The first new theme for 2017 has been officially unveiled, with selected sets getting a pre-launch in America.To see what this new theme offers, Daniel Konstanski gives his analysis on the latest comic book inspired LEGO range.
I feel that I can bring an informed perspective on the new LEGO DC Super Hero Girls sets just unveiled in the lead up to New York Comic Con – I live with the target audience. As the father of two girls who routinely play ‘Jedi Superheroes’ (so for the record I must be doing something right as a parent), my daughters epitomize the demographic these sets are meant to appeal to. The short verdict: the LEGO Group nailed it.
This line fills a gap in the LEGO Group’s product portfolio targeted at girls. Within that portfolio Friends is the CITY equivalent – it provides a metropolitan area geared towards enacting scenes from everyday life. Elves fills the fantasy niche in much the same way as Castle and NINJAGO – epic adventures and quests can be enacted in a world completely separate from our own. DC Super Hero Girls now brings a targeted action genre experience to the table in the same vein as Super Heroes and Agents. Larger than life individuals battling it out against the forces of evil, yet in a setting that is familiar and recognisable.
The theme is based on a TV show and is not an original property. As such, many of the design elements and settings were already in place for the designers to work from. I am not too familiar with the source material, but some research indicates that the LEGO team has done a pretty good job of re-creating the onscreen representations of these characters and locations. The general aesthetic and colour palette is also accurate.
Inevitably the release of this theme will bring back to the surface the same complaints and arguments that invariably arise when a new theme with mini-dolls is released. That is way too large a topic to address here, but let me briefly say that most folks miss the intent of creating a figure separate from the standard minifigure for these sets targeted at the female demographic. Dissenters are quick to label it as something with nefarious intent – some subtle messaging that girls can’t play in a boy’s world. I think the reality is much simpler and far less sinister, which is that the LEGO Group knows that kids are territorial. Growing up my siblings and I fought like cats and dogs over whose figures were whose, and were always trying to commandeer our favourites from the other’s collection. Providing a clear delineation, especially now that they have gone into comic book territory, of what belongs to who is a mercy to parents – removing one more dispute to mediate from the day. There is no question in my mind that mini-dolls were the way to go with this theme.
In summary, the LEGO Group appears to have another winner on its hands following the success of Friends and Elves. This theme opens up a new genre in the product portfolio and appears to have been very well executed. AFOLs will likely file this theme in the same folder as Friends and Elves – a fantastic source of parts in unique colors. The target audience on the other hand will go crazy for the actual products, offering a new and vibrant world for them to get involved with.