• The re-imagined LEGO® Friends characters are more representative of the world that today’s kids navigate, including neurodivergence, mental health conditions, gender, culture, ethnicity, physical traits and abilities, whilst the stories they play out also more representative of the real-world emotions of children, with the ups and downs that they face
New research conducted by the LEGO Group to support the LEGO Friends re-launch wants to shine a light on the importance friendships has on the wellbeing of kids in early childhood and reveals that:
• Two in three kids (68%) want to see more toys and characters portray different emotions to better reflect real life
• Most kids surveyed (94%) said their friends make them feel happy
• Only a third of kids (32%) say they have seen friends having problems or arguments on TV or online content they consume
• Nine in ten kids (93%) believe it's good to have friends who can teach you different things
Billund, Denmark - February 1, 2023: A decade on from the launch of LEGO® Friends, the LEGO Group has re-imagined the Friends Universe: an all-new line up of characters and accompanying TV-series hosted on their YouTube channel. It comes at a time when the ups and downs of friendship are not widely shown on TV or in the online content kids consume, meaning many young children are left to navigate these complex feelings, without understanding that it’s completely normal and that others are feeling the same.
The 2023 LEGO Friends Universe includes characters with a wider variety of skin tones, cultural backgrounds, disabilities, and neurodiversity, all with authentic personalities and relationships. By launching this new generation of products, the LEGO Group hopes that when kids play in the LEGO Friends Universe, they’ll see more of themselves in the characters and gain a better understanding of others, helping them navigate their own experiences and in turn, become better friends.
To support the launch, the LEGO Group conducted in-depth global research to understand more about the diversity and complexity of modern friendships amongst young children around the globe. Focusing on 18,000 kids aged 6-12 years old from 19 different countries, the research shines a light on the importance that friendships have on the wellbeing of kids in early childhood.
The study revealed that:
• Kids rely on friendships to deal with the complex emotions of modern life, with eight in 10 (87%) saying that they turn to friends as a source of comfort when they have problems
• Kids value ‘having fun’ and ‘being happy’ as main elements of friendship, with more than three quarters (67%) wanting someone to have fun with and six in ten (60%) wanting someone to laugh with and the majority (94%) said that friends made them feel happy
• Kids also see the value in diverse friendships with nine in ten (93%) agreeing that it’s good to have a diverse friendship group who can teach you different things
• Kids don’t often experience complex emotions portrayed in the content they view, with just two in five (40%) saying they have seen friends have ups and downs on TV or content they are consuming and only a third (32%) saying they have seen friends having problems or arguments
• When asked if it would be good for more toys to feature characters that embodied different emotions, more than two in three children (68%) agreed. Over a quarter (27%) said this is because everyone feels this way sometimes and 22% of kids said it would help children know that others felt the same
• Two in three kids (68%) said they want to see more toys and characters portray different emotions to better reflect real life
The LEGO Group recognises the importance friendships have on child development and how it plays a huge part in helping kids understand diversity. Further to the launch of the new generation of characters, the storylines within the LEGO Friends universe have been refreshed in collaboration with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, helping to develop content narratives that ensure they’re relatable, inclusive, and reflective of the real-life experiences of children today.
Child psychologist Laverne Antrobus commented on the research saying:
“The research findings give a fascinating insight into the complexities of children’s friendships in the modern and increasingly diverse world that we are living in. It’s encouraging that children want to see diverse friendships represented in the content they watch and the toys that they play with. These changes will help children understand difference and give them the confidence to make relationships with others who are not the same as them. Learning from friends about how they are similar and different will ultimately help children to be accepting of others as they navigate friendships and relationships in the world that they are living in.
It’s great to see the new LEGO Friends universe will be fully inclusive and a better reflection of real-world friendships in 2023, so young people can play, explore and express their emotions with a more diverse range of characters and replicate these experiences in their everyday friendships.”
Tracie Chiarella, Head of Product, LEGO Friends at the LEGO Group said;
“Children are our role models and guide everything we do here at the LEGO Group. After an incredible 10 years on LEGO Friends, this re-imagination has enabled us to push the boundaries not only in the content and the storytelling, but also in the reflection of modern, childhood friendships so that children can truly see their experiences reflected in the world around them. From the research released today, it's great to see that kids acknowledge the importance of friendship for their mental health and it's encouraging to hear they want more emotional diversity to be represented in the content they consume and the toys and characters they play with.”
The new generation of LEGO Friends is available to buy now with a LEGO Friends TV special available to watch on the LEGO YouTube channel. To find out more, visit www.lego.com/friends.
The LEGO Group will also be celebrating friendships with a range of global activities to help children experience the joy and benefits of play themselves. These activities will include:
A two-month long play experience taking place from 6th February - 2nd April in select LEGO Stores. Free activities include:
• Discover LEGO Friends: Spin the wheel and find out more about one of the eight new LEGO Friends characters, then build a set that aligns with that character’s passions before proudly displaying it in-store
• LEGO Friends Skate Ramp: On select dates in February, come in-store to create a LEGO Friends Skate Ramp – that you can also take home to play with your friends
• LEGO Friends Character Creator: In March you can design and customise your own LEGO Friends character
• The LEGO Friends Bedrooms: Four of the new LEGO Friends bedroom sets will be on display for visitors to play with and customise
• For more information about LEGO Friends activities happening near you visit www.lego.com/stores and search for your local store.
• Meet the LEGO Friends - In giant brick form at [Westfield Forum des Halles, Paris from 18-26th February / Westfield Mall of the Netherlands, The Hague from 27th February – 5th March / Reim Arcade, Munich, Germany from 20th-24th February / El Triangle Arcade, Barcelona, Spain from 20th-25th February / Sawgrass Mall, Florida, USA from 20th-26th February / Glendale Galleria, California, USA from 20th – 26th February / West Edmonton Mall, Alberta, USA from 20th – 26th February / Mall of America, Minnesota, USA from 20th – 26th February]. Capture a photo to reveal the rest of the crew and have the chance to claim a special LEGO Friends gift.
• LEGO Friends Heartlake Friendship Diner Experience - In New York City from February 18-19th, fans can celebrate the new LEGO Friends Universe brought to life at the Heartlake Diner Friendship Experience, a real-working diner where you can meet the new characters through play sessions and other kid-friendly activities.
• LEGO Friends ‘ Hangouts’ – The Bullring, Birmingham, UK. A child’s bedroom is an integral part of forming their self-identity. At this event, kids can meet and take part in awesome activities with their favourite influencers as they explore creativity and self-expression, form friendships and learn what it means to be different together.
• LEGO Friends Screening – Paris. Families could attend a special LEGO Friends screening on 11th February at Forum des images, les Halles, Paris. Visit www.lego.com/VIP to find out more.
• Giant Heartlake Downtown Diner – Paris. Between 18-19th February, grab a photo with your friends at the Giant LEGO Friends Heartlake Downtown Diner outside the LEGO Store, 1 Passage de la Canopée. Paris.
• Be a Better Friend Top Tips - Please find the top tips in a supporting document
Notes to Editors
For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are a parent or carer looking for advice or support around the theme of friendship, please visit UNICEF.org for more information.
About the 'Friendship Research’ 2022
Research was conducted by Opinium Research amongst 18,000 children aged 6-12 in UK, US, Germany, Australia, China, Poland, Czechia, Hungary, Turkey, Canada, Mexico, France, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Japan, Denmark and South Korea. Fieldwork was conducted 19thDecember 2022- 5thJanuary 2023.
About the LEGO Group:
The LEGO Group’s mission is to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow through the power of play. The LEGO System in Play, with its foundation in LEGO bricks, allows children and fans to build and rebuild anything they can imagine. The LEGO Group was founded in Billund, Denmark in 1932 by Ole Kirk Kristiansen, its name derived from the two Danish words Leg Godt, which mean “Play Well”. Today, the LEGO Group remains a family-owned company headquartered in Billund. Its products are now sold in more than 130 countries worldwide. For more information: www.LEGO.com