Anyone catch the most recent Simpsons episode, entitled “The D’oh-cial Network”? There was a pretty sharp dig at LEGO, in which Lisa goes into a mall-based “Blocko” store and can’t find plain old bricks. Blocko only sells precisely-designed sets in which the imagining is already done for their customers. (There was even a set that resembled the new Jabba’s Palace that is coming out in 2012!)
There is of course some truth to this sentiment. The LEGO Group has sold sets with specific themes for decades, but it’s only in more recent years that they’ve licensed properties like Star Wars and Harry Potter. LEGO’s original themes like Town, Castle and Space have always offered kids a very basic play-pattern that allows plenty of room for their imaginations to fill in the rest. (Just like I do with this comic!) Licensed themes of course come with a lot more established fictional baggage.
I could say it’s too bad that LEGO has focused on so many licensed themes, but it’s not like they abandoned their more basic original themes. We’re practically in a golden age for LEGO, where toy store shelves are filled with a multitude of options. You can still buy your kids all of the basic-style sets you had when you were little, or you can have a LEGO universe filled (officially) with the likes of the Batcave, the Death Star and the Black Pearl.
There are ways to just get quantities of parts, too. Maybe that’s more like what The Simpsons was referring to, but I couldn’t tell you when the majority of LEGO in stores was just buckets of bricks. How out of touch are the show’s writers? LOL
So, Simpsons, the references were cool if a bit uninformed and unfair. And no matter what LEGO set you pick, you can still use those bricks to build whatever you imagine!