Research Institute went through quite a development from the project original submitted to LEGO Ideas (or CUUSOO as it was then) to the final product sold in LEGO stores. Originally the project title was “Female Minifigure Set”, and could have featured women in any number of professions. The various vignettes Alatariel had designed included an astronaut, a zookeeper and a fire fighter. Working with LEGO the set was narrowed down to become science based, which made for an excellent choice as it focussed the set and still maintained the ethos that women can excel in any field.
Alatariel has clearly mined the back catalogue for inspiration in this latest project, with the tiger originally planned for the zoo themed vignette now the subject of a wildlife biologist’s study. The geologist retains the original concept from the previous project, but utilises new bricks and looks neater. The archaeologist again manages to fit a lot of charm into a small space. Each vignette manages to give a good flavour of the profession, without looking too busy.
With all of the publicity surrounding the positive depiction of professional women in Research Institute, Alatariel has mixed things up a bit and included a male mini-figure. It’s a good call and shows just what an impact the first set had that there is no need to push the point further (unless LEGO slip into bad habits again when it comes to gender representation of course). The ratio of two to one should stay in any future sets, however, to slowly redress the balance that years of City sets have managed to skew.
Taking the scientists into the field also gives a nice, fresh take on the concept, giving variation on the theme and demonstrating to children the varied activities that science involves. This also demonstrates the potential of this concept, let’s hope that LEGO are willing to put out one of these sets every year. The elasticity of the idea could lead to a great collection of vignettes, each one themed a little differently from the last.
It will be a great shame if this set doesn’t make it through the LEGO Ideas review, as fans clearly voted and voted quickly. LEGO have a lot of reason to produce this – it’s a proven popular concept, they know the sales figures (so less risk of over production, ho ho ho)and the price point would be much lower than many review stage projects. As intimidated, however, there is no point manufacturing the set in such small quantities that it can’t stay on the shelf for a day. Get it out there, get it in more stores and take our money.
Well done to Alatariel for giving fans another great set to rally behind – again.