The LEGO Group says it will never use inclusivity or diversity as “symbolic,” saying that the LEGO Friends characters and their new features will “be combined into meaningful stories.”
Next year, the LEGO Friends set will introduce a whole new generation of characters, as well as an even more diverse mix of skin tones, physical and invisible disabilities, and neurological diversity. The goal is to make the topic more “representative of today’s society,” says Tracey Chiarella, LEGO Friends product manager, based on research including the LEGO Group’s Play Well Study 2022 — which found that three out of four children think there aren’t enough toys to represent them.
The visible and invisible personality traits and disabilities found in the new set of LEGO Friends sets include anxiety, vitiligo, Down syndrome, limb bands and more, all of which will be communicated through the broader world of friends more than physical products.
“We provide a stronger connection between the product experience and what we do with our content experience,” says LEGO Friends Costas Syrmos Marketing Director of LEGO Friends Costas Syrmos. “Not only for the TV show, but also for what we do with channels like [kids’ magazine] LEGO life, for example. So a lot of these kinds of scenarios will be like that [présents dans] A LEGO life, in a way that kids can relate to.
While these are potentially sensitive topics for discussion, it seems the LEGO set isn’t wading into these waters alone. Instead, he works with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in the Media, an American non-profit organization that advocates for equal representation of women in the media. This is just one way the LEGO Group says it is working to more meaningfully address the broader representation within the next generation of LEGO friends.
“We don’t want to use inclusivity or diversity as a symbol – we never will,” Cermus adds. “Everything we do will be embedded in meaningful stories that audiences can relate to. For all the stories we write and the characters too, we work closely with the Geena Davis Institute. These are experts and they review all stories to make sure we’re on the right track and we’re not committing any Mistakes in the way we represent the world.
The first wave of LEGO Friends reboot sets will hit shelves on January 1, 2023. Click here for a closer look at all five sets, or head here to learn more about the research behind this reboot.
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