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LEGO’s New Strategy Towards Adult Fans

(Written by William)

Recently, LEGO invited Recognized LEGO Fan Media (RLFM) partners to participate in RLFM Days where LEGO Ambassadors had the chance to connect with various LEGO departments, hear presentations, conduct interviews, ask questions, and share concerns with LEGO representatives. The event normally takes place in Billund each year, but due to the virus, this year it was conducted virtually.

One of the sessions focused purely on how adults are viewed in the overall strategy of the brand. In short, engaging adult fans is an area where a lot of growth has been happening and we can expect to see even more. This actually requires a great deal of work, as the perception of LEGO being for kids is a deeply ingrained belief of the general public. And it’s not hard to imagine why. LEGO is sold in the toy aisle, it is usually in brightly colored packaging, and all the major commercials and references we see in media have pointed to this direction. How then do you market a product to an audience who is not entirely sure they need what’s on offer? Let’s dig in and get an idea what changes are on the way.


If LEGO plans to convince adults that their models are a necessity, then there needs to be a very real need that is being fulfilled. These needs can be summarized in two major ways. Mind you, this is an oversimplification, since there is still more to cover.

First, we as adults live in a hyper-connected world. We’re glued to half a dozen apps on more than one device. This fractured and frantic life-style is what drives a good portion of our day-to-day lives. We’re trying to convince ourselves this pace of interaction is what will bring about happiness.

However, it has been found that if we focus on a single task and become fully absorbed in said task, we end up with a much better sense of accomplishment. This practically describes most people’s experience when they build a complex LEGO set. And this, in turn, makes LEGO an ideal stress reliever.

The second need relates more to personal identity. Have you ever thought about why we choose what we choose to decorate our homes and work spaces? These decorations are an expression of ourselves. Therefore, that fancy pirate ship model or a highly detailed city scene allows us to do this form of self-expression. LEGO displays express the creativity of a person as well as their interests.


Through various studies, LEGO tried to identify what adults would recognize as something that catered to them. We have now seen some examples of this in action. If you are a longtime fan, you could probably spot these sets simply based on their size, packaging, and price point.

Some great examples of the new adult-focused packaging are the #10273 LEGO Creator Haunted House and the LEGO Star Wars buildable helmets. Their boxes are streamlined with the model image being extremely prominent with plain backgrounds. We can even spot the new 18+ age recommendation to further hammer this idea home.

LEGO has also identified some key design topics that really resonate with adults. After all, if this is supposed to be a decorative display in someone’s home, then it needs to be based on something they really love. Sports, for instance, is a clear category for adults. We see it in the #10272 LEGO Creator Old Trafford – Manchester United stadium, as well as the high-performance vehicles in the LEGO Creator Expert and LEGO Technic lines.

Another topic they have considered for adults is their popular classics. This is sort of a catch-all for the various sets that they’ve found adults seek out. Star Wars, Super Heroes, Harry Potter, Modular Buildings, and LEGO Ideas are just a handful of examples of what fit this category. It is not LEGO’s intention to alienate their existing fan base who currently love what they buy. The goal is to serve adults by focusing on topics they like, and making adult-oriented products visually appealing to adults.

This doesn’t mean though that LEGO will try to stick adults in a box and all adult-oriented sets will always look the same. Consider the #21322 LEGO Ideas Pirates of Barracuda Bay. It has a very retro look to bring out the nostalgia angle. It’s an example of how creative LEGO can get even within their vision for adults.


As an adult fan myself, I am excited to see what will be heading our way in the future. I spend a good deal of money on LEGO, so I like the fact that what I buy is actually being designed with me in mind. I’m overjoyed with the new LEGO Modular Buildings each year. And I was blown away with sets like the #76139 LEGO DC Super Heroes 1989 Batmobile. And there’s still nothing to stop me from enjoying the sillier sets like LEGO Hidden Side.

What do you think? Do you feel there are LEGO sets made for you? And if you’re under 18, how do you feel about seeing an 18+ set in LEGO’s catalog? And do you think any of these changes LEGO is making to attract adults will change the mind of anyone who currently is not a LEGO fan? Feel free to share your thoughts and discuss in the comment section below!

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{ 26 comments… add one }
  • Hobbes June 4, 2020, 11:23 AM

    Lego has very little work to do to get in that direction but for unfathomable reasons they keep refusing to get there. For years, the adult fan base has requested the return of classic space, castle and pirates. That should be easy, none of them are attached to an IP. They produced Pirates of Barracuda bay this year and the response has been very good – you can’t get the set as it is back-order since the beginning. While a set is good, this is a far cry from a theme. No need for 8 sets per year – 3 would suffice (one small, one medium and one large to cater for all budgets). Lego is trying all sorts of weird new themes with questionable success, why not go back to the tested, tried and true???

    • Undercover Afol June 4, 2020, 12:05 PM

      I’m also hoping for more classic inspired sets; pirates, space, castle, and trains. I’,m glad that they finally realize that adult fans are the ones with the big money! 😀

      • Will June 4, 2020, 11:40 PM

        Much of this push from LEGO I believe comes from the numbers they are now seeing in regards to how much adults make up their bottom line.

        Based on numbers they reported previously and what they revealed to us, I think it was more a matter of them working off bad data.

        And as for why they don’t dip into the classics we all love? Well, I believe that has more to do with how corperations work. They’re always interested in expanding rather than focusing, except when it comes to IPs which they just milk. The idea is that you continue to find new markets by ever changing and expanding. And then if things ever get desperate you have your time tested classics to fall back on.

        As a fan it’s frustrating I know, since we know what we like and what we want. But they don’t just want your wallet, they want yours and your neighbor’s, and your friends, and your family. So they expand and rarely look back.

        However, it does look like we may get classic offerings on a slightly more regular basis. They just won’t be cheap.

      • Jason June 5, 2020, 12:47 PM

        Totally agree where it relates to the Castle themes. Actually appreciate what they did with space where it was woven into the CITY and Ideas Themes . The sets were on point as there are sets for every level of enthusiast and size of budget. Castle on the other hand has been decimated with the recent Castle themes. Nexo Knights was simply odd and basic Castle attempts were subpar, junior and not compelling to even the great mid 80’s themes. The Hidden Side Castle is meh—it’s a perfectly fine play set and has cool features yet not what AFOL’s are looking for—Kingdoms quality or better and that would be easily attainable considering the quality of MOC’s out there for inspiration. Bring back the Forestman, Wolfpack and Black Monarch with some good stories—or LOTR with castles such as the Tower of Orthanc.

  • Mark H Avery June 4, 2020, 12:22 PM

    Maybe I’m unique. I’m certainly an AFOLer (by dozens of years) but I’m not looking for over age 16 (or 18) sets. Yes, I also (like Hobbes) want classic pirates and castle. But I also want classic town and train, not just in build, but in concept. I want a town that I can build — but that my grandkids can play with. without it being so fragile that pieces easily fall off and get lost. I don’t keep close tabs of fan sites, but there seems to be endless requests by AFOLers for city stores and office buildings, as well as complementary sets like some of the recent People and Xtra sets. I don’t think I’m the only AFOLer who would like to see a zoo and/or a farm. Look for example at the very old Basic (700s) sets made for older kids that were designed to build houses. I’m frankly also not looking for $100+ sets.
    This isn’t the place for specific requests, but how about a classic set in minifigure scale with bricks in tans, browns, brick reds, etc. and lots of windows, masonary bricks, etc.
    Just my two cents.

    • Hobbes June 4, 2020, 1:32 PM

      Lego zoo and farm!!!! This brings another topic – but it is related. What is it with Lego that animals are some kind of weird precious things hard to get by??? They made a goat a few years back – it was available in one set – never to come back again (same is true for ostrich and camel). Apparently the mould got broken – just build another freakin’ mould if it is broken for crying out loud. I’m pretty sure that when the 2×4 brick mould breaks you build another one. Duplo has zoo on a regular basis why not minifig? We have seen some great animals coming with the CMS why aren’t they widely available. Why not animal part packs (farm animals, northern wild animals, safari wild animals, exotic wild animals, dogs pack). Most AFOLs like to recreate as closely as possible things of day-to-day life when they do real stuff and create fantasy or sci-fi worlds when they don’t do real stuff. For this they need (1) new parts – mostly for SNOT and stud offset, (2) parts in new colours – so their creations are coherent and not an eyesore and preferably (3) themes that will help to foster that creativity.

      • Thita (admin) June 4, 2020, 2:03 PM

        Yes, the lack of animals in the standard sets is a mystery. Playmobil is doing very well with their farm sets and their animal packs (farm, safari, zoo, sea creatures, etc. – just like you mentioned). With LEGO, we only get animals with Friends and DUPLO. I have been also puzzled about this. There is clear demand. 😕

        And I agree, we need parts-packs/tubs for adults for to build with. The LEGO Architecture Studio set was great example for this.

        • Håkan June 6, 2020, 9:06 PM

          Yeah, once the mold is made, there should be many opportunities to include the animal in many different sets. It’s strange when animals such as bear, rabbit, goat and camel/ dromedary only are included in a single or a handful of sets.

          And it’s not like kids don’t enjoy playing with toy animals, anyway. This can’t be an adult-specific query…

      • Mark H Avery June 4, 2020, 5:27 PM

        Sounds good — you’re hired!

    • Thita (admin) June 4, 2020, 2:05 PM

      Very good points! AFOL is not just about spending on big expensive sets. They want the kind of parts-packs that appeal to them and fits their building style. I do hope that LEGO will figure this out in our lifetime. They have been consistently getting the same feedback for years!

  • Legostuff14 June 4, 2020, 1:50 PM

    I often wonder if Lego still considered it as a kid’s toy instead shouldn’t be just called buildable toy for all? I love hidden side because ( and others.themes like it) it’s unique to Lego and it’s not super hero ,Star Wars and so on. However, being a kid at heart. I like city sets as well as superheroes, Star Wars, and Harry Potter. Partly because it’s part of my childhood growing up and having enjoyed those aspects and yet, the ideas theme seems that holds a little both playable and displayable features on various sets of that theme. So it varies like you said William. It’s such a wide range of interest in the hobby of collecting Lego sets and yet we’re all part of Lego and it’s creativity that helps us grow in our imaginations. Some are great a building moc and some are not ( like me) . But, we sometime have enough sets to build a scene from a movie or just purely for our own imagination. This what I like about lego that it covers a wide range of collectors and builders. From a young age to sometimes the very old age. But, then again if you are young at heart you never grow old.😁

  • The Other Mark June 4, 2020, 1:57 PM

    So what will this look like? What kind of sets can we expect? I get that they are going to do more sports sets, but what else?

    • Thita (admin) June 4, 2020, 1:59 PM

      Music and Art & Décor were a couple of other themes mentioned that will be coming under the adult-focused sets. And of course, we also have LEGO Architecture, which was adult-focused from the beginning.

      • Mark H Avery June 4, 2020, 5:10 PM

        Will these be in minifigure scale?
        Architecture certainly isn’t.

        • Thita (admin) June 4, 2020, 9:18 PM

          Just like with the currently available adult-oriented sets, it really depends. For example, the LEGO Star Wars Masks are display pieces that aren’t minifigs-scale, but the LEGO Ideas Haunted House is. Some of the adult-oriented sets will be coming in the lines we already have, and others will be new. And as Will pointed out in the article, they will be different in many ways.

  • Ian June 4, 2020, 3:08 PM

    All I can say is… FINALLY! And what took them so long? They kept resisting adult fans for so many years!

  • Pokedon June 4, 2020, 6:44 PM

    Though this was interesting, I don’t think it’s necessary to assume we all ‘need’ certain sets, quite a strong word there. Though I am well over 18 myself, I’m sure many of us are kids at heart and are happy to buy current sets that are normally aimed at a younger audience. Personally I adore the Ninjago line, very creative and imaginative sets that are bright and cheery to look at it when on display, even the new Monkie Kid line has caught my attention. I understand however that it must be very difficult for Lego to gage what they think adults are looking for compared to what they’re actually looking for, as every single afol has a different taste.

  • Legostuff14 June 4, 2020, 10:22 PM

    Thank you, pokedon .That’s pretty much what I was trying to say in my comment earlier. It varies in both adults and kids. More importantly does it really matter? Personally I think the fact that adults and kids can work together and build on a Lego project or set probably puts a smile on the Lego company’s face. Let’s not forget the first Lego movie and the message it gave us.

    • Will June 4, 2020, 11:54 PM

      I know this is information LEGO has gotten from many existing AFOLs when they were doing workshops.

      I believe their intent is that those who don’t “need” an adult themed set are already being served. However, those adults who aren’t currently fans of LEGO are the ones they are trying to convince. And to convince those people they have to be shown that these are products they need.

      Once they are on board with how great the LEGO system is they can then filter in as their interests dictate.

      Additionally, this approach is meant to give something for teens to strive towards. In other words, perhaps prevent some of us from entering a Dark Age since there is a bigger challenge to be had.

      And keep in mind, LEGO doesn’t plan to short change anything they have been doing since this is a move to expand.

  • Legostuff14 June 5, 2020, 9:56 AM

    I agree with you will I know Lego was trying to keep it interesting for adults to keep building and being creative that’s fine but, you can have all the paint you can all the bricks to give all the colors in the world and still go into that Dark Age. Sometimes people lose interest. I think Lego needs to go back to where adults can create their own sets and order the pieces online and they do a blueprint on set ideas and then Lego send the pieces so that we can create there own sets.also maybe put more pieces on the digital brick wall or the brick wall at the stores. Probably be able to order online will be easier because there is not a lot of space in the stores but anyways just a thought.

    • Håkan June 5, 2020, 10:52 AM

      Quote: “I think Lego needs to go back to where adults can create their own sets and order the pieces online and they do a blueprint on set ideas and then Lego send the pieces so that we can create there own sets.”

      Lego had done something like that earlier, I remember. The high pricing required for cherry-picking parts and delivering them led to poor, unsatisfying sales, if I remember correctly. In the end, they decided the venture wasn’t worth the hassle…

  • Legostuff14 June 5, 2020, 1:30 PM

    True, but it’s gets to the Point. Lego makes things that we think we might like even though they have tested it with people and questioned people in their inner Circle ,but , I’ve seen sets like the idea set that William made of the seafood restaurant that was a really good set and yet it wasn’t made into a set. I know it’s an ideas theme and people have vote for but, still. Don’t get me wrong Lego has have created great themes and great sets at times. It also shows no matter how many times Lego makes a great set there’s always going to be someone that’s going to criticize it and make something negative about the creativity of a certain set. I guess you can’t make everyone happy. I always try to think about the person that designs the set to be a product to be out there for people to enjoy it and when people start to jump on it in a negative way make that person probably feel bad and can also put a damper on their creativity a little. anyways, I hope it works out. I am curious to see what sets or themes they can come up with or designs to create new and interesting things. As Lego has always said they’re alway trying to improve everyday to make it a better product.

  • WinterXO June 5, 2020, 3:59 PM

    Whilst I do agree with LEGO being a universally appealing product, I disagree with the labelling of these products as ‘adult sets’. The wording of this article feels a tad alienating towards older fans as it seems like you’re placing us into a category where we need our own special franchises which goes against the whole point of LEGO, which is to bring people of all ages together! For example, my best friend and I are both huge fans of the Ninjago franchise which is most definitely not ‘aimed’ at our age group, but we’re still fans because, at the end of the day, it’s a universally appealing franchise with recognisable and lovable characters, complex and beautiful sets and an amazing TV show to go along side it.

    Furthermore, us adults don’t ‘need’ our own sets because, at the end of the day, we’re fans of what LEGO is, and not what it ‘could be’.

    TL;DR: We don’t ‘need’ our own sets, we love what we have already. Also, the Ninjago TV show is amazing.

    • Thita (admin) June 5, 2020, 4:05 PM

      Yes, all of those are good points. I would add though that these new sets aren’t targeting older fans who are already hooked on LEGO. These people already have their favorite sets and themes, as you mentioned yourself. This new strategy is mostly to attract adult who never built with LEGO, or had the impression that LEGO is only for children. It’s basically going after a brand new target market. And yes, Ninjago is awesome! 🙂

  • Angel June 6, 2020, 2:02 AM

    Hi am an Adult who have grown a new found passion to build lego sets. They are such good therapy for me. I look forward to more sets that are catered to an adult audience. Also, would like see a broader adult line that is more accessible in the store level ( in-store retail) in addition to more adult products being available to purchase online, without having to worry about out of stocks or backorders due to limited supply. This has been some of my personal experiences.

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