LEGO Fails: Galidor

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You have probably heard about Galidor. If that’s the case, then you have probably been told that it was “bad”, “horrendous”, “not a construction toy”, or just plain “awful”. And they would be right.

But just why was Galidor so bad? It was a constraction toy, and those have done quite well in the past. Read on, and all shall be revealed. But a word of warning. Some things once seen cannot be unseen.

I’m going to present this article as a comparison of aspects of Galidor to similar aspects in other themes.

First, it would probably help to give a little backstory of Galidor. Back in 2002, LEGO wanted a toy line/tv series like other toy companies had profited off of for decades. Their answer: Galidor, a story about a teenage boy, Nick Bluetooth and his friend Allegra who are transported to an alien dimension, to help a group of different aliens stop the evil Gorm from conquering the galaxy. The theme failed miserably (being clearanced for up to 90% off, I hear), and the TV show fared little better.


TV Show

Galidor: Defenders of the outer Dimensions was the first full TV show for a LEGO theme. The next LEGO theme to have a TV show was Ninjago, nine years later in 2011, showing how cautious LEGO was of producing TV shows for its toys after Galidor. I’m going to admit, I’m no expert on the Galidor TV series. I watched the first two episodes, and found it impossible to stomach more. For the most part, the show was dry and slow, with only one moment of humor that I can recall. By contrast Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu started with plenty of action and comedy, and kept going from there.

I think the failure of some aspects of the Galidor TV series was a real shame. The overall premise of the show wasn’t too bad. While it was a fairly by-the-numbers TV series, some of the characters actually had good motivations and backstory (Nick, for example, found hints that his father had traveled to the alien dimension before him, and was still alive, somewhere), rivaling anything Ninjago had to offer. Unfortunately, the show was not engaging enough for young audiences to deliver on its story…


Builds

The main downfall of Galidor is simply that there aren’t any builds. The extent of building in the Galidor “system” involved constructing the figures, and swapping arms/legs/heads between then. That was it. How is that different from other Constraction themes you ask? To answer that, let us examine the two buildable figure themes closest in release date to Galidor: Bionicle and Knights’ Kingdom II.


Bionicle allowed the builder to combine the different models into larger or different creations, and each part had at least two connection points. Bionicle parts were even designed to work with Technic parts, to create larger models (Makuta, or Exo-Toa, for example). Most Galidor parts, on the other hand, only had one connection point, for only the Galidor system.


Knights Kingdom II, to be honest, was not a whole lot better from Galidor when it came to the underlying structure of its buildable figures. Hands could only be hands, feet only feet, and no different way for the figures to go together. However, most parts of these buildable Knights had studs or Technic connection points on them, allowing them to be incorporated into other models (the majority of the basic joint elements went on to form the backbone of Mechs for years to come).


Overlooking the story, TV series, and lack of construction, let’s see how the toys stack up to other lines:

Galidor had a total of 15 sets. Of these, one was never released, and two only had a limited release (LEGO couldn’t pull the plug on these sets fast enough…).

Of these 15 sets, only 9 were original characters. Three characters (Nick Bluetooth, Gorm, and Nepol) had two releases - once as their basic figure for $10, and again as their “deluxe” version for $5 - $10 more, meaning that one had to decide which accessories they wanted with their character, or get a duplicate of a figure they already had.


Aside from figures, Galidor had only one other set: 8315 TDN Module. The TDN Module was a larger-on-the-inside spaceship (never heard of that before…), used to carry the Defenders of Galidor around the galaxy. The $40 TDN Module hit a new low for Galidor, containing only 9 pieces (a horrendous $4.44 piece!). TDN Module had a little play value, with positionable wings and two dart shooters.


I feel compelled to draw a comparison to Hero Factory here. The first (highly controversial) season of Hero Factory had two sets that included exclusive versions of heroes. One could buy the regular Duncan Bulk, or one could get a slightly different version of him in 7179 Duncan Bulk and Vapour. Or one could get the regular William Furno, or get an armorless version of him and his bike in a different set.


Hero Factory continued to mimic Galidor (is there any wonder the first wave was ill-received?), with the

Hero Drop Ship. Hero Drop Ship had a similar overall shape to the TDN Module, but had a much more reasonable price per piece of $0.13 per piece. Drop Ship had a pair of wings similar to TDN Module, and even had a pair of shooters positioned in the same places. The Drop Ship had a huge advantage over TDN Module in that it came with a generic hero, so the Drop Ship could be a standalone set.


What is this? I don't know, and neither did LEGO. Stuff like this certainly didn't help Galidor sell, though...


Electronics in Galidor

One of the few Galidor sets that is worth anything today is Kek Powerizer, the lone electronically-enabled Galidor set. In the story, Kek Powerizer, is, as the name suggests, a power suit for Jens or Gorm, similar to the Bionicle Exo-Toa (though the figures could not fit inside of Kek, their heads could be attached to the suit so that it looked like they could).

Kek Powerizer is quite a strange set, being the largest Galidor figure, he had nothing to Glinch with. This is ironic, because in the story the suit was supposed to enhance the wearer’s ability to Glinch. The main feature of Kek Powerizer is the game system embedded in his back. By moving Kek different ways, the user could play 23 different levels of the game. Like a Gameboy, but stuck in a 12-inch figure and with only one game. Sounds fun, right? The market didn’t think so, either. One extra feature of Kek was that he could respond to the Galidor TV show, by speaking or activating game levels. This is kind of advanced, but also fairly useless…

Given the popularity of Toys-to-Life video games like LEGO Dimensions today, it appears that Kek Powerizer was a solid decade ahead of his time.


Galidor, for all its negatives, was in fact quite similar to several other popular LEGO themes. However, two large flaws (a lack of building and a dull TV show) led to its downfall. Had Galidor had the advantage of a more LEGO System-compatible building style, and a few jokes thrown into its show, it may have just taken off, at least for three years.

You say you actually like Galidor? Good news! Since there is a large supply of Galidor out there, and next to no demand, whole sets of sealed figures can be picked up for around $10.

30 comments on this article

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By in United States,

At least there's great potential for NPU here.

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By in United States,

@Teriyaqi, indeed, there's some guy (whose username I forget) on MOCpages who crossed Galidor with BIONICLE and made some magnificent characters.

I really don't get the hate, (some of) these sets are actually pretty cool.

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By in United States,

^ Would one of those be Gali-dor?

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By in United States,

Good article. A lot of articles about Galidor focus entirely on what it did wrong and ignore any redeeming factors. At the Lego Inside Tour two years ago I got to talk to Niels Milan Pedersen, one of the most senior designers at Lego (for reference, he's responsible for classic figure molds like the original horse, crocodile, skeleton, along with many more recent designs from themes like Atlantis, Space Police III, and Jurassic World). He also worked on Galidor, and in his opinion as a designer the theme had a lot of unreached potential that went unappreciated by audiences.

Story-wise, the Galidor TV show was solid, though it was hampered by dated special effects and somewhat weak acting. Conceptually it seemed to take cues from things like Doctor Who or Stargate, but aimed more at the Saturday morning kid audience of shows like Power Rangers. The characters were generally well-developed, with solid backstories and motivations (my favorite being the robotic Jens, who had formerly been a scientist from a plant-like species before his original body was burned by the evil Gorm).

As Lego sets, the toys were definitely disappointing, but as action figures they were not entirely awful. But the price was a stumbling block—Lego's crisp ABS molding was a rarity in the action figure market and carried a hefty price tag that positioned the sets far above the price point of competing toys.

I've toyed with the idea of designing a Lego Ideas proposal for a more traditional minifigure-scale model of the TDN module, or "egg" from Galidor (which in the show was a much larger ship that, like the TARDIS, was bigger on the inside). But even if that were to somehow achieve 10,000 supporters, I figure Lego is not keen on revisiting that part of their history.

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By in United States,

Step One: Find a master of NPU in character building.
Step Two: Buy them all the Galidor sets for like $10.
Step Three: ???
Step Four: Profit!

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By in United States,

To me these look like Chinese knock-offs of low quality action figures!

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By in United States,

Nice article although there are some considerable factors in Galidor's failure that it doesn't acknowledge. For one, Brick by Brick suggests that a big part of its failure came from being rushed to market without adequate testing and development as soon as LEGO realized that Bionicle had the makings of a hit. After all, if one buildable action figure brand could be popular, why couldn't two?

I think we all know the answer to that — besides the accelerated production schedule keeping LEGO from doing the kind of focus testing and research to make Galidor the best it could be, the two themes also ended up competing for basically the same audience, with Bionicle having several decisive advantages (an earlier release, a more versatile building platform, more play features, etc). According to former LEGO Chief Marketing Officer Mads Nipper, "Had we done Galidor a few years later, that would not have been stupid. What was stupid was doing Bionicle and Galidor in parallel." (Brick by Brick, p87).

Interestingly, the development of the building system used for Galidor began in 1999, with LEGO envisioning it for a less character-driven "free building" theme intended for kids to make their own wacky alien creatures. The working title was "LEGO Beings". However, once LEGO began to notice surging interest in character-driven action figures in the United States, they decided to put the snap-together building system to use in the context of a TV show. Unfortunately, this meant that when the TV show failed to catch on, kids had no context with which to relate to the toys.

Another big failure of Galidor was failing to adequately account for UK broadcasting laws, which prohibited TV shows that exist specifically to advertise a new toy line. This meant that they could not release the toys and show simultaneously, which stifled the potential of both. When Ninjago came out, LEGO dealt with this by releasing the pilot and first season of the TV show for free online on the British version of the Ninjago website. These broadcasting restrictions, which still exist today, are also part of the reason why shows like Ninjago, Legends of Chima, and Nexo Knights do not use actual brick-built models as scenery, vehicles, and props, instead featuring more detailed CGI models — to make the shows feel less like simply a showcase for the corresponding product lines.

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By in United States,

For me, the lack of interest in Galidor came to this:

The sets just look ugly and made cheaply. Especially the human ones. And the boy is supposed to be the star of the show.

Granted, Star Wars constractions have some oddly designed humans, but it has the advantage of

1. Popular characters

2. CCBS build (meaning you can use most of their parts on other CCBS themes and it wouldn't look out of place)

3. Characters that are robotic or helmeted look awesome.

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By in United States,

One other element of Galidor's failure came from it's business side. The limitations to Construction or Constraction by making it with single connection point parts with very very limited flexibility and no real ability to build new things (Really how many times can you swap an action figures head or arms before growing bored?) , also burned them big time on the back end. The tooling for Galidor was expensive and unique. But the parts could not be used anywhere else. Contrast that with Knights Kingdom, where a huge number of the parts and tooling have been happily turning a profit in theme after theme for 1-2 decades now. Yeah the hands and feet may not have been that useful, but everything else found steady uses. So Lego had toe at the costs of the Galidor tooling strictly on Galidor's earnings. Never a good formula for a company like Lego.

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By in United States,

For the un-initiated, is it safe to assume that "Constraction" is not a spelling mistake but a portmanteau of something along the lines of "Constructible Action figure"?

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By in United Kingdom,

Idea for Fairy Bricks fundraiser: sponsor famous AFOLs to try and sit through the Galidor telly show.

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By in United States,

@princeofgonville: Exactly! "Constraction" refers to buildable figure sets like Bionicle, Hero Factory, and Galidor. Although, I don't know when the term was coined — the first I heard of it was in 2004 in reference to the Knights' Kingdom II buildable figures.

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By in United States,

These sets were by no means made cheaply. I own the entire collection of Galidor figures (sans the limited release figures), and have owned them since their release in 2002. I can assure everyone here that they are made with the same quality standards as any other product from Lego, as they hold up very well fourteen years later!

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By in United States,

Yes "Constraction" is the term coined for such "buildable action figures". A blending of "Construction" and "Action Figure". Bionacle, Hero Factory, the Star Wars and Super Heroes ones etc.

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By in United States,

"By Ayliffe in United Kingdom, 10 Dec 2016 15:20
Idea for Fairy Bricks fundraiser: sponsor famous AFOLs to try and sit through the Galidor telly show."

Ouch! That seems cruel and unusual. At least Chima becomes kind of fun, if you view it through the filter of a Post Apocalyptic Fabuland. (it's what happens when the carnivores get drugged up and eat all the happy fluffy bunnies... which come to think of it is also the plot of Zootopeia.) But Galidor just seems overly cruel to inflict on someone. Maybe warm them up gently first and just have them watch Clutch Powers a couple of times on loop?

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By in United Kingdom,

I remember watching Galidor before school eating my Cheerios and I had absolutely no idea it was anything to do with Lego! And I loved Lego back then. The thing was, the internet wasn't so readily available to all kids back then and I don't remember the show ever mentioning it was a Lego product. Really bad marketing. But still, I wouldn't have bought those figures even if I did know and I didn't even mind the show!

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By in United Kingdom,

@Faefrost: "Maybe warm them up gently first and just have them watch Clutch Powers a couple of times on loop?"

Could be worse: could make 'em witness the horrors of the Jack Stone VHS...

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By in United States,

Ewww....

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By in United States,

@backtobricks: Believe it or not, it might've been intentional that you didn't realize Galidor was LEGO. I get the feeling that LEGO was intentionally trying to distance Galidor from their other products, perhaps out of fear that the kids they were targeting didn't want to play with something as old-fashioned as LEGO. For instance, the Galidor sets generally shoved the LEGO logo towards the bottom of the packaging, not up at the top in big, bold letters next to the theme name like today's themes do (many Bionicle G1 sets did the same thing).

This might seem silly today, with LEGO becoming increasingly popular with all ages because of their embrace of the brick and their core brand values, but in the late 90s and early naughts LEGO and many other companies were extremely concerned that traditional toys were losing favor to the rising popularity of video games. While this was true to an extent, the LEGO Group's mistake was thinking that what kids loved about video games was the sense of instant gratification. So they began churning out sets (not just in the Galidor theme, but also in many other late 90s and early naughts themes) that used bigger, more specialized pieces to offer a quicker and easier building experience.

One major part of the LEGO Group's recovery process beginning in 2004 was realizing that the key element kids got out of video games (and also other hobbies like skateboarding or LEGO building) wasn't instant gratification, but rather the sense of mastering a skill. Instead of simplifying builds, what LEGO actually needed to do was to refocus on the building experience, making it more intricate and fulfilling. This can be seen in changes like the introduction of smaller pieces like cheese slopes that allow for a more detailed and polished aesthetic and the increasing use of sideways building/SNOT techniques.

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By in United States,

As (I expect) one the only people here to regrettably watched the whole of the Galidor series on a bet, it doesn't get much better than the the first two episodes SprinkleOtter watched. Actually, it gets much, much worse in season 2 (YES, someone actually renewed the series), when their budget was significantly slashed.

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By in United States,

I think I still have some of the McDonalds Galidor sets..... if anyone thought the regular sets were bad, just look at the McDonalds ones.....

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By in United States,

No mention that Hasbro made galidor figures over the last few years? I mean, they were star wars, marvel, transformers characters (which didn't transform so they were just sucky looking robots), and jurassic park dinos - but they were galidor scale, limb swappers, basically using a lego pin connection.

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By in United States,

@Aanchir.
That is a very interesting fact about the UK. I never knew that.

I must disagree with Nipper, though. Two other Constraction themes lasted for three years while competing with Bionicle. Exo-Force had a wonderful run in 2006, even though that same year was a peak for Bionicle, during the Ignition.

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By in Australia,

^ Oh gosh, I loved Exo-Force.

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By in United States,

I think Nick was funny in a "did someone actually greenlight this?" kind of way in the first episode. He's basically a 12 year old 9/11 truther, except his conspiracy theory of choice is that there was an ancient civilization on Earth millions of years before humans. His evidence? "Well you can't prove there wasn't."

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By in United States,

Am I the only one here wondering if the author made up the word "Glinch" just to see if anyone would notice?

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By in United Kingdom,

I have no memories of Galidor. I was working for Woolworths (UK) during his short life. I was the Toy Lady at my store then. Generally if I hadn't heard of a toy then it wasn't a very good one. I believe that woolies then was the UKs number one toy seller (it was us or Argos and we pretty much sold the same stuff). If Lego hadn't managed to get Woolies to sell this toy then it was never going to be a massive seller in the UK. Also what TV channel was it on? In 2002 a lot of people were only just going digital and most children's shows that were popular were the ones on the basic 5 channels. Bionicles on the other hand. Well woolies sold piles and piles of them.

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