Sunday, August 15, 2004
Lego is great, but have they lost their soul
I was reading an article about Lego and their struggles. Having followed their innovation I sometimes wonder is it self caused or a result of a fundamental change in children’s taste?
I think it was self caused, driven by the quest for growth, and in that quest they lots their soul – let the imagination to the builder not the creator.
I have always had an amazing relationship with Lego. I was always building Lego, surely has affected my personality. Some of my strongest childhood memories are tied to Lego. I still remember when my father built me a Lego camera, with which I was ‘taking pictures’ next to him. He was a renowned advertising photographer in Finland, and I wanted to be like him. My Lego camera made it possible. I was not more than five.
To me it has always been totally clear that my kids will be introduced to Lego. This intro came this spring. Karen was about 2.5 and I decided she should have the classic size, without any prebuilt modules, just a big box of basic bricks. The package said one should be four. At first she was not able to join them, now she creates interesting shapes and adds lots of fantasy to them. A single dot brick can be a person, a chair or food all witin a minute. I am very pleased with my choice to directly go for the ‘classic’ bricks.
There are two things that disturbs me with the Lego product range:
First I think the Duplo and bigger bricks have too short lifespan. Before the age of two the attention span is seems too short, making the bricks bigger does not seem to solve the problems. I must admit this is based on a very small sample Karen and her friends.
Secondly I do not like the kits where everything has been ‘pre-designed’ leaving little to imagination. They are also overpriced. I can see a business case for this in relatives buying Lego for gifts…but that is greed. Their way of linking to hot brands like the Harry Potter range is not adding to their core value.
What I am excited about is:
The fact that Lego is starting to offer classic bricks by the kilo. I think this is great. It is just like buying candy and this is something kids are familiar with. They are getting back to their roots, providing infrastructure for imagination.
What I would like to see is a range of premium ‘classic’ bricks
These would be the classic bricks in new plastic materials and new colours completely compatible with the classic bricks. This would enable construction of very different looking objects. I could even consider ordering some very special colours via the web. The have a bit of this here
I am also optimistic about the Lego “smart” bricks. I could see that one could create ‘computing’ blocks with sensors and plug them together to make amazing machines. Their developer community seems to be growing. This would be the ultimate 'plug and play'.
The Clickits is a very good idea, these jewellery construction set is perfect for small girls. Karen loves her, eventhough I guess she is too small for them.
Finally I am excited about the idea of rolling out theme parks or experience hubs. I am soon looking forward of taking the family there.
I really wish Lego would focus on the core of feeding human creativity.
As a person who have spent one's first 12 years with those amazing bricks, I feel very sad about the recent development of the Lego system, which has taken place in since the early 1990's.
As it was said above, it seems that Lego has realized that they need to go back to basics, literally. This might still save them. If not, what would bring up the new generations of talented engineers otherwise?
Posted by: Heikki H. at Nov 19, 2004 1:00:30 AM
My son has duplo, which he got at age 1. Before that he had the huge Lego Explore blocks, which I think are a waste of time. They don't stay clicked together like lego or duplo. My next child will start with the duplo. Now he is 2.5 years, I can still see advantages to Duplo: very quickly he can make a tower that is excitingly taller than himself, a house that he can fit into, or a musical instrument big enough to play. We were lucky in that a friend had tons of Duplo and loaned it to us, to add to my son's already large collection.
Posted by: Beccy at Sep 21, 2005 3:35:16 PM
The way I found this website is by trying to find information on the Lego of 1988 - late 90's. I really agree that Lego has lost it SOUL completely, but for different reasons. Although I was fond the original bricks, the themes of Knights and Space Crews really caught my attention. Every birthday, Christmas, Easter all I wanted was Lego. With a collection of over 15 kg (although I don't play it anymore) I wouldn't trade it for the world. For a young kid, especially an only child, lego was the right thing for me. I remember waking up during many summers earlier than 6 a.m. only because my imagination gave me a new vision of a knight's castle or a space station. However, things have changed. Individual peaces have gotten larger and much more complex, allowing fewer possibilities to use them with other themes. Each piece has become so detailed that imagination is lost forever. The new themes: Dinosaures, which are large, unchanging creatures and Knights who have Castles that can not be put together more creatively. Lego should stop the creation of new pieces, tiles, and bricks! Use the existing one's to create themes! Change the colours on the pieces perhaps, but nothing more.
I was the 90's were still here, while many older people, born before the 80's wish the bricks were all that would exist.
Keeping up with technology can be difficult, but Lego shouldn't strive to do so. Parents will see the effect of Lego on their children if it is kept to a minimal degree of complexity.
Posted by: Mark H at Dec 5, 2005 7:44:10 PM
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Posted by: afsd at Apr 6, 2006 9:19:26 AM