With The Lego Movie about to be unleashed upon the world it got me to wondering about the world of Lego and how exactly these simple colored blocks morphed into actual television shows and movies.
And what started out as a simple little boring character that was part of a Lego playset has morphed into such a popular toy on its own – specifically these Lego minifigures. They’ve become so far-reaching and infiltrated so many popular properties they’ve become as big a star as those building blocks. I never saw that coming.
I guess it all began when Lego started to introduce those little simple yellow-faced figures along with their building sets. They were nothing really special when they started out with. They were usually just a little policeman, a fireman, a construction worker. You couldn’t do much with them. You’d just build your fire truck or whatever and stick the little guy on a some peg. He’d be like a little added detail to the real work.
Lego playsets morphed from generic little themes to licensed properties. Lego got the rights to make Lego playsets of Star Wars, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Indiana Jones, Batman, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Marvel Comics.
It was a brilliant move to keep Lego relevant. It gave that basic building-block experience a bit more allure. With so much around that kids have to occupy their time today I’m not sure simply building a square Lego house would hold their attention.
Plus, these Lego sets have become so elaborate! The prices for them are insane! (Crazy Eddie reference). They even come with detailed instructions of how to go about to build that complex Star Destroyer.
It’s not just little square and rectangular blocks anymore. There’s tons of elaborate, little detailed pieces that go into making these new Lego sets. There’s no way anyone would be able to figure out how all of them go into making this one specific thing on their own either, so you have to follow those instructions step-by-step. I think that might be taking away a bit of the creative edge away from the Lego experience, but the kids love building these things.
Once upon a time Lego video games consisted of Lego Chess, now the floodgates have opened to a wide-range of Lego adventures. Chima, Bionicle, Ninjago…I have no idea what they are or what’s the difference between them all, but they seem awfully popular.
And it wasn’t enough for them to be just video games, but suddenly my nephews were asking me to watch Ninjago with them. I quickly saw it was some kind of computerized Lego show. It appeared to me like some of Ninja Turtle kind of knock-off. I was left thinking where did this all come from???
I guess that’s where the popularity of those little Lego figures grew out of. It seems you can get almost any of your favorite character in Lego form now. Their faces have gotten more embellished for certain characters, but they still retain a variation of that uncomplicated smiley face these Lego guys started out with.
I knew these things were around, thought they looked neat, but never thought much of them. I suddenly realized how popular Lego minifigs were when I saw my nephews Christmas Lists and they didn’t list any Lego playsets, but only the figures. And man the prices for these little minifigures.
Again I find them way overpriced. Maybe I’m just extremely cheap or something. They’re cute and all, but they’re the kind of things I would think you could get out of a gumball machine for a quarter. Who cares if they’re licensed characters! For the same price of one of these minfigures you can buy an actual action figure!
I realize Lego is a huge brand that is being passed down from one generation to the next and it’s still one of the most popular and successful toys ever – but a lot of their stuff seems awfully expensive. Product loyalty nothing, I’d wait for a coupon or sale to buy this stuff.
Which brings us to The Lego Movie. Which is kind of funny since I thought fans were doing stop-motion Lego projects for years. And some I’ve seen are pretty decent. But now I guess this will be the first big-budget official Lego Movie thing.
Anyway, from what I’ve heard so far people are genuinely excited about it and the buzz is it’s actually pretty good. So it looks like this will be a big push for more Lego minfigs. I can’t imagine Lego not selling some kind of movie tie-in products. What a missed opportunity that would be and this company doesn’t seem like it would ever miss an opportunity.
Sadly I doubt even if the movie is a monster hit Lego won’t be passing the savings onto consumers and won’t bring the prices down for these little figures, but kids and collectors will still want them.
I love Lego, always have and my sons enjoy building all kinds of weirdigan things with it. But it's a hands-on creative toy, not a passive sit back and watch it on a screen thing which is why I don't get the idea of having professionally made, slick Lego movies and TV shows. Also, I live in the UK and Lego is a bit cheaper here than in the US and the classic city and countryside Lego stuff is still popular alongside Lego genre sets.
Legos, Lincoln Logs, Erector Sets, Tinker Toys, etc. were part of the same "build the brain early"-themed toy sets which dominated middle class households starting in the 1960s. They were actually all about training kids to want to be engineers so they would grow up wanting to build the technology that would defeat the evil Commies (just like chemistry sets- how many kids did they burn, blind, and poison?- were supposed to get kids to want to work in labs.)