Have Lego kits ruined kids imagination wrt Legos?

When I was growing up you bought packs of Legos, just basic Legos, and used your imagination to create things. You coveted the times you would get the wheels and Lego dudes because you could then make a blocky vehicle to push around.

Now my son is addicted to legos, but not the legos you and I grew up with. Every lego has to come in some sort of kit, like Star Wars, Halo, Prince of Persia, Cops etc… They come with instructions on how to build the shit. And then once he has them built he doesn’t like to take them apart, but they are too fragile to actually play with. These kits come with custom molded pieces that are specific to the kits. Tons of angles and lots of wheels. Curved molded pieces to make round areas of aliens and whatnot.

To me this defeats the purpose of Legos. What happened to the days of grabbing a big box of legos and putting together something using the pieces you had availible instead of buying a kit that had exactly what you needed to do it and instructions to do so?

Are Legos as we knew them dead?

My kid usually builds the kit once, then disassembles it and throws all the pieces into the giant Lego bin with the rest of the Legos. Then he uses them to build all kinds of crazy stuff. So at least in this household, no, it does not seem to be affecting creative play.

Yes. Or rather, they CAN, for the very reasons you mentioned. Plus, those kits’ weird fiddly bits are not really modular pieces any more. Which, for me, defeats the whole purpose of Lego implanting subconscious understanding of math (ratios, algebra, etc.)

But if there’s a Lego Store near you, you can still go get the old, modular pieces in quantity. They have bins of them where you can scoop and buy in bulk.

We got my son some kits, because he begged for them, but I also made sure he had enough “plain” pieces to work with. The saddest thing was that he couldn’t ever think of anything to build, never just stuck Lego together to see what shape would emerge (which I think is another casualty of the kit mindset. He needed an externally provided stimulus to tell him what it was supposed to “be”.) But if I asked him to make me a bird, or a teakettle or a scale model of Stonehenge, he’d get right on it.

Whatsit Jr. built a TARDIS once.

My little girl does the same thing. She comes up with really wild uses for all the fancy pieces. My favorite was the time she built a rock concert with Star Wars Legos and turned all their weapons into instruments. We did make sure she had plenty of plain pieces too.

Two things:

  1. Lego buckets are still sold: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000NOC49I/

  2. Lego kits were first introduced in 1978, so this is not a new thing at all.

This. I’m just sick of them wanting a new lego kit, every chance they get. They have 60 lbs of legos, but still want another Halo Lego, cuz this one is purple.

We used to have Space Lego. They came in a bunch of kits (30 or more) but were all fairly generic pieces… we’d build the real item, then pool all the pieces to build other stuff.

We have mixed-up generic Duplo, and lots of it. Haven’t bought a kit yet, but when we’re on the smaller Lego we’ll by it in buckets.

Gnat made a small Duplo TARDIS yesterday. We’ll be so proud when he can build a proper model out of little Lego.
We had model-specific kits when I was a kid, and I thought the idea of instructions on how to build something out of Lego was insulting and stupid. But I’m an anarchist, in terms of crafts.

By the way, if you want to just buy a giant pile of Legos for your kid, go on eBay. You can buy them by the pound.

This is what I did many moons ago. My interest in Lego kits was never for the kit itself, but rather for the unusual pieces, because they could make my own creations that much more interesting.

“It transforms!” Yes! More swivel pieces!
“It’s a spaceship!” Wings and a full-sized cockpit!

Why is it that some people think imagination and creativity are not innate human qualities, but are somehow the product of having fewer resources or less well developed technologies? It just seems like no matter what the advance or development, someone will always point to it saying “these kids today have no imagination!”

Isn’t it more likely that imaginative kids will always find something imaginative to do with any given thing, and other kids will not?

Lego pretty much always had assembly instructions. What has changed is the type of pieces comprising any given kit. It used to be that they made a range of standard parts and the kits were created by selecting and arranging those parts into something that resembled the desired object. Now, most kits have very specialised parts that make the assembled model quite realistic, but those parts aren’t so readily re-purpose-able.

I don’t know if these kits have had an overall effect on children’s imagination, but I think it’s true that they are played with in a different way.

I was thinking very similar thoughts to the OP yesterday when I was walking around a Borders store (“EVERYTHING 40% OFF! GOING OUT OF BUSINESS!”), and I came across this kit. It’s a recreation of the trash compactor scene from Toy Story 3. And it looks like almost every single piece is custom-made to fit only into the other pieces of the kit. It seems like there’s barely any of the interlocking lego “nipples” on these pieces.

When I played with legos 15-20 years ago, I would get kits that were about 90% regular blocks, and 10% specialized pieces. I’d build the kits, and play with the result for a few days, then break them down and add them to my stockpile, drawing on the stockpile to make new things. The specialized pieces were always flexible enough to be used in other designs. But these new kits? It looks like that crane is all one piece: it can never really be anything except a crane. Does that even count as a lego any more?

Dern kids these days.

I’m 32 and I grew up with Lego kits in the early 1980’s.

Not new at all.

I never said the kits were a new product, but they were no where NEAR as prolific as they are now. You would go into the toy section at the Kmart and there would be a bunch of legos and maybe 1 or 2 specialty kits that were generally expensive. Now you go to the toy aisle in WalMart and it’s all Lego kits, with some Mega Block Halo thrown in.

My daughter, 10, is playing with Legos as I type this. She has a few different kits, which she has built several times, a skill that taught her at a very young age how to follow step by step directions. They have, until recently, been all in one huge heap, used to build whatever her imagination comes up with. (She just showed by a robot she’s building.) A week or so ago, she decided to sort the lego pieces by color and/or function, and bagged each particular category in a zip-lock bag.

So, no. The “kit” thing hasn’t stifled her imagination one bit.

That’s not how I remember it at all. As a little kid in the 80s I remember a full aisle of kits (Lego Space sets were badass!) and a few bright blue buckets of random bricks on the end cap.

Kits have dominated the Lego line since their introduction back in the 70s.

Yeah - who didn’t want the Black Monarch’s Castle with the knights that fit into their specially made horses (that came with barding), octagonal tower turrets and working drawbridge? That was right up there with the Millenium Falcon for all-time Toy That Made You Cool.

I remember the kits when I was a kid, and they were pretty popular, but I never cared for them. I liked making my own buildings and vehicles.