RoboRiders was a TECHNIC theme launched by LEGO in 2000. It succeeded Slizer as a series of affordably priced characters with the suggestion of a world and story behind them. It was short-lived, being replaced by BIONICLE in 2001. A total of eight retail and eight promotional sets was released.
The RoboRiders were designed as robotic, anthropomorphic bikes, complete with a faceplate and special gear to suggest adaption to a specific environment; for example, Swamp has two katana mounted near its front wheel to cut through undergrowth. These tools usually integrated a play function - pressing down on Swamp's head swings the katana forward.
The main selling point of the RoboRiders, however, was their Talisman Wheels. All of the RoboRiders' front wheels are set in a special launching tray which, when pulled out, can be bent upward and released to send the wheel flying forward as an attack. Like the discs from Slizer before them, the RoboRiders wheels are also collectible, with the ones included in each set random-packed, and more available from the supplementary 8515 RoboRider Wheels set. Continuing the concept of special packaging that began with the Slizer sets, the RoboRiders came in plastic cans which, when placed in a freezer, could reveal a code to unlock a game on the RoboRiders minisite.
The second release wave consisted solely of 8516 The Boss, a larger-scale model that could be built in two configurations, one of which allows the RoboRider to separate its upper chassis from its wheels for flight mode.
With the development of what would become BIONICLE taking more time than anticipated, a placeholder theme was needed to keep something new on the market in the interim between that line's launch and the end of Slizer. RoboRiders was this filler line, combining the character-based impulse-buy concept of Slizer with the Create N' Race styling of TECHNIC in the year 2000.
The RoboRiders website describes a story where the bikes battle against a virus on the web. It is unclear if this was intended to be reflective of the story concept for RoboRiders in its entirety, or merely a prompt that would tie in to the web-based games unlockable with the codes from the RoboRider cans. As of yet no print-based sources that describe the story have been made available.
World Club Magazine provided descriptions of the main six RoboRiders, some of which are legible in this video.
- Swamp - A lime RoboRider with teal wheels and katanas. An official description mentions Swamp as being an "acid-proof ROBORIDER withstands radiation, acid rain and toxic gases. Without SWAMP ROBORIDER you will die in no time at all in the poisonous vapours. So take good care!"
- Lava - A red RoboRider with orange wheels and halberds. According to the official description, Lava is "a fire fighter that guzzles the flames like a dragon - and spews chunks of rock from the corners of its mouth as if they were cherry stones! LAVA ROBORIDER loves doing battle with the fiery volcanoes, even when the lava is molten and the sky is black with ash!"
- Frost - A white RoboRider with trans-light blue wheels and ice spears. The official description reports: "Studded tyres carry this ROBORIDER at turbo speeds across frosty landscapes bristling with vicious prickles and thorns. Nobody else has a chance of going through this terrain without being skewered to death. Hold onto your hats - and hang on tight!"
- Onyx - A black RoboRider with glow-in-the-dark wheels and twin laser cannons. The official description says that Onyx is "a climber happy on rock faces way up in the air, way above the tree line, where there is nothing but rock, overhangs, stony surfaces as far as the eye can see, and where avalanches take place at the drop of a hair. Then we are glad we have got ONYX ROBORIDER!"
- Dust - A tan RoboRider with dark grey wheels and spring-loaded harpoons. According to the official description, Dust is "a desert devil that injects quicksand into his tracks and keeps out of the swamp. The swamp is alive with speedy monsters, and if you end up in it, you are done for! So DUST ROBORIDER is a lifesaver - if you are lucky!"
- Power - A yellow RoboRider with yellow wheels and arm-mounted adjustable brakes. The official description writes that "POWER ROBORIDER defies the law of physics and can reach any nook and cranny without toppling."
- The Boss received comparatively little marketing, but a Shop at Home catalog description described it as possessing "the brain of a human", although the LEGO MANIA magazine applied this trait to the main six RoboRiders as well, so this is hardly a distinguishing characteristic.
Each RoboRider came with either two or three Talisman Wheels, and more could be found random-packed in 8515 RoboRider Wheels. The wheels are randomly decorated with one of sixteen talismans:
Each talisman could be collected in nine colors:
- Bright Bluish Green (Swamp)
- Bright Orange (Lava)
- Transparent Light Blue (Frost)
- Phosphorescent White (Onyx)
- Dark Grey (Dust)
- Bright Yellow (Power)
- Black (The Boss)
- Transparent Fluorescent Reddish Orange (only in RoboRider Wheels packs)
- Gold (only in 880010-12 combo packs)
With sixteen talismans and nine colors, this meant that a total of one hundred and forty-four Talisman Wheels was available to collect.
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- Combination Packs
- Combination models
Each RoboRider had instructions for a combination model in the back of the instruction manual. The pairs were as follows:
Additionally, instructions for the following combinations were available on the RoboRiders website: