PaleoPosse…Pal-Po’s…P-Posse… I have a secret to share with you…
I am an adult, and I still play with Lego’s.
I think if you did a survey of current engineers and/or architects, you’d find that 80%-90% were “above-average” Lego users when they were children. My own engineering friends and classmates certainly were.
That is why I am VERY excited to see Lego becoming awesome again. =D
At some point in the past 20 years, someone at Lego decided that the sets and “Worlds” that Lego had been building were no longer “focused” enough for the ADD children of the present. “Water World” and “Space Police” had no narrative for which the children could play inside, and kids were forced to imagine their own narrative. WHAT A TRAVESTY!
At the same time, someone also must have thought, “You know, Lego’s really don’t look like real-life stuff…what with all those little bumpy things on it and stuff. Maybe we should try to make our pieces look less like Lego’s and more like actual stuff.” Great idea, moron. Now your Lego piece that used to have 1000 different uses is limited to one, very specific use.
What resulted was wave-after-wave of “licensed” Lego sets. Harry Potter, Star Wars, Batman, Indiana Jones, Toy Story, Spiderman, Spongebob, and even Speed Racer (kids don’t watch that show anymore…). And while Lego sets used to have very few “unique” pieces, these new licensed sets could be as much as 30% “unique” pieces.
Now don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a lot of fun to play with Lego’s inside of these other universes that we get to explore in books and movies, and specifically I think the Lego Star Wars/Lego Batman/Lego Indiana Jones series of video games are GREAT. But these sets were actually LIMITING the creative possibilities of the children who were playing with them. Not to mention making a harder time for the Lego company themselves by creating all these new unique parts.
Children CRAVE and RESPOND to the creative freedom that Lego’s provide. Typical baby-dolls and race cars allow you to imagine how you could play with those toys. Legos give you 2 additional dimensions of creativity: 1) You get to imagine how the TOY plays with YOU, and 2) You are forced to creatively solve the problems of construction to enable your ideas to come to life. This free-form creativity isn’t subject to left-brain/right-brain bullcrap either. Lego’s are ART and SCIENCE, and the recognition of that fact is essential to understand the utility of both.
I’ve heard rumors as to when and why it happened, and quite frankly I don’t have enough time to provide the research here today…but in any case, word-on-the-street is that SOMEONE at Lego realized what was happening, and stopped it. Lego-proprietary IP’s like Space Police, Water World, and Town were brought back into production, and the number of unique parts was drastically reduced across the company’s portfolio. They didn’t get rid of their licensed sets, but they slowly started changing their construction to move the unique parts away from the sets themselves and onto the characters (the minifigs).
And the great part is – for people like me – the change is readily apparent upon walking down the Lego aisle… something I do every time I’m at Target or Walmart.
So if you’re like me and loved Lego’s as a kid, but lost-touch with them as an adult, consider this a public-service announcement that Lego’s are awesome again. You’re welcome.
Disclaimer: I was not paid by Lego to write this or anything, I’m just a Lego-fanboy. Also, avoid the “Halo” licensed Lego sets…they’re just as bad as the old ones. Oh and I’m also not a fan of the Bionicle sets, but apparently the kids love-em.