LEGO – where did it all go wrong?
There has been much talk on many blogs over recent weeks over the new LEGO Friends. I’m not going to start yet another blithering on the ghastly hideousness of the stereotyping subject matter of these sets – suffice to say that it’s just… bad.
But I do want to say something quite important. This…
… is not a LEGO set.
Sorry, but it’s not. It’s a small figure playset, for sure, but what part of that is any part the LEGO that we all grew up with and justifiably venerate? Let me show you… This is how the LEGO catalogue looked the year I was born:
THAT is what Maria, aged 5, built with her Lego set. And THAT is exactly what Lego celebrated in their own catalogue – just look at the sense of humour they have in those labels. In their very own words, the next page reads:
…You probably say “now, Common sense tells you that doesn’t look like a real one”
But common sense is something invented by us grown ups. Maria built it exactly as she wanted it.
For her it’s an ambulance.
She built her ambulance with LEGO. Because LEGO has no limits.
That’s the whole idea behind LEGO.”
So where did it all go wrong? Exactly when did they start to limit the play, the imagination? To tell our children what those bricks should be made into?
I’m not so concerned about the sexism thing; they’ve ALWAYS done ‘girls’ stuff and ‘boys’ stuff. They’ve always made Kitchens and Police Cars.
But look what the girls had to play with back then in their ‘girls’ sets (do note the lack of PINK, despite it blatantly being a ‘girls’ set):
Can you see what it says there?
“You can build the dolls house itself from a Basic Set. Just the way you want it.”
MY very own 5yr old girl saw that picture, and yelped with longing. Because she saw the POTENTIAL – and wasn’t presented with the finished product that she would definitely end up with.
And don’t tell me that ‘children have changed’ – if I sit my girl down in front of a box of bricks, she would end up with something remarkably similar and equally-well-thought-out as Maria’s ambulance.
No – LEGO has changed. And that makes me sad because I LOVE LEGO. For so very many reasons.
My eldest son is the biggest LEGO freak in the house, and through his long two years of housebound-illness it was about the only activity that kept his busy 11yr old head sane. He has more sets than I can tell you (or care to think about the cost of), and what does he do with them? Leaves them all in huge boxes so that he can pick and mix the bricks to create whatever he has in his brain that day.
THAT is the genius of LEGO.
And the lack of any kind of imagination is exactly what makes the new ‘Lego Friends’ range set our teeth on edge.
** LEGO catalogue courtesy of the awesomeness that is Retronaut – do go and see the whole 1973 Lego catalogue for yourself **