Man, I loved Lego as a kid. Those little toy plastic bricks from Denmark were the building blocks of my childhood. I had a huge wooden chest with an assortment of colors, shapes, and sizes that served as the raw materials for the construction of bridges, gas stations, and primary-colored skylines. Once grown I had handed down the entirety of my collection (likely a few thousand pieces) to my nephew (replete with bite marks from times when two bricks were stubbornly stuck together), who gave them a few more years of loving use. These simple, modular construction toys gave rise to all manner of creativity and innovation for generations. I am confident they provided some of the first hands-on architectural experiences for many, and inspired some truly expressive forms of art, as is evidenced by the Michel Gondry directed video above:
So as much as I love and revere these toys, I am sad to say the company has seemingly lost its way. About a dozen years ago the Lego Company fell to hard financial times, and has since reinvented itself and turned the profit margin in their favor, but to the detriment of the product. Now, instead of the open-ended kits of yesterday that only required a child’s imagination to achieve greatness, Lego has devoted itself to an assortment of franchise tie-ins like Ninjago, Star Wars, and Harry Potter, none of which requiring little to no inspiration from children, only consumer dedication. In an analysis in the pages of The New York Times, the recent success of the Lego Corporation over the last decade has moved the company to trade the possibility of imagination for cross-promotional tie-ins. The new products “invite users to follow detailed directions, not construct their own creations from whole brick. It’s less open-ended, some parents and researchers say, and more like paint-by-numbers.”
Have Lego’s fallen out of favor with your family? Do you feel they have lost some of their original appeal, or do you feel some of the new franchise tie-ins bring more to the Lego building experience?