Do you ever post something on the internet knowing you’ll look back on it and cringe? I am certain that’s the case for today’s little bundle of joy.
For some much-needed context: I was, am, and always will be a fan of Lego, no matter how grown-up I might get (though I don’t think I’m fooling anybody in that department). Over the past few years, The Lego company has realized that I, alongside many adult builders with irresponsible spending habits, am a profitable demographic, and have begun pushing “Serious Play” (yuck?), an advanced, adult-oriented series of sets across multiple themes prioritizing display. As unashamedly capitalist as it may be, I really am touched by this company-wide acceptance that aging out of imagination is a fallacy, and that exercising the creativity of one’s childhood is not just healthy, but arguably essential in today’s post-industrial hellscape. Unfortunately, the advertising surrounding “Serious Play” (yuck?) is trying so hard to squeeze into some grown-up facsimile that it’s frankly embarrassing. In all fairness, the pragmatism in art and imagination has been laughed off the stage all too often, and convincing the majority of capitalist adults that childlike creativity has lifelong value is a battle best fought incrementally. Through this lens, I can almost justify adult Lego’s sleek, black boxes, display-oriented plaques, and builder-signed instruction booklets. As someone who’s already a believer, though, I can’t help but feel like this advertising—shot in soulless, modern rooms tastefully curated with greyscale turtlenecks and minimalist decor—is an even more offensive betrayal of the values which Lego claims to protect. Like… didn’t you do a whole movie or two about why Lego loses its magic petrified in some sterile display set? Didn’t you pay Will Ferrell for that? Will Ferrell? That can’t have been cheap enough to forget in four or five years.
All this said, I have been hugely grateful for the adult Lego sets I’ve been gifted by my generous family these past few years—any time zoning out with Legos is time well spent, and I hope I’m lucky enough to find that time forever. Still, while starting to build a Star Wars diorama I received for Christmas, I realized it embodied many of the problems I have with these adult Legos, going far beyond just the cynical spirit of the brand—I’d go so far as to say these sets reveal concerning trends. By catering to wealthy, adult collectors, Lego is not only abandoning their core philosophy and demographic, but also perhaps contributing to environmental degradation with extraneous pieces in their adult designs.
Granted, though, I’m just a passionate fan—my only research comes from recent experience and a handful of reviews on adult Lego products, so I’d love to consult a more reputable source. While much of this began as a snapchat video sent to my lovely girlfriend while building the Dagobah Jedi Training Diorama, she encouraged me to share my thoughts with Lego, even though I’m still 80% sure this is the most neckbeard thing I’ve ever sunken this much emotional energy into. So, assuming that this wasn’t a prank, I decided it was worth a shot to contact the designers behind this set. Unfortunately, Lego’s email slots aren’t built for Max Todd-sized ramblings, which is why I’ve laid out my full thoughts below. I guess that makes this an open letter, for accountability’s sake, but mostly for convenience. I’m sending Lego my abridged version with a shady link to this post—in the meantime, wish me luck, I guess. As for that letter…