Sunday, March 9, 2014

Lego fail

I saw the Lego Movie a few weekends ago and it really is fun. I enjoyed it a lot and I'm one of millions brainwashed by the "Everything Is Awesome" song. It made me remember how much fun it is to play with Lego bricks too, so I bought a few inexpensive sets and had a great time building from the instructions. I thought I could pick up a box here and there as I could afford it, and eventually I'd have enough bricks to build whatever I liked.

Since I've now written seven Lizzy and Jo short stories, a novella, and I'm working on a novel with those characters, naturally my goal is to build an airship with Legos and play with it when I'm supposed to be writing. I can't afford the big Lego sets that would allow me to make an airship yet, but there are a million Lego mini-figures and I thought I could get some and mix and match their parts to make Lizzy and Jo figures.

The problem is, Jo is a black woman. I thought it wouldn't be hard to find a POC female Lego mini-fig, but I was wrong. There aren't any. Confused, I went to the official Lego site to see if I was missing something, and I found this.

It's under the frequently asked questions, so I'm not the first person to notice that hardly any Lego figures have brown skin. They say the yellow is a "neutral color" and they didn't want to assign specific ethnicity.

Because everyone knows that yellow is neutral, right? Right?

They also say they will use different skin tones for figures based on movies and so forth in which they're going for more realism, but somehow that's different. Because I guess there aren't that many Lego sets based on movies, and anyway we all know how diverse the typical movie cast is, right? Right?

Harry Potter
Star Wars
The Hobbit
Lord of the Rings
Toy Story
Marvel and DC Superheroes
Man of Steel
Pirates of the Caribbean
Lone Ranger
Raiders of the Lost Ark
etc etc etc

But don't worry, there ARE Lego minifigs out there that have brown skin! In addition to some really, really hard to find sports figures (mostly basketball players, all male), there are:

Nick Fury, from the superheroes set

Vartruvius, from the Lego Movie--you know, the movie in which all the other characters (except Shaq) have yellow skin, because this is not based on real life

And a werewolf! Although I guess that's supposed to represent brown fur. I guess. I hope.

I sent Lego a short, polite email asking if they could make more female figures, and start making some figures with brown skin. They never replied. Edited to Add: OOPS, should have checked my spam filter before I wrote that: they did reply, with a long and canned-sounding (but polite) response in which they said (in part) this: "we believe skin color is not important so we've given most of our mini-figures a neutral (yellow) skin." /headdesk


Kelly Robinson said...

Oh, that's absurd. I might go for the "yellow is neutral" stance if they were consistent about it, but apparently their idea is that all Lego people are yellow, except when they say they're not. C'mon.

Somewhat related, I remember reading this blog where Lego sent someone a set of mix-and-match Lego heads and bodies, except every head had a mustache.

K.C. Shaw said...

They're totally not consistent. In my email to them I suggested they just start mixing things up with brown available for some figures and yellow for others.

The Bloggess is hilarious anyway. If anyone would get a lot of mustachioed Lego heads, it would be her.

Unknown said...

That's what spray paint is for :)

K.C. Shaw said...

Probably gonna go with Sharpie marker first and see how it works! :)