LEGO Takes On Cultural Perceptions with Wheelchair Figure
This wheelchair-using character can help children understand diversity
LEGO is set to launch its first mini-figure in a wheelchair, available for purchase this summer. Facing accusations for the lack of diversity in their figurines, the company’s response is a significant shift for the brand that previously resisted including individuals with disabilities in their collection. The mini-figure in a LEGO wheelchair was unveiled at Nuremberg and London toy fairs, featuring a beanie-wearing character alongside a helper dog.
A campaign called #ToyLikeMe, which launched in 2015, lobbied for LEGO to include figures with disabilities in its sets and was able to gather over 20,000 signatures on a Change.org petition. #ToyLikeMe criticized Lego for excluding the estimated 150 million children with disabilities worldwide by failing to have a positive representation for them in their products.
LEGO’s choice to include a man in a wheelchair goes beyond disability representation or sales; the brand has effectively positioned itself to have a meaningful impact on cultural perceptions. Toys, games, apps and books that entertain and educate children rarely feature characters with any sort of impairment or difference. Brands like LEGO, that are geared toward children, hopefully will begin to recognize and understand the ability they have in reframing how children learn about and understand diversity in the world around them.
The mini-figure in a wheelchair will be part of LEGO City set called “Fun in the Park” that will be available in June 2016. The launch of this new product marks another positive step for the brand that has experienced strong sales and growth for the past two years, resulting in Lego becoming the largest toymaker in the world.
Lead Image: Promo Bricks