Man, toy companies are killing it this week! On the heels of Mattel's #TheDollEvolves announcement, astute attendees at the Nuremberg Toy Fair spotted a welcome addition to LEGO's standard minifig offerings: a character in a wheelchair, complete with guide dog.
Promobricks, a blog that tracks LEGO news and reviews playsets, confirmed that one of the 14 minifigures in a LEGO City playset called "60134 Fun in the Park" is indeed disabled. The set will be available in July of this year (at least it will be overseas), and it will retail there for €40, or about $44:
LEGO is the biggest toy maker in the world, and if you've got a kid, or if by chance you ever were one yourself, you know that the bricks are a playtime staple. But they've drawn their fair share of complaints in the past in regards to their minifigures, one of the most recent being that ones representing people with disabilities were conspicuously absent. Until now.
One of LEGO's most vocal critics was Rebecca Atkinson, a journalist and creative disability consultant in the U.K. who launched the #ToyLikeMe campaign. The campaign urges toy manufacturers to include representations of all types of people in their product lineups, including ones with disabilities. Her Change.org petition to LEGO asking them to hop on board ultimately gathered over 20,000 signatures and implored the company:
There are 150 million children with disabilities worldwide. Yet these kids are arriving into a world where, even before they’ve left their mums' laps, they’re excluded or misrepresented by the very industry that exists to create their entertainment, the objects that fuel their development, the starting blocks of life: Toys!
Please, Lego, put some wheelchair vroom vroom into the toy box and help generations of kids, (both with and without disabilities), grow up with a more positive attitude to human difference!
It looks like LEGO was listening, and the people who were eager to see themselves and their loved ones reflected in the popular toy line are nothing short of ecstatic. Atkinson is celebrating, of course:
And so are people who wish that the minifigure had been available when they were kids or who can't wait to get their hands on them now that they're grown-ups.
The new addition had this mom overwhelmed with joy:
And this Twitter user basically says what we're all thinking.
It might not mean much to most people, but to some people, little things like this mean a whole lot. It's not, as Atkinson tweeted, about a little plastic dude. It's about what the little plastic dude represents: a world where folks — but particularly children — with disabilities aren't "other." Let's all doff our tiny snap-on caps to LEGO for taking a great step in the right direction.
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