villains were also included. Like the previous two years, the theme extended into the summer releases
In late 2014 the LEGO Group announced plans to reboot the BIONICLE franchise, making Invasion From Below the final wave of Hero Factory.
Hero Factory is set in a place known as Makuhero City. Here, Heroes are built in the Hero Factory and sent on missions around the universe, dealing with a variety of galactic problems such as alien infestations, natural disasters, and criminals. A gang of space villains, led by the evil Von Nebula, are some of the most feared beings in the galaxy, and are the main antagonists of the story for 2010.
In the first half of 2011, a new antagonist arises, known as Fire Lord. Fire Lord, along with his minions, attacks an area known as Tanker Station 22 in search of fuel and energy. The Alpha 1 Team attempts to intervene, but is soundly defeated, necessitating a risky upgrade into stronger forms to help combat the new threat.
In the second half of 2011, the Alpha 1 Team is upgraded once more, in the hopes that their new forms will aid them in their mission on the planet Quatros. There they fight alongside their newest member Daniel Rocka and defeat the techno-organic minions of the evil Witch Doctor, a former Hero Factory educator and Stormer's old mentor.
2012, the second year of Hero Factory, sees a mass breakout from the Factory. Many villains escape and head to various locations in the galaxy (the ringleader Black Phantom remaining in the Hero Factory itself) forcing the Alpha 1 team, armed with Hero-Cuffs, to split up and track down some of the escapees.
During the 2013 storyline, the Heroes have to fend off an invading army of native creatures controlled by the Brains, a species of parasitic organism dispatched by a mysterious villain. The Brains also force the Heroes to contend with the possibility of having to put down one of their own.
In 2014, Antropolis City is overrun with powerful Jumper beasts, and the Heroes debut new Battle Machines to combat the. After some of their own are kidnapped, the remaining Heroes must travel deep underground to rescue them.
Hero Factory Recon Team
A facet of the Hero Factory storyline is the Hero Recon Team, based around a web application that allows users to design products using LEGO's Design byME service. The Recon team was founded shortly after the inception of the Hero Factory, with one of the Factory's top Heroes, Merrick Fortis assigned as its head. The intention of the organization, as envisioned by founder Mr. Makuro, was to study the criminals of the galaxy and gather intelligence in order to gain an understanding of them.
After the Alpha 1 team gained animal-based armor and weapons, Merrick Fortis developed his own "combi-weapons" and armor based on those used by Alpha 1, and debuted them on himself for a mission to Quatros.
The direct Recon Team story was discontinued after the HRT service was shut down, though it remains an element in the main story.
List of Sets
- 853083 Hero Factory Mission Log Book
- 40084 Accessory Pack
As with BIONICLE, Hero Factory parts from multiple sets can be used together to create new models. In most cases, instructions for the models are found in the respective instruction booklets of the characters, with some exceptions.
In 2010, there was one combiner model, depicting a character named Lucas Valor. Instructions for Valor, who is built out of the Stormer, Furno, and Breez sets, were released in the September–October 2010 LEGO BrickMaster magazine.
The 2011 heroes feature a combiner models (now termed "combi-models") on the back of their canisters. In the 2.0 wave Stormer combines with Breez, Furno with Evo, and Nex with Surge. Combiners also feature in the 3.0 wave, where Stringer combines with Nex, Stormer with Rocka, and Furno with Bulk. Instructions for these six models can be located on HeroFactory.LEGO.com.
2012 sets feature unique combi-models by using the two models paired together (Hero and Villain) as a non-canon combi-model. The LEGO Club magazine also introduced two canon combiners, an unnamed Hero and Villain.
2013 sets also pair Heroes and villains to create new combi-models, though these all feature as upgraded Hero designs, utilizing Hero Cores and helmets.
The combi-models of 2014 take a new approach, combining different Hero mechs together and villain beasts together to create various new designs. Like past years, they do not feature within the story, though they are depicted in certain promotional materials.