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LEGO Friends: LEGO Line For Girls Starts Controversy

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DrForester

Kills Photobucket



http://ideas.time.com/2012/01/02/le...ve-they-stooped-to-stereotype/?xid=gonewsedit

The first female minifig — those 4-centimeter people with the yellow jugheads — to appear in the January 2012 LEGO catalog is a doctor ably holding up the back end of a stretcher with her male colleague in a new ambulance set. But she doesn’t show up until page 12, after dozens upon dozens of male ninjas, firefighters and all manner of villains. This is the paradox of LEGO for parents, especially parents of girls: the famous Danish toy maker could provide an oasis from the anachronistic gender stereotypes so rampant these days — especially in its City line, where women might be employed in all sorts of capacities, as they are in real life — and yet the fantasy lines such as Ninjago, Kingdoms, Hero Factory, and of course, Star Wars, are relentlessly male, with the exception of Princess Leia. According to a recent article in Bloomberg Businessweek, focusing on boys was a specific business decision to get the LEGO Group out of a major financial crisis back in 2004 when they were losing $1 million a day. The strategy worked so well that revenues increased by 105% from 2006 to 2010, and sales in the U.S. topped $1 billion for the first time last year.

I have spent thousands of dollars on LEGO for my son, hosted three LEGO birthday parties and have even installed shelves to display his creations. I have indulged his passion (as has his father and generous grandparents and godparents) because it supposedly develops his math and spatial skills, or at least keeps him busy for hours at a stretch. But I have also been more than a little disheartened to see his younger sister initially drawn to our buckets of expensive plastic only to lose interest. I can’t say I blame her. I suspect that girls don’t like to play with today’s LEGOs because they so rarely see themselves represented in the minifigs, and because the events being reenacted — battles to the death, alien attacks — are unappealingly violent. (That and the fact that LEGO is routinely shelved in the “boy” section of the toy department in stores.) So when I first heard about the 2012 debut of a new theme that was more girl-friendly, I was hopeful.

And then I had a look at the stuff. LEGO Friends, as the new line is called, creates a place called Heartlake City which thus far consists of a beauty parlor, a café, a bakery, a clothing design school, a vet’s office, a sound stage, and, thankfully, an inventor’s workshop. (So much for municipal services.) There are no men in Heartlake City, except for the father of Olivia, one of the five core “friends” who are not minifigs at all but redesigned mini-dolls that come with the following accessories: a purse, a hair brush, a hair drier, four lipsticks and two barrettes; a spatula, an electric mixer and two cupcakes; and for when they’re not primping or baking, a puppy dog and a pink book with butterflies on it. Is this message — with its emphasis on physical appearance and limited career choices — really any different from that of Disney’s princesses?

What’s worse, LEGO Friends doesn’t give girls the same sense of mastery and accomplishment that it gives boys. Usually, when you open a LEGO set you will find several smaller bags numerically labeled in the order in which to build, along with a booklet of diagrams of the steps. But LEGO Friends has dispensed with this system, so that girls can begin playing without completing the whole model first. So much for learning how to follow instructions, or finishing what you started, or just getting those damn pieces off the floor so I won’t step on them.

Kids learn through their toys, and as Peggy Orenstein, the author of Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches From The Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture, pointed out in a recent article in the New York Times, even while boys and girls show some sex differences in what they chose to play with, they’re also incredibly malleable:

At issue, then, is not nature or nurture but how nurture becomes nature: the environment in which children play and grow can encourage a range of aptitudes or foreclose them. So blithely indulging — let alone exploiting — stereotypically gendered play patterns may have a more negative long-term impact on kids’ potential than parents imagine. And promoting, without forcing, cross-sex friendships as well as a breadth of play styles may be more beneficial. There is even evidence that children who have opposite-sex friendships during their early years have healthier romantic relationships as teenagers.

Traditionally, toys were intended to communicate parental values and expectations, to train children for their future adult roles. Today’s boys and girls will eventually be one another’s professional peers, employers, employees, romantic partners, co-parents. How can they develop skills for such collaborations from toys that increasingly emphasize, reinforce, or even create, gender differences?

My daughter’s fourth birthday is coming up, and I’m sure one of the Friends sets will be among her presents. I’ll probably even swallow my misgivings and buy her one myself in the hopes that it will get her building alongside her brother. (For those who are offended by LEGO Friends, you can sign a petition here.) In 1963, the son of the founder of LEGO, Godtfred Christiansen, defined “10 characteristics of Lego” and one of them was: “For girls and for boys.” I assume, from the wording, that he did not mean one set for girls, one set for boys, a separate-but-equal doctrine. I just wish that they had tried a bit harder to carry out his gender-neutral vision.


And now for the take from Gizmondo.

http://gizmodo.com/5872578/hey-anti+lego-feminists-lego-for-girls-actually-kicks-ass



The cool space fighter above was created with bricks from Lego Friends' Butterfly Beauty Shop, Olivia's Invention Workshop, Stephanie's Cool Convertible, and Emma's Fashion Design Studio. It proves one thing: feminists criticizing the new Lego Friends sets just don't get it.

When I first saw the new and controversial Lego Friends I hated it too. It wasn't the colors—I like the colors—but those stupid figurines and the branding. I found them as nauseating as the branding and styling of dolls like the Bratz. How could Lego argue that they spent millions in researching these? They were horrible and stereotyping.

Except they are not. Not really, after you play with them.

The pieces on the sets are fine. They are just Lego pieces. Interchangeable, functional, flexible. Neutral. They are not special for girls. The instructions are ok too. Sure, they are for making a beauty shop or a pastel convertible. But kids don't have to follow them.

In fact, they will break them and create new stuff, as it always has happened. That's the whole point of Lego.

I know because I've been building them since the late 70s, the golden era of Lego, when I was a little kid putting bricks together with my brothers and my sister.

Yes, the branding and the figurines still suck. They are "girly". They are far from the Lego ideal, a toy that spans through genders and generations, treating everyone equally. This genius ad is a good proof of this ideal. Does Lego believe that there should be Lego for boys and Lego for girls?

No. Their most popular sets—Lego City, Pirates, Castle, etc.—are bought for both boys and girls. They are gender neutral. Parents buy them and kids are happy with them.

The way I see it, Lego Friends was created to fight the typical toys for girls, stupid and garish. The dreadful Bratz and Barbies of this world. Those are the toys that many girls are asking for. Parents, older siblings or family may try to steer them away from those brainless toys and fail. Just the same way they try to steer boys from other brainless toys and fail. At the end of the day, many girls want the Bratz or whatever is in fashion that year. And many boys want a beeping reproduction of the Millennium Falcon. At the end of the day, they are useless pieces of plastic.

But Lego Friends, as Lego Star Wars or Lego Harry Potter or Lego Sponge bob, are a way to sell Lego to a wider audience. To fight the stupid toys. To give tools to build anything to all those kids. All of the sudden, kids who would never consider neutral Lego themes, like Lego City or Lego Castle, want these Lego sets. They want the walls of Hogwarts and the cute pastel convertible.

And that's good.

After two days, what was Harry Potter or Friends or Star Wars ends being Little Jane's generic cool car or Little Joe's generic space plane.

The fact is that kids don't give a damn about instructions when it comes to construction toys. They just build and destroy and build and destroy and build. After a month, everything ends in the same pile and it's all pieces to build crazy stuff.

Anyone who has played with Lego knows this.

Lego Friends is a great tool to fight the stupid toys, an alternative for parents to move girls from Bratz to brains. That's what counts.

Those branded themes are great cash cows for Lego, sure, but they are also the way kids get into Lego. They are a backdoor. Once the radioactive Lego brick bites them, they become hooked. The next time they will want one Lego set just because it seems cool or more complicated. The space shuttle. A Lego creator building. A Technic car. Both girls and boys would pick those and build whatever they want with them.

This Brothers Brick review of these new sets reminded me that it just doesn't matter what's on the box cover. What matters is what kids create with them.

So no, Lego Friends is not an attack or a way to impose roles. It's precisely all the contrary. They are the ally, not the enemy. Because, fortunately, building things using your imagination doesn't have anything to do with sex.

The rest is just an artificial debate from people who are clueless about the true nature of this toy, which has been played for decades by boys and girls alike. A toy that almost died, killed by franchises that sold stupid, passive plastic contraptions that require no creativity. Friends—like Star Wars or Indiana Jones or Harry Potter—is Lego's way to fight those toys back.


A review by the person who made the spaceship


Have to say I agree fully with those figs being horrid. I don't build much from scratch anymore, but I like the builders take that it's great to have new colors and pieces at a cheap price.
 

Ether_Snake

安安安安安安安安安安安安安安安

Girls should buy stuff.
They should go shopping.
Talk about buying stuff, and stuff they bought.
Girls must also always rely on each other to get anything done. If a girl is alone, she will go crazy.
She should learn to cook, but should not eat much. Cooking of course implies baking.
Romance is great for girls, hearts everywhere, it's like a never ending roller-coaster ride.
And if they are in any way ethnically ambiguous, their name should end with A.
 

DrForester

Kills Photobucket
Tell you one thing that pisses me off, after looking closely at that inventors workshop set...

Girls don't have to put up with shitty stickers and get things printed on the pieces.
 

Acid08

Banned
At work the other day a little girl came in(5 or 6 I think) and was talking with me about Lego and stuff(work at a Lego store/learning center). She pointed out that it was cool that the bin we keep Lego pieces to be sorted in was pink and I agreed and said that pink is an awesome color. She was absolutely shocked by this because she says boys make fun of her and other boys all the time if they like pink because it's a girl color.

Basically, parents reinforce gender stereotypes.
 
At work the other day a little girl came in(5 or 6 I think) and was talking with me about Lego and stuff(work at a Lego store/learning center). She pointed out that it was cool that the bin we keep Lego pieces to be sorted in was pink and I agreed and said that pink is an awesome color. She was absolutely shocked by this because she says boys make fun of her and other boys all the time if they like pink because it's a girl color.

Basically, parents reinforce gender stereotypes.

I used to have a pink credit card.

Anytime a clerk would ask why, I'd say it was my retard detector.
 

GSR

Member
Yeah, I've seen a lot of debate over this, and I'm very interested to see how it turns out for Lego. I do recall there was a Bloomberg article not long ago discussing how the line was created, and one thing Lego noted was that when researching how to get Lego to appeal to girls, girls largely insisted on having sets with more 'feminine' features, hence the new kind of figures.

The thing that I really wonder about is how, if at all, this will lead to shifts in demographic for other Lego sets. Is giving girls something like this enough to get them to use more typical Lego sets, or will those still be seen as too boyish? It's a shame if it's the latter, since I doubt Lego would want to create a whole separate "girls' Lego" ecosystem, and Lego is a hell of a toy to give your kid.
 
My 2 girls, ages 3 and 4, absolutely love the UFO line if Legos. They're actually playing with them right now.

I don't think a dedicated "girl" line was needed, but sales may say otherwise.
 

Sqorgar

Banned
Feminists can be so retarded sometimes. LEGO didn't create the gender stereotype. LEGO did years of market research and learned that yes, this is what little girls are interested it. You can't sell toys to little girls unless they are pastel, have horses and shopping malls.

Frankly, if it gets girls playing with LEGOs past the Duplo stage, it's worth it. Nothing good ever came from not playing with LEGOs.

Personally, my two young girls play with Ninjago spinners and whatever sets I currently have built and set up (usually Castle stuff).
 

Satch

Banned
Feminists can be so retarded sometimes. LEGO didn't create the gender stereotype. LEGO did years of market research and learned that yes, this is what little girls are interested it. You can't sell toys to little girls unless they are pastel, have horses and shopping malls.

well i never
 

TheMan

Member
looking at lego's product page, I can see why they did this. The majority of their products seems to have an obvious masculine skew (for example almost all the lego people on the page are male). Makes sense that they'd want to diversify the demographics that their products appeal to. Not that girls don't already play with legos, but perhaps they'd be more likely to pick a lego set for their birthday if it featured girly pink shit rather than robots or star wars characters.
 

DrForester

Kills Photobucket
looking at lego's product page, I can see why they did this. The majority of their products seems to have an obvious masculine skew (for example almost all the lego people on the page are male). Makes sense that they'd want to diversify the demographics that their products appeal to. Not that girls don't already play with legos, but perhaps they'd be more likely to pick a lego set for their birthday if it featured girly pink shit rather than robots or star wars characters.

I think they should have tried a simple "Include more girl figs" . You can do girl ninjas, girl pirates. Obviously these are more geared towards boys, but there's no reason not to include some. Heck, look at Pokmeon. I'd say the series was geared more towards young boys, but they toss in an option to be a girl into the game.
 

Slayven

Member
looking at lego's product page, I can see why they did this. The majority of their products seems to have an obvious masculine skew (for example almost all the lego people on the page are male). Makes sense that they'd want to diversify the demographics that their products appeal to. Not that girls don't already play with legos, but perhaps they'd be more likely to pick a lego set for their birthday if it featured girly pink shit rather than robots or star wars characters.

LOl, exactly. God forbid a company try to tap into an established market.
 

Satyamdas

Banned
Gizmondo dude actually gets it.

Gizmondo dude said:
So no, Lego Friends is not an attack or a way to impose roles. It's precisely all the contrary. They are the ally, not the enemy. Because, fortunately, building things using your imagination doesn't have anything to do with sex.

The rest is just an artificial debate from people who are clueless about the true nature of this toy, which has been played for decades by boys and girls alike. A toy that almost died, killed by franchises that sold stupid, passive plastic contraptions that require no creativity. Friends—like Star Wars or Indiana Jones or Harry Potter—is Lego's way to fight those toys back.
Bingo.

First article is a stinking pile of shite and the people quoted in it are wankers.
 

dinazimmerman

Incurious Bastard
LEGO could make less profit by selling toys that are less heteronormative, but it doesn't have any incentive to. Of course, parents that don't want their children playing with heteronormative toys have every right to not support LEGO and be frustrated at the lack of available alternatives, but just as LEGO won't change gender norms by marketing less heteronormative toys to girls, individual parents won't change LEGO's production decisions by refusing to buy their toys. (Note: I think I'm using "heteronormative" correctly. But I'm not completely sure so I apologize in advance for my possible ignorance.)
 
I find it weird that, according to toy companies, young boys dream of being pirates, ninjas, astronauts, knights and cowboys while young girls apparently dream of... being a 20-something, or occasionally a ballerina?

Even if this comes from extensive market research and is accurate, that only makes it a bad reflection of our society, I think.
 

dinazimmerman

Incurious Bastard
Even if this comes from extensive market research and is accurate, that only makes it a bad reflection of our society, I think.

Yeah, but we're sort of stuck in this position in the short-run. There's no way to force society to adopt different conventions in the short-run without limiting people's freedoms. Organic change will occur in the long-run I'm hoping.

Isn't Bioncle gender neutral? I can't tell what the hell those things are.

They're like warrior robots, so no, they're not gender-neutral. And I thought LEGO doesn't sell Bionicle anymore, anyway?
 

Satch

Banned
I find it weird that, according to toy companies, young boys dream of being pirates, ninjas, astronauts, knights and cowboys while young girls apparently dream of... being a 20-something, or occasionally a ballerina?

Even if this comes from extensive market research and is accurate, that only makes it a bad reflection of our society, I think.

that's what this is really about, imo
 

mantidor

Member
At work the other day a little girl came in(5 or 6 I think) and was talking with me about Lego and stuff(work at a Lego store/learning center). She pointed out that it was cool that the bin we keep Lego pieces to be sorted in was pink and I agreed and said that pink is an awesome color. She was absolutely shocked by this because she says boys make fun of her and other boys all the time if they like pink because it's a girl color.

Basically, parents reinforce gender stereotypes.

This a million times.

Is not like Lego has shied away from basically every possible scenario in existence, yes, there are robots and ninjas (and ninjas fighting robots) but there are castles, spaceships and cities as well. There are Harry Potter sets, there are millions of sets. If I had the money and a a daughter, I would make sure to buy her some legos. For my cousin's daughter, all her earlier gifts were legos, now its books, because books are awesome.
 
If LEGO were smart, they would have just released separate sets for a beauty parlor, a café, a bakery, a clothing design school, a vet’s office, etc., but included male and female LEGO peeps. This shit is stupid and really just unnecessary.
 
Does this mean we'll get some more detailed male minifigs now? With actual proportions like these girl ones do? I mean, there have been female minifigs before, just a long-hair part on top of the normal body. But these are actually shaped like real people.

How will my normal minifigs react to these? I see some class warfare coming on between Lego races and species.
 

DrForester

Kills Photobucket
Does this mean we'll get some more detailed male minifigs now? With actual proportions like these girl ones do? I mean, there have been female minifigs before, just a long-hair part on top of the normal body. But these are actually shaped like real people.

How will my normal minifigs react to these? I see some class warfare coming on between Lego races and species.

 

Acid08

Banned
If LEGO were smart, they would have just released separate sets for a beauty parlor, a café, a bakery, a clothing design school, a vet’s office, etc., but included male and female LEGO peeps. This shit is stupid and really just unnecessary.

The City line is basically what you've just laid out.
 

Tinabina

Member
Stupid controversy is stupid. These Legos are awesome. I never played with any when I was young because they were all for boys and since they came out on Monday I bought 3 sets for my daughter. They do come in numbered bags and the whole diagram instruction book so I dunno what the article in the OP is talking about. I think it is great that this finally came out, I would have loved it as a kid but am loving it just the same playing with them with my daughter now.
 
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