With the next generation of LEGO Friends, there has been a lot of communication in the past few weeks/months. This press release is long but you might want to read the section with the events listed as there are quite a few unique experiences happening at different locations around the world.
TWO IN THREE KIDS WANT TOYS TO BETTER REFLECT REAL-WORLD FEELINGS: LEGO FRIENDS RELEASE NEW CHARACTERS WITH COMPLEX EMOTIONS
- The re-imagined LEGO Friends characters are more representative of the world that today’s kids navigate, including neurodivergence, mental health conditions, gender, culture, ethnicity, physical traits, and abilities, whilst the stories they play out also more representative of the real-world emotions of children, with the ups and downs that they face
- New research conducted by the LEGO Group to support the LEGO Friends re-launch wants to shine a light on the importance friendships has on the well-being of kids in early childhood and reveals that:
- Two in three kids (68%) want to see more toys and characters portray different emotions to better reflect real life
- Most kids surveyed (94%) said their friends make them feel happy
- Only a third of kids (32%) say they have seen friends having problems or arguments on TV or online content they consume
- Nine in ten kids (93%) believe it’s good to have friends who can teach you different things
A decade on from the launch of LEGO Friends, the LEGO Group has re-imagined the Friends Universe: an all-new lineup of characters and accompanying TV series hosted on their YouTube channel. It comes at a time when the ups and downs of friendship are not widely shown on TV or in the online content kids consume, meaning many young children are left to navigate these complex feelings, without understanding that it’s completely normal and that others are feeling the same.
The 2023 LEGO Friends Universe includes characters with a wider variety of skin tones, cultural backgrounds, disabilities, and neurodiversity, all with authentic personalities and relationships. By launching this new generation of products, the LEGO Group hopes that when kids play in the LEGO Friends Universe, they’ll see more of themselves in the characters and gain a better understanding of others, helping them navigate their own experiences and in turn, become better friends.
To support the launch, the LEGO Group conducted in-depth global research to understand more about the diversity and complexity of modern friendships amongst young children around the globe. Focusing on 18,000 kids aged 6-12 years old from 19 different countries, the research shines a light on the importance that friendships have on the well-being of kids in early childhood. The study revealed that:
- Kids rely on friendships to deal with the complex emotions of modern life, with eight in 10 (87%) saying that they turn to friends as a source of comfort when they have problems
- Kids value ‘having fun’ and ‘being happy’ as the main elements of friendship, with more than three-quarters (67%) wanting someone to have fun with and six in ten (60%) wanting someone to laugh with and the majority (94%) said that friends made them feel happy
- Kids also see the value in diverse friendships with nine in ten (93%) agreeing that it’s good to have a diverse friendship group that can teach you different things
- Kids don’t often experience complex emotions portrayed in the content they view, with just two in five (40%) saying they have seen friends have ups and downs on TV or content they are consuming and only a third (32%) saying they have seen friends having problems or arguments
- When asked if it would be good for more toys to feature characters that embodied different emotions, more than two in three children (68%) agreed. Over a quarter (27%) said this is because everyone feels this way sometimes and 22% of kids said it would help children know that others felt the same
- Two in three kids (68%) said they want to see more toys and characters portray different emotions to better reflect real life
The LEGO Group recognizes the importance friendships have on child development and how it plays a huge part in helping kids understand diversity. Further to the launch of the new generation of characters, the storylines within the LEGO Friends universe have been refreshed in collaboration with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, helping to develop content narratives that ensure they’re relatable, inclusive, and reflective of the real-life experiences of children today.
Child psychologist Laverne Antrobus commented on the research saying; “The research findings give a fascinating insight into the complexities of children’s friendships in the modern and increasingly diverse world that we are living in. It’s encouraging that children want to see diverse friendships represented in the content they watch and the toys that they play with. These changes will help children understand differences and give them the confidence to make relationships with others who are not the same as them. Learning from friends about how they are similar and different will ultimately help children to be accepting of others as they navigate friendships and relationships in the world that they are living in. It’s great to see the new LEGO Friends universe will be fully inclusive and a better reflection of real-world friendships in 2023, so young people can play, explore and express their emotions with a more diverse range of characters and replicate these experiences in their everyday friendships.”
Tracie Chiarella, Head of Product, LEGO Friends at the LEGO Group said; “Children are our role models and guide everything we do here at the LEGO Group. After an incredible 10 years on LEGO Friends, this re-imagination has enabled us to push the boundaries not only in the content and the storytelling, but also in the reflection of modern, childhood friendships so that children can truly see their experiences reflected in the world around them. From the research released today, it’s great to see that kids acknowledge the importance of friendship for their mental health and it’s encouraging to hear they want more emotional diversity to be represented in the content they consume and the toys and characters they play with.”
The new generation of LEGO Friends is available to buy now with a LEGO Friends TV special available to watch on the LEGO YouTube channel. To find out more, visit the LEGO Friends section of the Online LEGO Shop.
The LEGO Group will also be celebrating friendships with a range of global activities to help children experience the joy and benefits of playing themselves. These activities will include a two-month-long play experience taking place from 6th February – 2nd April in select LEGO stores. Free activities include:
- Discover LEGO Friends: Spin the wheel and find out more about one of the eight new LEGO Friends characters, then build a set that aligns with that character’s passions before proudly displaying it in-store
- LEGO Friends Skate Ramp: On select dates in February, come in-store to create a LEGO Friends Skate Ramp – that you can also take home to play with your friends
- LEGO Friends Character Creator: In March you can design and customize your own LEGO Friends character
- The LEGO Friends Bedrooms: Four of the new LEGO Friends bedroom sets will be on display for visitors to play with and customize
For more information about LEGO Friends activities happening near you visit LEGO.com/Stores and search for your local store. In addition:
- Meet the LEGO Friends – In giant brick form at [Westfield Forum des Halles, Paris from 18-26th February / Westfield Mall of the Netherlands, The Hague from 27th February – 5th March / Reim Arcade, Munich, Germany from 20th-24th February / El Triangle Arcade, Barcelona, Spain from 20th-25th February / Sawgrass Mall, Florida, USA from 20th-26th February / Glendale Galleria, California, USA from 20th – 26th February / West Edmonton Mall, Alberta, USA from 20th – 26th February / Mall of America, Minnesota, USA from 20th – 26th February]. Capture a photo to reveal the rest of the crew and have the chance to claim a special LEGO Friends gift.
- LEGO Friends Heartlake Friendship Diner Experience – In New York City from February 18-19th, fans can celebrate the new LEGO Friends Universe brought to life at the Heartlake Diner Friendship Experience, a real-working diner where you can meet the new characters through play sessions and other kid-friendly activities.
- LEGO Friends ‘ Hangouts’ – The Bullring, Birmingham, UK. A child’s bedroom is an integral part of forming their self-identity. At this event, kids can meet and take part in awesome activities with their favorite influencers as they explore creativity and self-expression, form friendships, and learn what it means to be different together.
- LEGO Friends Screening – Paris. Families could attend a special LEGO Friends screening on 11th February at Forum des images, Les Halles, Paris. LEGO.com/VIP to find out more.
- Giant Heartlake Downtown Diner – Paris. Between 18-19th February, grab a photo with your friends at the Giant LEGO Friends Heartlake Downtown Diner outside the LEGO Store, 1 Passage de la Canopée. Paris.
What do you think? How do you like the new take on LEGO Friends? Feel free to share your thoughts and discuss in the comment section below!
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Eh, ok. More power to them. I think we all know that toylines with a well-established fiction (aka “half hour toy commercials”) sell better. Although it sometimes comes across pretty odd with Lego, given that the characters (minifigs and minidolls) are such a small aspect of the actual product being sold. It’s not like your GI Joe, He-Man, TMNT, My Little Pony, or Barbie, where the figures are the primary thing and the vehicles and playsets are extra accessories.
On the other hand, a lot of the Friends stuff does tend to focus on a bedroom or hobby of a particular character, though the rest is more like Lego City sets with a veneer of pastel colors.
I wonder if things that are overloaded with diversity are just as “unrealistic” as things with no diversity, but if you’re trying to include every possible minority thing, that’s what you end up with.
Have you heard of minifig collectors? They spend hundreds even thousands of dollars on minifigs. And they get sets just for the minifigs. Yes, I know, very different when I grew up, but that’s the reality now.
Although I will miss the original friends, I feel that this is a good direction for the theme. I like the variety and inclusiveness.
I just want the flower and design shops. That’s it.