The first ever Lego figure in a wheelchair has been spotted at the Nuremberg and London toy fairs, featuring a beanie-hatted character alongside a helper dog.
The figure was captured in photos by the Promobricks blog, and shared on the Bricksfans website. The figure features alongside an ice-cream vendor, cyclist, picnickers and more, in a new park scene from the company’s City range.
The sighting is significant, given Lego has recently been accused of a lack of diversity in its figures. The #ToyLikeMe campaign, launched last year, resulted in over 20,000 signatures to a Change.org petition, which lobbied Lego to include disabled figures in its sets.
Its co-founder Rebecca Atkinson wrote in the Guardian in December: “The brand continues to exclude 150 million disabled children worldwide by failing to positively represent them in its products … This is more than just about sales figures or disability access, it’s about changing cultural perceptions. It’s about brands such as Lego using their vast power of influence to positive effect.”
Lego initially resisted the call, arguing to Atkinson: “The beauty of the Lego system is that children may choose how to use the pieces we offer to build their own stories.” But the new set seems to mark an about-turn.
The #ToyLikeMe organisers reacted joyfully, writing on their campaign page: “We’ve got genuine tears of joy right now … Lego have just rocked our brick-built world!”
Lego was at the centre of another online campaign recently, which argued that the company should drop its restrictions on bulk-buying bricks after Chinese artist Ai Weiwei was blocked from ordering bricks for his work. The company previously had a policy of asking for the reasoning behind bulk orders, and preventing any overtly political use; they relented after global indignation, saying that their policy “could result in misunderstandings or be perceived as inconsistent”.