The age-old issue of “fleshies” versus yellows came up today. A photo of The Sigfig was rejected for representing me, in promoting one of this year’s LEGO books (which I was honoured to be part of).
Rejected is probably a strong word, but basically it fell foul of LEGO’s policy of restricting fleshies to IP/licensed characters. Instead, I was faced with having to choose a yellow minifigure to represent me.
Those who know anything about me know I’m of the “dark chocolate” persuasion (?), hence a “dark chocolate” Sigfig. I’ve had the Sigfig in various forms since coming out of my dark age, so I’ve been well aware of the numerous threads and conversations about the lack of “chocolate” minifigures. It’s something that only really bothered me in terms of creating The Sigfig. Today, though, I couldn’t help but be bothered in principle.
On the one hand, I get LEGO’s policy of keeping fleshies – besides minidolls and Duplo figures – limited to third-party licenses. Imagine how complicated things would be if they had to consider ethnicities in City sets, for example. I’ve got no problem with having a town full of yellow people, because that’s how LEGO started, and who am I to demand any different.
We also had a similar but very different issue with the Hayabusa, Exo Suit and Research Institute LEGO Ideas sets, where the minifigures – representing the namesakes’ designers – were yellow instead of fleshies.
With that said, it can’t be ignored that yellow minifigures can easily be interpreted as being white, whether it’s because most AFOLs are white, or that today’s yellow minifigures typically look as such. (The weave epidemic doesn’t count.)
I’m not suggesting LEGO is deliberately being racist. Believe it or not, I’m not hung up about ethnicity as much as you’d expect: the only thing that bothers me is that it’s the first (and often only) thing people see, one way or the other. But as much as I like collecting minifigures, when it comes to being represented by one, I’m not thrilled with having to be shown as yellow.
Let’s be honest, though: neither would you. Most of you wouldn’t be able to hide your [reaction] after you’ve seen me pictured as a yellow minifigure, only to be faced with six feet of “dark chocolate” when coming across me at an event. Think of the kids, and how much sleep little Timmy would lose knowing that his favourite minifigure is the “wrong colour”.
This raises the awkward question of what would happen if my likeness became part of an official set. The same issue would apply to other characters in the SilentMode family. As unlikely as it is to happen, what would be the outcome?
I had great difficulty in choosing a yellow minifigure to replace The Sigfig. The easiest option was to go with one of the Collectible Minifigures, but even then it wasn’t a straightforward choice. Female figures were out of the running (they’d be misconstrued), as were figures such as the Gorilla Suit Guy, Werewolf and Square Foot (racial undertones).
I’ve had time to calm down and think about things, but what’s your take on the situation? Is it such a huge issue that I’d be pictured as a yellow minifigure? I’m curious.