As an adult who still finds Lego to be a fascinating past-time, it’s difficult not to be wowed by the huge, custom sets that are pieced together by enthusiasts and often shown off for the world. Growing up, while I loved action figures and other toys, Legos were kind of my jam. In fact, I remember building my own, custom Star Wars sets, snapping pictures of them and sending them off to Lego for their magazine (only to be rejected because they claimed “licensing issues”). Lego makes for a great creative outlet for people of all ages, really.
Lego could also be used for making grander statements than simply “look at this awesome set,” though. When Chinese activist Ai Weiwei planned a bulk order back in October, he was promptly denied the sale and was quoted that Lego likes to avoid political trappings. As you can imagine, this didn’t sit well with the internet, as the proposed project was to build portraits of Chinese political dissidents to place around China. People around the world started donating Lego bricks to his cause, but he shifted his focus to a project about freedom of speech.
Lego reached out to the Wall Street Journal to explain what happened and said their bulk order denial was simply a mistake. They cited that they are a large organization and that the decision was made at a lower level, from a customer service representative, not by the company’s brass. Since then they’ve reversed their policy to ask bulk purchasers what their intent was for said purchase and will remain neutral in these matters.