ON June 1, at the start of Pride Month, the Lego Group will launch its first LGBTQ-themed set, Everyone is Awesome, which will include 11 monochrome figures, each with its own hairstyle and individual colour.
The set includes black and brown plus the rainbow flag colours, to represent all within the LGBTQIA+ community, as well as pale blue, white and pink for the transgender community. And there’s a purple drag queen.
Designer Matthew Ashton, who grew up LGBTQ+, initially created the set for his own desk, but the company claims it attracted a good deal of attention and was soon in demand.
They see it as a tentative move beyond the minimal LGBT representation already there in Lego sets – a tiny rainbow flag in a build of Trafalgar Square, and a bride and groom BrickHeadz, sold separately so that fans could put two women or two men together.
But where will this fit into the familiar and popular Lego ranges ? It’ll be priced as a pocket money toy, not a mega-box construction, but will it actually appeal to children spending their own money? Will it fit the City sets, or be more of a fantasy range? Are LGBT adults going to want them, or is it yet another effort to bend children’s minds?
Lego’s annual product review of 2020/21 announced it intends to try to build a better world for future generations.
It has sustainability initiatives, learning through play drives, and workplace inclusivity measures, all part of reaching into the kind of new progressive image the big corporations are trying to project. But while Lego is by far the most popular toy brand in the world, and as such can exert massive influence,.it only takes a quick look at its product ratings to see that wokeness plays no part.
Amazon’s top-selling Lego ranges for 2020 confirm its child-appropriate appeal, including Mighty Dinosaurs, City Police Mobile Command, the Zombie Cave, and the Duplo Steam Train. The mega-box constructions aimed at older kids are all James Bond, the Batmobile, and Star Wars.
To date, any specific figures included in the sets are gender and ethnically specific, traditionally heteronormative, while still allowing for non-stereotypical social roles such as female police officers. Domestic scenes include mothers with babies and feeding bottles, while beach scenes feature strapping lifeguards and bikini-clad lovelies. How many established LUGs (Lego User Groups) will be fired up by this new inclusive set?
If adult Lego fans (Afols) are keen on gay-themed constructions, they are perfectly at liberty to create their own, and do so. Among its many active Afols, Facebook now lists ‘Gayfols’ to connect with the LGBT community.
At one of the many hundreds of Brickfairs which take place every year, the first Gayfols gathering took place in Chicago in 2019, and was afforded dedicated display space for its wide range of MOCs (‘My Own Creation’ builds designed by individual Lego fans, as distinguished from official Lego sets).
These included winning submissions such as Divine, a gun-toting drag queen, a Lunar Pride Parade, a rainbow White House, and a series entitled ‘Out of My Head’, dealing with mental health issues, and featuring the notable ‘U R Perf*ct’ creation. So no special need for woke bricks there.
In any case, the percentage of Lego sold to adult users for their own constructions is a little under five per cent of total sales. The adults buying Lego for their children and grandchildren know all too well that children hanker after the Lego Movie type of awesome, rather than a purple-wigged drag queen.
Maybe just for once, Lego has lost sight of its core target market and is in danger of damaging the brand. Could it be a case of Lego going woke, and, with this range, going broke?