I’m a LEGO elitist and a baseball snob.
So nothing makes me sadder than a product that manages to insult both these sensibilities.
The following images hurt my feelings like nothing ever could.
I learned of this atrocity when googling to find out the possibility of LEGO producing (mini-scale) ballparks. There’s a website called LEGO “Ideas” where you can submit fan-made products in the hope of getting ten thousand supporters, after which the idea goes up for review with important people in the company. This is no gimmick; the system has already churned out some really cool stuff like LEGO pinball mazes, female scientists and other science gizmos. (its also inspired the crappola LEGO Minecraft, but whatever, nothing is perfect)
Alas, a knockoff brand called “OYO Sports” has acquired the rights to all MLB-licensed block-toy merchandising. I first saw their overpriced figurines last spring training and assumed they were some Chinese fabrication, but it turns out that they’re based in Boston (the packaging is done in the US, its only the plastic model molding itself that is done overseas. Hurray?) “OYO Sports” also appears to be a bit of a misnomer as ‘sports’ are the only thing in their model toy line. There is no “OYO City” or “OYO Pirates” line (unless you count the Pittsburgh Pirates, anybody want a Mark Melancon minifigure?)
Full disclosure: I have an OYO Sports figurine of NY Met Yoenis “Yo” Cespedes, currently he is dancing in a very LEGO Trevvi Fountain in my bedroom.
So OYO sports started out by making pro sports minifigures with crappy printing, but now they are making fake sets too. You can buy a team ballpark cart (wtf?), a clubhouse press scene, and a baseball diamond. The latter is what fuels my outrage.
Building a LEGO sports stadium would be a dream project, something others have already undertaken. LEGO doesn’t have the license to make a replica of, say, Fenway Park, but others have tried. Still, it’s a shame there will be no ‘official’ LEGO baseball stadium, to go with the LEGO hotels and airports and cinemas they’ve put out over the years.
Here’s the rule about building a LEGO stadium: the field is the LEAST INTERESTING PART OF THE CONSTRUCTION. All you need is a flat green piece. You can buy a big one from Toys R. US for $7.99.
As a friend put it, “OYO has cut their field up into 151 pieces so they can pretend they have a 151-piece set.” This “set”, by the way, is sitting on top of…a flat green piece. Kind of stupid. It’s a 2D puzzle with minifigures sitting on top of it, except a baseball diamond is, uhhh, kind of a lame 2D puzzle.
Alas, I wish I could say that these terrible kits don’t besmirch the good name of LEGO itself. But these bad knock-offs exact their own toll in this globalized market: the more other companies acquire attractive licenses, the more LEGO must compete with licensing of its own. More and more LEGO has receded from producing their own quirky brand of sets, and instead sells models of junk from your “favorite” movies and TV shows. Prince of Persia! Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! Dr. Who! The brand is alive, but my childhood is dead.