Over the weekend, LEGO and Nintendo surprised everyone with an in-game Animal Crossing ‘activation’ – which just turned out to be LEGO Dot patterns that you can use as Custom Patterns within the game.
If you play Animal Crossing, you can grab the Patterns and QR codes here.
The oversized presence on LEGO’s official social media channels naturally got everyone excited that this was an “official” collaboration, but alas, LEGO have clarified that this stunt isn’t connected with LEGO’s existing Nintendo partnership (for LEGO Super Mario), and was essentially just a marketing play to cross-promote LEGO Dots on Animal Crossing.
Brands such as KFC, Marc Jacobs and Deliveroo have all jumped on Animal Crossing’s popularity to promote themselves by creating curated Islands or experiences. Popular US Senator Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also made waves by randomly visiting player Islands earlier this year.
Why? Because Animal Crossing is bloody massive.
Animal Crossing New Horizons has been an absolute breakout star in 2020 (thanks to worldwide Covid lockdowns), with over 22.4 million units sold, making it the second best-selling Switch game, just behind Mario Kart 8 Deluxe – (a 3 year old game).
I was/am hopeless addicted to Animal Crossing New Horizons, playing it nearly non-stop during the depths of lockdown, and the impact this game has had on Nintendo (it’s arguably bigger than Mario, Zelda, and Super Smash Bros) has not gone unnoticed.
Forget Legend of Zelda, Pokemon or any other Nintendo license you’d like to see as a LEGO theme – Animal Crossing is almost a no-brainer for LEGO as a new theme.
There is currently an Animal Crossing Project currently undergoing review by the LEGO Ideas team, but I think LEGO need to go all-in with a full-blown theme.
Hear me out – LEGO Animal Crossing could be the Fabuland spiritual successor that everyone wants.
The similarities and synergies are uncanny – like Animal Crossing, Fabuland is filled with anthropomorphic animals, living in a peaceful colourful town without any conflict or drama.
Animal Crossing New Horizons has also been the paragon of digital creativity in 2020, thanks to the insane amount of customisation possible in the game – from decorating your house, terraforming your islands, or even dressing up – the tools to allow creativity to flow in the game is second only to… you guessed it, LEGO bricks.
The name of the game is individual self-expression – no two islands, or characters are alike, and this game has been an absolute utopia for creative types that would also be very likely to enjoy LEGO.
Fabuland has almost a cult-following amongst Vintage LEGO collectors, mostly because it is so unique, and hearkens back to the days when LEGO was simpler & light-hearted.
The LEGO Group today has sunk in plenty of resources to modern licensed themes that revolve around conflict – Super Heroes, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and I think a breath of fresh air is required, which is where LEGO Animal Crossing comes in.
I believe LEGO Animal Crossing can create and own a whole new niche of “cutesy” yet mature LEGO sets.
Who’s the target audience? Millennial women.
The primary demographic of Animal Crossing players are women in their 20s and 30s who aren’t traditional gamers. Female players, make up over 40% of sales, which outside of mobile games like Candy Crush is simply unheard of in modern video games.
LEGO have done so much to court male millennial/adult LEGO fans with its 18+ line, and there’s only so much pop culture references you can tap into to own that demographic – the next big frontier is millennial women (and their kids) which is where LEGO Animal Crossing makes the most sense.
Animal Crossing’s key demographic is also relatively cashed up with disposable income, and many are young parents looking for toys for their growing kids to play with – so the market is pretty ready and waiting.
The amount of
bells money that could be made by both Nintendo and LEGO with an Animal Crossing would make Tom Nook weep with joy.
LEGO has all the right ingredients in place for a truly great Fabuland successor, and I think that this little LEGO Dots foray is a hint at what is to come.
LEGO’s vibrant colour palette, and existing elements (apart from moulded heads for Villagers) are just perfect for Animal Crossing’s aesthetic, and with so much of the game devoted to structures (like the Museum, Nook’s Cranny, Town Hall & homes), it would make for a perfect marriage with LEGO’s system.
Fabuland has a special place in the hearts of many older LEGO fans, but to the modern LEGO customer, the theme has little to no brand cachet.
Animal Crossing on the other hand, is a global blockbuster video game, and with the Nintendo partnership already in play – I think we are going to see a full-blown theme (or at least a set) in 2021.
This might just be me as I’m a hardcore Animal Crossing (and LEGO fan) projecting my wildest hopes and dreams, but from a commercial perspective, this just makes sense, and also allows LEGO to resurrect the Fabuland theme in everything but name.
Animal Crossing already has nearly all the same villager species as Fabuland, from Crocodiles, to Bears, to Dogs to Hippos.
So yeah, that’s my thoughts on the potential of a LEGO Animal Crossing theme! Thanks for indulging in my wild fantasies!
What do you think? Can you see LEGO working together with Nintendo for an Animal Crossing theme?
To see what LEGO Animal Crossing could look like, check out these Ideas projects below: