By Deborah Netburn
Los Angeles Times.
In August, Lego will produce a limited-edition box set called Research Institute, featuring three female scientists in the act of learning more about our world and beyond.
If you buy the set, your little one (or you) can build an astronomer peering into her telescope, a paleontologist using her magnifying glass to examine a dinosaur skeleton, and a chemist mixing solutions in her lab.
(Do you like how many “hers” were in that last sentence? I sure did!)
Research Institute was designed by Ellen Kooijman, a geochemist at the Swedish Museum of Natural History, and a self-confessed Adult Fan of Lego.
She has been playing around with Legos for more than 10 years now, but it wasn’t until 2012 that she finally made some of her designs public on the Lego Ideas website.
This is a place where fans can suggest new ideas for Lego sets and vote for other ideas that they like. If a proposed set gets 10,000 votes, Lego will consider putting it into production.
It took about a year for Kooijman’s set to get 10,000 votes and another year for Lego to decide to put it into production. But this week the project got the green light.
“We’re very excited to release Ellen Kooijman’s Female Minifigure set, featuring 3 scientists, now entitled ‘Research Institute’ as our next Lego Ideas set,” the company said in a statement. “This awesome model is an inspiring set that offers a lot for kids as well as adults.”
Lego added that the final design, pricing and availability are still being worked out, but said the set is on track for an August release.
Kooijman originally designed 12 vignettes featuring women doing all kinds of interesting jobs — all on a 6-inch-by-4-inch base plate. If you click through the images above, you can see some of her other ideas, including a female judge, a female falconer and a female robotics engineer designing a robotic arm.
“As a female scientist I had noticed two things about the available Lego sets: a skewed male/female minifigure ratio and a rather stereotypical representation of the available female figures,” Kooijman writes in a blog post.
“It seemed logical that I would suggest a small set of female mini-figures in interesting professions to make our Lego city communities more diverse.”
Kooijman is already working to get more of her Lego sets made. Her Mini-Big Bang Theory set is under review.