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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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Airbnb is Giving Away a One-Night Stay in Denmark's LEGO House
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Airbnb

The LEGO toy company opened its 130,000-square-foot LEGO house in Billund, Denmark, at the end of September. The attraction, which contains 25 million interlocking bricks used to make everything from furniture to dinosaurs, is a LEGO-lover’s fantasy. Now fans of the toy brand can enter for a chance to spend the night there.

For one night only, one lucky family will be invited to stay at the LEGO house after hours as part of a collaboration with Airbnb. The vacation begins with superstar LEGO set designer Jamie Berard greeting the guests upon arrival. Later, the family heads to the dining room to construct their food orders out of LEGO bricks. After the plastic requests are sent to the kitchen, edible versions of the meals are served by robot waiters.

The rest of the day consists of exploring the house’s galleries and experience zones. Guests can appreciate life-sized LEGO sculptures, browse iconic sets, or assemble their own one-of-a-kind creations. But the highlight of the trip has to be the suite where the family spends the night. The armchairs, books, alarm clocks, television, and pet cat are all constructed out of LEGO bricks. One of the only features that isn’t made of blocky plastic is the bed, which is nestled in a pool of bricks beneath a rainbow LEGO waterfall.

Living room made out of LEGO bricks.
Airbnb

“This really is a dream come true for any family with a passion for LEGO,” James McClure, Airbnb’s General Manager for Northern Europe, said in a statement. “I doubt there will be much sleeping as there is so much to enjoy in this incredible space.”

To enter, candidates must answer the question, “If you and your family had an infinite supply of LEGO bricks, what would you build?” in 50 to 550 characters. Submissions are open through November 16 and the winner and up to three guests will be flown to Denmark to commence their stay on November 24. The chosen visitors should be prepared to follow the house rules: LEGO-proof slippers are recommended, play is mandatory, and diving in the LEGO pool in search of that “one rare brick” is forbidden.

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New LEGO Set Honors NASA’s Female Pioneers
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LEGO

For all their exemplary qualities, the LEGOs of yesteryear did have one flaw: the minifigures were predominantly male. In recent years, however, there’s been a notable uptick in female-focused sets, thanks in large part to fan-created concepts promoted through LEGO Ideas. One such project is the Women of NASA, a LEGO set celebrating some of the space agency’s most notable female figures that was posted to the LEGO Ideas last summer and has just been released for sale by the brick toy company.

The four notable NASA pioneers honored in the set are: computer scientist Margaret Hamilton, who played a major role in coding the flight software for the Apollo missions; famed first woman in space, Sally Ride; the "Mother of Hubble" Nancy Grace Roman; and astronaut and physician Mae Jemison, the first African American woman in space. (The original proposal also included Katherine Johnson, the mathematician at the center of Hidden Figures, but the company was reportedly not able to secure the needed approvals to feature her in the final set.)

The minifigures were created with set pieces like Hamilton’s stacks of code, scientific instruments, a microscale Hubble Space Telescope, a space shuttle, and more. The long-awaited 231-piece set officially went on sale on November 1; you can purchase it on Amazon for $24.99.


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