Why are certain themes perceived as "childish"?

AanchirAanchir United StatesMember Posts: 2,803
edited August 2015 in Collecting
This is just something I've been thinking about lately. When #70751 Temple of Airjitzu was announced, a question that seemed to be on a lot of people's minds is "how many AFOLs will be interested in buying a Ninjago set?" (or conversely, "how many Ninjago fans are even old enough for a set this size?") This is something that I see a lot of in the AFOL community — themes like Ninjago being perceived as "too childish" for most adults to take a serious interest in.

And yet at the same time, that seems to fly in the face of the actual target audience for these themes. Many AFOLs are perfectly fine with buying LEGO City sets, and yet even the largest LEGO City sets such as #60097 City Square (1683 pieces, $190) and #60098 Heavy-Haul Train (984 pieces, $200) are recommended for ages 6–12. By comparison, the smallest Ninjago sets like #70752 Jungle Trap and #70739 Airjitzu Kai Flyer are aimed at ages 6–14, while the largest non-exclusive sets like #70732 City of Stiix and #70738 Final Flight of Destiny's Bounty are aimed at ages 9–14. The Temple of Airjitzu itself is aimed at ages 14+.

Some might point to the "silliness" of the story as evidence of the Ninjago theme's childishness, what with the colorful ninja piloting sci-fi vehicles and fighting robots, ghosts, and fantasy monsters. And yet there are plenty of AFOLs who have no trouble enjoying LEGO Super Heroes sets (and the corresponding Marvel Cinematic Universe movies) that portray fights between Norse gods, robots, aliens, mutants, mech pilots, and B-movie monsters. I've also heard plenty of AFOL excitement for the Scooby-Doo theme, based on a series in which a bunch of teenagers and their talking dog solve formulaic cartoon mysteries perpetrated by middle-aged men and women in goofy monster costumes. Are these things honestly any less silly, or is it just the veneer of nostalgia that makes AFOLs less afraid to enjoy these "old-school" cartoon and comic book adventures?

For what it's worth, the LEGO Ninjago TV series can be quite cerebral compared to what you might expect from a merchandise-driven cartoon, with plenty of character development, complex storylines, and moral ambiguity. The LEGO Ninjago sets are intricate and full of creative part use, elaborate action features, and intricate details. So why is it that so many AFOLs who casually enjoy themes aimed at an even younger audience have a hard time seeing Ninjago as anything other than a "kiddy theme"?

The only explanation I've been able to come up with is that character-driven, genre-blending themes like Ninjago are so different than the themes many older AFOLs grew up with like Town or Castle. Because so many kids, teens, and young adults like these themes in a way they can't begin to understand, these older AFOLs assume that themes like Ninjago are simply more childish than the LEGO themes and movie brands that they continue to enjoy from their own childhoods.
BumblepantsToc13Kevin_Hyatt

Comments

  • TigerMothTigerMoth Member Posts: 2,343
    Because they're not "mainstream", so it's a form of bullying.

    Outside of people familiar with LEGO, Chima and Ninjago have no meaning. Other fictional series like Marvel and Star Wars are more generally known, and things like Creator and City are models of something in the real world, and therefore make sense.
  • chuxtoyboxchuxtoybox Member Posts: 711
    I feel that one of the reasons Legends of Chima failed was the T.V. show. I watched ONE episode and couldn't believe how "dumbed down" it was. Was LEGO trying to reach the age bracket that watched Teletubbies?

     From the episodes of Ninjago I've seen, it can be corny sometimes but it is overall a well written show that I enjoyed. I was collecting Chima but now I'm collecting Ninjago. Who doesn't like Ninjas?  The only problem with both series that I think might turn adults away is that there are a lot of vehicles instead of playsets. 

    The majority of LEGO themes are "childish" because they're targeted towards children. The majority of things I still enjoy today are "childish" but I'm perpetually 6 years old.
    bendybadgerTheBigLegoski
  • AanchirAanchir United StatesMember Posts: 2,803
    TigerMoth said:
    Because they're not "mainstream", so it's a form of bullying.

    Outside of people familiar with LEGO, Chima and Ninjago have no meaning. Other fictional series like Marvel and Star Wars are more generally known, and things like Creator and City are models of something in the real world, and therefore make sense.
    I wouldn't call it bullying. Most people who question whether a lot of adults would enjoy Ninjago or Legends of Chima don't mean to hurt anyone's feelings by it; it's just that they don't enjoy these themes themselves and don't expect a lot of other adults to either. That doesn't mean they think adults shouldn't enjoy these themes. Besides, I'm not talking strictly about what people SAY about these themes so much as how people FEEL about them.

    You're right, though, that a lot of it might be shaped by what's considered an acceptable adult interest outside the AFOL community. The AFOL community has existed as long as I've been an adult, so most of my closest friends and colleagues are pretty used to thinking of LEGO as an all-ages interest. I can see how it might not be the case for everyone, and so some people might prefer themes that help them bond with their non-AFOL cohorts.
  • YodaliciousYodalicious DagobahMember Posts: 1,366

    I see the difference as a "what I grew up with" situation. I grew up with Star Wars, comic books, Scooby Doo, etc. 6-year-old me liked them and so does 36-year-old me. With things like Ninjago and Chima, they weren't around so 6-year-old me never had a chance to play with them or watch them. Basically, I just don't have a history with them. Doesn't mean I think they're childish, they're just different to me.

    All that said, I have bought a couple of good Chima sets and the latest Ninjago line has me very interested.

    dougts
  • GallardoLUGallardoLU USAMember Posts: 644
    the only problem I personally have with Ninjago and Chima are the characters themselves. Ninjago started out great with characters more resembling ninja than anything else. the outfits have drifted though and are hard for me to stay interested in. I do love some of the buildings and even a few vehicles. as for Chima, the whole animal themes thing just didn't appeal to me and being heavy into Star Wars was enough to cut it and make room in my budget for other sets.
  • FauchFauch FranceMember Posts: 2,291
    I feel that one of the reasons Legends of Chima failed was the T.V. show. I watched ONE episode and couldn't believe how "dumbed down" it was. Was LEGO trying to reach the age bracket that watched Teletubbies?
    same here. but the minifigs are good. I don't decide what I buy based on the shows anyway.
  • TigerMothTigerMoth Member Posts: 2,343
    Aanchir said:
    I wouldn't call it bullying. Most people who question whether a lot of adults would enjoy Ninjago or Legends of Chima don't mean to hurt anyone's feelings by it;
    Calling anybody, even a child, or anything they do, "childish" is demeaning - "I'm better than you". That's almost a textbook definition of the modern meaning of "bullying".

    In the same way, simply being an AFOL used to be seen as childish - until our detractors started realising there was serious money in it!
  • ShibShib UKMember Posts: 5,214
    Has anyone really ever paid that much attention to the recommended ages on toy boxes? Ok some super ott protective parent types might, but you average buyer (parent/grandparent/aunt/uncle/child/collector) generally don't give it much of a second glance, so I don't think anyones perception would ever be formed or changed by whats on the box.

    I'd say this hits certain themes more than others for two reasons, marketing and general wackiness. Anything that uses really outlandish ideas generally gets percieved as childish (even the Star Wars OT had a lot of "it's a kid's movie" reception) probably because adults generally have a lot of that imaginative excitment ground out of them by life in general. The cartoons, regardless of how they are done, will always add to the childish perception - yes there are plenty of cartoons that are made for a more adult audience but most of those are seen as immature.

    From my perception my like or dislike is not about how childish something looks, but sometimes the really out there themes, like Chima take a lot to get my head around - in the case of Chima, I hated it until I built Eris Eagle Interceptor, then I found I liked a few of the sets, just not the fantasy dressing for what could have been a good sci-fi theme. Ninjago, I'm still not a fan, just because there's little to interest me, but the Master Wu dragon set does look amazing and has made me look twice and some other sets, I suspect if that finds it's way into my collection the theme i general might interest me more, but fairly unlikely I think.
  • richlrichl NYCMember Posts: 245
    I'm actually a fan of Chima, and a bigger fan of Ninjago - but having a 5 year old son helps that. Ninjago is a vastly superior show and theme, but there's something to be said for Chima - the builds are usually pretty interesting and actually more complex than a lot of 'older' skewing themes.

    That said, I've never bought one of those sets for myself, only for the boy - although the Temple of Airjitzu may change that...

    dannyrww
  • DedgeckoDedgecko Seattle, WAMember Posts: 799
    Shib said:
    Has anyone really ever paid that much attention to the recommended ages on toy boxes? 
    ...it's a recommendation.  They haaaaave to put it on the box.

    LordofLego
  • chuxtoyboxchuxtoybox Member Posts: 711
    Fauch said:
    I feel that one of the reasons Legends of Chima failed was the T.V. show. I watched ONE episode and couldn't believe how "dumbed down" it was. Was LEGO trying to reach the age bracket that watched Teletubbies?
    same here. but the minifigs are good. I don't decide what I buy based on the shows anyway.






    Windra is my favorite minifigure!  I love how they put her Chi in a necklace instead of embedded into her.
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