We took Bean and Belle to the mall last night for dinner because we needed to get out of the house for a bit and of course we ended up at the Lego Store.
While Bean was playing, J.D. showed me a tiny kitty that was just so cute that I asked one of the shopkeepers which set she came from. He said he wasn’t sure but all the tiny animals came from the Lego Friends sets.
I never really examine the “girl” sets because the “boy” sets seem to be better builds and the final product is more visually more appealing to me because the colors are more realistic. Also, it feels like a lot of the time, the pricing on each set, per brick, is higher for Lego Friends.
These were the two sets I saw in store at the $40 price point.
The Lego Creator Corner Deli has 467 pieces and is a 3-in-1 set and the Lego Friends Heartlake Food Market has 388 pieces. There are other Lego Friends sets with more pieces for $40 that are available online but the themes and the construction don’t seem comparable to me.
But I still really wanted that tiny kitty.
So I went to look at the display and tried to find a set I liked and was really disappointed that Lego doesn’t use its typical mini-figures for the Lego Friends sets and instead uses mini-dolls. Boo. They’re just not “Lego-y.” They aren’t fully articulated like the regular figures and they are taller and a completely different shape. They just don’t fit with the other sets in the Lego family.So, I ended up with a tiny $5 Lego Friends set that didn’t have any mini-dolls but did have a little puppy, celebrating a birthday. After I bought it, I felt weird and I couldn’t put my finger on why… So when we got home, I put the set away, instead of instantly building the little thing, and got everyone ready for bed.
This morning while Belle was eating, I decided to read up on Lego Friends and came across this story from 2013 presented on NPR. It notes that the success of Lego Friends has opened the market to more girl-centric STEM toys but at the same time asks if it would really be that hard to make a construction toy that would be appeal to all children.
They say that the marketing has to do with how children play with construction toys – boys play with the “outside” of the toy while girls tend to play with the “inside.”
To me, if this is true, why don’t they just make the insides of their sets more interactive? The Lakeside Lodge I built this weekend had the capacity to be unhinged but the inside wasn’t nearly as impressive as the outside. Couldn’t they have improved that aspect of the Lego sets instead of creating a whole new line?
I don’t know…
But I agree with many suggestions David Pickett offered on his blog, Thinking Brickly, on how to make Legos more accessible to all genders:
- Stop “diluting” the brand with mini-dolls,
- Stop marketing to a specific gender when your product doesn’t inherently have a gender-bias, and
- Start including more “girl” colored bricks in more sets as accent and dimension pieces.
I will say that when Belle starts building and when Bean has grown out of the Lego Duplo stage, they will always get the set they want, regardless of who it’s marketed towards because everyone deserves awesome builds and tiny kitties!
… I’ll just replace those mini-dolls with customized mini-figures when they “mysteriously” disappear.
Featured Image: Photo credit to Inhabitots.