It’s about that time of year again when one may find themselves wandering the toy aisle of the local Target or Walmart, eyeing up a potential gift for siblings, relatives, friends, roommates, etc. Such was the situation I found myself in the other day, attempting to be ahead of the curve when it comes to the usual procrastinating of holiday shopping until the last second. Weaving through hallways of hot wheels and barrels of Barbies, I eventually found myself rounding the corner into the LEGO aisle. Surely, there would be a great gift here just lying in wait. After all, who doesn’t love a good, old-fashioned LEGO set? But upon seeing the price tag, my jaw hit the floor and my wallet shriveled up in fear, its blood curdling at the number before it. Since when did a LEGO starship cost more than my rent?
The essence of LEGO lies in its objective universality — a toy that transcends age, gender and background. However, the recent surge in prices seems to be building barriers rather than bridges. Lower-income families and even just your standard broke college students, who once happily engaged in building together, are now forced to think twice before investing in these creative playsets.
One of the core attractions of LEGO has always been its aesthetic and practical design, and no one disputes the company's commitment to producing durable and well-made products. Additionally, the nostalgia factor alone when confronted by one of these toy sets touches the warm, fuzzy place in your chest that brings back fond memories of when you were a kid and nothing really mattered. Yet, it’s extremely disappointing and downright depressing to see these quality sets become luxury items, priced beyond the reach of many families, especially children who dream of constructing their own imaginative world as many of us once did.
I noticed that many of the sets available for purchase were crossovers with other franchises and companies, such as Marvel, Disney and Fortnite. The introduction of licensed themes undoubtedly adds excitement, but at what cost? The licensing fees, coupled with the premium prices for sets featuring popular franchises, are driving a wedge between LEGO and its customers. It's disheartening to witness a once-affordable pastime and creative outlet transformed into an exclusive VIP club, where only those with deep pockets can participate. While company representatives may argue that the rising costs are justified by innovations in design and the inflation rampaging our current economy, it's crucial to consider the impact on the very community that has fueled the company's success. Innovation is commendable, but not at the expense of alienating the very people who have been the backbone of LEGO for generations.
Seeing how far the cherished buildable brick had fallen left a sour taste in my mouth as I did a quick 180 and hightailed my way out of the toy area. The once-bright and merry LEGO aisle, filled with distant memories of laughter and imaginary worlds, now seemed empty and soulless, drenched in corporate greed and materialism. Oh well, looks like another year of researching cheap alternatives to popular brands on Amazon.