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LEGO has unveiled a range of new characters, with a range of skin tones and nationalities, several of whom suffer from disabilities, including one born with a missing limb.

The move is the latest attempt from companies who market products aimed at children to be more ‘inclusive‘ – and it comes after publisher Puffin hired sensitivity trainers to rewrite portions of Roald Dahl books and Hasbro dropped the ‘Mr.’ from Mr. Potato Head’s name.

According to the company, the fresh building sets and streaming content will introduce children to a world of  ‘authentic, interesting and passionate characters.’

To promote diversity and understanding, some of the new LEGO Friends characters will exist with realistic complexities, such as anxiety, limb difference, Down Syndrome, vitiligo, and a dog with a wheelchair.

It is as yet mostly unclear which characters will suffer from which ailments, but those details are expected to become clearer as storylines progress. 

The new hoard of LEGO Friends will include characters with a multitude of disabilities, including limb differences, Down Syndrome, and vitiligo

The new hoard of LEGO Friends will include characters with a multitude of disabilities, including limb differences, Down Syndrome, and vitiligo

The new characters are being introduced 10 years after the initial lot were, and will also represent a number of different racial and ethnic backgrounds

The new characters are being introduced 10 years after the initial lot were, and will also represent a number of different racial and ethnic backgrounds

A representative for the company and Friends collection said over the weekend that the company ‘see(s) that there’s this real need for kids to see themselves in the toys they’re playing with.’ 

‘It’s really important to us that children feel seen,’ Executive Producer Courtney Arumugam said at the brand’s NYC pop-up. ‘It was really important for us that our characters are flawed.’ 

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During a panel hosted by the brand, clinical psychologist Dr. Becky Kennedy said that the brand is currently catering to children’s various forms of self-expression.

‘Kids are really looking to open up. They put their struggles into play. [But] you can’t express yourself in play if you don’t see yourself in play.,’ she said.

Arumugam said that the new characters have ‘varied personalities, and that makes it relatable for kids.’

‘It’s driven from what we’ve been told from real children,’ she added, explaining that a child named Sophie wrote the brand a letter explaining that she had a limb difference, and so the company decided to create a character with one.

Furthermore, she explained, all scripts for the LEGO Friends YouTube series are vetted by a team of child psychologists.

According to a press release from the company, which works closely with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, research indicated that 73 percent felt there ‘were not enough toys with characters that represented them.’

In addition to various disabilities, the new LEGO Friends will also represent a number of diverse backgrounds.

The character Zac is African-French. Olly is British, and Leo is Mexican.

Autumn, the redheaded character, has an apparent limb difference. 

LEGO’s newly diverse set of friends follows an announcement the company made in 2021 that claimed they would eliminate gender bias from its toys.

The announcement followed a report from the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media that said 71 percent of boys indicated they feared being  made fun of for playing with what they described as ‘girls’ toys.’

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In early 2021, Hasbro announced it would be altering the branding of the 70-year-old Mr. Potato head, to make the mainstay children’s toy gender neutral in its branding and packing.

The change – which dropped the ‘Mr.’ from Mr. Potato Head brand – sparked debate on social media, as many argued toy company Hasbro had bent to ‘woke’ culture by changing a cultural icon that’s been on toy shelves since 1952. 

While the move initially upset hoards online who said the brand was bending to woke ideology...

It was later clarified that the traditionally gendered Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head would remain available

Hasbro changed the branding of the famed Mr. Potato head toy to make its packaging gender neutral

Recently, hundreds of changes have been made to celebrated children's author Roald Dahl's books, to eliminate language and descriptions that sensitivity readers found to be offensive

Recently, hundreds of changes have been made to celebrated children’s author Roald Dahl’s books, to eliminate language and descriptions that sensitivity readers found to be offensive

Puffin Publishers and the Roald Dahl Story Company have changed how Augustus Gloop (pictured far left in 1971's Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory) is described. The character is no longer called fat in new versions of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Puffin Publishers and the Roald Dahl Story Company have changed how Augustus Gloop (pictured far left in 1971’s Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory) is described. The character is no longer called fat in new versions of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

LEGO’s latest move arrives as outrage pends of the woke edits that were made to classic children’s author Roald Dahl’s books.

Publisher Puffin hired a number of sensitivity readers to require bits of the author’s text to ensure that the books ‘can continue to be enjoyed by all.’

The books, as a result, were altered substantially, much to the dismay of readers across the globe.

Considerable edits have been made to descriptions of the characters’ physical appearances – the new editions no longer use the word ‘fat,’ which has been cut from every book, and the Oompa Loompas are now gender neutral.

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Some parents have said they will boycott the updated novels as the changes were branded ‘absolutely insane.’

One distraught parent said: ‘If you’re that easily offended, then stay at home wrapped in bubble wrap.’

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