Lego releases new figures with missing limbs, dog in wheelchair in nod to diversity, inclusion

The Friends range features what Lego calls a “diverse cast of characters (taking) on new challenges in today’s modern world”. PHOTOS: LEGO

SINGAPORE - Toy manufacturer Lego has unveiled a new range of figures with physical and mental disabilities, including characters with anxiety and missing limbs.

The range, called Friends, features what Lego calls a “diverse cast of characters (taking) on new challenges in today’s modern world”, according to the company’s website.

A character called Autumn is described as an adventurous spirit who was born without the lower part of her arm. Correspondingly, the figurine in the sets – which are now available in Singapore – is missing the lower part of its forearm.

Paisley, on the other hand, is described as being a talented musician who is “shy in everyday life”, alluding to her need to navigate social anxiety.

Nova is described as an avid gamer whose “bluntness can put people off”, making her a bit of a loner.

The characters also have varied talents and creative pursuits. Leo has a studio in his bedroom to film content for his baking channel, while Olly is an expert in video-making.

The diversity extends to animals as well, with a dog in a wheelchair called Pickle as part of the cast.

Lego first announced that it was introducing the Friends universe in October 2022 to be more reflective of society today and comprise the diverse personalities children would meet in real life.

This includes the addition of figurines of different skin tones, cultures, physical and non-visible disabilities, as well as behavioural traits.

The first set of products was launched this week, along with a 44-minute episode of the Lego Friends YouTube animated series set inside the fictional Heartlake International High School. This will be followed by more episodes later in the year.

The range is also set to feature characters with Down syndrome and vitiligo, a condition in which white patches develop on the skin because of a lack of the pigment melanin.

The Lego Friends range is currently available at Lego’s certified retailers in Singapore, such as those on Shopee and Bricks World.

The new Lego Friends range, now available in Singapore, includes a dog in a wheelchair called Pickle. PHOTO: LEGO

Sets include an organic grocery store, mobile bubble tea shop and a dog rescue van.

Lego’s new addition is the latest in a string of moves by companies to market products that are more inclusive and aimed at children.

The new Lego Friends range includes a character called Autumn (right) who is missing the lower part of her forearm. PHOTO: LEGO

Earlier in February, publisher Puffin Books announced it had hired sensitivity readers to rewrite parts of British author Roald Dahl’s books to remove language that could be deemed offensive. Passages relating to weight, mental health, gender and race have been modified.

For example, the words “fat” and “ugly” have been trimmed from new editions.

Toy manufacturer Hasbro dropped the “Mr” from Mr Potato Head’s name in 2021 to be more gender inclusive.

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