In conclusion, LEGO is a land of contrasts.
August 12, 2014 12:23 PM   Subscribe

LEGO does something good! (Sets revolving around female scientists sold out in one day; previously.) LEGO does something bad! (Sets with major petro-company branding.)

LEGO previously on MeFi (too many results to link to individually; it's a popular topic around here)
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering (85 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
oh for pete's sake…its not like they are building Exxon Tankers the seal clubbing edition…
this is what they are building…and my son would be very upset if he can't get his Ferrari lego sets.
posted by ShawnString at 12:28 PM on August 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


Given that Lego are made from precisely the raw materials (natural gas and petroleum) that Shell drills for it seems a fairly natural relationship.
posted by yoink at 12:30 PM on August 12, 2014 [13 favorites]


In short, a Legoland of contrasts.
posted by davros42 at 12:31 PM on August 12, 2014 [11 favorites]


oh for pete's sake…its not like they are building Exxon Tankers the seal clubbing edition

Well, no, but there's a valid concern in marketing towards children by implanting good associations with a brand in their head via an unrelated (except as in how the pieces are actually made) toy, I think, which is what grabbed my attention.

davros42 I was going to do that but it read awkwardly
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:33 PM on August 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


Oh! I remember having one of the Exxon sets when I was a little kid! Within the huge sprawling storyline my Lego people inhabited, the twin brother and sister worked at the Exxon with their cruel uncle as their boss. Their only release came when the earth was destroyed by aliens and their uncle was killed, which precipitated the beginning of their adventures through space and time and the quest to avenge the genocide of the once-peaceful Blacktron minifigs.
posted by Greg Nog at 12:33 PM on August 12, 2014 [14 favorites]


1310 Esso Filling Station (1956) - it's all special pieces and you can only build one thing, of course.
posted by Artw at 12:33 PM on August 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


As far as I can tell, Lego has been making Shell branded sets since at least 1970. They even had an offshore rig! Not going to lie, I would have enjoyed that set as a kid.
posted by 2bucksplus at 12:34 PM on August 12, 2014 [8 favorites]


Yeah, as much as I'd rather Lego didn't brand Shell, Greenpeace's campaign against them seems like the most cynical attempt to springboard off of Lego's own massive popularity rather than to effect any kind of meaningful change. Suppose Lego were to drop the Shell branding tomorrow: would that make even the slightest difference in achieving a single environmental goal? I don't think it would. Not in the short term, and not in the long term, either.

People don't buy gas because of positive childhood associations with a particular brand: they buy gas for a ton of structural reasons that mostly revolve around having a car. If they didn't give a shit about Shell they'd still buy gas in precisely the same quantities.
posted by gauche at 12:35 PM on August 12, 2014 [16 favorites]


Needs more Lego Academics! (I desperately need a movie about the Lego Academics)
posted by Erasmouse at 12:35 PM on August 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


Lego should make a set for the Tokio Express incident.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 12:36 PM on August 12, 2014


It's is comment is free - the only place on the internet more portlandia than the mefi comments section what kind of article do you expect them to write?
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 12:36 PM on August 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's a little known fact that the primary mission of the Galaxy Explorer was to detect intelligent life and sell them Monsanto seeds.
posted by bondcliff at 12:37 PM on August 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


I pretty desperately need those Lego scientists for the tchotchke shelf in my office. I hope they'll be back in stock soon!
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 12:38 PM on August 12, 2014


I had a more recent Esso station kit... Although maybe it was Playmobil. Anyway, I thought it was cool because my dad worked there and that seemed cool to me as a kid.

(Upon googling, it was Playmobil)
posted by GuyZero at 12:38 PM on August 12, 2014


What 2bucksplus said, pretty much. I may be too close to LEGO mania to be able to judge correctly, but this is ringing up a big, fat "Meh" for me.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 12:38 PM on August 12, 2014


As far as I can tell, Lego has been making Shell branded sets since at least 1970. They even had an offshore rig! Not going to lie, I would have enjoyed that set as a kid.

From the '60s through the '90s. They only recently started again, according to the internet --
The first Shell sets were released in 1966. These were only available in Europe though. In the US, only sets with Exxon livery were released. Beginning in 1986, Shell sets were also released in the US. With the introduction of Octan in 1992, no regular Shell sets were released anymore, except the occasional promo sets [until 2012].
posted by cjelli at 12:39 PM on August 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


re:The Shell branding, Greenpeace has a poignant ad (with a sad version of "Everything is Awesome") calling out the partnership. Shades of the Halo 3 "Believe" diorama, too -- you can even see a Master Chief minifig.
posted by Rhaomi at 12:40 PM on August 12, 2014


I can't help but wonder whether their other scientisty sets have "male scientists" or just "scientists".
posted by Slothrup at 12:40 PM on August 12, 2014


Well that's kind of the problem I guess, Slothrup. But I would think that 'female scientists' is the last step on the road to just 'scientists' everywhere; we don't hear 'female doctor' anymore, I think?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:42 PM on August 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


The Research Institute set is great, BTW. What, you didn't order it the second it was out?
posted by Artw at 12:42 PM on August 12, 2014


yoink: "... it seems a fairly natural relationship."

I see what you did there.
posted by symbioid at 12:43 PM on August 12, 2014


making Shell branded sets since at least 1970.

Here's one from 1966. I have that kit somewhere...

But I would think that 'female scientists' is the last step on the road to just 'scientists' everywhere

Not Lego, but since we're on that topic: Stanford's Maryam Mirzakhani just became the first woman to win a Fields Medal.
posted by effbot at 12:43 PM on August 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Everyone is talking about the research institute set as the "female scientist set," but I don't think that the actual description has any reference to the scientists' gender. They're all women, but it's not remarked upon.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 12:44 PM on August 12, 2014 [11 favorites]


My plastic building blocks are only made from organic vegan bioplastics - pinky swear!
posted by symbioid at 12:44 PM on August 12, 2014


Before my kids were old enough for LEGOs, I was one of those lamenting the loss of free play allowed by a collection of bricks that didn't come as a movie or TV tie-in.

But here's the thing: My 7-year-old works hard to follow the directions and build whatever Ninjago or Star Wars or Chima set he's gotten for a birthday or Christmas. The resulting creations are played with as they were built for a few weeks, then they get dropped, or fall off a table, or come apart in an epic "battle", and all the random parts go into a giant bin that he and I then happily scavenge to build all sorts of cool stuff -

I think the death of imaginative play via LEGO has been exaggerated.
posted by jalexei at 12:44 PM on August 12, 2014 [13 favorites]


I am a little interested, I must admit, to see how, or if at all, Lego handles the evolution to electric cars and away from the internal combustion engine. I have a few Technic sets which have cylinders and pistons and, in one case, a transmission -- none of which are required in electric cars. The mechanics of these things are really cool and fun to put together in a way I imagine putting together a "battery bank" and a few "electric motors" as on a Tesla or whatever may not be.
posted by gauche at 12:44 PM on August 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


Everyone is talking about the research institute set as the "female scientist set," but I don't think that the actual description has any reference to the scientists' gender. They're all women, but it's not remarked upon.

There's a nice booklet that comes with the set which I believe explains it's genesis as Female Minifigure set and Ellen Kooijman’s reason for doing such a thing, along with explanations of the various professions depicted in the set. It's pretty neat.

In 2012, Shell will release new LEGO promotional sets featuring Ferrari vehicles, currently exclusive in Hong Kong and Macau.

Extremely topical, Greenpeace.
posted by Artw at 12:49 PM on August 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


I would like to see the male and female scientists sold together in one set instead of a set of just female scientists or (if it exists) a set of just male scientists. The female scientists set seems to be set up to become a toy for girls, and one thing lego was really good at, once upon a time, was making toys for kids, instead of toys for girls and toys for boys. I wish they remembered that.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 1:00 PM on August 12, 2014


one thing lego was really good at, once upon a time, was making toys for kids, instead of toys for girls and toys for boys

How so? It's always seemed like buildable versions of traditional boys toys to me.
posted by smackfu at 1:05 PM on August 12, 2014


Shell? Never heard of them! All my minifigs fill their gas tanks with Octan!

To fill in -- The Legoverse has a number of awesome little in-jokes and continuity nods. Like the logo on the chest of the astronauts in the classic Space sets is now kind of the logo of the Lego space program, and sometimes turns up on more modern figures, like the modern Intergalactic Girl found in some minifig blindbags.

(Most links -- except that last one -- lead to the wonderful Brickipedia.)

Octan has long been the "official" service station dating back to Lego Town sets. In games based off of The Lego Movie, it was made the corporation that President/Lord Business heads. I don't think Octan was mentioned by name in the movie, but there were plenty of other Lego continuity nods there. The image on the chest of Benny, aka 80s Spaceman, was the Classic Space logo, and Emmet, while ultimately not "Special" in the story, has an old Lego minifig head, without eye highlights. Both Octan and the Classic Space logo can be spotted in the game Lego City Undercover too.

(This comment presented in memory of my own 80s Lego space guy, who, once his helmet got firmly seated on his head, became impossible to extract from it, even with needlenose pliers.)
posted by JHarris at 1:06 PM on August 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


Obligatory Bingo Card.
posted by JoeZydeco at 1:07 PM on August 12, 2014 [7 favorites]


I've been feeling conflicted about Lego since I read the story about the enormous lost cargo of Lego pieces that continue to wash up on the beach. Stupid as it seems, I had never given any though to the long-term disposal issues with Lego, though I had begged relatives to stop giving my kid plastic toys that he doesn't want or need. Lego was exempted. Even though, you know, it's plastic too.

Every new Lego set is another collection of nonbiodegradable plastic that will, one day, end up in a landfill or ocean. Tiny pieces that will get eaten by seabirds and fish who get sick from them.

In that context, corporate branding is kind of the least of their impact.
posted by emjaybee at 1:09 PM on August 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Well I don't think I'd ever throw away any Lego pieces. I'd give them to some kid. In fact, I'm kind of amazed that Lego can stay in business, because I can't imagine anyone throwing Lego bits away, and the pieces are nearly indestructable in ordinary play.
posted by JHarris at 1:14 PM on August 12, 2014 [7 favorites]


Man, that Guardian article is the laziest hand-wavey critique of LEGO I've seen in a while.

She claims that the sets stifle play and creativity while giving precisely zero examples. I'm not sure if she hates all themed sets, or just the ones that are tied to popular themes like Star Wars and Marvel.

She also lazily links to a couple of the stereotypically girly Friends sets while ignoring other examples like the new Jungle Rescue sets.

Obligatory "special parts" reference.

Every new Lego set is another collection of nonbiodegradable plastic that will, one day, end up in a landfill or ocean. Tiny pieces that will get eaten by seabirds and fish who get sick from them.

This assumes the user will throw them out like yesterday's plastic milk jug. I'm not sure I've ever heard of anyone actually throwing Lego in the garbage. Most collections get sold at garage sales, or eBay, or donated.

Fun fact: The LEGO factory in Billund has a very high recycle rate. Any mis-formed parts are ground up and recycled back into the plastic used to make new bricks.
posted by Fleebnork at 1:15 PM on August 12, 2014 [9 favorites]


I have a few Technic sets which have cylinders and pistons and, in one case, a transmission -- none of which are required in electric cars.

There's a Technic set with a transmission? That was the holy grail for me; I built various iterations of working transmissions, but never something that worked particularly well. My Technic's collection was unfortunately rather small though.

Every new Lego set is another collection of nonbiodegradable plastic that will, one day, end up in a landfill or ocean. Tiny pieces that will get eaten by seabirds and fish who get sick from them.

I think it would be interesting to study how much lego has actually been thrown away over time. Except for the pieces that have ended up in the vacuum cleaner, all the lego I used to play with is still played with by my nephew (and me of course), when he visits my parents.
posted by jamincan at 1:17 PM on August 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


Except for the pieces that have ended up in the vacuum cleaner

This is the real reason they invented bagless vacuum cleaners.
posted by effbot at 1:21 PM on August 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


This is the real reason they invented bagless vacuum cleaners.

My mom was careful enough not to vacuum up my Lego bricks, but then she would find any random bit of plastic and throw it in my Lego bin.

What the... THIS IS DESTRO'S GUN! I'VE BEEN LOOKING FOR THIS! MOOOOOOOOOM
posted by Fleebnork at 1:22 PM on August 12, 2014 [8 favorites]


Yeah, why can't Lego make toys of wind turbines?
posted by ckape at 1:23 PM on August 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


And furthermore, I can't find any currently produced Lego sets that have Shell branding. There is an Octan racing team truck.

As far as I can tell the only things that had Shell branding were the Ferrari racing sets from a few years back. And that's only because the Ferrari F1 cars had shell graphics on them. The non-racing Ferrari sets had no Shell branding.

Lazy journalism, hooray!
posted by Fleebnork at 1:28 PM on August 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


And my final rant: The most recent non-Ferrari Shell themed set I can find is from 1999.

So Greenpeace's whole campaign is based on outdated Lego sets. I mean, I guess they could crusade against Octan.
posted by Fleebnork at 1:31 PM on August 12, 2014


There's a Technic set with a transmission?

Lego Technic 8448, which I bought second-hand through Craigslist last winter.

It basically hooked my wife on Lego after I showed her a youtube video of how a differential worked and had her build the rear wheel/differential/axle/suspension assembly.
posted by gauche at 1:31 PM on August 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


Greenpeace's whole campaign is based on outdated Lego sets

Looks like it's time for Greenpeace to issue a press release declaring victory!
posted by yoink at 1:33 PM on August 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


I work for petroleum companies, including Shell, and I usually applaud protesters and campaigns and the like, except in 2 cases: when you throw oil on me (yuck) and you're acting with complete hypocrisy, denial, and lack of foresight. A little is okay, we've all got faults, but a lot is not. Like farmers who protest natural gas development because they're worried about chemicals in the water and the water table - cool - but then go spray thousands of gallons of 100% natural gas derived ammonia fertilizers on their crops. *grumble mumble* On their aquifer sourced pivot sprinkler-ed crops.

This is one of those times. To solve all of these problems, goddammit, we need engineers and scientists. How do you get engineers and scientists? By giving them toys like Legos when they're little kids. What are Legos made of? Fossil fuels. Okay...so how do you get fossil fuel companies, which are a necessary fact of life, to change their ways? By growing progressive engineers and scientists. Why are they protesting this?

So maybe this is a case where Greenpeace should move their energy elsewhere. Like bringing attention to what emjaybee said...and offering/driving a search for viable solutions. Not protesting the natural partnership of one large Danish company with a large Dutch company which isn't going to solve anything and leads to extremely lazy journalism like this.

How so? It's always seemed like buildable versions of traditional boys toys to me. I'm a woman, and I still play with love Legos.

(Also I'm really interested in what's going to happen to the future of Lego as 3D printing gets more commonplace and cheaper. Are they going to have LEGO printing sets you have to download to build the Death Star, etc.? Oh I HOPE SO.)
posted by barchan at 1:39 PM on August 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


This is the real reason they invented bagless vacuum cleaners.

I think you're thinking of LiteBrite.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 1:42 PM on August 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


I didn't play with Legos as a kid, but it turns out I really like the big, complicated building kits. For a while, I tried to convince myself/my kids that we were buying the winter scene lego kits for the kids. Hah. But I think I'm going to buy the Parisian Cafe for myself as a treat later this fall.

I'd totally buy my daughter the scientist kit, if only it weren't sold out. Maybe they'll get it back in stock.
posted by leahwrenn at 1:46 PM on August 12, 2014


(Also I'm really interested in what's going to happen to the future of Lego as 3D printing gets more commonplace and cheaper. Are they going to have LEGO printing sets you have to download to build the Death Star, etc.? Oh I HOPE SO.)

In an earlier thread, loquacious talked about this a bit. Basically it comes down to ridiculous quality control at Lego itself, which would be very expensive to replicate elsewhere; the idea being that for the money you'd pay to replicate Lego in 3d printing (if that even proves possible) you might as well just buy from Lego.

tl;dr: if you set out to 3d print Lego you could probably produce MegaBlox, with everything that the distinction implies.
posted by gauche at 1:48 PM on August 12, 2014 [9 favorites]


Oh, thanks, gauche, for the loquacious comment- that's super interesting.
posted by barchan at 1:51 PM on August 12, 2014


The linked article in that thread is really fascinating too, actually. I meant to mention that.
posted by gauche at 1:54 PM on August 12, 2014


Greenpeace's whole campaign is based on outdated Lego sets
...
Looks like it's time for Greenpeace to issue a press release declaring victory!


This whole thing is just starting to reek of a cheap publicity stunt knowing how quickly the internet will latch onto anything LEGO-related these days...
posted by JoeZydeco at 1:55 PM on August 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


I thought being able to build something following exact directions was a skill, like the people who can put together car parts, or a ship in a jar. But when a kid does that with Lego, that's apparently stifling creativity.
posted by girlmightlive at 2:00 PM on August 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


They're all women, but it's not remarked upon

How do we know they're women?
posted by ShutterBun at 2:13 PM on August 12, 2014


Man, that Guardian article is the laziest hand-wavey critique of LEGO I've seen in a while.

She claims that the sets stifle play and creativity while giving precisely zero examples. I'm not sure if she hates all themed sets, or just the ones that are tied to popular themes like Star Wars and Marvel.


Wow, she really does make leaps of judgement.
These little boxes, which come with instructive pictures on the front, unlike the traditional Lego bricks, do not result in child-directed, open-ended “real play”. They do not promote imagination; they stifle it. They do not allow children to be creative and learn to think for themselves; they tell children what to think, instilling consumerist values that risk increasing rates of stress for parents and children alike.
Have you seen kids play with LEGOs recently? Strike that, have you seen kids play with any toys in a while? Maybe I'm lucky because my son is still young enough that his imagination hasn't been penned in by the strict confines of what is shown on a box, or stories already told in movies and TV, but I'm pretty sure kids go crazy non-canonical, breaking the boundaries set by Disney, LucasArts, Marvel and the DC Universes. Iron Man and Batman fighting against Voldemort! Lightning McQueen from Cars flies off to help an elephant that got stuck in the mud! A LEGO City set gets taken apart and gets mixed in with some Castle sets, and suddenly a dungeon has a glass window! Insanity!
posted by filthy light thief at 2:22 PM on August 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


> Basically it comes down to ridiculous quality control at Lego itself

If you have Netflix they have a relatively new installment of their "Inside" documentary series on Lego available. It's a pretty interesting, if breezy, look at their corporate strategy and process.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 2:23 PM on August 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


There's also a Megafactories episode on Lego from a few years ago. On Youtube.
posted by smackfu at 2:36 PM on August 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


I think the death of imaginative play via LEGO has been exaggerated.

The Lego Movie was a surprisingly clever interrogation of this idea, in case you haven't seen it.
posted by Sebmojo at 2:36 PM on August 12, 2014 [12 favorites]


And surprisingly touching at the end. My wife, who still requests (and gets) LEGO sets for her birthdays and Christmas but keeps all the pieces in their original sets (while my sets, kept from my child-to-teen-hood, are mixed up in great noisy bins), said "I'm Lord Business, aren't I?"
posted by filthy light thief at 2:42 PM on August 12, 2014 [9 favorites]


Prior to this scientist kit coming out, a friend of mine got this scientist mini-fig from one of their blind-bag series. She'll go to stores where you get to feel the blind bags and try to guess from the shapes what's inside, and I think the scientist was one she had deliberately seeked out.

I wonder if that mini-fig was popular and that's what convinced them to make this kit?
posted by RobotHero at 3:49 PM on August 12, 2014


So, seriously, is LEGO reporting the laziest and most inaccurate reporting, or is there something that gets even less care?
posted by Bugbread at 4:03 PM on August 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


If you don't think people throw Legos away, you've never lived in a large-ish apartment complex in the U.S. PEOPLE THROW EVERY-DAMN-THING AWAY. Especially when they are moving. TV? Vacuum cleaner? Coffee table? Computer? Every. Damn. Thing.

Having said that, Legos are not high on my ecological worry-scale.
posted by allthinky at 4:04 PM on August 12, 2014


Lego does get brittle over time, though. When playing with my son with my Legos from when I was a kid (late 70s, early 80s), we both accidentally snapped a few pieces with almost zero force (big, flat panel pieces).
posted by Bugbread at 4:16 PM on August 12, 2014


PEOPLE THROW EVERY-DAMN-THING AWAY.

Sing it. There's been a lot of move in/outs at the complex we live in lately, which means huge piles of junk at the de-facto "free to a good home" spot by the dumpsters pretty much weekly.

Never seen Lego, though. Crapped-out kitchenware, old furniture, tube TVs, and yes SO MANY VACUUM CLEANERS.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 5:09 PM on August 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'd totally buy my daughter the scientist kit, if only it weren't sold out. Maybe they'll get it back in stock.

1) Go to Lego Store.
2) Buy ECTO-1 Ghostbusters Kit.
3) Say to clerk, "Hey, do you mind if I grab four hair sets from the Build a Minifig station? This is for my daughter."
4) Lego Clerk will say "Yes," possibly supply you with a free high five.
5) Assemble Egette, Wray, Pietra, and Winnie as well as their awesome Science Car.
5a) You might need an alternate head for Winnie, as Winston has a 'stache. YMMV.
6) SCIENCE!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:13 PM on August 12, 2014 [9 favorites]


Email I got from LEGO yesterday about this:

Dear [z11s],

The LEGO® IDEAS RESEARCH INSTITUTE 21110 was a very popular set and we’ve had a lot more orders than we expected. This set was a limited edition and we only produced 10,000 of them. At the moment we are totally out and are not anticipating to receive anymore in stock. I know how disappointing this can be, we are very sorry. I, myself was looking forward to building one of these as it seems to be super cool. In the event that more do come in, keep an eye on the website for the most up to date availability.

To check the availability or see other LEGO toys that have available now, visit LEGO.com/shop.

We want to make sure we're doing a good job for you, so you’ll always find the link to a four-question survey in our emails. Please tell us how we did today.


Please let us know if you need anything else.



Your LEGO Friend,

Mariovy
LEGO® Service
posted by z11s at 5:14 PM on August 12, 2014


So, seriously, is LEGO reporting the laziest and most inaccurate reporting, or is there something that gets even less care?

Yeah, I don't know why these stupid half-assed articles about Lego always claim the sets no longer encourage creativity. Lego clearly inspires lazy self-righteous busybodies to make up just the most absurd nonsense about something they've done no actual research on at all. That's very creative, if nothing else.
posted by branduno at 5:20 PM on August 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


I am super happy, and not a little smug, that I got one of these, thanks to the NASA scientist that Tweeted it.

So my daughter will get this set in addition to the Lego Friends sets, DC Heroes sets, etc, she already has. The scientists will sit down with Olivia at the Friends bakery, and maybe later Olivia and Stephanie and their tiny dog will stop off at the lab and get some pointers on molecular biology. Of course, it's only a matter of time til the Lexbot fucks everything up.
posted by Kafkaesque at 5:24 PM on August 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


I suspect they will get the hint and more sets likes these will be out in the near future - the demographics have to show a market for them. Case in point: One of the hardest parts of my job this summer has been overseeing the weekly Brick Party, where we dump out three giant tubs of lego on tarps for kids (and the one librarian who has to watch them) to play with for an hour and a half. Last Thursday, not counting the librarian, the folks playing with the bricks were 70% female.

I wonder if I should write a letter to Lego and/or the local store and/or the new Legoland Discovery Center and say, "Hey, so we do this thing at our library with lego, but all the lego we have are used bricks and sets donated by library employees. There are not a lot of female minifigs for the majority of builders to populate their bases and cities with. Could you please hook us up? Seriously, a bag of long hair pieces would be enough."
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:31 PM on August 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


/smug.
posted by Artw at 5:32 PM on August 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


I wonder if I should write a letter to Lego and/or the local store and/or the new Legoland Discovery Center

You absolutely should. It's well within corporate culture to be down with that.
posted by librarylis at 6:11 PM on August 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


1) Go to Lego Store.

Pretty sure my nearest Lego store is about 2000 miles away. Looks like Vancouver BC is the closest. Bummer.
posted by leahwrenn at 6:28 PM on August 12, 2014


I think it's weird that they produce so many sucky SF and combat related sets that end up being sold at a discount; their idea of sets for girls is pinky-flowery crap; and they are astonished - astonished! that a set featuring female scientists could be even a tiny little bit popular.

Seriously, they need to fire whoever's doing their market research.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:48 PM on August 12, 2014


Joe in Australia: "I think it's weird that they produce so many sucky SF and combat related sets that end up being sold at a discount; their idea of sets for girls is pinky-flowery crap; and they are astonished - astonished! that a set featuring female scientists could be even a tiny little bit popular.

Seriously, they need to fire whoever's doing their market research.
"

It's not like it's their first set with a female scientist. Perhaps it's not so much "The people at Lego are a bunch of big idiots, hyuck hyuck" as much as "Olivia's Invention Workshop (2012) didn't sell all that well".
posted by Bugbread at 11:52 PM on August 12, 2014


It seems that there is promotion with Shell that will become global at some point - latest country to get the sets is Germany.

Not that I think there's anything wrong with this promo even as I'm pro renewables, etc. What we really need is Tesla Technic set.
posted by zeikka at 3:40 AM on August 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


"Yeah, as much as I'd rather Lego didn't brand Shell, Greenpeace's campaign against them seems like the most cynical attempt to springboard off of Lego's own massive popularity rather than to effect any kind of meaningful change. Suppose Lego were to drop the Shell branding tomorrow: would that make even the slightest difference in achieving a single environmental goal? I don't think it would. Not in the short term, and not in the long term, either.

People don't buy gas because of positive childhood associations with a particular brand: they buy gas for a ton of structural reasons that mostly revolve around having a car. If they didn't give a shit about Shell they'd still buy gas in precisely the same quantities.
"
This

If LEGO dissolves their relationship with Shell then Greenpeace get to cow on about how effective they are at making change happen, providing fuel for more mass mailing asking for money, and if LEGO doesn't then Greenpeace gets to cow on about how needed they are for this seemingly accomplish-able goal, providing fuel for more mass mailing asking for money. Whether or not the goal is utterly irrelevant to the environment doesn't matter, whether or not good work gets caught up in the bullshit doesn't matter, and whether or not the problem is invented out of whole cloth doesn't matter. Clearly all that matters to Greenpeace in constructing their campaigns is that the 'problem' is simple and easy to communicate and that there is something to do regardless of how meaningless or irrelevant that might be - with bonus point for being able to do that thing smugly and publicly so that one can communicate just how much one cares.

This campaign, like pretty much all Greenpeace campaigns, has nothing to do with anything LEGO is doing and everything to do with Greenpeace's business model. The goal is to induce a kind of narcissistic anxiety in people with money, a very specific and disordered kind of sense that the world is going to shit that is so destructive to activist communities and murderously lethal to especially susceptible people within them. Actually accomplishing meaningful and beneficial change is complicated and difficult to communicate, while Greenpeace offers its alternative: fuck better regulation of nuclear power when getting rid of this source of renewable energy is so much easier to agitate over, fuck letting molecular genetics work instead for humanity when vandalizing non-profit research is so much simpler, and fuck promoting meaningful alternatives to oil when there is LEGO to harass.
Greenpeace Just Kidding About Armageddon, WashPo
The environmental activist group Greenpeace wanted to be prepared to counter President Bush's visit last week to Pennsylvania to promote his nuclear energy policy. "This volatile and dangerous source of energy" is no answer to the country's energy needs, shouted a Greenpeace fact sheet, decrying the "threat" posed by the reactors Bush visited in Limerick. But after that assertion, the Greenpeace authors were apparently stumped while searching for the ideal menacing metaphor.

"In the twenty years since the Chernobyl tragedy, the world's worst nuclear accident, there have been nearly [FILL IN ALARMIST AND ARMAGEDDONIST FACTOID HERE]," the sheet said.

The Greenpeace spokesman who issued the memo, Steve Smith, told the Web site that a colleague was making a joke in a draft that was then mistakenly released. The final version did not mention Armageddon; instead it warned of plane crashes and reactor meltdowns.
posted by Blasdelb at 3:45 AM on August 13, 2014 [6 favorites]


Seriously, they need to fire whoever's doing their market research.

Why? The Friends "pinky-flowery crap" has been extremely successful. The Star Wars line is like printing money, and is one of the reasons why the company didn't go out of business in the early 2000s. The company isn't struggling with market research the way you think it is.

The female scientist set is a product of Lego Ideas, which is their version of Kickstarter. These sets are intended to be limited runs from the beginning. If they're very successful, Lego can always decide to make more.

It seems that there is promotion with Shell that will become global at some point - latest country to get the sets is Germany.

Thanks for the link. That looks like a Ferrari set that will be sold at Shell stations. Shell is a sponsor of Ferrari, and Kjeld Kristiansen owns and drives Ferraris and is a big Ferrari fan.

Greenpeace wants to make it sound like Lego is YAY BUY GAS, but it's really just a mundane partnership.
posted by Fleebnork at 6:05 AM on August 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


Personally, I'd like to think that one of them is trans.
posted by yeolcoatl at 6:15 AM on August 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


God, this just strikes me as the most tiresome cynical clickbait garbage. It's also one of the biggest problems with this generation, and this era of the buzzfeed internet.

Mainly, that a company that's long been actually not evil, and sort of the everypersons toy that doesn't have figures with tiny waists and generally ridiculous bodies or a million other things that are wrong with most toys(especially in the US) just has to get shit on because it's a brave position to take, and it'll get clicks.

Everyone, and everything has to get taken down a notch no matter how relative to everything else good they may be because Callout Culture!

Almost every nerdy girl i know loved or loves legos, most of my guy friends played with them with their sisters. It's one of the only toys i remember the boys and the girls both loving when i was in elementary school(along with k'nex, if you were nerdier than most).

But they can't get too much positive attention for that other stuff they did recently, gotta crap on them!

I don't know, so much of the attitude of this just gets to me. Why not go shit on cartoon network/nick/disney/kids programming blocks on a lot of stations for a lot of the ads they run? Some of that shit is pretty brainwashy and disturbing, and a lot worse than putting the shell logo on a toy block set psychologically in my opinion since it's intentionally manipulative. It's like, give it a fucking rest and go after something that matters instead of just being contrary to get clicks.

My anger isn't directed at you either, FFFM, i've seen this elsewhere about this specific topic. It's just ugh.
posted by emptythought at 11:14 AM on August 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


There's also a lot of posing involved. I've encountered it with friends my age (40) who insist that we didn't have all these special parts when we were kids (we did) and sets these days are easier to build with fewer pieces (they aren't).
posted by Fleebnork at 11:23 AM on August 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'll leave dates and times to licensed Legologists, but Lego did go through a slump in the ... 90s? where they were fabbing bigger and bigger pieces, and stepping away from the essential recombinatorial joy of the toy (and losing absolute assloads of money because of it). That's not a big problem these days, as even the very specific teeny pieces in the Friends sets can mostly be easily repurposed.
posted by Sebmojo at 2:56 PM on August 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


I think the "pieces are too specialized" folks just lack imagination (and I don't say that as an insult; since becoming an adult, my imagination has pretty much disappeared). If you actually look at different sets a lot (i.e. if you have a kid who likes to go to the toy store every weekend and just look at the Lego sets and displays) you'll see all kinds of apparently single-purpose pieces being used in all kinds of new ways (the one that pops to mind is samurai swords being used as the legs of the robot-brain thing in Jabba's palace). It's not just hobbyist builders coming up with novel parts usage, the Lego company itself is using parts in novel ways in its sets, and, by extension, getting kids to think creatively about alternate uses for pieces.
posted by Bugbread at 3:43 PM on August 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


My six year old son is little biased against the "girly" Lego Friends sets. At the same time one of the reasons he loved his new lego Movie Ice Cream Truck set was the fact that it has lot of pink pieces, which isn't common color amongst the 3 gazillion pieces already around our house.

Hopefully there'll be more themes appealing to all genders equally.
posted by zeikka at 4:28 AM on August 14, 2014


I'll leave dates and times to licensed Legologists, but Lego did go through a slump in the ... 90s? where they were fabbing bigger and bigger pieces, and stepping away from the essential recombinatorial joy of the toy (and losing absolute assloads of money because of it).

There were some sets around 2000 that were known as Town Jr. These were intended to be simplified and offer a transition for younger kids coming from Duplo into regular System sets. These are probably the ones most responsible for the complaints about bigger pieces.

However, the unpopularity of the bigger pieces wasn't really the reason the company was losing money. It was a combination of wasteful practices, inexperienced designers, and general corporate messiness.

Here's an article that sums up the turnaround and describes some of the problems the company had in the early 2000s.

One thing the article doesn't mention is inventory management. I remember being able to stroll into a store for post-xmas clearance sales and getting Lego sets at 50% off or more because of the excess inventory. Since then, careful tracking of shipments and inventory has tightened up the slack. Good for Lego, bad for fans who want some discounted sets.
posted by Fleebnork at 5:40 AM on August 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


I should add, Lego is again trying to create a transition brand, called Lego Juniors. It's much more clearly separated from their standard Town theme than Town Jr. was.
posted by Fleebnork at 5:43 AM on August 14, 2014


These are probably the ones most responsible for the complaints about bigger pieces.

Bionicles are another theme that older fans felt weren't proper Lego sets. For instance. Mainly TECHNIC style, with no studs and big pieces that seem single purpose.

Apparently they were very successful though, and helped pull Lego out of it's financial troubles. So who are we to criticize?
posted by smackfu at 5:52 AM on August 14, 2014


My anger isn't directed at you either, FFFM, i've seen this elsewhere about this specific topic. It's just ugh.

Perhaps not, but it sure feels that way. All I'm going to say in response:

1) For virtually every birthday, Christmas, Hanukkah (when we still celebrated it), and any other gift giving occasion from the age of three to about eleven, I got sets of Lego. I had an enormous amount, which got passed on to my niece and nephew. I love Lego.

2) That doesn't mean I'm going to see a valid criticism of the company and ignore it.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:11 AM on August 14, 2014


At the same time one of the reasons he loved his new lego Movie Ice Cream Truck set was the fact that it has lot of pink pieces, which isn't common color amongst the 3 gazillion pieces already around our house.

And don't forget, Unikitty is awesome.
posted by JHarris at 7:38 PM on August 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


« Older This surgery could pay for itself after around 90...   |   De Islanda Insvla Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments