LEGO Ideas honors Women of NASA

The LEGO Ideas team has announced the results from the second 2016 review and Women of NASA project by Maia Weinstock has been selected as the next LEGO Ideas set!

Note, this is just the submitted design, but the actual set that LEGO releases will surely be a bit different. The little vignettes are pretty cool, and the plaque with their names is something LEGO has never done. I suspect that the final model will feature “flesh” toned figures instead of yellow for the white women, to go along with LEGO’s existing policy on figures based on film actors.

The rejected models were Addams Family Mansion, Lamborghini Veneno Roadster, The Large Hadron Collider, Lego Observatory – Mountain View, Lovelace & Babbage, Merchant’s House, Modular Construction Site, Plum Creek – The Little House on the Prairie, Spaceballs – Eagle 5 , and Star Wars UCS X34 Landspeeder. All these were ruled out for various reasons, most of which probably boil down to marketing – as great as some of these models are, they probably wouldn’t sell enough copies to be a hit. The Voltron – Defender Of The Universe set, based on the classic 1980s anime cartoon that has been recently rebooted by Netflix, is still being considered but they did not reach a decision in time for the deadline to announce. If approved, Voltron may do well due to the Netflix reboot as well as the 80s nostalgia factor, but far and away the most likely to sell is this NASA Women set, I believe – and it’s the right thing to do anyway.

A lot of AFOLs are up in arms about the announcement, complaining (and in many cases, mansplaining) on Facebook and other places (don’t look at the Youtube comments for the LEGO Ideas announcement video!) about how terrible they think this is. But as ardent as adult fans of LEGO are, we are a tiny fraction of LEGO’s customer base. Remember, LEGO is a toy for children above all else. And inspiring girls to stay involved in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math) subjects in school is an important goal. Schoolteachers and parents all over the US and the rest of the world are going to want to have this set, and lots of girls who are into STEM will no doubt be inspired to persevere by it.

It’s also a shrewd marketing move to announce this now, due to the movie “Hidden Figures” which was nominated for three Oscars including Best Picture. Although the movie highlights black women and only two of the figures chosen for this set are black, it still has resonance and I’ve already seen mockup posters for a “Hidden Minifigures” movie based on this set. I have mixed feelings about that, since the women in the movie had to overcome both gender-based and race-based obstacles to achieve their success, and the LEGO set only celebrates half of that.

But in any case, I’m looking forward to buying this set when it comes out, and I hope that parents, teachers, and kids everywhere find inspiration for girls in STEM – and for the boys to not dismiss said girls – going forward.

And if you’re one of those AFOLs for whom this set doesn’t work for you, then just ignore it. Just be happy for the people for whom this is great news. There are plenty of other LEGO sets you can buy. But think of all the women and girls who will be excited to get their hands on this and just be happy for them.

I highly recommend reading the excellent commentary about this from Jay’s Brick Blog.

You can watch the announcement video here – but don’t read the comments!

LEGO has also announced the contenders for the next round, which in my mind is a much tougher batch. These are 1950’s Diner, Boat Repair Shop, Hulkbuster UCS, The Iron Giant, Landrover 4×4, LEGO Store Modular Version, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. “The Bus”, Red Dwarf, Rey’s Speeder, Ship in a Bottle, The Flagship Leviathan, Vintage Tram, and The Volkswagen Golf MK1 GTI. I think that several of these look really promising, and some are ones I supported. So we’ll see how it works out…

In addition to these, there are two previously-approved sets we are still waiting to be actually released, as well Apollo 11 Saturn-V (the rocket that took the Apollo 11 crew to the moon) should come out in a few months, and Old Fishing Store is expected in the fall.

Pricing and availability for the Women of NASA set are not yet available.