Opinion: Why Lego is ruining our kids’ imaginations

Published 8:21 AM EST, Mon December 1, 2014

Story highlights

Christmas stockings will be bulging with Lego, especially sets depicting movie scenes

Lego enthusiasts argue they undermine point of toy, to stimulate imaginations

Play is vitally important part of a child's development, says Jake Wallis Simons

Aspirational toys make for depressing indictment of society's view of childhood, he argues

Editor’s Note: Jake Wallis Simons is a journalist, novelist and broadcaster. The views expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN) —  

Lego might not seem like the sort of thing to make your blood boil.

The venerable toy is one of the most popular playthings of all time. People of all ages love it. And if previous years are anything to go by, Christmas stockings will soon be bulging with the stuff.

But the irony is that because people feel such visceral affection for the toy, they tend to fly into a rage when they believe its standards are slipping.

In fact, I’m getting a bit hot under the collar myself.

Jake Wallis Simons
Jake Wallis Simons

The latest furore concerns Lego’s “franchise” sets, which depict scenes from movies like “Star Wars,” “Lord Of the Rings,” and “Marvel.”

Principled Lego enthusiasts have been arguing that they undermine the whole point of the toy, as they encourage children to construct showpiece models from instruction booklets rather than building something from their own imaginations.

“Lego taught me the art of creative destruction – the need to break something in order to make something better,” wrote the blogger Chris Swan.

“Lego for me was always about creativity, remaking and improving on existing designs. Those things don’t happen with the sets that are designed to build a model of a single thing.

“Good old generic Lego, with endless possibilities on offer, hasn’t gone away, it’s just been drowned in a sea of marketing for other brands.”

Lego spokesman Roar Rude Trangbaek contested these claims. “The bricks will probably still end up in big boxes in homes and that will act as a pool for creativity,” he said.