Lego has introduced a new figure that is permanently seated in a wheelchair. The move follows the hashtag #ToyLikeMe, which lobbied intensely for better visibility of disabled people in toys.
After building all kinds of fun figures, ranging from pirate ships to space ships and racing cars to haunted castles, Lego has come up with a unique plastic figure that is squarely aimed at ensuring those with a disability are better represented in the world of toys. The Danish toymaker unveiled its first ever wheelchair bound figurine. However, the figure of a hat-wearing boy in a wheelchair was first spotted at the Nuremberg international toy fair in Germany last week.
Incidentally, instead of the usual pompous affair or flashy announcement, it was through the toy fair that the wheelchair using Lego piece was introduced to the world.
The wheelchair Lego captured the attention of Lego devotees after it was repeatedly featured on fan blogs. The company later shared the tiny wheelchair will be part of a new Lego CITY set that will come out in June, reported 10 News. Speaking about the piece, Michael McNally, senior director of brand relations for Lego, confirmed the availability.
The inclusion of a wheelchair Lego piece may have been the successful culmination of a petition that had captured the attention of the world. Spearheaded by London-based activist Rebecca Atkinson, which was propelled by the hashtag #ToyLikeMe, the petition urges toymakers, most notably Lego among them, to make a change.
“Please make this the last Christmas disabled kids are culturally excluded from your much-loved products”
The #ToyLikeMe campaign insisted that companies making toys should introduce figures that represent disabled children as well. Needless to add, the online petition managed to get quite a bit of traction, forcing toymakers to take notice. After the toy’s unveiling, the campaign organizers updated the petition with a statement praising Lego for including a disabled toy figure in their collection.
“We’ve got genuine tears of joy right now. LEGO we salute you! You’ve just made 150 million children, their mums, dad, nans, granddads, teachers, care-givers, pet dogs and hamsters very, VERY, VERY happy! To all our backers, supporters and Lego, from the bottom of our playful hearts, THANK YOU!”
Toymakers, including Lego, were under increasing pressure to introduce toys that reflect real life as closely as possible. Traditionally, toys have never depicted the struggles of real men and women but instead relied upon the appeal of science fiction and superheroes to sell toys. Moreover, there have been numerous complaints against the toymakers of putting forth completely unrealistic images of role models, including Mattel’s Barbie doll, which always sported a “perfect 10 figure” that feminists argued was putting undue pressure on girls.
Lego unveils first ever minifigure in wheelchair https://t.co/hhOwb5pRV9
— The Guardian (@guardian) January 27, 2016
Although Lego’s toys could never depict unrealistic body types, some concerned citizens pointed out that the company solely relied on plastic as the raw material, which they claimed ended up in landfills and contributed to global pollution. Interestingly, while Mattel recently introduced Barbie in “realistic” body shapes, Lego too had confirmed some time back that has been experimenting with recyclable materials that could dissolve if discarded toy pieces ever landed in landfills.
In 2014 alone, Lego made over 60 billion pieces. With consistent sales across Europe, America, and Asia, the Lego Company is one of the biggest success stories. Aided by the success of The Lego Movie, sales grew 18 percent last year. In 2014, the Lego Company became the largest toymaker in the world in terms of revenue and profit, beating even Mattel. Interestingly, despite the immense success, the company still remains a family-owned business. It is not immediately known if the wheelchair piece will be included in other sets.
[Image via YouTube]