With the LEGO Group’s recent downsize of LEGO Collectible Minifigures to 12 characters per series, picking out just that many to include in the first LEGO Looney Tunes collection was probably a near-impossible task. From 91 years of history across animated shorts, films, merchandise, advertising and much more is a selection of cartoon characters who stand today as cultural icons, so there were always going to be some big names left on the sidelines.
Thanks to an independent retailer in California, we’ve already seen exactly which characters the LEGO Group decided to include in 71030 Looney Tunes, and which it passed over. But competition for places wasn’t the only reason some characters will likely not have made the cut – at least this time.
For every Foghorn Leghorn and Hippety Hopper that probably missed out for creative reasons, there’s an Elmer Fudd, Yosemite Sam, or worse, Pepé Le Pew…
Top of the list of noteworthy absentees from the LEGO Looney Tunes line-up for many will be Elmer Fudd. With Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck headlining the first series, their most famous adversary is notable by his absence, particularly with regards to the ‘Duck Season’ sign Daffy’s minifigure comes with.
That is in reference to one of Looney Tunes’ most famous and celebrated selection of shorts, known as the ‘hunting trilogy’. Each of these cartoons plays out a scenario where Elmer is out hunting (for wabbits) and comes across Bugs and Daffy, who compete against each other to convince the hunter that it is either Rabbit Season or Duck Season, leading to numerous gags.
However, any number of those and other running jokes in cartoons featuring Elmer and Bugs involve the use of his gun, which is perhaps why the LEGO Group opted against including him in the Minifigures selection for now. Simply put, it goes against one of the LEGO Group’s core values regarding conflict play, specifically ‘[glorifying] conflicts and unethical or harmful behaviour’.
It isn’t necessarily the end for Elmer Fudd fans’ hopes of seeing him in LEGO form, though, should the LEGO Group decide to run a second series of characters. This is because Warner Bros. announced in May 2020 – likely after selection for this LEGO Minifigures series was locked in – that the character would be losing his firearm in its reboot of Looney Tunes. It may not be the most familiar version of the character older fans of Elmer would know, but a more socially-conscious one that the LEGO Group could perhaps work with.
It will likely be a similar reason that Yosemite Sam didn’t make the cut for this first series of LEGO Minifigures. Also a key antagonist of Bugs Bunny and one with a long history, Sam is a hot-tempered cowboy designed to act as a tougher adversary to the rabbit than Elmer, and with a particular penchant for his pistols.
Otherwise a shoe-in for a LEGO Looney Tunes line-up, Sam – like Elmer – will have given the LEGO Group pause for thought. And also just like with Elmer, Warner Bros.’ 2020 Looney Tunes reboot has dropped the character’s weapons. Curiously, though, Sam is using them in the April 2021 trailer for Space Jam: A New Legacy. Should the LEGO Group revisit Looney Tunes for a second series, Yosemite Sam’s selection remains uncertain.
Pepé Le Pew
One well-known and previously much-loved character who likely won’t be anywhere near a LEGO Minifigures line-up in the future is Pepé Le Pew, the strong-smelling French skunk. Regardless of the values of the LEGO Group, those of wider modern society will explain this particular character’s absence now and presumably forevermore.
The character has faced increasing and strong condemnation in recent times for its portrayal in cartoons of an ‘aggressive pursuit of romance’ that ‘normalised sexual harassment, stalking and abuse’. Additionally, Pepé has been criticised for perpetuating French stereotypes and, unlike with Speedy Gonzales, it has come without the affected community’s subsequent support.
The LEGO Group rarely offers public comment on the specific values that it adheres to, but alongside such considerations as the various aspects and challenges of design and the need to cater for a global audience, these values will always play their part in product selection.
Particular licences may require little consideration for such values, but others – including Looney Tunes, which has a history that goes back almost 100 years – will inevitably highlight particular clashes due to improved cultural awareness since they were made.
Featured image: Warner Bros. / HBO Max