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Lego, I am disappointed.

The Lego Friends ad showed up in an issue of Martha Stewart Living this month. I immediately recognized it as a revisitation to Lego’s 1981 ad, one of my favorite print ads that I’ve ever seen. And then I just started getting mad, because I’ve noticed this about Lego’s new stuff lately but didn’t have anything to point to.

First off, the structures they’re holding are definitely similar - little columns with minifigs on it, fine. But the 2013 girl also has little balconies and flowers and small cute animals, and weird curvy Lego people. Most of the bricks are weird jewel tones. It’s decidedly a dollhouse.

Then the copy just reinforces this. The 1981 ad basically says “Not sure what it is? That’s okay, because what matters is she made it herself.” The 2013 ad just lists stuff she could make. It’s a garden, it’s a pirate ship, etc.

That’s not the point! Legos, when assembled, don’t have to BE anything. I grant that there’s more merit to letting your child build their own playset that just pulling a single-purpose one out of a box, but there should also be pleasure in MAKING the thing. This is what the 1981 ad stresses over the 2013 - There’s as much joy to be found in the creative process as there is in the end product.

This is a problem that lots of kids toys have, but Lego has really put the bee in my bonnet.