As we approach the end of the year and 2021 sets start showing up online, there’s no better time to speculate and dream about what LEGO has in store for us in 2021.
2020 has been a massive year for LEGO – I’d argue, it’s probably the biggest year for LEGO since 2014 and 2015, where they were boosted by The LEGO Movie.
2020 can be defined as the year that “collaborations” officially entered the lexicon of LEGO fans – with collaborations with non-toy brands like Ikea, Levi’s and Adidas taking the spotlight.
Read my piece on what’s the deal with all these LEGO collabs for more background.
But that’s 2020, and 2020 is old news!
Let’s speculate about 2021!
In this multi-part series, I’ll dive into some of my theories of big moves LEGO are going to make in 2021, and try to decipher what their strategy is in 2021.
In 12 months, we’ll look back and I might either look like a genius, or a clown – we’ll see!
Entertainment & Media
I think the major shift LEGO will make in 2021, is a re-focus towards entertainment, in a variety of media formats.
We saw glimpses of this in 2014, after the breakout success of The LEGO Movie which spawned a whole deluge of sequels, which unfortunately failed to reach the same commercial success as The LEGO Movie.
The jury is out on exactly why projects like The LEGO Ninjago Movie or The LEGO Movie 2 flopped, but consensus is that it was too much, too soon attempting to cash in on the first LEGO Movie and repeat its success.
LEGO and Warner Bros (who produced the first slate of movies) parted ways, and in April this year, Universal swooped in to partner with LEGO to create new movie franchises.
Expect to see the first fruits of this partnership next year, as they announce the movie slates for 2022, although Covid and the carnage its wrought on the cinema and movie industry could further delay things.
Movie aren’t the only things we can expect to see in 2021 – music and pop culture are also going to be one of several big things LEGO will do in 2021, with its partnership with Universal Music Group.
I suspect we’ll soon start hearing and seeing more about what exactly this entails, but it does provide clues that LEGO is laser-focused on breaking out from its niche within the toy industry, and use pop culture vehicles like pop music to reach more fans.
Universal’s roster of artist is massive – publishing the likes of Taylor Swift, Drake, Kanye West, Troye Sivan, Eminem, J Balvin, Ariana Grande, the Beatles and more.
There are some rumours swirling around the new theme being called “LEGO Vidiyo” (awful name), which incorporates augmented reality tech seen with Hidden Side to create music videos, and we’ll likely see minifigure versions of some of the biggest names in music (both current and historic) to drive even more buzz.
I also expect to see more cross-overs and creative use of the partnership, with recording artists creating music videos out of LEGO.
Expect this to be massive, at least in the mainstream, although I suspect that this will alienate and confuse many of LEGO’s core “AFOL demographic”.
After all, musicians and recording artists are massive trendsetters and have legions of followers, so if LEGO is serious about ramping up their push to acquire more adult LEGO fans, this seems like a logical next step.
LEGO just doesn’t have its sights on the big screen with Universal – I think in 2021 the uncertainty around the movie industry and the rise of streaming as the preferred format of families consuming entertainment will see LEGO ramp up their output of content for streaming services.
Currently, LEGO have 2 flagship streaming series aimed at kids – LEGO City Adventures and Friends: Girls on a Mission.
My 4 year old daughter is obsessed with the LEGO Friends show, and I’ve sat in to watch a few episodes and I’ve been really surprised at the quality of LEGO Friends On a Mission – the animation, voice acting and storylines are really high-calibre, and I would happily recommend them to any LEGO Friends fans.
Similarly, LEGO City Adventures is also pretty decent, and the like Friends, also has tie-ins to retail LEGO City sets, which further drive recall and connection with the sets to drive purchase.
The recent LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special on Disney+ is just one of the many more activations we’ll see from LEGO and their various IP partners.
With the likes of Netflix and Disney+ investing billions of dollars into content, I can see LEGO riding this wave to meet the need of high quality kids programming – using their vast treasure trove of licensed IP partners like Marvel, Star Wars and in-house themes for content.
More and more kids, parents and adults are shifting away their attention span from social media to streaming services, especially in 2020 when most of us have been holed up at home, so it would make sense for LEGO to be where the people are to ensure that they remain accessible and most importantly top of mind.
With LEGO’s recent overtures into music and movies, 2021 seems to be set up for LEGO to take on pop culture, and really embed itself in the collective consciousness of the mainstream.
While this may seem jarring for many traditional LEGO fans, you have to remember, growth is the name of the game here, and LEGO need to constantly recruit new customers into the category.
There was a lot of hostility from the core LEGO demographic when LEGO started working with Adidas on sneakers, and confusion when it partnered with Levi’s on denim, so if LEGO will head down this path to work with mainstream movie artists, or entrench themselves with Universal group IP like Minions, Fast & Furious and Jurassic World.
Hopefully, some balance will be struck, and LEGO take extra care not to alienate their fans too much.
Thanks for reading Part 1 of what Big Moves LEGO will make in 2021! For the next part, I’ll explore and speculate what LEGO might do with their fast-growing 18+ and adult-focused line, especially after such a crazy year with SO many 18+/Creator Expert launches!
What do you think? Let me know in the comments what you think LEGO might do in 2021!