LEGO has always been a toy for all ages, but recently the LEGO Group have been pushing their way into the adult market. Rather than designing a set meant for youngsters that adults may also enjoy, these sets are specifically aimed for the 18+ demographic. They encompass a broad range of new themes, along with some old favourites being re-branded. So, what is adult LEGO all about?
Let’s start with the packaging. Black boxes. No, not the tracking type from aircraft, although some LEGO sets are certainly expensive enough to warrant one. All sets in the 18+ range come in sleek black packaging, which has a minimalist design and is typically accented by white lettering or logos. They are certainly striking and differentiate these over others on a shelf. In a way they are quite similar to Hasbro’s Black Series line of Star Wars action figures, which feature similar packaging and were inspired by the boxes used by high-end collectible companies.
Then there’s the new subject matter. Adult LEGO doesn’t mean that these sets are inappropriate in any way, they still adhere to the LEGO Group’s policies, but it does mean that new ground is being covered in the brick. From sports like 10272 Old Trafford Manchester United to the dainty flowers in 10280 Flower Bouquet, these aren’t perhaps things that might interest younger fans, but will excite current AFOLs with their design ingenuity and maybe even entice adults who have never built LEGO before. That’s one of the main purposes of the 18+ range – to encourage new fans to find a love for the brick.
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Why does the LEGO Group want to encourage adults who have never picked up a brick to buy a set? Making more money is surely one consideration, while another objective is to get people to connect to their inner child. Adults lead busy, often stressful lives, so sitting down with bricks is being promoted as a way to relax and help with mental wellbeing. Current LEGO builders will already testify to the relaxing benefits of building (unless that pesky 1×2 decides to go missing) and it’s something the LEGO Group wants to spread through more people.
With this new demographic also comes the re-branding of current LEGO themes like Creator Expert and the Ultimate Collector Series. By aiming them at older builders, the techniques used can be more challenging, the details more accurate and the sizes of the models can increase. Taking 10276 Colosseum as an example, it’s the biggest LEGO set yet at over 9,000 pieces, which was only possible by aiming it at a different market.
By increasing the size and detail of course, there is another change and that’s the price. These aren’t sets that can be bought from pocket money. There has been some effort to redress this balance, with smaller sets for grown-ups like 10281 Bonsai Tree and 75304 Darth Vader Helmet.
Like any significant change to the LEGO catalogue, this new adult range has been met with mixed reactions. Some fans disagree with the blatant separation of age ranges, some prefer the more colourful boxes that sets used to come in, while others are enjoying the new products on offer. Whatever anyone’s hot take is, it’s a chance for new fans to find the brick, a way to get more fancy sets and adults now have a special spot in the LEGO Store.