WBI’s 2020 Best and Worst in LEGO for Equity and Inclusion

We’re close to the end of this marathon called the year 2020, and it’s been quite a year for LEGO.  WBI took a look at all of LEGO product offerings for 2020, reviewed them through a lens of gender equity and diversity, and compiled a list of the best and worst of LEGO this year.  If you’re looking to buy LEGO for anyone on your holiday list this year, you might want to consider some of the set selections.

WBI 2020 Top Ten LEGO list for Equity and Inclusion

In no particular order, here is WBI’s Top Ten list for Equity and Inclusion:

40383 Wedding Bride and 40384 Wedding Groom

The popular series of Brickheadz hit one out of the park with these Bride and Groom models.  Unlike previous years, where wedding themed sets only had a bride or groom, or some Brickheadz models that are only available in pairs, these models are available individually, making it easy for same sex couples to build themselves.  Major bonus points for the models offering several shades of bricks for skin tone, allowing everyone to feel included.

10273 Haunted House

This year’s much anticipated fairground set did not disappoint with a great build and intricate drop ride.  What puts Haunted House on our list is its attention to inclusiveness.  A minifig in a wheelchair is integral to the story, and the attraction itself includes a wheelchair ramp in order to allow everyone to enjoy the ride.  We love that this inclusiveness is shown in one of the premier sets of the year.

80104 Lion Dance and 80105 Chinese New Year Temple Fair

The Chinese New Year sets have been met with general acclaim since they were introduced in 2019, and we applaud LEGO for making these more widely available this year.  They’re beautiful sets with plentiful new printed pieces that are great for MOCs.  What we love about these sets is the multigenerational storylines – we see three generations represented, accurate cultural details such as the detailed food tiles, and that it’s not Eurocentric.  With the addition of this and the Monkie Kid theme this year, we appreciate LEGO’s stretch into other cultures.

Hidden Side theme

LEGO’s first foray into augmented reality also brought a lot of terrific sets.  We can’t speak to the game, but we enjoyed the builds.  What we liked most about the builds was that although the main protagonist was a male teenager, his female friend Parker was featured in just as many sets.  We like seeing equal representation, and it was a bonus that many of the adults in STEM fields were women, too.  It’s too bad that it looks like this theme is being discontinued at the end of the year.

Collectible Minifigure Series 20

It was a natural that this series would make it on the list.  10 years of collectible minifigures (CMFs), 20 series, and for the first time in 2020 there was (finally!) gender equity in an individual CMF series.  Here’s hoping that it’s a sign of things to come and not an individual case.

75981 Harry Potter Advent Calendar

Advent calendars are always fun, and the Harry Potter inaugural calendar was great last year. We love this one’s version even more; not only is there a great selection of female minifigs; the Patel sisters are beautifully accurate, even including their bindis.

Friends Jungle Rescue series

The Friends sets have some issues (see our Worst Five, below), but there are some  pretty terrific sets, too.  The Jungle Rescue theme, created in partnership with National Geographic to increase visibility of endangered species, is a fantastic group of sets.  The builds are interesting, the animals are cute, and the storylines are proactive and action based.  The Friends have things to do , and this is a great way of doing them.

60271 Main Square

Why would we be excited about a CITY set?  There’s one reason – in the form of a minifigure.  This is the first set that features a minifig wearing a hearing aid.  While we wish this minifigure was in a set that’s at a lower pricepoint, having the minifigure is an important first step.

Rounding out our Top Ten are initiatives designed to sell us sets, but we love being sold to this way.

LEGO Catalogs

What’s the big deal? you might ask.  LEGO has catalogs all the time.  Several a year, in fact.  But this year, starting with the October catalog and continuing with the holiday catalog, there are actually people on the cover. For at least five years only products have been featured, and not the people who are playing with them.  Extra credit goes for showing a diverse population including people of colour enjoying the sets.

LEGO Holiday Ad

All we’ll say is: If you haven’t see it yet, you must do so immediately (we’ll wait).  There’s so much we love about this ad, and truly, it takes watching several times to catch everything.  Our personal favourites include the rainbow coloured spacemen and the princess knight fighting the dragon.

Special Fan Mention

We attended several conventions this year, but we’re huge fans of the logo used for BrickCon 2020.  It’s the first time we’ve seen a female minifigure used as part of convention materials.

While there are some great things in LEGO to celebrate in 2020, there are other areas where there’s opportunities for improvement. 

WBI 2020 Worst Five LEGO list for Equity and Inclusion

Here are WBI’s Worst Five for Equity and Inclusion, again, in no particular order:

Minifigure gender balance

We celebrate gender equity in CMF series 20 this year, but we can’t celebrate it in any other places in LEGO.  While City is making strides in gender equity – up to 40% of minifgs in that theme are women in 2020 – other themes have nowhere near that representation.  While we recognize that intellectual property themes don’t help in this regard, the fact still remains than female minifigure heads have been produced at less than half the rate of male minifigure heads.

Minidoll gender balance

What good for the goose…..there’s a gender equity issue on the other side for minidolls.  For example, in 2020 there were 66 minidolls offered in Friends sets.  Four were male, and one was a robot.  While we like to see the Friends running the world, there has to be more men in it.

Friends stereotypes

While the Friends theme had some great sets such as the Jungle theme and the friendship bus, there are still some misses, such as sets dedicated to glamping and yet another hair salon (the third in the theme’s nine year run).  Do the Friends truly need to have their hair done that much?

City stereotypes

While we’re rather charmed with the new City series and the named characters, someone at LEGO needs to take a look at how they name the characters.  We understand the cop and robber theme is an evergreen one for City, but did they really have to give the criminals names like “Vito” and “Frankie Lupelli”?

Merchandise partnerships

LEGO announced several partnerships to broaden some product appeal.  While some of the products look great, it apparently has escaped the notice of some partner companies that female fans of LEGO exist.  There were no products designed for women at all in one partnership (Adidas). (Edit: we’ve learned that there were women’s shoes available in limited numbers in some locations, but we’re not aware of any that were available in the U.S.)  In the Levi’s partnership, there were a scant few products designed solely for women, including the quite pricy, and rather patronizingly named, Ex-Boyfriend Jacket.  Surely the likes of Adidas, Levi’s and LEGO can do better than this.

That’s our list of the best and worst in LEGO this year. Did we miss anything? Let us know!

Bookmark the permalink.

5 Comments

  1. Thanks. It was a very interesting read and had a nice balance of recognizing positive changes and areas for future improvements. I never saw the LEGO ad and it was great. Thanks for sharing

  2. Regarding hair salons, I don’t know if Friends need that many salons in Heartlake – but in my small town with four business/retail streets and no stop lights- we have five hair salons, three coffee shops (independent- we are too small for the chains) and two DIY art studios (one is a thrown clay studio, the other is sign painting) In my town, all 10 of these businesses are all women owned and operated. I think three salons speaks to truth of women’s lives whether we like it or not. Friends theme has majorly balanced domestic life with STEM and female entrepreneurship.

  3. The BrickFest 2005 logo (which my ex husband, Jim Green, may have designed… can’t remember if he was still doing them then) featured a female minifigure. It was generally understood to represent Christina Hitchcock who did most of the event organizing. (Red pants and blonde hair were the giveaways.) I don’t have a great picture handy, but this link might work. https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/brickfilms/images/b/b2/BrickFest2005.gif/revision/latest/scale-to-width-down/340?cb=20150707155044

Leave a Reply to Suzanne Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *