Lego: The most adaptable brand

January 14, 2014

What is the world's best toy?

The answer is, of course, Legos.

I believe that Lego's are one of the most adaptable toys in the world because their ability to expand and evolve the plastic brick brand over the past eight decades is fascinating. From simple interlocking bricks to dozens of licensed sets, video and "board" games, and an upcoming movie, Lego is a brand that keeps building upon itself.

After seeing the latest licensed theme from Lego, the Simpson's house with the whole Simpson's family in mini-fig format, I was curious to see just how many licenses they had now as it's been a good while since I've actually bought any new Legos. I still have two boxes full of all my childhood Legos back when Technic was new. I really wanted to see just how far the Lego brand has spread from the now generic space or castle sets. Since those days, Lego has been very busy.

For 2013, I could track down 26 clear themes (e.g. Cities, Technic, Architecture), of which 8 were licensed—like Disney princesses and Lord of the Rings. There were over 300 sets, across those 26 themes. That's a lot of bricks. This year already shows 15 themes, 5 of which are licensed. The Lego Wiki already specifies 166 sets across those themes due for release this year. That's not counting apparel, books, video games, or the upcoming Lego Movie.

Their "board" games require some assembly before playability is possible, but even that is fun within itself. The video games have gotten consistently cleaner as OS quirks were ironed out, especially on the Nintendo DS and 3DS platforms. While Lego City Undercover is the best example of non-licensed Lego based games, I really enjoyed the Lego Batman games and strived to find all the studs, bricks, and unlockable mini-figures.

As I average watching three movies a year in theatres, I am intrigued as to how this type of brand expansion will work. The cut scenes from video games have been impressive, clean, and entertaining. A full-length feature of that level of detail and care will undoubtedly link into movie-based Lego sets, mini-figs, and hopefully a game.

And when Lego can’t or doesn’t fulfill every set concept or request out there, fans fill in by building multi-thousand piece creations, from an incredibly detailed Erebor, to Pacific Rim's kaiju battle, and more.

While I've migrated from purchasing the build-able sets to the video games, I've always enjoyed the overall ability to take Lego pieces and do as I please. The instructions for each set are more like guidelines than actual rules. There are infinite combinations, infinite possibilities, and it seems like near infinite adaptability for Lego. I still hope for an inevitable Lego-fied Second Life style sandbox game where players are free to create whatever their imaginations can pull together in pixelated form. Minecraft is admittedly close in regards to the sandbox creativity part of the equation. If there were a way to merge Minecraft with Lego City Undercover say, I would be sold.

What licenses would you like to see Lego-fied? Are there other brands you think have licensed and expanded well without becoming diluted or overly complicated?

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