Friday, 5 April 2013

Where could LEGO go next with the Disney license?

LEGO have been back in business with Disney for four years, and have produced sets based on popular live-action and Pixar movies. But is there more to find in the huge Disney back catalogue? Could the theme parks be a source of inspiration? Read on for thoughts about what else LEGO could offer from Disney if they were so inclined.

The themes we have had from LEGO so far based on Pixar films are Toy Story and Cars. Toy Story performed okay, and Cars did as well as LEGO had expected so LEGo should take a gamble on some non-PIxar animated content!  When it comes to live action, Prince of Persia underperformed as a line (as did the film) whereas Pirates of the Caribbean exceeded projections. This year The Lone Ranger theme looks set to do well based on the initial buzz, but that is the only Disney theme to be released. Marvel is of course Disney owned, but it seems that the licensing deal for that is handled separately.

What would be really awesome for Disney fans is a line of ‘classic’ Disney LEGO sets. This could then cover all sorts of animated hits – but there could be just one set here and there based on different characters. This would be similar to how the Duplo Princess sets or Marvel Super Heroes theme works. A set or two from The Little Mermaid, The Jungle Book  or Lilo and Stitch would surely appeal to nostalgic AFOLs as well as children who have discovered these movies on DVD.

Unfortunately it seems that LEGO are determined to keep to one or two Disney themes are year. This is partly due to the LEGO strategy of not putting too much faith into one licence, but may also be to do with Disney limiting LEGO on how many themes they can do at one time. It is also likely that Disney have a lot of input into what LEGO will release, and will obviously prefer to tie in the product with their new releases.
So perhaps the way to get some really cool sets could be Disney theme park exclusives! Disney already works with Hasbro on exclusive theme park product (that isn’t always branded Hasbro strangely). So my pitch is for each theme park to have one big exclusive set. The Magic Kingdom, Disneyland (and the similar parks around the world) could each have a set with their respective castles. Throw in mini-figures of Mickey and Minnie Mouse along with the appropriate castle’s Princess.

Each of the other parks should have a set based on its own key feature – not necessarily the central feature. Taking Disney World as an example, Epcot’s large ball, Animal Kingdom’s Tree of Life and Hollywood Studio’s hat don’t exactly make for interesting builds like a castle. So maybe Epcot could have a mini world showcase, Animal Kingdom could have a safari set and Hollywood Studios could go with the Backlot Tour, or maybe the Tower of Terror. If these initial sets went down well, this theme could be expanded to cover iconic Disney rides (each with a character pack-in as well as ride specific mini-figs), with build-your-own tourist mini-fig stations. This would also be a great excuse for the return of the Monorail! Rather than retiring them after two years, the ‘special’ element to these sets would be that they are exclusive to the theme parks.

Ah, wishful thinking is fun. But what LEGO sets we would like seems a little trivial for wishing on a star for.  But it would be a great use of the license and a really awesome souvenir for visitors to the Disney Parks. As for what LEGO will actually do with the license, probably continue year on year with the formula we have seen so far. Hopefully though if a gem like Wreck it Ralph hits LEGO will take advantage rather than sticking purely to Pixar animation. The rumour is that girls will have more to take notice of, with the LEGO Princesses set to hit the bricks next year with mini-dolls in the style of Friends. It certainly makes sense for LEGO to down the route of girl-centric Disney sets rather than sticking exclusively to boy-orientated themes like The Lone Ranger. So maybe a Disney castle will be a possibility after all…

Share your hopes and ideas for LEGO Disney sets in the comments section.

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