New Lego figures to showcase women in science following campaign
LEGO's new 'Research Institute' kit, featuring female scientist minifigures. (LEGO IDEAS/Ellen Kooijman)
Josh Elliott, CTVNews.ca
Published Wednesday, June 4, 2014 10:20AM EDT
Lego is taking its girls out of their pink-bricked houses and putting them in the laboratory.
The Denmark-based toymaker has announced it will produce a series of minifigure sets featuring female characters conducting scientific research. The three-figure Lego series, titled “Research Institute,” depicts women as chemists, astronomers and paleontologists. The chemist is depicted in a lab, the astronomer looks through a telescope and the paleontologist is shown examining dinosaur bones. Lego said it will aim to have the figures in stores by August 2014.
“Research Institute” won the latest Lego Ideas contest, which allows fans to submit their custom Lego kit designs in the hopes they will become full Lego products. Kits must gather at least 10,000 supporters on Lego’s Kickstarter-like contest website before they are submitted for consideration. Lego then chooses one kit to produce.
Ellen Kooijman, a geochemist from Sweden, designed the minifigure kit. “As a female scientist I had noticed two things about the available Lego sets: a skewed male/female minifigure ratio and a rather stereotypical representation of the available female figures,” she wrote in a blog post last year, shortly after the project hit its 10,000-supporter goal. “It seemed logical that I would suggest a small set of female minifigures in interesting professions to make our Lego city communities more diverse.”
Kooijman’s proposal languished on the Lego Ideas site for more than a year before social media gave it the push it needed. The project was posted in May 2012, and had 2,500 supporters slightly over a year later, on June 4, 2013. Then Twitter took notice, and the project’s supporters skyrocketed up to 10,000 in a matter of six days.
The three final minifigure selections – an astronomer, chemist and a paleontologist – were just a few of many possibilities Kooijman included in her pitch. “The motto of these Scientists is clear: explore the world and beyond!” she wrote on her Lego Ideas page.
The toys are a break from Lego’s longstanding approach of producing pink and purple Lego kits for its female audience. Lego currently has two female-oriented lines on its website: a “Disney Princess” series and a “Friends” line that includes toys such as “Stephanie’s Beach House,” “Summer Riding Camp” and “Stephanie’s Outdoor Bakery.”
The female minifigure set was selected over kits based on popular franchises, including "the Legend of Zelda," "Adventure Time," "Back to the Future," "Sherlock" and the anime series "Macross." It was also chosen over a Japanese architecture-themed kit.
Past Lego Ideas winners include a "Ghostbusters" 30th anniversary kit, a Lego version of the Mars rover Curiosity and a replica of the DeLorean time machine from the movie "Back to the Future."