This weekend, my husband called me over to the computer to look at a new Lego set. It looked overly pastel and seemed to be a waitress, but after looking for a second, I could kind of see that it was supposed to be something smart? She was a scientist? Or in a lab? It was hard to tell, especially because she’s wearing a sleeveless shirt and flip flops, often found in various research labs, I presume. Gross. I think my husband thought I’d like this attempt to appeal to girls, but I was disgusted by its stereotypical approach. Companies launching a girl line always go with a vet, something musical or sporty, and something remotely science-like, so when they get flamed for dumbing down their girl line, they can point to the scientist as a weak defense. At least that’s my jaded opinion.
Not only am I a girl who played with Legos, but I am raising one as well. She has much of the Hogwarts set, just bought Mindstorms with her own money, and another major set is likely to appear under the Christmas tree this week. Not one of these sets contain one pink or purple brick, not one cute kitty, not one tank top, nor one convertible. Yet, my smart girl seems to have taken to Lego just fine.
The new Friends line is simplistic and is based on the assumption that girls are dumb. Pink Legos already exist. We have a tub of them, and while mostly ignored, they are clearly girly. Also, when we fill the tubs at the Lego store, there are typical girl color options there too. The argument was raised that companies offer the same dumbed down girl toys because this is what sells, but I argue that they sell because they are the only options. I’d never buy my daughter a box from the Friends line because I know that she wouldn’t care about it, but an uncle or other relative who doesn’t know her well could be searching the Target shelves for a gift, see the clear girl colors and cute doggie, and buy the set.
If Lego felt the need to offer a specific girl line, does that mean that it’s existing sets are meant to appeal more to boys? Or does Lego assume that because they are toys for building or that they feature pirates or aliens (both of which we have), that girls are staying away? In all the times I’ve purchased Lego, I’ve never been asked the sex of the recipient. Or does Lego envy Playmobil because the Friends line looks more like Playmobil than any other Lego set we own. In fact, from reports, it appears the Friends line isn’t fully compatible with existing Legos.
Then there is the argument put forth by the Brick Blogger, which is that these may appeal to girls, but then what is next? Will the same girl who wants a doll house type toy make the jump from Friends to Hogwarts?
Many girls love pink – there is no denying that – but the answer for Lego should have been to incorporate more female figures into existing lines, ones that appeal to both sexes, and to broaden existing sets, not to make a stand alone line designed to appeal only to girls while reinforcing vapid stereotypes.