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LEGO Debuts Its First Minifig in a Wheelchair

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Promobricks

For the first time, LEGO has debuted a minifig in a wheelchair at the Nuremberg and London toy fairs. The sweatshirt-wearing character and his service dog—a part of the City Park series called "60134 Fun in the Park"—were spotted by the Promobricks blog, who shared the image on the Bricksfans website. Understandably, the new development has caused quite a stir among LEGO enthusiasts.

There are a wide array of LEGO minifigs on the market today, including skeletons, elves, and robots. But some fans argue that even with all that variety in species, there has been a serious lack of diversity among the brand's human characters. Last year, the #ToyLikeMe campaign started a petition on Change.org, lobbying for disabled figures. It garnered more than 20,000 signatures.

“The brand continues to exclude 150 million disabled children worldwide by failing to positively represent them in its products," campaign co-founder Rebecca Atkinson wrote in an essay for The Guardian. "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 eventually released a wheelchair for their subline product, Duplo, in a series of community people in 2015, but the senior citizen character left many advocates underwhelmed. "We applaud Lego for producing a wheelchair-using Duplo figure," Atkinson said in a press release. "But it’s so disappointing that the only wheelchair using figure across all LEGO products is an elderly person being pushed along by a younger figure. What does this say to children about disability?"

In response, Trisha McDonell, LEGO Education's global public relations manager, explained:

We are always excited to introduce new accessories, such as the new LEGO DUPLO wheelchair, to further children’s constructive role play and learning opportunities. The beauty of the LEGO system is that children may choose how to use the pieces we offer to build their own stories. In this case, any LEGO figure can be placed in the wheelchair.

But it seems that the company took that feedback into account when they created the new scene, which also features a bike rider, an ice cream vendor, and picnickers.

[h/t: The Guardian]

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The 5 Biggest LEGO Sets Ever Made
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While technology focuses on making everything smaller, Denmark-born company LEGO has seen unprecedented success making everything bigger. Their official build kits can number in the thousands of pieces, enough to construct elaborate, towering, and massive objects. If you have a lot of spare time and patience, take a look at the five biggest LEGO sets ever made.

1. TAJ MAHAL

The LEGO Taj Mahal sits on display
Jose Sa, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Originally released in 2008, LEGO’s Taj Mahal set wowed collectors and casuals alike with its devotion to detail. Consisting of 5922 pieces, it remains the largest set on a per-piece basis of any LEGO set ever made. (It also comes in at a towering 16 inches when completed.) In 2010, soccer star David Beckham told an interviewer that he spent much of his spare time in Italy between games building the set.

2. ULTIMATE COLLECTOR’S MILLENNIUM FALCON

The LEGO Millennium Falcon sits on display
Ronny Nussbaum, Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

It would be nearly 10 years before a new Star Wars film arrived in theaters, but in 2007 LEGO decided to release their most complex Force-related product yet: the 5197-piece Millennium Falcon. To help fans appreciate the scope of this build—which measures three feet by two feet when completed—Gizmodo’s unboxing video revealed that the instruction manual alone weighs four pounds. It’s currently regarded as the most valuable LEGO set ever released, with resales averaging nearly $4000.

3. GHOSTBUSTERS FIREHOUSE HEADQUARTERS

The LEGO Ghostbusters Firehouse entrance is shown
Vincent Teeuwen, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

The arrival of 2016’s Ghostbusters reboot brought with it a sea of merchandising. One of the few to cross the streams and feature characters from both the current version and the original 1984 film was the LEGO version of their firehouse office space, which clocks in at 4634 pieces. While the towering frame of the building requires plenty of bricks, it’s the detail inside that ups the part count: Opening the firehouse reveals tons of tiny details taken from the films, including a dancing toaster and the zombie cab driver.

4. TOWER BRIDGE

The LEGO Tower Bridge is one of the biggest LEGO sets ever made
Norbert Schnitzler, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

A brick-perfect replica of London’s famed crossing over the River Thames, the Tower Bridge was released in 2010 and comes boxed with 4287 pieces. The set features a working drawbridge and more than 80 tiny windows.

5. BIG BEN

The LEGO Big Ben set appears on top of a map
Matt Brown, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

The latest in the biggest LEGO sets ever made, 2016’s Big Ben clocks in at 4163 pieces. The completed work stands nearly two feet tall. LEGO designers also went for some synergy, noting that the scale of Big Ben and the London Bridge are comparable, making them a perfect co-display—and a testament to your towering patience.

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LEGO Built a 9-Foot-Tall Statue of Liberty in the Smithsonian
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LEGO Systems Inc.

The Smithsonian's National Museum of American History has a new wing, and it's celebrating with a giant LEGO masterpiece. The just-opened second-floor renovation of the museum focuses on American democracy with exhibitions on the theme "The Nation We Build Together." As such, the museum teamed up with LEGO to honor that symbol of the American melting pot, the Statue of Liberty. LEGO designers created a 125-pound, 1:32 scale replica of the New York City statue for display at the museum, where it will remain until the end of the year. In total, it rises 300 LEGO bricks tall (9 feet) and contains 25,375 pieces. Led by LEGO Master Builder Erik Varszegi, it took four builders 292 hours to put it together. You can watch the process in LEGO’s timelapse below.

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