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WBI’s 2023 Top Ten LEGO List for Equity and Inclusion (and Five Opportunities)

Published December 19, 2023 By Megan Lum | 2 Comments

It was difficult to top 2022 for LEGO in equity and inclusion, but LEGO managed to have another good year in 2023 for equity and inclusion.  As part of WBI’s year end tradition, we’re pleased to share our 2023 Top Ten LEGO list for Equity and Inclusion.

We took a look at all of LEGO product offerings for 2023, reviewed them through a lens of gender equity and diversity, and compiled a list of the best and worst of LEGO this year. 

WBI’s 2022 Top Ten (in no particular order)

Play Unstoppable Marketing Campaign

We love anything that challenges stereotypes, which is exactly what the Play Unstoppable campaign is all about. The whole campaign is to encourage girls to take on any activities they love, despite society’s ingrained stereotypes. For more information, please see the press release here.

Friends Reboot

We called this out last year when it was announced, and the Friends team has really delivered with this year’s line-up. The sets have been fantastic, but what has really impressed us is the breadth of the inclusion in the Friends world. Invisible disabilities are mentioned in the stories, and there’s even a mobility challenged dog, Pickle, who is quite possibly one of the cutest Friends animals ever.

80111 Lunar New Year Parade

The Chinese Traditional Festival sets are no strangers to this list! One of this year’s offerings, 80111 Lunar New Year Parade, has an astounding 18 minifigures. What thrills us is that 12 of those minifigures are female. Kudos to the team for showing women doing so many things in this set.

Disney Creative Lead

We don’t love that we had to dig a bit for this, but we were pleasantly surprised to learn from the press release for 71040 Disney Castle that the Creative Lead for Disney is a woman. We don’t have a lot of visibility to female designers and managers in LEGO, so every mention is a win.

40634 Icons of Play

Associated with the Play Unstoppable initiative, we love this set not only for the women on which it’s based, but also that it provides another opportunity to get for realistic skin tones on minifigs in an unlicensed set. We can say lots of great things about this set, but can’t say it better than this excellent article from our friends at BrickNerd.

Braille brick

After teasing it for a couple years, LEGO finally released Braille bricks. We love LEGO reaching out to a new audience and using the universality of its product as a teaching and outreach tool.

Friends call outs

Yes, we know we talked about the Friends sets already – but there are two sets that are worth for specific mention. 41744 Sports Centre features a minidoll with a diabetes, a first of its kind. 41753 Pancake Shop is not the first set to feature a minidoll with a wheelchair, but it is one of the first sets to offer a wheelchair at such a low price point (£8.99/$10.99/€9.99).

10323 PAC-MAN set

103232 PAC-MAN set is a lot of fun, but we’re mostly excited about the minifig. Take a closer look – the female minifig doesn’t have lipstick! It’s the first time we can remember seeing a female minifig without make up. We could not love this any more!

Sets celebrating Japanese culture

2023 highlighted Japanese culture with some fantastic sets: 21060 Himeji Castle, 10315 Tranquil Garden, and 31208 Hokusai – The Great Wave. All three sets are great, and we love LEGO celebrating Japanese culture with this trio of sets. We’re hoping this is a start of celebrating other cultures around the world.

71799 NINJAGO City Markets

71799 NINJAGO City Markets is a great set and a wonderful build. However, what we love the most is that the set is designed to be accessible throughout, including the tram! What a great way to show that inclusivity message.

WBI’s 2023 Five Opportunities (in no particular order)

No International Women’s Day set

We were disappointed in March when we learned that there was no International Women’s Day set this year, after two years of great sets, 40450 Amelia Earhart Tribute in 2021 and 40530 Jane Goodall Tribute last year. Really, LEGO, you can’t tell us you ran out of ideas! Here’s hoping things course correct in 2024.

76232 The Hoopty

Fun set with three female minifigs – check. Those minifigs representing strong female characters – check. Bonus points for featuring a woman of colour with a smiling face – check. But – a 420 piece set at a price point of $90 (£84.99/€94.99)?!?!?! That price is extortionate, and it’s unfortunate that it makes these minifigures less accessible.

Lack of female representation on external facing events

LEGO Certified Professionals (LCPs) are entrepreneurs who have turned their LEGO talent into a profession. LEGO has full control over this list. You can find a list of LCPs here. There are not a lot of women in this list, and LEGO has the opportunity to hire more women, and we encourage them to do so.

Additionally, LEGO hosts Fan Media Days, where they invite various fan media from around the world to preview sets and interview designers. Of the 40 fan media members attending this year, only five were women. As LEGO has control of these invitees as well, we encourage them to include more women in future years.

Superhero mechs/buildable characters exclusively male

There were a range of mechs and buildable characters offered in the Super Heroes range this year – Batman, Thanos, Hulk, Captain America, the list goes on. Try to find a female buildable character or mech. We’ll wait….

Set designer videos

We love set designer videos! They feature awesome sets and the amazingly talented people who create them. However, we’ve noticed a trend. We’ll be looking into this some more, but based on some preliminary research, there seems to be something missing in these videos. Particularly, women designers. Of all the set designer videos this year (we counted 14 this year), only one featured female designers. We know there are many female designers, why are they not featured in set designer videos? Many of these videos are for marquee sets, which leads to another question – why aren’t women designing more of these sets?

Did we miss anything? Let us know!

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  • I’m usually critical of these articles, but this isn’t half bad. A few critiques I’ll make though.

    1. A lot of the problems you mention have something in common: not enough women in the workforce. Well, at least they’re making progress. Plus, diversity hiring isn’t always the best route forward: if you’re catching a flight and your pilot is a woman (and was only hired for that reason. Nothing else), would that be a good idea. We can certainly encourage girls to take up hobbies, but you can’t expect it to happen overnight. Have a bit of patience.

    2. IMO, Icons of Play is just a bad set. The figures are nice for sure, but the price is a bit much for half a soccer field and stand with faulty mechanics. Should have done something akin to the classic LEGO Sports fields.

    3. The mechs and buildable characters themselves are just terrible ideas in general, but a lot of what you’re criticising comes down to the marketability. Try to find a female comic book character who is on the same recognition as Batman and doesn’t wear a sexualised outfit that would feel inappropriate to build. I’ll wait.

  • Brendan Payne

    LEGO’s response to Oli London left a lot to be desired. Namely that PR immediately jumped to saying that LEGO doesn’t make LGBTQIA+ sets for children rather than challenging London’s homophobic and transphobic notions. It also begs the question of why Pride Flags have been limited to (two) 18+ sets, with the only “kids” set to include one being Gargantos Showdown.

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