LEGO Friends is changing in 2018

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Straight from The Heartlake Times comes the official announcement for something we have been curious about ever since next year's box art surfaced...

The Friends design team in Billund, Denmark reports:

"Every year we strive to innovate and make our products even better for children all over the world. A lot of effort has gone into the development of the LEGO characters and universes across our entire product range, so it makes us very happy when changes are noticed.

"LEGO Friends in 2018 looks a bit different than what it has in the past. To be specific, the 5 main characters have a slightly different look but also the city and the citizens of Heartlake City have changed.

"But what are the reasons for the change?

"Firstly, we want to assure you that all 5 friends are still there in 2018.
Andrea, Mia, Emma, Stephanie and Olivia – they all still exist! Also the character’s main interests and personalities remain mainly unchanged.

"What you will see in 2018 is an evolution of LEGO Friends, a progression of the story and characters to make sure children get an even greater play experience. Every year more than a million children and parents reach out to us and share what they love and what they would like to change. In the LEGO Friends range children told us that they would like even more differentiated characters and also suggested improvements to Heartlake City.

"We always take great care to listen to input from children, and the LEGO Friends team has worked hard to make even more engaging and relevant experiences for children – and also make the LEGO Friends universe more true to the actual world children live in.

"Taking a starting point in reality, we’ve made the characters more diverse in their appearance and have added more depth to their personality. And of course, they still live in Heartlake City. But just as the characters have changed, Heartlake City has become more differentiated and rich. There are different districts and there are other citizens that play a more active role in the story.

"The changes we have made does not change the fact that previous and new LEGO Friends sets will cater for great building and play experience in 2018 and beyond, and we hope to inspire even more stories and play opportunities for children in the future."

Intriguing! What do you think?

In case you've not noticed the difference, The Rambling Brick has published an article on the change which contains some great comparison pictures.

Via The Brick Fan.

 

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88 comments on this article

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By in Australia,

Love the marketing speak. 8 paragraphs when they can just say, 'let's have more PC racial diversity'. Its quite a risk that they are taking.

We'll soon see if this translates to more sales of Friends. After all, wonder who their main racial demographical purchasers are (with the largest purchasing power)... I doubt theyre chinese, hispanic or black.

Edit: love the eyes now, certainly more realistic and (almost) racially appropriate! Wish Emma's eyes were darker or black to reflect her ? chinese/japanese/korean ? heritage.

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By in United Kingdom,

Interesting... But I think they could've used the advent calendar to launch the new designs. That would have given a much better reason to get it! And also, i hope they add more gender equality. Only about maybe 20-25% of friends minidolls have been male.

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By in Singapore,

My Daughter thinks this is complete garbage. She is a mixed race girl who has always identified with Olivia and cannot understand why Olivia looks completely different now. It is an understatement to say how much she hates LEGO Friends now. The last three years she asked Santa for LEGO Friends. This year she asked Santa for something from Smiggles and specifically ask Santa not to give her LEGO friends.

I am extremely annoyed how they changed things. Had they introduced things this way it would have been fine but to change is not good. Now my daughter wonders what was wrong with the way she was. For shame on Lego

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By in Singapore,

I should add I am so mad at this. I am all for diversity (and my Daughter is
Caucasian-Chinese) but how do you explain changing ethnicity to a young girl and more difficulty why it should matter as we, and her school have always taught, skin color does. It matter, and then LEGO comes out and says it does so they need to change things. This decision seems to be made by people that do not have young children. For shame on Lego making this an issue

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By in United States,

I can agree with a lot of the posts already. If they were so concerned with diversity (Which they should have been anyway), they should have started it out like this. It will be harder to explain why someone has changed their ethnicity, even if it is just a toy.

I can understand adding in more characters that are diverse, but changing the original cast to fit their PC needs doesn't add up. You can increase the size of the main cast with more diverse characters that are smart, creative, fun without changing existing characters. Kids can relate to anyone. Just make more characters and mix them into the main bunch of girls. Elves has done that. My daughter loves Rosalyn, even though she is a bit player.

Friends came out in 2012, so I guess this makes sense for the new kids getting into the line. They usually rehash everything every 5 years or so to capture the new demographic. But it does poo on the existing fans.

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By in United States,

I had no idea from the press release it was about adding racial diversity. That was only apparent once I got to the comments. I'm not familiar with Friends' characters though. I assumed from the press release it was talking about adding miscellaneous prefunctorial occupations and characters. Obviously it was a big enough issue that they felt they should be out in front of it instead of getting called out for a lack of it later.

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By in United States,

Is it just me or does Emma look a bit too much like Monica from Friends?

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By in Australia,

Mmm David, I'm starting to feel miffed too.

Why the still Anglicanised names huh, LEGO? You could have done better:
Emma (north-east Asian) -> Fong
Andrea (African) -> Takeisha
Olivia (Hispanic) -> Mariana

Shame on LEGO for this money grabbing, PC, half hearted, stereotypical, blatantly racist attempt. You wanna add race, go the whole hog. Our separate races are also closely intertwined with religion too, so add that in, yeah?
I am now really hopeful that we will see Catholic churches, chinese temples, mosques etc in these sets. Hope this does also spread into the conventional system sets. NOT.

Seriously.

Oops, you forgot the Muslims! You need an Arabic Friend now too.

Deep breathhhhhhh...ranting aside,

"...we’ve made the characters more diverse in their appearance...Heartlake City has become more differentiated and rich. There are different districts and there are other citizens that play a more active role in the story."

Yes, we need more male minidolls too. And from the marketing article, it does seem that they want to racially and culturally diversify Friends, with the main characters as a springboard. Will wait and see what sort of buildings and racial, I mean cultural, designs they can come up with.

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By in Canada,

@willworkfortoys I'm in the same boat as you. I know change is hard for people but I can't believe people are turning even a Lego site's comment section into a forum for what they perceive as PC issue.

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By in United States,

I agree that expanding the cast to include more diversity would have been a better choice.

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By in United States,

I have two daughters who are greatly upset by this as it makes no sense to them that their favorite characters now look different for no apparent reason. This is utter nonsense! Introduce new characters if you want to make the city more diverse, but for crying out loud, don't suddenly change the ethnics of the characters you've already established!

The good news is I'll save money not having to buy the Friends line anymore. At least Lego can't screw with the Disney characters my daughters love so we'll still get the Disney sets--or will they try and mess those up next?!?

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By in Norway,

Olivia had been to a tanning salon, and gotten near sighted, since last time.

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By in Canada,

Wow, I can see why this turned into a PC topic as the press release was a load of nothing. If it had been specific about what changed and why, people would be more understanding. Regardless, this will blow over like the change in light and dark grey.

My daughter hasn't seen the new characters yet, curious about her reaction. But she is losing interest in the line as there is not much new material that is really different. And she prefers the larger doll house type builds.

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By in United States,

Not understanding why this is upsetting to people. I greatly doubt that children care very much about these changes. I think the parents are upset, and that says more about them than it does about Lego.

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By in Germany,

Things that should not be politicized: Rank one: Children's Toys.

"My toys need to be more racially diverse."
- No kid ever.

Edit: this is actually making me angry. The message should be "race doesn't matter" not "you need one of every color"

I have crazy idea: how about making everyone the same color, maybe yellow or something?

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By in United States,

im sure this comment section will be extremely civilized and not at all completely one sided

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By in United States,

Wow. Some of you people get really angry when they stop making 90% of the people white, huh?

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By in United States,

http://brickingaround.com/2017/12/06/lego-friends-team-addresses-the-2018-friends-redesigns/

Linked article has before and after photos of the main 5 characters. 3 swapped eye colors, and Olivia got a tan, glasses, and a haircut. Andrea got new hair. Overall, the changes appear to be minimal. Would love to hear LEGO explain why the character's eye colors changed.

Based on the comments, I think a lot of people commenting have not actually seen the changes.

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By in Brazil,

My daughters HATED and are questioning the reasons to decarachterization of the mimifigures
The marketing people are envolved with other globAlist interest than the simple fact of making and selling toys.
Thank God they already show interest in other lines
And no, I am not a "white opressor"
They are descendents of Portuguese, spanish, finnish, latin american indians, africans and italians

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By in Ireland,

Simplest fix was to introduce new character. I'm guessing Lego had set designs done to complement the existing characters personas and didn't have time to create more for a new one after the lack of diversity was flagged. Hence this fudge. Reality is its all about the bottom line. The blurb is just a sales pitch designed to make them seem all warm and cuddly!

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By in United States,

I do find it odd that people commenting 'race doesn't matter' are the ones angry about the change of race. So it does matter? I'm confused (not really).

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By in United States,

Wow, lotta gross reactions to this news... for the record, "political correctness", like most forms of correctness, is infinitely preferable to the alternative. There is no value in rejecting an opportunity to be more culturally sensitive.

Anyway, I've seen a lot of criticism of the overwhelming whiteness of Lego Friends, and the almost identical faces of its protagonists, so diversifying the characters in terms of both racial coding and general appearance seems to me like a positive change. Yes, a change like this might seem jarring to fans of all ages—I remember being pretty put out by changes to characters in themes like Adventurers and Alpha Team back in the day! But for a long-running theme, a refresh like this is basically the only way to improve upon shortcomings from the theme's early development (many of which might only become apparent after launch if not even later). You can see a similar effect in action with Ninjago, which got an opportunity to better differentiate the main characters' appearances thanks to the movie and is carrying those newer appearances over to the main series as of 2018.

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By in United States,

@pedrocastro2005

i cant even figure out what you're trying to say

what does globalism have to do with anything related to this discussion

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By in United States,

I think adding more ethnic names and a girl with a Muslim head cover would be a great idea. LEGO is a global company with customers all over the world. It makes perfect sense that they would want to reference their diverse customer base with these characters.

I do agree that it would have made more sense to introduce them as new characters rather than transform existing ones. Once LEGO made the decision to move away from generic yellow heads, it is inevitable that they move away from just having European/Caucasian style heads and faces.

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By in United States,

@DarthBrickus—It’s odd that you see the inclusion of multiple races as politicizing toys.

As far as your “no kid ever” statement, you’re simply wrong. Kids often like to play with toys that they feel reflect them to a certain extent. There have been plenty of studies and lots of market research that show this. Heck, I remember being disappointed as a kid because Lego didn’t make a male hairpiece in red, so I couldn’t make a minifigure that looked like me.

@thehornedrat—While we're at it, why not change Mia's name to Addfwyn and Stephanie's name to Brunhilde? Or we could just realize that, in multicultural societies, there are certain names that are popular for people across the whole spectrum of ethnic backgrounds.

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By in United States,

There is a raging dumpster fire in this comment section. You know who you are.

Go ahead and elaborate on why your daughter "hates" this now. We'll go ahead and wait. You won't because it's untrue.

Folks, the red hat store is in the other direction. If you are so upset about tweaks to the physical experience of mini-dolls, not only do I suggest you take your purchasing dollars elsewhere, but also that you seek out some form of psychological help.

I am caucasian/white. Most of the world isn't. If you find that this tweak to a child's toy "politicization", may I suggest that you recalibrate your snowflake meter a bit and focus, perhaps, on some real issue, like the color of Starbucks holiday cups, access to healthcare, stagnation of wages, election interference, or...perhaps most of all...education.

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By in United States,

Lego releases a new regular police station every other year and we get some mild grumbling mixed with the realization that kids who were too young for the last one might be the right age for a new one, so a refresh makes sense. But a different theme tweaks its characters after five years of them being the same and everyone gets upset. Suddenly folks care about the integrity of the original characters (of which skin color is seemingly an integral part, according to them, even as they say that race shouldn't matter)!

What’s more, this is the same theme that is often dismissed as being “too pink” (despite pink being less common in Friends than many other accent colors), even though it’s filled with great town-themed designs.

I wonder if the same people who were furious in 2012 that Lego was making a “girl” theme are the same people who are furious that they’re changing the theme now. The arguments certainly sound familiar (“I’m not sexist/racist, I just think that Lego should stay away from PC money-grabbing schemes by introducing characters who look different and are mainly girls/are racially diverse!”).

It’s also funny how many people have complained about this being a marketing/money-grabbing stunt. Of course it is! So was re-releasing the Taj Mahal and the redesigned UCS Falcon. The difference is that these were marketing/money-grabbing schemes that these individuals wanted.

Finally, for those parents who are wondering how to explain the changes to your children, or whose kids hate the characters now because some of them look a little different . . . you know that you’re not bound by the official Lego designations, right? Why not ask your kids if you want the old Olivia to stay Olivia and the new one to be somebody else? My daughter loves switching the heads and hairpieces of her minidolls around to create new characters. She loves the new designs, by the way.

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By in United States,

@TeaWeevil: Regarding character names, I've noticed before that a LOT of the Friends character names have been pretty high-ranking on charts of popular baby names in recent years (and for that matter, other themes as well—Nexo Knights also has a lot of high-ranking names). I imagine that's no coincidence, and Lego is pretty attuned to those sorts of trends in the names of kids to use for their own characters.

@Falconer18: A character with a headscarf would be a neat addition! It would be much harder to work that into the existing cast of Friends characters without dramatically changing their appearance, though. For the most part even the changes in this refresh have been fairly subtle, with most of their hairstyles remaining similar if not exactly the same and only a few aspects of their appearances being altered.

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By in United Kingdom,

All the friends are the same height, weight & size so I'm looking forward to their physical characteristics / dimensions being more differentiated........ oh, wait........ :-)

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By in United States,

I think the original Friends should have been aged and a new set of five main characters should have been introduced. The originals could have been included in sets with the new characters every once and again: a science lab with Olivia and the new science-loving friend, a voice/instrument lesson with Andrea and the new music-loving friend.

To me, it seems that there is a division in the 2018 sets. Maybe some where in development before the change was finalized? The centerpiece of the “new” Friends seems to be the Friendship House. I’m not understanding the title or design of that set; is it a club house? Club headquarters? Is this the beginning the new districts in Heartlake City? Heartlake City already had a well established shopping district, park, beach, island, farm, ski resort, amusement park, and summer camp (and a jungle excursion). I’m not too keen to explore the “Friendship House” district that looks quite Juniorized along with the new treehouse. The 2018 sets that look like the established Heartlake City—the art cafe and stand, park performance, and sports arena—are the ones that have my attention (and budget...).

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By in United States,

@Lyichir—Oh, certainly! I noticed the same thing when I was looking up baby names for my kids. I was just trying to make the point that names like Olivia and Emma aren't exclusively "white" names, but are fairly popular across multiple segments—and that expecting every character of color to have a name that comes directly from their ethnic heritage is as silly as expecting every white character to have a Welsh or old Norse (etc.) name.

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By in United States,

"Daddy, will you please go on your toy site for grownups and tell them how much I hate these PC globalists and what they've done to my dollies? I know you don't care, but it's important to me. Thank you. With love, your 9 year old daughter."

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By in United States,

ericjohn, I think that would have been a great idea! The new friends could have been the daughters of the older friends.

Put me down as pro a new friend who wears a hajib!

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By in United States,

My daughter is a huge Friends collector and probably has about 180 minidolls in her Heartlake City set-up. She's mixed and matched faces, hair, and outfits since the beginning. The modularity of the figures it part of what makes it fun. Otherwise we'd have 40 clones of each girl in our city. Instead we have 180 unique people represented. These new faces and hair styles just add to that pallet. Absolutely nothing wrong with that.

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By in United States,

The most offensive part of this is that they didn't change Stephanie's hair. It is the worst.
I think the new versions are pretty cute. Hopefully they introduce more male characters.

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By in Canada,

@dylanwho I hope this was sarcasm; if so then this is the best comment. The internet really need a sarcasm font.

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By in United States,

I believe that LEGO's largest market is the USA and in 2016 a majority of babies born in the USA were non-white for the first time in history. LEGO is simply trying to make characters that are going to appeal to that audience. And also appeal to the a little girl in Dubai and a child in Hong Kong or in Cape Town.

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By in Netherlands,

Should have retired one friend and added in a new girl, or expand the group. Now you get earnest consumers and conspiracy nuts up in arms over a change that could've been avoided altogether.

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By in United States,

I think the idea of just introducing new main characters would have been much worse than making minor cosmetic changes to the existing cast. For one thing, the LEGO Friends main characters are already engineered to target kids with specific interests. Replacing them with new characters would mean either having to come up with totally different personalities and interests that might not be as iconic and relatable (compare the distinctive and memorable traits of the original five Alpha Team characters or original four Knights' Kingdom knights with the much less memorable characters introduced in each theme's third story arc), or having them feel like rip-offs of the pre-existing characters.

And again, these changes are pretty minor in general. Most of what they do is make the characters' races a little less ambiguous. Check out The Rambling Brick's comparison photos to see how much more has stayed the same than has changed: https://ramblingbrick.com/2017/12/07/do-you-know-who-your-friends-are-the-official-word-on-the-new-look-for-lego-friends-in-2018/ Olivia still has almost identical wavy brown hair with the addition of a single braid, and about the same facial features and eye color, just with very slightly darker skin and glasses (not even dramatically darker — Duplo has used this color for decades for all its light-skinned characters except for licensed characters like Batman and Snow White). Andrea has eye and mouth colors that better match her skin color and has braided her hair, but her skin and hair color have remained the same. Mia and Emma have mostly just swapped eye colors, and Emma's eye shape has changed slightly, but they have exactly the same skin color, hair color, and hairstyle as before. Stephanie has barely changed at all. Plenty of iconic characters from James Bond to Nick Fury to the Power Rangers have undergone MUCH more dramatic redesigns over the years.

The ridiculous anti-PC screeds some commenters have left thinking there's somehow some meaningful insights in there are as embarrassing as they are (for Brickset) wholly predictable. I remember how all it took was the NAME of the Winter Holiday Train set to bring people with a ridiculous anti-PC victim complex wriggling out of the woodwork… never mind how many similarly-named sets there had been over the years. Hopefully the steps LEGO is taking to be more inclusive will help lead the fan community to become less homogeneous and more accepting of differences.

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By in United States,

@shaase yes indeed. Here is what those nasty globalists at LEGO will achieve by being inclusive (And I hope this youtube link posts, but in case it doesn't, search for "Texas Girl Cries Tears Of Joy After Receiving Doll With A Prosthetic Leg Just Like Hers!" to see it): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nW-nQuSJ4Zs

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By in United States,

It would have been nice if LEGO had done this from the beginning, but I'm glad they made these changes now. Better late than never.

And hooray for glasses! Now bespectacled girls have a character that looks like them.

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By in United States,

In my honest opinion, the friends only look better. Sure it’s a little different, but the mini dolls don’t look too different. If anything, they look older, similarly to the Ninjago characters. It seems like the characters for every theme are changeing in 2018.

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By in United Kingdom,

Disney-fied

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By in United States,

I know Lego is worldwide, but in my case here in America 76% of America is white. So what was wrong with the old diversity in the friends figures? The diversity matches that of our population. Just leave the old figs the same and if you think you need to add more diversity, then add new minifigures don't change existing ones.

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By in United States,

@Bycougars: For starters, those demographics are changing, and vary by age. As of 2014, white children made up less than 50% of US public school students: https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_cge.asp There's no reason they should make up 80% of the

Furthermore, by your argument, demographics that make up less than 20% of the total U.S. population shouldn't be represented at all among the five main characters. Which sends a really bad message, in my opinion.

Finally, what makes you so sure that Emma and Olivia were intended to be white in the first place? Asian and Hispanic children aren't necessarily any darker skinned than white children, and judging from Andrea's original design LEGO wasn't making a concerted effort to keep the original eye colors typical of the characters' races.

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By in United Kingdom,

"Why not ask your kids if you want the old Olivia to stay Olivia and the new one to be somebody else?"
This
Her observation on what's not there? "We need more boy dolls". Mine is a lack of swimming costumes given the amount of pool time they have.
That they've tweaked the main characters I don't think will bother her at all but if it does, we have plenty of minidolls of the old style. I like the look of the new parts & it'll add more variety which can only be a good thing
Edit: Just checked the article in detail- I'm loving the new torsos. Way more detail.

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By in New Zealand,

I'll be interested to see whether the girls' outfits, and the buildings in Heartlake City, take increasing inspiration from the fashions and architecture of different cultures. I think that would be cool.

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By in Denmark,

The new "diversity" is only skin-deep - or box-art deep.
In the original concept design the box-art and the figs looked pretty much the same - as they should.
The new design is just trying to fool people. On the box-art the girls have been heavily redesigned and now look much more "ethnic". However, the figs are pretty similar to the original design and thus now look VERY different from the box-art.
Pathetic.

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By in Denmark,

Nice update! Like it.

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By in United States,

I don't have a problem with change. However, I haven't gotten a LEGO Friends set, so maybe that has to do with it.

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By in United Kingdom,

My two penneth, for the record - my eight year old has seen that they are changing the characters, hasn't studied them too closely but hasn't decried them for doing so. For me personally it might make things easier for me to work out whose head is whose etc. on the mini-dolls as, as someone mentioned earlier, currently the faces are too similar for someone with no expertise in the theme to be able to discern their identity! Well, at least that's the case for me anyhow!

I did like the idea of keeping the original "Friends" as per and introducing a new wave of characters - you could then phase out the original team over time (as they get older within the universe) but in some respects that's way over thinking things and is frankly far to complicated even doing that. I should imagine that a) Lego will have done their homework on this in terms of acceptance - they test out everything I believe before general release and so I can't imagine they won't have canvased opinion (even though it was a decision already based on feedback from customers which would have given them confidence) and b) once the "shock" of the new has passed it will just be business as usual.

I'm old enough to remember the time where there were only yellow heads with the single expression on them. If you'd have told me then how far away from that point we would reach I'd have chocked at the thought and yet in truth I couldn't imagine a world where we DIDN'T have the variety of minifigure heads and styles that we do now!

Things change, nothing stays the same for ever - and it's quite right that it doesn't, even if that can be a bit uncomfortable for a while.

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By in United States,

@Aanchir

It's a good thing your thinking isn't predominant, otherwise we'll rarely get new characters in any universe or theme.

Keep up the polarization and ironic statements. I don't expect anything less.

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By in United Kingdom,

"Mine is a lack of swimming costumes given the amount of pool time they have."

Since we get comments about, err, minifigures' figures, I hate to think what could happen with this suggestion.

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By in United Kingdom,

Will there ever be an Orthodox Jewish minidoll?

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By in United Kingdom,

So Olivia, the scientific one, has glasses. That's an old cliche, LEGO. The world has changed.

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By in United States,

@Bobbtom: I have no problem with new characters… heck, one of my favorite themes is Ninjago, which has boatloads of characters. But completely replacing the main characters or introducing new main characters to the group who have to compete for increasingly limited shelf space and screen time is a MUCH riskier move than just making minor changes to the main characters you spent so much time optimizing for the target audience in the first place.

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By in United States,

@Aanchir I'm pretty sure you said on this website many times before that risk is a good thing, even when a new lego product competes for shelf space with other products. I.e. brickheads.

It's not like lego friends has never made new characters for many sets nor is it a necessary requirement that to appeal to all markets, five characters is the limit.

But what do I know.

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By in Australia,

I like the change, I think they should get a male friend or two though. The fact that people are so upset about this is rediculous, kids will love that they and their friends ethnicities are better represented it makes for a more inclusive play experience.

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By in United States,

@Lochdent You can be inclusive and diverse by adding new characters rather then replacing existing ones. I don't see why this is outrageous. Some people don't like seeing established characters change in this way, but are fine with new characters. Have we really reached the point where this opinion is bad and wrong?

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By in United States,

I am a half-white, half-black, socially "liberal" adult male brought up in one of the most culturally diverse regions of the United States. Most of the people I've interacted with in my entire life have been non-white. I find the change to Olivia very awkward and forced. I think anyone of any age who looks at the before & after dolls with a completely innocent view, entirely free of the soul-tearing PC vs. anti-PC madness, would say it's simply not the same character. LEGO should have just introduced a new Friend.

There are more than 5 characters in the theme. If LEGO's research revealed that most Friends fans (the kids) strongly want more diversity in the core, they could have converted Olivia into a recurring side-character (moved to the other side of the city, different school) while bringing in this new girl. I think the people who made the decision to overtly change the race of an established personality in an ongoing kids' fantasy world probably had the best intentions, but just don't "get it."

Diversity isn't about quotas. It isn't about suddenly forcing changes to reality to match a perception or ideal. It isn't about race or gender, and it certainly isn't about politics, no matter how many people try to force it to be. Diversity is about the differences and variances that shape existence as we know it. No two stars or grains of sand are the same, nor are any two leaves, even from the same tree. Even "identical" twins differ in countless ways, physical and mental alike. Diversity is reality.

I continue to feel The LEGO Group has its collective heart in the right place, a huge profit machine steered by an unusually strong, demonstrated desire among its controlling leadership to do what's right by their employees and customers. They just don't always get it exactly right.

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By in United States,

@Roosta: Great comments. I agree with you.

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By in Australia,

TeaWeevil! I was actually thinking about Irish/Scottish and Scandinavian names, and I couldn't think of any!

And agree with Bricklunch's comment...will we soon see a new 'fat/overweight' friend? How about a Friend with a prosthetic? Autism? Schizophrenic? LGBTQ? hijab? The children won't (shouldn't) notice!

You see Lego, you opened a Pandora's box now. Can't put the cat back in. Go all the way!

I also notice that the design team aren't diversified enough. A racially and culturally diversified team would be best to carry this theme.

I am actually becoming more enthusiastic about these changes, the more ideas they can implement! Very much real world.

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By in Australia,

I honestly don't care enough about the Friends to really be bothered by all this one way or the other. Hey, Lego. How about you make the Friends advent calendars actually worth buying, by putting in some actual effort in your toy-making skills, and then we can worry about who needs glasses or a head-scarf *afterwards*?

Oh, and give the Friends buildings some walls and roofs. That'd help.

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By in United States,

@theJANG, you won the comments section, right there. Bravo.

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By in Germany,

I am aware that this is not a forum, but i think i have to explain my comment:

LEGO introduced the concept of "race" and "diversity" into a context that was free of it. They were, literally, just FRIENDS. The reason for it is politics, which Toys should, in my opinion, be free from.

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By in Finland,

This is so terrible. Lego is coming more multicultural. If other lego themes go more multicultural i wiill myself. Multiculturalism is bad for everyone.

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By in United Kingdom,

I'm surprised, looking at the packaging, that they didn't recolour mia's hair. She's clearly supposed to be ginger, so why is the hair piece still dark red?

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By in Australia,

Wooow, Lego, give the STEM girl glasses. And they're clearly all unrealistically thin. And where's the transgender character? The homosexual one? The one in the wheelchair?
It's possible to fault anything if you put your mind to it. All I need to do is look at the sets on display around me. Why are all Star Wars Stormtroopers white? Why are there four male main characters in The Big Bang Theory but only three female? Why are Daleks always male and Weeping Angels female? And don't get me started on the unrealistic body proportions of Minecraft player characters.

If you want to truly represent the full diversity of the human race with Lego figures, you're going to need about seven billion.

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By in Germany,

@Baby Yoda: well put, and very funny too.
About the seven billion: how many Minifigs has Lego produced over the last decades anyway?

The only thing I don't understand is why they switched Mia's and Emma's eye colours. Completely unnecessary imho, and somehow looks weird when you were used to them having the eye colours they had from day one.

As for Olivia having more of a suntan? Doesn't bother me at all.

What does bother me is all the forced political correctness nowadays in general. What the **ck?
Like Jang says, reality is what it is anyway, diversity is and has always been part of life, and that's a good thing. How boring would life be if everything was simply black or white, left or right, up or down. There's always shades in between.

But forcing this universal understanding upon everyone? Meh.
I love Vic Mignogna's take one this in an interview about "Star Trek Continues", when he was asked why he chose to stick to the phrase "where no MAN has gone before". You can find the interview on YouTube. I think he is so right in his opinion.

Perhaps Lego should have stayed with yellow Minifigs for all themes. Would have been the best way to avoid such problems.

Oh and about a Friend with a prosthetic: anyone remember the Pirates theme of old?
:-)

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By in Germany,

Yaaaaay, LEGO politiiiiics!

As always, theJANG is the voice of reason. Right on, Sir.

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By in United States,

Whatever happened to the traditional yellow faced mini figures? It seems to me like they could sell sets with just those with hardly any complaints.

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By in Puerto Rico,

Imagine if when Rey meets Luke in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Luke turns around, takes his hood off and he's black. You just have to accept that he's like that for the rest of the series.

I have no problem with racial diversity but you can't just screw around with a previously established character. They should've either made Olivia brown from the get go or let her alone in this new wave.

To be clear, I don't follow LEGO Friends at all but the mentality behind these changes is important, and I can see why a lot of people are upset.

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By in United Kingdom,

Blimey, that statement's a really long-winded way of saying "we rebooted the thing for a new telly show" innit. Either way, I couldn't care less about what they do with the characters and the lore (?) of Friends really - as long as the sets stay at their usual high quality (which they really should, considering set design and character design are completely different departments), I'm absolutely 100% a-okay fine with it. They probably could've handled it a *tad* more tactfully but more diversity is always a good thing for city layouts so eh, whatever.

It also means TLG'll probably try and clear out the current waves for cheap so they don't have the two character identities running at the same time, so there's that bonus too. Win-win situation.

(also hi hello can we have a minidoll sci-fi theme please and thankyou)

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By in United States,

I'm just going to imagine that Olivia invented a dimensional portal, and that the new Friends are alternate reality versions of the old ones.
As for the minidolls themselves, it's nice to see another one with glasses. Those have fairly thin on the ground, the only other one I can think of off the top of my head is Ms. Stevens in Heartlake High. Also loving Mia's new look: a green-eyed redhead with a smirk is very relevant to my interests. (I know, she's too young for me...)

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By in United States,

Oh, these comments are priceless.

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By in United States,

Personally I really like the more realistic, less cutesy-wootsy design of the art. And my LEGO-fan daughter likes the new look better as well (perhaps because she's older... the previous look skewed younger in my opinion).

I have in fact heard *many* children request additional racial/ethnic diversity in their imaginative play toys. Our friends and neighbors include people from lots of backgrounds (we live in an area with a sizeable number of immigrants, particularly from East and South Asia, on top of the general ethnic diversity of America). Children frequently want their toys to represent themselves and the world around them. Some of the comments above are making me go just wow. If you are white from an all-white neighborhood and prefer 100% white toys, I'm pretty sure there will still be options on the shelf for you. Geez.

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By in United States,

@theJANG: I respectfully disagree. Olivia's appearance has barely changed, it's not like they made her skin tone Reddish Brown or Dark Orange or anything like that. It's Nougat, one shade darker from the Light Nougat skin tone she had before. LEGO has used Nougat for light-skinned characters for DECADES, beginning with Duplo in the 80s and continuing with Belville in the 90s, NBA and Galidor in the 2000s, etc. In fact, LEGO literally used the same skin color as the new Olivia on the Poe Dameron buildable figure, despite using Olivia's old skin tone on the minifigure version of the character.

Moreover, Olivia's hair is almost identical to how it was before, just with the addition of one braid. LEGO has changed characters' hairstyles much more dramatically than that in sets where they wear helmets or riding caps. Even her eye color and smile look almost exactly the same as they did before.

@DarthBrickus: I don't get your comment at all. LEGO Friends already had race as a concept, and there's nothing political about choosing to make that less vague or ambiguous to its audience.

@Supersirkka: Wow, this is… maybe the most blatantly racist comment I've ever seen on Brickset. I hope LEGO continues to disappoint you more and more for the rest of time, because in no way should they pander to that kind of disgusting worldview.

@Speed Champions Fan: That surprises me a bit too. I don't mind either look for Mia, but it's unusual to see such a discrepancy between the character art and mini-doll.

@Baby Yoda: There's nothing "unrealistically thin" about the mini-doll. Their waist circumference is around half their height, which is pretty much average in real life. As opposed to classic minifigures, which are bigger around than they are tall. Also, who's to say none of these characters are transgender or gay? Your argument is ridiculous. Just because there will always be more diversity in real life than in LEGO doesn't mean there's no point in striving to be better. That's like saying that since real vehicles will always be more detailed and varied than LEGO ones, there's no point in LEGO trying to include more detail or variety in their vehicle sets.

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By in United States,

@theJANG: I think the biggest issue with "sidelining" Olivia in favor of a new Friend is that Olivia's special interest in STEM is a huge part of the theme, and removing her from the main group would result in those sorts of sets getting less focus (unless of course she was replaced by an "expy" with identical interests, which doesn't necessarily ). Look at Livi, who was introduced for the Pop Star subtheme but subsequently got very few dedicated sets. Obviously it'd be easy for them to introduce new side characters, but to change the makeup of the main group of Friends is a taller order since each one's interests are so specifically tailored to act as role models for a wide audience.

As a side note, I have to wonder if we'd be seeing as many of these complaints if the new appearances were for a new "Lego Friends Movie" in the Lego Movie canon. I don't recall seeing quite so much uproar about Barbara Gordon's different appearance in the Lego Batman Movie, since the change complemented the voice actor they chose for the character. Then again, we did see plenty of complaints about the Lego Ninjago Movie redesigns despite no obvious racial coding for those characters at all...

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By in Norway,

There is no "normal" way to change a persons eye color, so three of these characters have actually changed their identity with the redesign. This is a significant change, and should have been avoided. The rest of the changes are no problem as they are actually quite minor...

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By in Germany,

Okay, OT, but I've been wondering this for some time: @ Lyichir and @ Aanchir, are you actually the same person? Or at least related?

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By in Canada,

^ maybe they bought colored contacts?

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By in Norway,

^ "colored contacts?" Sure. But I still claim this is not "normal" - at least not like 60% of the population use them. Permanently. So I still think switching all those eye colours was a bad (and unnecessary) change by LEGO.

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By in United States,

@Brick Dangerous, they’re brothers.

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By in United States,

Everyone's here arguing about Oliva's race meanwhile I'm sitting here wondering why their eyes changed color and how the fanbase would react if TTV's female Lewa of BIONICLE Gen3 became cannon.

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By in United States,

My only issue is I do not care for the new mouths. I like the old mouths better.

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By in Germany,

@ TheBrickPal: thanks.

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By in United States,

@Lyichir : I think a key difference for LBM had to do with the fact the Batman mythos is often reinterpreted so people are a little more relaxed about that. Only a handful of people cared about the Gordons, Billy Dee Williams or Chief O'Hara, and I noticed and was mostly fine with them, although still question some of the logic behind the last choice. (Favorite minor character in the movie, so not attacking.)

Back to the overall discussion, I'm in line with some of the other comments, but I think a lot of people are overlooking the second part of this discussion:
"And of course, they still live in Heartlake City. But just as the characters have changed, Heartlake City has become more differentiated and rich. There are different districts and there are other citizens that play a more active role in the story."

I think this is really interesting - it sounds that Heartlake City is undergoing some drastic expansion and I'm curious what their intentions with this are. Is Heartlake becoming more like LEGO City? I've not purchased these sets but their focuses often made me imagine more of a suburban or small town feel with occasional ventures into downtown, but this sounds more like we're moving to the heart of a more bustling city.

'Other citizens play a more active role in the story' suggests more minidolls of more characters. I don't collect those, but I'm sure that's exciting for people who love the theme and I've always felt most ongoing stories become enriched by more characters.

So there's a lot of good news even if the race shifts are or aren't a good idea.

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By in United States,

I have 3 girls who have been collecting lego friends from the beginning and they are so baffled by the stupidity of this marketing move. There already weren't enough Friends to begin with. They have been hoping for kids with new names, more boys, more parents, and then Lego does a stupid thing and CHANGES the characters themselves!? Changes the eye color even?! as if the kids wouldn't notice!? Why not introduce diversity with new characters? My kids make their own movies and storylines and try to make new characters anyway, but this is just dumb.

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