The stats are in – kids want more toys that represent them. The LEGO Play Well Study 2022 found that 3 in 4 children felt that there weren’t enough toys with characters like them, and also that they care about a diverse world. Parents agree, with the study reporting that 97% of parents believe it’s important to discuss the unique differences between us all, whether cultural, physical, or psychological. So, cue – the new and re-imagined LEGO Friends. Listening to feedback from the kids, who they put at the forefront of their minds when designing any product, LEGO are introducing a heap of more diverse characters to their Friends range with a focus on representing that entirely of the world we live in.
Created in collaboration with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, these new characters are “relatable, inclusive, and reflective of the difficulties and experiences the children face today”, with the new universe adding multiple skin tones, cultures, physical and non-visible disabilities, and neurodiversity. The sets themselves are said to feature characters with limb difference, Down’s syndrome, anxiety, vitiligo, and even a dog with a wheelchair – and I for one am deeply excited by this turn of events.
Speaking about the new inclusions, LEGO Friends Head of Product Tracie Chiarella highlighted that the LEGO Group understands that “children want the characters they encounter to be more like the diverse personalities they meet in real-life”, and that the choice was made “to evolve the LEGO Friends Universe and TV show to be more inclusive in order to give parents and kids more tools to navigate friendship and their emotions as they grow and learn.”
The new LEGO sets will release in January 2023, with houses for several characters, a diner, a dog rescue centre and an international school already announced. This feels like an important step forward for the LEGO Group, and it’s always great when people are able to see more representation of themselves – particularly kids!