Did LEGO deliver on everything we wanted to see in 2022?

At the end of 2021, we published a list of six things we wanted to see from the LEGO Group in 2022 – but did the company deliver on them?

Look, we’re not saying we expect to establish the creative and business direction for a multi-billion dollar brand with a single feature, but some of our suggestions for the LEGO Group in 2022 were relatively low-hanging fruit. As for the rest? A mix of wishes, hopes and pipe dreams – but you should never be afraid to dream big, and that’s exactly what we did.

The question now is… were those hopes fulfilled? As part of our wider review of LEGO in 2022, let’s walk through each entry one by one and determine whether or not the LEGO Group was on the right track.

A bigger push towards sustainability

LEGO Paper bags featured 2

The LEGO Group has a wider sustainability plan that pretty much always meant we were going to see some movement towards greener output in 2022. We haven’t heard much more yet on its bricks made from recycled bottles, but we weren’t really expecting to: instead, we were hoping for changes like smaller boxes and alternative packaging for its Collectible Minifigures, alongside the introduction of its paper bags in sets.

While we’re somehow still waiting to see those paper bags rolled out, the LEGO Group has at least settled on a replacement for its Collectible Minifigures’ plastic bags. The bad news is that the alternative is cardboard packaging, making it impossible to determine what’s inside each one. On the plus side, we’re seeing paper bags turn up in other places (like magazines), and the LEGO Group’s new US factory will be carbon-neutral.

Verdict: Yes – though the delayed roll-out of paper bags isn’t ideal.

Better availability

LEGO 10294 Titanic FEATURED

The LEGO Group’s supply chain issues that began in 2020 hadn’t entirely gone away by 2021, with many of its most popular sets consistently sold out in the run-up to (and across) Black Friday and Christmas. We were hoping most of those issues would be resolved this year, and all credit to the LEGO Group – it’s pretty much managed it across the board.

Some sets are still proving hard to come by, notably 10294 Titanic, but very few sets are otherwise temporarily out of stock or on back order at LEGO.com. And there’s another positive knock-on effect of better availability for customers, too: sales have been much better this year, with several high-profile sets even discounted by as much as 30% or 40% through official channels. Win-win.

Verdict: Absolutely, with only a couple of exceptions.

The return of BIONICLE

LEGO BIONICLE Toa 2001 featured

In 2021, the LEGO Group ran a poll to choose the theme to celebrate for its 90th anniversary. The four finalists were (in no particular order) Castle, Space, Pirates and BIONICLE. While the winner would ultimately be decided by the LEGO Group, we hoped BIONICLE would get its due alongside the rest come 2022. In the end, the company actually released sets for two themes in 10305 Lion Knights’ Castle and 10497 Galaxy Explorer.

Pirates was mostly left behind – 21322 Pirates of Barracuda Bay was presumably enough of a tribute to that theme – but BIONICLE did at least get a nod in 11021 90 Years of Play, a set that recreates models from across the decades in miniature form. Its tiny Tahu is pretty good, we guess. It’s not exactly the return of BIONICLE we were hoping for, though. Fingers crossed it finds a path back to the portfolio in 2023.

Verdict: Yes, technically, but not really in the way we’d have liked.

Even more diversity

2021 was pretty positive for diversity and representation across the LEGO Group’s products and actions, and we were placing our bets on even more for 2022. It’s hard to say it hasn’t managed it, either – from the first minifigure with a prosthetic leg in 60347 Grocery Store to 21337 Table Football, which introduced the first minifigure with vitiligo among its cast of diverse and varied characters. Even if it was perhaps not the right set to do it in, you can’t knock the effort.

We’re also seeing even greater diversity across the LEGO Friends 2023 sets, which were revealed in 2022, so we’re counting it. The LEGO Group is acutely aware of the power it has in this arena, too, stating in October that it will never use inclusivity or diversity as ‘tokenism’, and its new Friends characters – which embody visible and non-visible disabilities including anxiety, Downs Syndrome and limb difference – will be ‘embedded in meaningful stories’.

Beyond just LEGO sets, the NINJAGO TV show also featured the Progress Pride Flag, which was officially licensed by the creative team.

Verdict: Yes, definitely.

The return of colourful boxes

One day we’ll stop harping on about all-black boxes across 18+ sets, and – by sheer coincidence – it’s the day the LEGO Group retires them altogether. We were hoping to see more of a mix of all-black boxes and more colourful backdrops where they made sense in 2022, at least as a starting point, and the LEGO Group delivered through 10497 Galaxy Explorer and 10305 Lion Knights’ Castle.

Both of those retro 90th-anniversary sets mimic classic packaging, following in the footsteps of 21322 Pirates of Barracuda Bay, and it works brilliantly. So… more of that in 2023, please.

Verdict: A tiny bit. Not really enough.

A new in-house theme

LEGO Avatar 75574 lifestyle featured

2022 was suspiciously short on brand new LEGO themes, with just the one new range debuting on shelves in the form of LEGO Avatar. That’s a licence, which the LEGO Group has never really been short of, and certainly doesn’t fulfil our dreams of a new in-house theme for 2022. Sorry, TLG: you’ve dropped the ball on this one.

Verdict: Nope. Fingers crossed for something new in 2023.

Don’t forget to check out more of our recap of 2022, including our top 10 LEGO sets and top 10 LEGO minifigures.

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Chris Wharfe

I like to think of myself as a journalist first, LEGO fan second, but we all know that’s not really the case. Journalism does run through my veins, though, like some kind of weird literary blood – the sort that will no doubt one day lead to a stress-induced heart malfunction. It’s like smoking, only worse. Thankfully, I get to write about LEGO until then. You can follow me on Twitter at @brfa_chris.

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