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This article is about the 1981 film. For the 1998 film, see The Quest for the Masks.

Quest for the Masks (also known as Bionicle 1 and Bionicle: The Coming of the Toa in Europe) is a 1981 Vlokozuian kadsresatsu superhero film. It is the sixth Technic Heroes installment and the first Bionicle installment. Quest for the Masks is considered to be El TV Kadsre's greatest film ever made and saved the studio from bankruptcy and kickstarted Hideki Hamasaki's film carrer. The film's success spanned six sequels, two prequels, one reboot and one remake. The costumes were designed by El Kadsreian Susumu Bramley and then-famed Mahrian costume designer, Steven Quartey.

The film was a critical and financial success, and received universal acclaim from critics. It is now considered by critics to be one of the greatest films ever made. The film was nominated for three Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and won for Best Visual Effects.


The Fujioka family members, Icriro, Mizuki, Ren, Jiro and Hana travel to the hall for the high school ball. They soon run into trouble when a mysterious force occurs, almost making Ichiro collide with a semi-truck. They barely get to safety and reach the hall. As they enter the hall, Jiro encounters Phillip, one of his friends, who gives him a cassette recorder and a transparent audiocassette.

As Jiro enters the restroom, he inserts the compact cassette and plays it it. However, on the tape, he hears an unknown man who had supposedly recorded the tape, reciting a series of incantations, resurrecting the all-powerful being known as the Makuta - alleged to have cast the Great Spirit Mata Nui (a venerated being of whom the island is named after) into a deep sleep. A large group of Rahi minions crash the party and start attacking everybody in the hall.

Now, Makuta has taken control of the Rahi, the island's fauna, to attack the people and the suburbs of El Kadsre City, and conquer the world.

Tahu - Toa of Fire; Gali - Toa of Water; Lewa - Toa of Air; Onua - Toa of Earth; Pohatu - Toa of Stone and Kopaka - Toa of Ice. Carrying formidable tools to channel their elemental energies and donning great 'Kanohi' masks of power, the Toa remember nothing of their former lives except their names. Prior to meeting each other, they rebuild themselves on the seashores and travel to one of the six villages in the country, where they learn of the people's war against the Rahi.

The Toa soon join the conflict, and with the aid of the people and their Turaga leaders, begin searching for more Kanohi masks, each of which possesses a different ability. Collecting six each, they exchange their masks for Golden Kanohi that carry the power of all their former ones and descend underground to face Makuta.

Prior to arriving at the villain's lair, they form two Toa Kaita (titan beings created when Toa fuse together) to challenge Makuta's Manas crabs and battle dark manifestations of themselves dubbed "Shadow Toa". When the Toa arrive, Makuta appears in the form of a Matoran to trick them, but then transforms into a swirling vortex of tentacles and rusty machine parts. They defeat the Makuta by combining their elemental powers onto him.

Triumphant, the heroes return to the surface. But Jamie, having secretly followed the Toa down, discovers a large hive of cocoons hidden away from the battle site. He sees one burst open but quickly escapes back to the surface before he can learn more.




The development of Quest for the Masks and the Bionicle franchise dates back to the mid-1970s when El TV Kadsre Films released Robotman in 1976, in the attempt to make its own tokusatsu franchise that would later become Technic Heroes. Robotman was a moderate success and whould be followed by the sequel released a year after and two following franchises, Nova Orbis and Robo. Vlokozuian Media Union was impressed by Robotman and was given the opportunity to create its own franchise to compete with Robotman. At the time, Vlokozuian Media Union was working on Cybots since 1975 and it depicts the group of cyborg miners sent to caves offbounds to humans to mine energy crystals. The film was scrapped in less than a year into development.

In 1977, Vlokozuian Media Union and El TV Kadsre made a aggressive deal to develop the film titled Boneheads of Voodoo Island, which was later renamed to "Bionicle", which Nathaniel Haight came up while he was reading the article on The El Kadsreian Chronicle about the invention of the bionic ear in 1978

In 1979, El TV Kadsre declared bankrupcy and was eventully acquired by VMU shortly after. El TV Kadsre has just finished filming of Roborider and the third installment of the Robo franchise, Robo III was in development at the time. The then-CEO of El TV Kadsre, Megan Jones decided to scrap Robo III in favour of the first installment of the franchise El TV Kadsre was working on with the Vlokozuian Media Union known as Bionicle.


The movie was filmed from October 29, 1979, to January 10, 1980, and again from April 22 to August 20, 1980. The original budget for the film was $65 million and was intended to be released on Christmas Day of 1980. In January 12, 1980, Hayato Nakahara, the original actor of Jiro Fujioka aka. Tahu, was suddenly killed in the car crash along with his girlfriend. The film was 80% completed at the time of Hayato's death and Elkan thought about scrapping the film due to his death and in the last minute, he decided to push the film to May of 1981.

After El TV Kadsre's reaction to Hayato's death, El TV Kadsre set up the audition contest to take the role of Jiro Fujioka including Ryoichi Yamaguchi, Kuro Yukimura, Kouki Yamashita, Gerald Hayashi and Donald Hijoshi. The winner of the contest was Hideki Hamasaki, who was at the film class in North Cliffstown Secondary College at the time.

The shooting of the film was resumed on April of 1980, and the scenes with Hayato Nakahara was reshot with Hideki Hamasaki, adding $15 million to its film budget. The filming was wrapped on August of 1980 and the last piece of the film, which was a opening scene was made in October 1980, depicting Amaja Nui with Vakama telling the tale of Mata Nui, who was betrayed by his "brother", Makuta, and cast into a deep slumber, as well as of the foretold arrival of the Toa to defeat him. The segment was made with stop motion animation and took five days to animate.

When the film was released in the United States by R.A. Releasing, some of the actors were redubbed by American crew (Example: Geoffrey West is redubbed by Dwight Schultz)


Box office

The film was released on May 12, 1981 in the Vlokozu Union with a 10-minute short film produced by the Vlokozu Union Transport Accident Authority, which depicted the final moments of Hayato Nakahara's life. The film was originally going to be released on December 25, 1980 but it was pushed back after the death of Hayato Nakahara.

The film grossed $104 million on its opening weekend and grossed $1.005 billion that year, making it the first-ever highest-grossing film to reach the one billion dollar mark and it is El TV Kadsre's highest-grossing film to its day adjusted for inflation.

Home media

The film was first released on VHS, CED, Betamax and Laserdisc by El TV Kadsre Home Video on October 16, 1981 in the Vlokozu Union while it was released in the United States by MCA Videocassette Inc on December 3, 1981. It was first released on DVD on June 10, 1997.


Quest for the Masks was met with universal critical acclaim, and was highly regarded as one of the greatest films ever made. Quest for the Masks revolutionized the Vlokozuian film industry and saved El TV Kadsre from bankruptcy. The film holds 98% on Rotten Tomatoes, 99% on IMDB and 98% on Google. Additionally, the film got a perfect score of 100 on Metacritic, making this the first film on Metacritic to get a perfect score. The film was even nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture at the 54th Academy Awards, but lost to David Puttnam's Chariots of Fire.


Year Award Recipients Result
1981 VAC Award for Best Film Elkan Boukough Won
VAC Award for Best Actor Hideki Hamasaki Won
1982 Academy Award for Best Picture Elkan Boukough Nominated
Academy Award for Best Actor Hideki Hamasaki Nominated
Academy Award for Best Visual Effects Takeshi Lowey Won


The films uses the words from the Maori and Kapuran languages. This angered several Māori iwi (tribes) from New Zealand with lack of respect for some of their words which were used to name certain characters and objects in the Bionicle storyline. The mayor of Little Rotora also accused Vlokozuian Media Union of misuse of the Maori language.

The film was banned in Narthernee and Trayu due to the misuse of the Kapuran language and described Bionicle as "propaganda that tries to show the world how great the Vlokozu Union really is". The film was later lifted in Narthernee after the 1984 revolution and Trayu six years later.