Rebuilding the force, brick by brick: canon reformation and brand synergy in LEGO Star Wars

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

Abstract

Popular LEGO author Daniel Lipkowitz has written several reference titles for the Dorling Kindersley Publishing House (DK), the majority of which are specifically about the LEGO Star Wars brand. In 2015, three years after Disney bought Lucasfilm, his illustrated LEGO Star Wars in 100 Scenes became the latest volume in the DK range of LEGO books. Indeed, since 2012 DK has also published a character encyclopedia (the updated and expanded edition), a visual dictionary (also updated and expanded), and a guide to the Dark Side (revealing secrets to the Sith in cute LEGO form). All the reference texts come with exclusive Star Wars minifigures. Such developments within the LEGO universe chime with Disney’s own efforts to reform preexisting Star Wars canon established in books, games and comics over the past thirty years. Disney’s announcement in 2014 that the canon was to be reset in order to make the six movies and Clone Wars television series “immoveable objects” in the narrative universe (“The Legendary”), from which new stories and texts would originate, underscores their strategy to rebuild Star Wars wholesale for a new generation. I argue in this chapter that LEGO is an important part of this Disney canon reformation and brand synergy across transmedia platforms. The toys, associated merchandise like books and guides, and video games all contribute to a complex narrative network of Star Wars texts, working in tandem to underscore the preeminence of the new Disney strategy: television and online episodes “reimagine” classic scenes from the movies; reference books fill in backstories to ancillary characters from the Clone Wars and Rebels series; and the toys and video games allow players/gamers/fans to adapt and control characters in self-created narratives and spaces. Where Robert Buerkle suggests that “LEGO acts as a signifier for childhood and toy play”, creating nostalgia for past texts within a framework of “toydom” (2014: 148), I would take this further and argue that LEGO‘s books, toys and textual creations are very much part of Disney’s strategy for Star Wars brand synergy; reforming the canon in order to create new audiences as well as reeducating existing fans in preparation for what new movies and spin-offs are yet to come.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDisney's Star Wars
Subtitle of host publicationForces of Production, Promotion and Reception
EditorsWilliam Proctor, Richard McCulloch
Place of PublicationIowa City
PublisherUniversity of Iowa Press
Pages53-67
Volume1
ISBN (Electronic)9781609386443
ISBN (Print)9781609386436
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019

Keywords

  • Disney
  • Star Wars
  • LEGO
  • canons
  • fandom
  • branding

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