Lego has made a huge impact on 150 million disabled children and their parents worldwide with its latest product launch.
Unveiled at the Nuremberg toy fair in Germany last week, the new wheelchair-bound toy is Lego’s response to a viral change.org campaign started by Rebecca Atkinson, a partially blind and partially deaf mum of two who is calling on toy manufacturers to represent disability in their creations.
He may be only an inch tall, but the beanie-wearing mini-figure represents a much bigger message.
“We've got genuine tears of joy right now,” Atkinson wrote in a campaign update. While this is a big win for the UK journalist and her #ToyLikeMe campaign, it’s not the first time a toy company has listened to her plea for morerealistic representations of people in toys.
German toy giant Playmobil have also been working on a line of characters with disabilities with Atkinson as their consultant.
In April 2015, British toy company MakieLab were inspired by #ToyLikeMe to release a line of accessories for their 3D-printed dolls that would allow children to customise their dolls with disability add-ons such as hearing aids, a walking stick, as well as birthmarks and scars.
German toy giant Playmobil have also been working on a line of characters with disabilities with Atkinson as their consultant. The collaboration comes after a petition directed at Playmobil to “change the way kids view disability by including it in the toy box,” which received overwhelming support from over 50,000 signatories. The toys are due to be released in 2017.
Recently, Barbie’s makers Mattel announced a more diverse line of dolls with hair textures, skin colours and facial structures which look dramatically different to the blonde-haired, blue-eyed Barbie introduced 56 years ago.
The radical change sends an important message to children, says Robert Best, Mattel's Senior Director of Product Design. "We have to let young girls know it doesn't matter what shape you come in -- anything is possible," he explained.