Yesterday BBC News' 'Magazine' section posed an interesting question: has Lego's growing success stifled the toymaker's imagination-driven products?
It's an interesting debate, and you often hear the nostalgic ribbing of adults who tend to chime in 'back in my day, you had basic bricks and nothing else, you made whatever you want!' whenever Lego is in the news. It's an easy argument to see - Lego has steadily become more and more reliant on lines based around licensed products, with everything from Star Wars to the Hobbit and Marvel heroes each having their own ranges of sets today, and those are lines that are all about building specific recreations of locations, events and vehicles from those franchises, rather than promoting kids to build their own versions with the parts included.
There's always the comment that Lego parts are becoming more and more single use too - an easily debunked myth considering there's a wider variety of general pieces in Lego today than ever in the company's history - but a decade ago it would've been an accurate sentiment, considering Lego's almost-bankruptcy was trigged in the early 00's with disastrous lines like Galidor or Jack Stone trying to chase the action figure market, sets made of a mere handful of single-use pieces to give us abominations like this:
Whatever the hell that is meant to be. So it's easy to see where people are coming from when they say that Lego's not really about imagination any more.
But at the same time, as someone who likes Lego and is (ostensibly) a mature adult, I think the real situation is not that Lego are becoming less creative, but there's a growing market of older fans who see Lego less as bunch of bricks to create something of their own and more of an elaborate Model kit. These big sets aren't aimed at kids - who are still more than happy to either follow instructions or build things of their own volition - but the kids at heart who want something cool to display on a shelf. That's not to say there aren't creative adult Lego builders making their own creations, but there's a definite divide between 'adult' Lego builders and the more creative kids. I mean, look at the overarching theme of The Lego Movie and it's pretty much like that, sans krazy glue. The only problem there is that these adult-focused sets (usually with a lot of bricks and bigger scope) are becoming pricier and pricier, and sets more affordable for kids have less pieces and less options for them to make something of their own - but that's a whole different argument.
What do you guys think - do you have kids of your own who prefer building their own Lego creations instead of following a set's instructions? Are you an adult Lego fan making your own constructions instead of just buying the sets for display? Share your thoughts in the comments.
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