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Having said that.... TLR Mine has been one of the best sets in terms of playability for my kiddo, and was one of his top wants last year. That had nothing to do with a Western theme, but due to the features on the mine.
A) Kids not interested - Lone Ranger didn't do as well as expected
B) Related - lack of good Western movies recently
C) Worries about portraying Native Americans (?)
Personally I love Wild West as a theme.
I'd be very surprised if there was another non-licensed Western theme (outside of Ideas-generated designs) anytime soon, if ever.
Besides that, there's also the question of how Native Americans should even be represented in sets so as not to be offensive. In the original Western sets, the Indians were a conglomerate of many completely unrelated Native American cultures. They had tepees like the Indians of the Great Plains, lived among dry cliffs and desert areas like the Puebloan peoples of the American Southwest, and had totem poles like the native people of the Pacific Northwest. Mashing together disparate cultures like this is recognized as a bit insensitive today, especially considering these are cultures that have historically dealt with more than their fair share of discrimination and misrepresentation.
Also, westerns just aren't as prominent in popular culture as they used to be, especially not popular culture aimed at an all-ages audience. Many of the westerns that ARE still produced are rather gritty and aimed at more mature audiences than, say, the old Lone Ranger radio show and TV show. Disney's movie The Lone Ranger, if it had been successful, might have stood a chance of revitalizing this genre the way the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise did to some extent for pirate movies. But it WASN'T successful, so now we might have to wait even longer before that genre becomes especially popular with kids again.
The Wild West should probably not be glorified and romanticized either, as it was a time where we acted the worst. Prostitution, Heavy drinking, opium dens, gambling, shooting people over nothing, killing law enforcement, robbing anything and anyone you could, moving the 'savages' off 'our' land etc, etc. Sadly people love to see people being bad. Wild West, Gangsters, Mafia, Neo-Mafia (ie Sopranos) and now Breaking bad. Kind of a shame really. At least most Wild West kids shows was the good guy overcoming odds to win the day, but in this age of Grand Theft Auto, one has to wonder if you can really get kids to buy into it.
I guess if LEGO would invest in making a western serial like Lone Ranger or Cisco Kid, maybe you can develop a following, like Ninjago or Chima.
Regardless, I think that western simply has no appeal to a modern audience. Western movies/tv shows bore me to tears (except for the comedies, like "A Million Ways to Die in the West", though admittedly that was far from a perfect movie), and I think many children (who we must keep in mind are LEGO's target audience) would agree with me. Either that or I have no artistic taste in my visual media, which admittedly is a possibility.
Still, I happen to want good Western sets so that I can do some Firefly-like western/space or maybe some American steampunk MOCs
While the Western thread touches on political implications, @Pitfall69 does point out that the LEGO theme was more about bandits, which is fine. But the parents and those others may see that theme and could be thinking about the past attached to it.
I think TLR points out the demand to LEGO, which is not a lot. Now, that is biased by the movie not doing well and such, but I think the sets themselves are pretty nice (though were a bit overpriced IMO). However, I just do not see LEGO doing the theme any time soon, not with Pirates back. And Pirates may or may not do well.
Again, too bad.
We just are not in an era where Westerns or even American history is a thing for kids. I think American Girl struggles with this to a degree as well with the historical doll line. They just revamped that line in an attempt to create interest. Little House on the Prarie used to be a big deal in the 70s. Today it is not. Everyone I knew read those books as well. These days, historical items are not in trend, whether that is Western, Little House or dolls exploring American history.
Where the current interest in History is at?
Greek mythology, thanks to Percy Jackson and any number of books that explore it because of Percy Jckson.
Future history, thanks to the many dystopian books out there. (Yes, I realize there is no such thing as future history. ;-) )
Egyptian historical items still have some interest to kids.
Norse mythology I suspect will be growing in interest with the interest of Thor, and because Riordan will be making a new line of books exploring that starting next fall.
Recent American history, such as Western era.... Nada. If Lego really wanted to explore history, those are the areas that would have higher interest with today's generation of kids.
Again LEGO would need to make their own line or use something like TLR or Cisco Kid as a basis for a western line, basically build it from scratch and build a whole back story to it, then it could work I think.
Give it the Ninjago treatment and make a weekly animated show.
In defense of TLR, I thought it was a good movie that got way too caught up in campy goofiness. I would love to see Lego get a deal where they could showcase the original Lone Ranger. That's a pretty wholesome and entertaining property that still lives on, regardless of the bad taste left in people's mouths from the movie.
If TLG put as much effort into Pirates 2015 (which honestly looks half-assed), a western theme will do just fine.
I guess the question to me is do kids put so much stake into whether something is considered a flop or not that they will avoid buying sets that are good interesting sets to them? Are they even aware if a movie is a flop? We can state that because TLR was not a run away hit, that it did not create the demand for the line. I am not sure, though, that a flop causes the opposite effect where kids would stay clear of it. Over here at least, we saw that TLR just ended up acting as a non-licensed line. My son definitely had interest in one TLR set, but had no interest in the rest of the line. It had nothing to do with it being a hit or flop, but everything to do with interest in sets. ETA: Basically the western theme itself was the main flop over here, but On the flip I can say that TLR mine and later on the train caused far more interest than the unlicensed city line.
Sorry, if I misinterpreted.
The other stigma though to overcome would be the use of guns in general in the theme. Some parents may presume that the guns are a mainstay in wild west themes and therefore will not want their kids to play with them.
I'd buy some generic Wild West theme sets at a reasonable price.
Even now, silver mine shootout, which has been retired at Lego, can still be had for under retail price. That really was an amazing set also, and yet it did not move.
Given how poorly the movie did, however, it doesn't surprise me that very few people seriously considered buying the sets for their children. I'm sure the children had plenty of other things to be asking for....
There's no doubt that LEGO could make a better Western theme today than they did in the 90s because the 90s was a dark time for LEGO design in general, and despite its unique subject matter, Western was not immune to that design philosophy. But no matter how high-quality the designs are, I don't think Western is a particularly promising genre for kids right now.
Bear in mind that themes like Ninjago and Legends of Chima didn't break new ground or buck established trends as far as genre was concerned. Development for Ninjago started specifically because the LEGO Group noticed that ninja-related toys and media were on the rise. Likewise, Legends of Chima was probably influenced by other trendy series with anthropomorphized animal characters like Thundercats and Kung Fu Panda.
There are plenty of nice idea's on the MOC pages and other website's so TLC, come on. Build us something nice!!
Would really need to be a reboot of the original series or unlicensed though, way too many TV/movie series already.
Paul Revere never said "the British are coming". Why would he say that when he was a British subject himself, as much as any Red Coat (whether he liked it or not)? He really said "the Regulars are out". And as a certain famous French commentator on American history, culture and politics once said, "the American is the Englishman left to himself". ;o)
Those new sets suck so much, I feel like assembling all my classsic pirate sets, put them up next to the 2015 offerings and pick 20 random kids from the street (aged 4-16) and let them pick out what's hot and what's not :smiley:
And then send the video to TLG
No need to thank me for saving you millions on focusgroups, TLG
(Allthough a few select picks from the Vault would be apriciated)
I loved the western sets, but I doubt Lego will return for a while considering TLR as their latest effort. And as another poster said, it's a shame, because the sets were actually really great. That train and mine would go fantastic in any western themed town.
It is an incontrovertible fact that Revere was British until 1776, and no historian qualified to speak on the subject will tell you he said "the British are coming" because there isn't a shred of evidence to support claims he did say it and plenty of contemporary eyewitness accounts that state he said "the Regulars". It's pure romantic fiction.
As for the final points in each of those paragraphs, Daniel Hannan's latest book explains why it was a civil war by any sensible definition of the term (British subjects fighting the British state on British soil), and de Tocqueville was bang on the money in his observations - as he usually was. Not that Hannan is the first; many American historians and commentators have written on the same themes. Indeed, most of the Founding Fathers and authors of the important texts of the new republic were more British than King George, and the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution took almost all of their cues from Magna Carta and the English Bill of Rights, English common law (as opposed to the civil law favoured in continental Europe and elsewhere) and English philosophers such as Thomas Paine.