The first-ever Lego wheelchair figure appeared at the Nuremberg and London toy fairs wearing a beanie hat and accompanied by a dog.
The figure was captured in photos by the Bricksfans website. The new wheelchair element features in a set “60134 Fun in the Park.” The figure features alongside an ice-cream vendor, cyclist, picnickers, and more. CNBC reported that the company later confirmed the tiny wheelchair will be part of a new Lego CITY set that will come out in June.
— PROMOBRICKS (@promobricks) January 28, 2016
Lego has recently been accused of a lack of diversity in its figures. The #ToyLikeMe campaign, launched last year, resulted in over 20,000 signatures to a Change.org petition, which canvassed Lego to include disabled figures in its sets.
The petition says,”Please make this the last Christmas disabled kids are culturally excluded from your much-loved products. Think outside the brick box. Mix it up a bit! Add some brawn, stamina, a few sweat bands, couple of half pipes and some lightning fast wheelchairs.”
It also added,”There are 150 million children with disabilities worldwide. Yet these kids are arriving into a world where, even before they’ve left their mums’ laps, they’re excluded or misrepresented by the very industry that exists to create their entertainment, the objects that fuel their development, the starting blocks of life: Toys!”
— Northcott (@northcott_ds) January 10, 2016
Rebecca Atkinson questioned LEGO in the Guardian in December.
“Is Lego worried consumers will be turned off if it aligns itself with the image of disability? It’s a hard question to answer honestly, but is there something considered inherently aesthetically displeasing about disability, something that makes us want to turn away, and causes toy brands such as Lego to give it the swerve through a fear of damaging sales? Or is it fearful of getting it wrong? Stereotyping is an easy trap to fall into and in July this year Lego’s Duplo range, aimed at pre-schoolers, issued a wheelchair, made from grey plastic and marketed alongside a figure of an elderly man.”
It's Christmas Eve, Eve! Who's getting excited! We are!!! pic.twitter.com/867UlGsqDj
— Toy Like Me (@toylikeme) December 23, 2015
Lego initially resisted the call, arguing to Atkinson, “The beauty of the Lego system is that children may choose how to use the pieces we offer to build their own stories.”
But the new set seems to take a u-turn.
— Letterbox Library (@LetterboxLib) January 6, 2016
London mother and journalist Rebecca Atkinson, in an update to the petition to Lego she started last April, wrote, “We are beyond happy right now. Lego have just rocked our brick built world and made 150 million disabled kids, their mums, dads, pet dogs and hamsters very very happy. We’re all conga-ing up and down the street chucking coloured bricks like confetti! But on a serious note, this move by Lego is massive in terms of ending cultural marginalisation, it will speak volumes to children, disabled or otherwise, the world over.”
The crusade against non-inclusion has won.
Charlotte Allen commented, “My god son is only two and is in a wheelchair. I feel it only fair for toy production companies to include everybody, either able bodied or not.”
The wheelchair lego figure has definitely set a positive precedent for other retailers, besides LEGO, to gather their act and consider all the beautiful children of the world when they design their toys.
[Image via Bricksfans]