Is the LEGO Group’s attitude towards adult themes changing?

As the Adult Fan Of LEGO becomes a significant player in the LEGO Group’s revenue streams, might we see a change in what is deemed acceptable across the product themes?

John Lewis, the well-known retailer, is probably most famous for its slogan: “Never Knowingly Undersold”, which has stood as a totem for the company’s commitment to value for the best part of a century.  Like the ravens at the Tower of London, it was one of those things that would not – could not – ever change. But this summer, it’s being retired, sending a shudder through middle England.

Twitter is a rather younger company, launched in 2006. While it has made the occasional tweak here and there, one thing it has steadfastly refused to do, despite the clamour from its users, is to provide an ‘Edit Tweet’ option. Founder, Jack Dorsey, has gone on record a number of times, confirming that it will never happen.

Twitter Edit 1

Then on April 5 this year, a tweet came out from TwitterComms, stating that, yes, they’ve been working on an Edit feature since last year. Change, as they say, is a constant.

The LEGO Group, too, has a few established practices that it will seemingly never deviate from.  Their commitment to quality goes back to their earliest days when Ole Kirk Kristiansen defined the company motto as “Only the best is good enough”, something that his son Godtfred Kirk Christiansen would never forget after his ill-advised attempts to save money by skimping on varnish.

The other thing that the LEGO Group is well-known for, seemingly to the detriment of their bottom line, is their refusal to make ‘realistic’ weapons and military equipment. In the company’s 2010 Progress Report, they formalised the unwritten rules that had guided them for many years, saying: “The basic aim is to avoid realistic weapons and military equipment that children may recognise from hot spots around the world and to refrain from showing violent or frightening situations…” 

It continued, “We have a strict policy regarding military models, and therefore, we do not produce tanks, helicopters, etc. While we always support the men and women who serve their country, we prefer to keep the play experiences we provide for children in the realm of fantasy.”

This is a completely understandable stance from a company whose entire product range is aimed at children. However, there has always been a significant market for LEGO products among adults, and that market has grown significantly during the lockdown period enforced by Covid-19. Earlier this year, the LEGO Group announced its annual results for 2021, showing annual revenue up 27% to just over $8bn, from around $6.3bn in 2020. It’s likely that a significant portion of that growth will have come from the burgeoning adult market.

LEGO Creator Expert Botanical Collection 10309 Succulents 8

The Group’s advertising strategy is taking a deliberate step in that direction too. We’ve seen the ‘Adults welcome’ strap line, while the Botanicals theme is marketed at adults looking to relax and de-stress. Only this week we’ve seen the announcement that the Creator Expert theme will soon be coming under the new Icons umbrella with one suggestion being that ‘Expert’ may have been off-putting for adults who are new to the world of LEGO.

With these changes already made, or in the pipeline, might we see a softening of the LEGO Group’s approach to more adult themes in their product ranges? In 2020, the 42113 Technic Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey was hotly anticipated by Technic fans looking forward to the new rescue aircraft set, only to see it cancelled at the 11th hour.

42113 1

A statement at the time said: “While the set clearly depicts how a rescue version of the plane might look, the aircraft is only used by the military. We have a long-standing policy not to create sets which feature real military vehicles, so it has been decided not to proceed with the launch of this product. We appreciate that some fans who were looking forward to this set may be disappointed, but we believe it’s important to ensure that we uphold our brand values.” 

It’s unlikely that we’ll see overtly military sets – tanks, fighter jets and so forth – any time soon, if at all. But with the recognition that a major market segment is quite able to cope with more mature themes, might we see something like the Osprey, which dances on the fringes of what could be classed as military, in five, maybe ten years time?

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7 thoughts on “Is the LEGO Group’s attitude towards adult themes changing?

  • 04/06/2022 at 13:31
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    Catering to the same adults that jumped on the coloring book fad. Be careful LEGO, they are a finicky bunch and will drop you for the next fad. Make sure you don’t forget the adults that have always been there and will never leave. Don’t start catering to a new group and forget those that came before, or five years from now there won’t be any adult buyers.

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  • 04/06/2022 at 06:09
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    I’m confused, won’t sell a fantasy Osprey (that is a SAR and shows it in a “positive” role), but they will sell the Star Wars Death Star a fantasy weapon the can literally destroy planets?

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  • 02/06/2022 at 05:29
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    You say no fighter jets at the end, but lego did make a lego swing-wing fighter jet, it was quite a good creator 3 in 1 set

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  • 01/06/2022 at 23:17
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    What’s the N.R.A? Would you be okay if they catered to B.L.M?

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  • 01/06/2022 at 09:31
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    I often wonder how the Lego Sopwith Camel models (10226 & 1490) slipped through the net. Obviously it’s a very obsolete weapon, but the same would apply to any WW1 or WW2 planes, armour and warships.
    And if you’re into that, there’s a certain EU based manufacturer of lego-comparible bricks that has some very high quality models, all at much better value than Lego 😉

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  • 01/06/2022 at 01:10
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    Lego is not about quality anymore. Ever since they just pick and mix bricks from all over the world their colours are way off. I just wish someone with deep pockets would challenge their “3D trademark” on the Minifigures and nobody would need their overpriced asses anymore.

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  • 31/05/2022 at 22:14
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    If LEGO were a corporation or not successful, there would be a strong push to enlarge their market by appealing to an adult interest group, such as the N. R. A.
    I applaud the LEGO group for not abandoning a healthy moral principle for sake of a slightly larger market. If there were a LEGO Set that encouraged adhering to moral principles, that would appeal to a much larger adult market: parents.

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