Sofia, an 8-year-old from the U.K. who was born without a left hand, says she’s grown up without toys that resemble her. When Sofia wrote a letter to the company saying she didn’t feel represented, Lego designers took action.
Autumn is part of a new line of characters in the Lego Friends Universe that the giant toy company first announced late last month. Sofia’s mother, Jessica, told BBC Breakfast that she and her daughter often discuss “that bodies come in different shapes and forms and sizes and colors.” But then why don’t our toys, Sofia and her family wondered?
And they weren’t alone in feeling unrepresented – Lego Friends Universe design director Fenella Charity told BBC that the company has received many letters from children just like Sofia. “[W]hen we see these letters that have been crafted so carefully by the children that write them, it’s really inspiring to us, and definitely makes us inspired to make a difference,” Charity said. “It makes what we’re doing real.”
There are eight new “friends” in the universe, all with varying skin tones, whose background stories have them coming from different cultures and experiencing both visible or non-visible disabilities – including the character without a left hand.
The company said in a release that the goal with this new crop of toys is to inspire children to be “better friends to themselves and others while providing emotional and social development through play, to help them better understand individuality, diversity, and the modern world.”
The new line will be available for purchase at the start of the new year. A television special about the characters will soon follow, Lego officials added in the release. Like the new set of characters, the TV show – created in collaboration with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender and Media – includes various storylines that are “relatable, inclusive, and reflective of the difficulties and experiences that children face today.”
So far, Lego’s target audience appears to be loving it – after coming face-to-face with Autumn, Sofia deemed the new toys “amazing.”