Confessions of an AFOL – A Response

I am sure this is not the response you are expecting from yesterdays post Confessions of an AFOL – Part 1 by Pinar. I think the comments on this post  cover a lot of territory and you should give them a read. It is not for me to criticize LEGO,  I generally vote with my check book, so my thoughts took a different direction.

I enjoy many aspect of this worldwide toy photography community and I am blessed to have so many international friends who willingly share their lives and cultures with me. It has been a wonderful and enriching experience. Occasionally I get a glimpse of my own country through foreign eyes and honestly, it always makes me feel a little uncomfortable. I just have to read The Short News (which originates in Australia) for some cringe worthy story emanating from the US.

Yesterdays post by Pinar (who lives in Turkey), really got me thinking: If LEGO is a Danish company with a world wide global fan base, why are so many of their sets based on pop culture and entertainment products that originate from the USA / Hollywood? Like Pinar, I have been feeling  lackluster about sets like Back to the Future, The Simpsons and now Scooby Doo. I am not a fan of the entertainment / pop culture that the US spews out on a daily basis and it makes me sad that it casts such a long shadow over the LEGO corporation.

Sure licensing is not new to LEGO and many attribute licensing the Star Wars franchise as key to turning the company around financially. No one can deny the success of the Harry Potter or the Lord of the Rings sets either.  But what about the Lone Ranger Movie sets? Sure these gave us Tonto, one of the coolest mini figures ever, but is that enough?

Personally I would like to see Lego develop more sets from their Lego Ideas platform along the lines of Peter Reid’s Exo Suit, NASA Mars Rover, the Birds and of course the Research Institute. To me these sets offer a wider range of play not just a trip down memory lane.

But then maybe I am wrong and you guys would like to see LEGO develop a line of products based on The Brady Bunch next?

~ xxsjc

What kind of sets do you think LEGO should produce? Free play, nostalgia or movie franchise based sets?

The Sea Casts its Spell
The Sea Casts its Spell by Shelly Corbett

0 Comments

  1. Very interesting topic! Like you, I’m not that excited by some of the licensed sets (The Simpsons, BTTF, Scooby Doo). I will always love Star Wars and the Star Wars LEGO sets are what got me back into LEGO and got me started in LEGO Photography. I still love to do Star Wars photos but I also get a lot of joy (maybe more joy?) from the characters I’ve created myself from LEGO minifigs (the gymnasts, Angel, Frank the Hot Dog Vendor etc). I also really enjoy some of the characters that LEGO created that I’ve used for photos (Executive Ellen and Ace Brickman). So I hope they continue to make minifigures and sets that I can use for various story lines around Lego City instead of making a bunch of sets based on The Brady Bunch 🙂

  2. I really enjoyed reading both posts, along with the response comments that followed. One of the statements that Mister_Bricks (Mike) made really rings true, in that “When it comes down to it, we’re all different. You’re opinions are different than mine, and that’s great.” I loved how he followed up by saying “I’d hate it if we were all the same” and I couldn’t agree more with that.

    I’ll be the first to say that I am “getting old” as I am approaching my 46th birthday this month. Whoa!… 46?!? Geez! However, I am a kid at heart and my 6 and 7 year old boys keep my wife and I young. Yes, this is part of the equation that goes into the interest level you may have in some of these licensed sets. As pointed out in other comments, there are a combination of factors that come into play.

    Age is a big factor when it comes to the type of nostalgia you may feel for a theme. My age puts my formative years smack in the 80s. As cheesy as that decade was, in some regards, there’s a lot that came out of it. In the U.S. it was financial, political, pop culture and technology related occurrences that have had lasting impact on where we are today. Does anybody remember the first iPod?… I believe it was called the Sony Walkman. Before there was the Wii, PlayStation or Xbox, we had our Atari and LOVED it. I still love those games, as is evidenced by the fact that we have two stand up arcade machines in our basement that are loaded with over 100 of the classic games from the 80s… but I digress. My point is that age is a big component of what drives nostalgia.

    brickandmordor got it right in explaining that movies such as “Back to the Future” may not translate well to the age we live in or have the same impact to somebody seeing it for the first time, now. At the time, however, it was crazy cool… look at the box office receipts it garnered at the time. It had Mr. Michael J. Fox, who at the time, was one of the biggest television sitcom stars and that DeLorean… oh that DeLorean! I was at the right age to be a fan at the time and that translates into nostalgia for me.

    Aside from the nostalgia aspect, I would think that where you come from and what your pop culture references are will have a big impact as well… not to mention how it is that you enjoy using the LEGO bricks that we love so much. Are you a collector, are you a builder, do you play with them, display them, photograph them… the list goes on.

    For me, as a photographer, pop culture plays a big part in what drives my interest. Next week I am heading on a long road trip to visit Cleveland, OH where I will be participating as a vendor at my first ever Wizard World Comic Con. When I was solicited by Comic Con this past summer, we were discussing the fan base that attends the conventions and what appeals to them the most. One of the biggest themes that came up was “Doctor Who.” The person I was speaking with was telling me how HUGE it is at their conventions and truth be told, I had never heard of it. He must have mentioned the “Tardis” a dozen times in our discussion. The first two or three times I just played along and acted like I knew what he was talking about, but at one point I had to show my hand and put it out there… What the heck is a “Tardis?” Now a few months later, my wife, my kids and I are well into our second season (we started with the 9th Doctor for those who are familiar with it). I have to admit… the first episode we watched left me puzzled as to why and how it had such a huge following and how it could still be popular after all these years. It seemed very cheesy and campy to me… and the special effects were kind of lame, I thought. We stuck with it though and I have to say, we really enjoy it now!

    That being said, for me personally, I think it’s great that a Doctor Who set is being made. Although I have already spent a decent amount of money on custom figs and accessories for the theme, it will be nice to have an official set to work with. Again, it comes down to how you are using the set. The fan base that I will encounter at the Comic Con events I am doing this year love it… so I have to have it!

    The LEGO Back to the Future set, along with my Doctor Who Tardis will become one of the images I am soon to put out. The DeLorean parked outside the Tardis, with our main characters checking out each others time machines… could be kind of funny. We’ll see.

    So anyway, if there’s anybody still reading my long winded comment here, I absolutely applaud you. I think it does come down to age, nostalgia, geography, and how you use your LEGO bricks and sets. We’re all different and that is truly a beautiful thing.

    With that I say to brickandmordor… I would be all over a Karate Kid set… and yes Shelly, call it cheesy or what you may, but I’d be first on line for the Brady Bunch as well. Would love to create a scene recreating Marsha’s nose being busted by the football… “Oh, my nose!” That’s just me though… I’m old!

    • brickandmordor

      Nice response SillyBrickPics! Each of our individual ages, experiences, and backgrounds definitely play a huge part in all of this. For instance, in her latest post, Pinar talks about how the LEGO video games enhance her experience of some of the related set themes, but that is a medium that will probably never be part of my experience. It sounds fun, but let’s face it, I’m “old” and wouldn’t know how to operate anything more advanced than Nintendo! Plus I just don’t have the time.

      I agree with Shelly that it would be great to see LEGO release more sets based on community submissions into LEGO Ideas, and/or other non-Hollywood-related themes, AND I also think it’s awesome that LEGO DOES hit specific target audiences with the licensed nostalgia-driven sets. I love it all! (Well, maybe except for the Friends sets, haha)

      I’m sure LEGO is also just making business decisions. They have to know a huge part of their fanbase are adults who grew up in the 80’s who can afford to buy their sets. How many kids bought the Guardians of the Galaxy sets because it contained an Awesome Mixtape? Right? (“What’s a cassette tape?” hahahaha)

      Anyway, hopefully LEGO will branch out and find ways to continue to cater to the nostalgia-driven folks as well as be more inclusive of other countries’ pop culture, and supporting creative ideas from the community.

  3. Cole Burden

    Shelly said – “I am not a fan of the entertainment / pop culture that the US spews out on a daily basis and it makes me sad that it casts such a long shadow over the LEGO corporation.”

    I would argue that every pop-culture Lego release is based on the US market. As far as I’m concerned, the recently announced Doctor Who set, even though it is a British institution, would not have been green-lit if is wasn’t so huge in the US.

    That’s the business world.

  4. Just catching up on the latest posts and again i´m enjoying the different views of the individuals that form this community.
    I do agree that the age and personal experiences influence one´s interests. Am not a Simpson´s fan, not a ScoobyDoo or DoctorWho fan so I´m really not excited about these sets to come.
    Just like SillyBrickPics I can relate to the eighties and am still superduperhappy about the Lego DeLorean. My greatest wish (future Lego-sets-like) would be a Bluesmobile with Jake and Elwood. Yet…- think it´s good they did not release one so far. Not too many people would be interested and maybe I´d be disappointed by an official set.
    So hey what, are we talking about Lego? The toy that gives you unlimited chances for bringing your own ideas to life? Right, and so I´m just going to build one myself. Again and again and again- until I´m finally pleased with it.
    Meanwhile I´ll be looking forward to all new setsthat will be released and hunt after some vintage sets from “my” era…

  5. Way late to the party, because I’ve been moving and had a lot else on my plate. I agree that the U.S.-centric licensed character releases tend to exclude a lot of folks interested in free play and those living in places where U.S. cultural icons don’t play as well. When I interviewed a prominent Lego builder in Portugal three years ago, he told me the City themes are most popular there, followed by the Pirates and Castles that draw on the country’s history and heritage. That was certainly evident when I attended the LEGO Fan Event in Lisbon last year and photographed the large dioramas for my blog.

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