The LEGO Friends team in Billund has shared some of the reasoning behind re-designing the characters for 2018, confirming that making the group more ‘diverse’ and giving them more ‘depth’ were both considerations.
A number of LEGO ambassadors were curious about the re-designed characters on the LEGO Friends packaging for the 2018 range, and voiced some of their questions. Olivia has had the biggest change, with her 2018 design showing the character with darker skin than in her previous iteration. In response, the team responsible for the theme shared a statement explaining why the changes have been made.
Here is the full statement from the LEGO Group:
Every year we strive to innovate and make our products even better for children all over the world. A lot of effort has gone into the development of the LEGO characters and universes across our entire product range, so it makes us very happy when changes are noticed.
LEGO Friends in 2018 looks a bit different than what it has in the past. To be specific, the 5 main characters have a slightly different look but also the city and the citizens of Heartlake City have changed.
But what are the reasons for the change?
Firstly, we want to assure you that all 5 friends are still there in 2018.
Andrea, Mia, Emma, Stephanie and Olivia – they all still exist! Also the character’s main interests and personalities remain mainly unchanged.
What you will see in 2018 is an evolution of LEGO Friends, a progression of the story and characters to make sure children get an even greater play experience. Every year more than a million children and parents reach out to us and share what they love and what they would like to change. In the LEGO Friends range children told us that they would like even more differentiated characters and also suggested improvements to Heartlake City.
We always take great care to listen to input from children, and the LEGO Friends team has worked hard to make even more engaging and relevant experiences for children – and also make the LEGO Friends universe more true to the actual world children live in.
Taking a starting point in reality, we’ve made the characters more diverse in their appearance and have added more depth to their personality. And of course, they still live in Heartlake City. But just as the characters have changed, Heartlake City has become more differentiated and rich. There are different districts and there are other citizens that play a more active role in the story.
The changes we have made does not change the fact that previous and new LEGO Friends sets will cater for great building and play experience in 2018 and beyond, and we hope to inspire even more stories and play opportunities for children in the future.
As the LEGO Group look to reach new markets, and efforts to demonstrate diversity continue to be supported, the changes make a lot of sense. The progression of the story and deepening of the characters is also something that happens in other themes, particularly those that run over several years. By adding new districts and more citizens to Heartlake City, there should be more opportunity for the LEGO Friends theme to grow organically in the future and ensure that it continues to be a LEGO mainstay.
The next wave of LEGO Friends sets are expected to launch in January 2018. The current LEGO Friends releases are available from shop.LEGO.com.
Graham was the BrickFanatics.com Editor up until November 2020. He has plenty of experience working on LEGO related projects. He has contributed to various websites and publications on topics including niche hobbies, the toy industry and education.
Follw Graham on Twitter @grahamh100.