The Friends Universe has been re-imagined, introducing new diverse characters to enable more children to feel represented during play.
A decade on from the launch of Lego Friends, the next generation is designed to celebrate diverse friendships in the modern world. The Lego Group values children as its role models and has implemented input from kid testing, research and feedback from letters sent to the company, which all found children had a desire to see themselves, their friends and their families better represented.
The re-imagined Lego Friends characters are inclusive of gender, culture, ethnicity, physical traits and abilities, non-visible disabilities and neurodivergence. The storylines explore the ups and downs of friendship, while the characters overcome challenges, obstacles and differences in today’s modern world.
The brand-new universe of authentic, interesting, passionate and diverse characters includes additions of multiple skin tones, cultures, physical and non-visible disabilities, and neurodiversity. The new sets and series will feature characters with limb difference, Downs Syndrome, anxiety, vitiligo and a dog with a wheelchair.
“At the Lego Group, we understand that children want the characters they encounter to be more like the diverse personalities they meet in real-life.” said Tracie Chiarella, head of product, Lego Friends. “We’re continuously evolving our products so that they’re reflective of society today, and that’s why we’re proud to launch this brand-new generation of Lego Friends. We want children to see the new Lego Friends Universe, both in the physical product and the content we’re launching in 2023, as a reflection of their own friendships and to see the characters as authentic. We have chosen to evolve the Lego Friends Universe and TV show to be more inclusive in order to give parents and kids more tools to navigate friendship and their emotions as they grow and learn.”
The Lego Play Well Study 2022 showed an overwhelming desire for more representation in play and more discussion on diversity and revealed that parents believe it is important to discuss the unique individualities between us all, especially in mental health, physical disabilities, mental disabilities and ethnicity. Moreover, parents say that play and toys can have a key role in helping children learn about diversity
The research also found that 3 in 4 children felt that there were not enough toys with characters that represented them and that 8 in 10 children would like there to be more toys with characters who look like them. Children themselves are asking for a fairer, more equitable world, with 9 out of 10 saying they care about everyone being treated equally.
The storylines of the Lego Friends TV show have been refreshed in collaboration with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media helping to develop the character’s narratives to ensure they’re relatable, inclusive and reflective of the difficulties and experiences that children face today, including the ups and downs of friendships.
The new Lego Friends sets will be available from January 1st, 2023, while a Lego Friends TV special is due to air in February, to kick off the new TV series.