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Are Lego Historical themes a 'thing of the past'?



  • daewoodaewoo DFWMember Posts: 524


    I'm not really a military guy and my city is quite peaceful.  Not even sure why there's a police department...  ;)

  • FauchFauch FranceMember Posts: 2,529
    this could be a city subtheme, there are remnants of medieval cities with castles here. kind of like that old town set with a medieval parade, that would quite like where I live actually.
  • BumblepantsBumblepants DFWMember Posts: 6,840
    Fauch said:
    this could be a city subtheme, there are remnants of medieval cities with castles here. kind of like that old town set with a medieval parade, that would quite like where I live actually.
    They actually did that ages ago in one of the really old Town sets. Would be fun to do again. I've considered doing it with my Kingdom Joust and MMV
  • SumoLegoSumoLego New YorkMember Posts: 13,936
    daewoo said:
    I guess the green army men from the Toy Story line don't count as modern soldiers in Lego's eyes? 
    The short answer is that LEGO doesn't want be identified as overtly or subtlely supporting any combatant in any conflict.  As they are a Global brand, it is considerably less expensive to maintain object neutrality.  It's not hypocrisy - as LEGO is consistent in avoiding negative controversy.

    The Green Army Men are a perfect example.  They're clearly US WWII troops.  But in the LEGO realm, they're a license product of a kids' film concerning toys.  The risk of mass protests against the Toy Story Green Army Men is pretty remote - even for the PC crowd.  Plus, the Green Army Men aren't actually prosecuting war in the Toy Story movies.

    Marvel and DC characters on the other hand...
  • Baby_YodaBaby_Yoda The world's backsideMember Posts: 1,295
    All this talk of people of the easily butthurt variety brings back a funny memory from back when I was a mere lurker.
  • The_RancorThe_Rancor Dorset, UKMember Posts: 1,759
    edited August 2018
    ^ I agree, there should in theory always be appeal in medieval knights or pirates because they permeate popular culture and have become quite neutral in their depictions, showing no one or anywhere in particular. Even old-fashioned pirates have become loveable rogues or heroes - whether the Pirates or the Imperial Guards are the 'good guys' in Lego sets is much more open to interpretation than the usual knights factions vs each other.

    I still think however that there's very little headspace in Lego's target audience at the moment for pirates and knights - based on my family and other kids I've noticed recently, their only interests are either Fortnite or comic book characters. It'll probably take a substantial shift in public popularity with films, games or collectibles based on medieval times or pirates to bring them back (unlikely with the latter as POTC seems to be dying down). Original fantasy or sci fi as a Lego theme can still work though - there's a huge amount of original stories that can be told there and more importantly they will probably match what kids are interested in too, outside of, you know, licenses.
  • PolyphemusPolyphemus Sydney, AustraliaMember Posts: 94
    Baby_Yoda said:

    Even I hadn't heard of Asterix and Obelix outside of my mother's old comics at home. I can safely confirm that it's not hip with the kids anymore.
    Ouch! That makes me feel old! :)
  • AstrobricksAstrobricks Minnesota, USMember Posts: 4,149
    ^ Nicely stated. 
    Also, bundling everybody who gets offended into one big “PC crowd” ignores the fact that it’s dozens of crowds, each with their own perspective. Everyone tends to get offended when they feel their particular group is being ignored or treated poorly (or has been historically). Today, the anti-PC crowd is one of those. They get offended if someone asks that they change their language to avoid causing offense.
  • SumoLegoSumoLego New YorkMember Posts: 13,936
    I think the 'crowd' we're referring to are the vocal enthusiasts that place a disproportionate amount of weight in language and/or labels, rather than really focusing on the root causes of inequity and bias that is their true motivating factor.

    If someone says something insensitive, 'that' crowd has the perception of extrapolating that insensitivity as a barometer into that someone's actions.  The focus should be on whether that person is going to act with inequity and bias, no matter what nonsense comes out of their mouth.  

    I would say the intermittent raging debate over the NFL team in Washington is a good example of that.  Plenty of die-hard football fans get all hot and bothered because a group of perceived "do gooders" or "social justice crusaders" that really have no agenda other than to get noticed for their altruism needlessly disrupt a mascot and/or symbol of their favorite football team.  Even though it's an obvious racist term.  (Which may not necessarily offend Native Americans in this context - but there no consensus on that issue, either.)

    The fight becomes about the fight - and not whether there is a negative impact on the community that should be offended. 

    Just to be clear, I'm picking or advocating for either side - it's just the perfect illustration of why the "anti" PC crowd and those seeking to impose cultural sensitivity clash.

    This is probably why I don't want someone feeling like they're offending me when discussing an Oriental Rug.  Frankly, if someone were to ask me about an Asian Rug, I'd start snickering thinking we were talking about hairpieces.
  • Baby_YodaBaby_Yoda The world's backsideMember Posts: 1,295
    ^ That's an excellent way of putting it. Someone who's "politically correct" (in a negative context) is saying things that are perceived to be good merely because they have good intentions, but don't actually have an effect on the overall situation. I could say, for example, that using the word "Sumo" in the above's username when they're from New York is offensive to Japanese culture, and demand that they change it. It shows that I care about Japan despite it not being my own country, but the actual action of them changing their username won't do a single sumo wrestler any good.
  • catwranglercatwrangler Northern IrelandMember Posts: 1,890
    For what it's worth (bleeding heart here, run for your lives ;)), I think @bigginsd is right about the interminable "Lego is hypocritical" discussion - it's coming from a very specific cultural place that sees modern guns and warfare in a particular way. What I am curious about is whether all the different cultures of people who work high up in Lego ever bleed over into influencing stuff like that - it has come a long way from being just a little workshop in Denmark, after all. Is America a big enough market to have influenced it over time re: depictions of warfare (because TLG has softened its stance over the years - we're a long way past "no grey bricks because kids will make tanks"), or is it always too much of a risk to let any one market have a lot of influence, because you risk alienating others? 

    I suppose another side to this is that, as with so many other things, the sales figures will tell them if they're getting it right or not...
  • alaskaguyalaskaguy Member Posts: 335
    Pick anything historical that you want to - no matter how innocent it may seem, and no matter how conscientious you are in being respectful with it, there will be no end of people who will complain that you're supporting oppression, being racist, being nationalist, appropriating culture, ignoring some more worthy cultural/political group from history or modern times, are not diverse enough, etc. etc. etc. etc.   You just can't win with these people.

    I'm not at all surprised that one or more toymakers, including Lego, have come to this same conclusion and decided to stay away from such things.

  • SumoLegoSumoLego New YorkMember Posts: 13,936
    Except Ninjas.  We all love Ninjas.  And shapeshifting robots.
  • daewoodaewoo DFWMember Posts: 524

    I get that the founder didn't want his toys used a certain way.  The specific issue here is the inconsistent logic applied to their corporate thinking.  Their apparent stance is that they don't want to make warfare a subject of play.  That's totally their prerogative.  I 100% get that.  But then they produce things that indeed can be seen to clearly make warfare a subject of play.  A person killed with a sword (regardless if it was held by a pirate, or a conquistador, or an old west cavalryman) is just as dead as a guy shot with a gun or blown to pieces by a grenade.  The same goes for a Rebel Soldier shot down by a Storm Trooper with a blaster.  It's still warfare as play.  OK, I concede that it's not an Abrams facing off with a T-72 in the Iraqi desert kind of play, but it is play nonetheless.  If the standard is to not glorify warfare, or make warfare a form of play, then anything to do with warfare should be off limits.  That's how I see it, anyway.  But again, TLG has every right to produce whatever products they want, by whatever standards they want.  I, the consumer, reserve the right to buy or not buy....or buy and then make a modern tank out of it and have it rampage through my city.  Not that I would do that, but I do know people that would and do.

    As for the actual topic, human history is human history.  Judging the past using modern principles is folly and counter-productive.  Taking offense now because people in the 1800s did a certain thing is silly and a waste of energy.  That we're tearing down statues and renaming things doesn't change the fact that those people lived and did what they did, regardless of whether we agree with their actions or not.  White washing history only leaves us vulnerable to repeating the errors we should have learned from but didn't because we were too offended to try to reach actual understanding. 

    Historical themes will be problematic to produce now since people are taking offense at almost everything.  Can't do the old west again because that might offend some aboriginal Americans (or non-aboriginal Americans who believe that it's their place to be offended for someone else).  Same with the Outback and the aboriginal peoples of Australia.  If you revisit imperial times, even though the focus might be pirates, you are still celebrating (in some people's eyes) the European conquests which killed millions and enslaved millions more.  This limits TLG's options and, in my opinion, makes for a less interesting product catalog.  Again, that is 100% TLG's prerogative.  My hope is that they can keep producing innovative and fun new sets, incorporating cool things from the past as well as imagining for the future.

  • SumoLegoSumoLego New YorkMember Posts: 13,936
    I would also point out that there's a bit of the 'I know it when I see it' applied to this standard.

    Is Steve Trevor's plane in the Wonder Woman set over the line?  Probably not.  

    But a 'Pat Tillman vs. the Taliban' playset would definitely be miles past that line.  

    Would a Iron Man Mark I vs. Ten Rings playset reflecting those scenes from Iron Man be suitable?  I would guess not because none were produced.

    At the end of the day, LEGO does best to appeal to everyone - and in particular kids.  After all, it's just a highly sophisticated interlocking brick system.
  • 560Heliport560Heliport Twin Cities, MN, USAMember Posts: 2,377
    They removed the German Iron Crosses from Steve Trevor's plane and replaced them with stars...
  • SumoLegoSumoLego New YorkMember Posts: 13,936
    They removed the German Iron Crosses from Steve Trevor's plane and replaced them with stars...
    And, obviously, no Nazi symbols appear on the Indiana Jones sets as well.  But my point was that the mere plane itself exists.
  • dannyrwwdannyrww WisconsinMember Posts: 1,395
    SumoLego said:
    Except Ninjas.  We all love Ninjas.  And shapeshifting robots.
    I was thinking that was a little off topic as shapeshifting robots are not historical....and then I remembered that time in 2005 when Optimus Prime made the ultimate sacrifice. 
  • J0rgenJ0rgen NorwayMember Posts: 378
    I like that it doesn't seem to be a black and white policy. We saw German army vehicles like trucks and planes in Indiana Jones, but notably not the tank from «Last Crusade». I think planes might be ok, while a tank is not, because a plane or a starfighter (even one loaded with guns) is not inherently a war toy. You can go on exciting adventures to far-off places in a bi-wing or an X-Wing, in addition to reenacting combat scenes, while a tank is solely an instrument of war. While I would have liked the tank from «Last Crusade», I'm very happy LEGO keeps up the no modern warfare policy, even while indulging in some questionably mature licenses.
  • Baby_YodaBaby_Yoda The world's backsideMember Posts: 1,295
    Lego do what people think is right, not what's actually right, because the latter is pretty much impossible to measure and the former makes a lot more money.
  • kukutxx2020kukutxx2020 VancouverMember Posts: 1
    I don't think LEGOs gonna stop producing pieces like these because they are definitely still relevant. Just recently, some LEGO Exhibits by Warren Elsmore featured by Brick History and Brick Wonders was put up to creatively display history throughout the years. Exhibits like these can be quite attractive to kids as well as their parents. Talking about history, I think you should check out The Toy Report as well if you wanna learn more about LEGO's history as a company lol. <shameless plug>
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