Why I used to love LEGO

  LegoImage credit: Dunechaser

Back when I was a kid, I had three older brothers. LEGO was a big fixture in our family and with 7 years between me and the eldest in the family, we accrued a massive LEGO collection, and the big box of bricks was passed down the family.

I spent many happy days as a child building stripy houses on flat green boards, weird cars that defied the laws of aerodynamics, space rockets, schools. Sometimes just building towers, turning them into bridges. You could take LEGO in the bath, play with it in the garden, anything – it was perfect. 

As far as I remember (certainly in our house) LEGO was basically about building your own stuff. There was something pleasing about developing the LEGO building expertise needed so that you just knew which bricks you needed to make a sloping house roof, or how long a gap you could leave between the wheels on a bus and still make something that would “go”. Or developing that knack of being able to prise apart two flat LEGO planks that had become jammed together. 

I loved LEGO. Of all the toys I had as a kid, the ones I remember with most affection are my Playmobil, our Star Wars collection (complete with my AT-AT and Millennium Falcon, obviously) and the communal LEGO box.

I must confess though, that as an adult, I sometimes get a bit cranky with LEGO.

I don’t love that so many of its ranges are licensed from films and it’s so hard to find a decent sized box of LEGO that’s not tied to Harry Potter, Star Wars or Toy Story. We love the LEGO we have, but sometimes, sometimes I just want to buy BRICKS!  

I don’t love that buying mostly licensed sets means Flea tends to focus on building what’s on the box, rather than what’s in her head – for some weird reason my daughter has a strong need to be right. Can’t imagine why. Cough

Overall, I like that LEGO is brilliant quality. I think it encourages dexterity and spatial awareness and is great for both independent and collaborative play. Of course, most of all it’s fun. Despite the odd niggle, we are regular, loyal customers. 

LEGO friendsImage credit: Dunechaser

But at the moment I’m feeling rather let down by LEGO. In an attempt to market its products to “the other 50% of the world” LEGO has launched a new, pink range aimed at girls, LEGO friends. 

Now, I’m not overly keen on this to begin with – the statement is an open assumption that girls aren’t playing with LEGO and LEGO isn’t made for girls. Grrr. I’ve always been of the view that LEGO is a perfect gender neutral toy.

However, I can understand that many of the licensed sets are very firmly aimed at boys, marketed at boys, and likely to be bought for boys. So I tried to keep an open mind  open-minded about the new LEGO range – LEGO Friends – but looking at it on the LEGO website this Christmas was just depressing.

The figures for girls aren’t LEGO minifigures. They’re miniature dolls. Curvy miniature dolls in sleeveless tops with long hair and short skirts. And they come with their own accessories. You know, the sort of essential things that girls should never be without – hairbrush, hairdryer, lipstick. And what do these girls do? Well, obviously they hang out at the café, and they go to the beauty salon, they feed their horses. Typical girlish activities.

I’m beyond depressed by this. I wish LEGO could just put more female characters and female-accessible stories into the regular LEGO world, rather than creating this twee, limited world where – once again – little girls will get the message that what matters most in life is being pretty, popular and ideally in pastel shades.

I do get that, to an extent, manufacturers make what sells. I’m sure lots of little girls will want these toys. And maybe some of them will progress onto more challenging LEGO activities as a result. But I can’t help but be a little sad. Where are the toys that challenge and inspire our daughters?  

What do you reckon? Will you be buying LEGO Friends? 

 

About 

Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She’s also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world’s coolest ten year old.

62 Comments

  1. 3rd January 2012 / 2:29 am

    You would love the book “Cinderella Ate My Daughter” by Peggy Orenstein. Have you read it? If not, get thee to Amazon! It’s on this very subject, ie how girls’ aspirations are moulded and limited by the way their childhoods are shaped – and how hard it is to break out of that mould.

  2. 3rd January 2012 / 2:31 am

    Oh, and on the subject of the post… I was frankly rather disappointed to find that if you wanted to buy a box of Lego bricks, there is blue (for boys) and pink (for girls). (Why did I bother with the bits in parentheses there? As if anyone needed help.) I mean, isn’t a brick just a brick?

  3. 3rd January 2012 / 2:35 am

    I’ve just had a browse at the Lego Friends website, and it’s depressing. One of the five characters says she likes “inventing things and building things”, but the others are all about typical girlie stuff. And yes, as you say, they’re all in fairly skimpy clothes. So in a year or two, girls who now play quite happily with Star Wars, Harry Potter, or simply just Lego bricks, will be playing with this girlie range. I’m disappointed. Why do girls have to be girls, and not just people?

  4. Ruth
    3rd January 2012 / 8:33 am

    I couldn’t get past the home page of the Lego friends site, without wanting to throw my breakfast up.
    That’s one enormous #legofail if you ask me.

  5. 3rd January 2012 / 10:52 am

    I am not a fan of the new Lego Friends at all. I don’t think I will be buying any for my daughter. The Winnie the Pooh range however, I love and have and will be buying them for my daughter.

  6. 3rd January 2012 / 10:59 am

    All mine have my hand me down red white and blue old fashioned lego and endlessly build houses and animal homes; boys and girl. I’m sure if my daughter saw the cafe girl stuff she would want it though!

  7. 3rd January 2012 / 10:59 am

    I am hopping mad about this and have a post about it brewing for my blog. It limits imagination and creativity, pigeon holes girls (and boys) into restrictive stereotypical roles and, quite frankly,it is NOT ON! We are lucky to have all the hand me down lego from my OH and my daughter and my boys have played with it together, happily for years. This stuff will not be given house room at Thinly Spread.

  8. Peter
    3rd January 2012 / 11:14 am

    Great entry, completely agree with all said. Lego has lost all the innate creative development opportunities when focusing too much on too specific and narrow building structures.
    However, after spending a solid hour trying to find a single female character among three big boxes of old Lego for my 3-year old daughter who just wanted to find a princess for her castle, without success, I think adding more female basic blocks for girls is very welcome.

  9. 3rd January 2012 / 11:54 am

    I think that Lego have gone about this the wrong way… I agree that there is a problem that most of the Lego sets are ‘boy’ focussed but actually they could have made sets that appeal more to girls as part of this range. Lego could have developed these sets with strong female Lego people without doing the gender stereotyping and bringing out Lego ‘dolls’.
    My middle boy in particular likes animals and I think he would love a Lego Vet set, the Cafe and TreeHouse look good too… but the only option is to buy these types of items is the ‘girl branded’ stuff which he probably won’t like as he is very concerned about being seen as girly.

  10. 3rd January 2012 / 11:58 am

    Oh what complete and utter rollocks. Sorry Sally but if you are half as strong as I think you are then what does it matter if the toys have hair accessories or make up or spend time in a cafe? I believe you own hair accessories have put make up on at least once and I pretty certain that there is a certain young man who works in a cafe who could confirm you are in there staring at him a lot whilst drinking a coffee and no offence but I would never call you “Girly”.
    It doesn’t matter if our children play with toys that are pink or green or blue or yellow or any colour. What matters is what we teach our children. Yeah good old fashioned parenting.
    If you teach Flea (or any other parent reading this teaches their child) that all she has to do is brush her hair, wear make up, go to the spa, go horse riding and have lots of friends then shame on you but it’s your choice if that is what you do.
    If you think that playing with a toy is going to teach her her role in life that then I feel sorry for you and for your daughter because your opinion of your daughter (or son) is so low and your interaction with your child so limited that of course they are going to grow up thinking they have a set role in life.

  11. 3rd January 2012 / 12:55 pm

    I so agree with you. I remember fondly building things as a child and it’s probably one of the reasons that I went on to do an engineering degree. Little Miss C already seems to like playing with Lego, Duplo and Mega Blocks. Yes she does own a doll and a pink tea service, but she’s also a big fan of her train set. I certainly so no reason at all to make Lego all pink and fluffy just so girls will play with it.
    There are already far too many pressures on kids to grown up before their time, to sexualise everything and make girls and boys fit in with stereotypes. Sadly it seems like Lego are also just taking a step in that direction. I most certainly will not be buying Lego Friends for my daughter and I hope no one else does either.

  12. 3rd January 2012 / 1:01 pm

    I’m with you Sally. I have already had a big rant about this on my audio blog, and it sparked quite a discussion in my little audio community. If Lego feel that they need to change their range in order to appeal more to girls, then why not add some new features to something like their “city” range, rather than creating a whole new range?
    I don’t object to them introducing new colours, or even new buildings like a vets, but I do object to the distinction between “boys” logo and “girls” lego. When I was little it was just “Lego”, and I loved it, and played with it loads. Have you seen the vintage lego ad from 1981 showing a little girl playing with “normal” lego? Why can’t we have more of that, and less segregation?
    Pippa makes a very valid point, but it feels like those of us who do raise our kids to believe they can do anything in life are constantly fighting with the messages coming through the media that promote the contrary. On the one hand our media is currently bemoaning the lack of women in technology jobs, but then we’re force-feeding little girls all these stereotypes. Television advertising polarises boys into playing with “boy toys” and girls into playing with “girl toys” from a very early age. Whilst I’m not going to throw any of this new lego out if my daughter gets given some, I am not going to go out of my way to buy it for her.
    We’re still a Duplo family, but I’m very pleased that when I have offered my daughter a free choice she has chosen the Toy Story duplo rather than the Pricess duplo, and we’ve had a great time playing with it. We don’t watch any adverts on the television, and she is still young enough that peer pressure is not an issue – how things will go when she’s a little bit older I don’t know!
    I say keep unisex stuff unisex!

  13. 3rd January 2012 / 1:13 pm

    I’m with Lego on this one. I think it is a great range but I have to say, I am ever so slightly disappointed quite simply because they don’t have proper mini figures in them, making them look more like Polly pocket rip-offs than the iconic Lego range. Although she has never complained about the lack of ‘girl’ Lego I know my Girl will love them.
    We own a substantial range of Lego, which is enjoyed by all and it is nice to see something aimed specifically at girls. I would rather buy this for my Girl, knowing that it is compatible with the ££££ of Lego we already own rather than wasting my money on overpriced “collectables” such as little pet shop, zoobles, faries or (random animal) in my pocket – all of which have far more limited play than Lego.

  14. 3rd January 2012 / 2:00 pm

    It’s an awesome book, thanks for reminding me!

  15. 3rd January 2012 / 2:00 pm

    Yes, we have 3 boxes (blue) – I was more worried about how few bricks there were – I wanted LOADS!

  16. 3rd January 2012 / 2:01 pm

    Yes, I suspect you’re right that girls will be steered away from traditional LEGO. It’s a bit of a shame, I think – but not something I’d consider buying.

  17. 3rd January 2012 / 2:01 pm

    I haven’t seen the Winnie stuff – bit young for Flea but sounds cute!

  18. 3rd January 2012 / 2:02 pm

    Yes, I’m sure lots of girls will be appealed by it, and I’m sure it will sell by the lorry load. Depressingly.

  19. Vic
    3rd January 2012 / 2:02 pm

    Lego’s pink brick box? That’s been around for a good few years and nobody’s been complaining.
    Lego’s a great toy but until now it’s not really catered for ‘girly’ girls. The fact that we assume that the Friends range will be taken up by all girls shows more about our own thoughts than it does our kids.
    I grew up playing with pirates and Robin Hood Lego, pulled the heads off my barbies and cut the hair off girl’s world. Now I won’t leave the house without a face full of slap and a full set of nails. Tell me again how that one works?!

  20. 3rd January 2012 / 2:03 pm

    I agree with everything you said – it’s limiting and that’s what infuriates me. We have a lot of Playmobil and Flea can use female playmobil characters to play pirates, schools, hospitals, riding, flying – all sorts of crazy things. Where are those possibilities in this range? Grrr.

  21. 3rd January 2012 / 2:03 pm

    Yes, I agree – I’d just like to see more female characters in mainstream sets, rather than hiving off girls into this kind of twee product. As I commented above to Chris, Playmobil seems to have no issue doing this.

  22. 3rd January 2012 / 2:04 pm

    Ah, you still have your old LEGO? That’s brilliant!

  23. 3rd January 2012 / 2:04 pm

    Yes, of course you’re right that boys won’t want these sets because they are so strongly female. It’s disappointing on both counts.

  24. 3rd January 2012 / 2:13 pm

    Hmm.
    Well, I think the billions of dollars poured into marketing pink toys for girls that present stereotypical gender roles and discourage girls from role-playing outside a narrow set of options would suggest it’s a tactic that’s highly effective – although I concede you may be right and it’s just my bad parenting, or lack of parenting ability.
    My argument here is that these toys limit children’s play. I know you’re a LEGO ambassador and a big fan of LEGO, which is fine – we’re all allowed a different perspective and if you’re happy for your daughter to play with this kind of product, then that’s great, but I can’t help being disappointed that a range of toys for girls is so narrow in its scope, and also in its function (the girls’ sets are designed to be simpler than the boys’ sets).
    Flea has female Playmobil characters who are archaeologists, doctors, deep sea divers, aeroplane captains, pirates – I just think it’s a shame LEGO didn’t go more down this route.

  25. 3rd January 2012 / 2:14 pm

    Indeed – it mystifies me why we go out of our way to teach children gender difference at an age where it doesn’t exist. And fundamentally, as parents, we’re just pandering to retailers who want to sell more stuff – because you need to buy 2 sets of everything, now, don’t you?

  26. 3rd January 2012 / 2:16 pm

    Yes, it’s the battling against that I find so wearying. Why should I have to? The answer of course is, I should vote with my wallet, which I intend to – by not buying this and sticking to buying what I now realise is “LEGO for boys”.

  27. 3rd January 2012 / 2:17 pm

    Interesting – but would you prefer to see more unisex LEGO aimed at boys and girls (and with a combination of boy and girl roles) or perhaps “girls” LEGO that presented girls with slightly more positive role models? OR do you think it doesn’t really matter?

  28. 3rd January 2012 / 2:19 pm

    I complained. And I bought blue. And I don’t think I’m the only one.
    Why should all toys cater to “girly girls”? Why can’t any toys be unisex? And why is it okay to present a miniature world for girls where they’re limited to putting on lipstick and doing their hair? It’s just disappointing to me, but I’m strongly feminist, and such things are particularly sad when it comes from a company like LEGO.

  29. 3rd January 2012 / 3:26 pm

    So I got to the first page and yeuch! Really! I can’t even see my daughter wanting these and she does have some girle things before I get shouted at. I was actually suprised. the other day when the Rainbow Magic books that someone bought her for Christmas went down so well. But the Lego Friends – seriously I think they needed to check how many girls bought their ‘boy’ range! I’m fed up with all this well its a boy toy. I may even have to go away and rant somewhere else now!!
    BNM

  30. Lauren
    3rd January 2012 / 3:29 pm

    I would have hated this as a kid. I did play with some “girl” toys (Polly in my pocket and Pet Hospital, to name but a couple), but they were only because of what I could do with them in my imagination, rather than the fact that they were “intended” for my gender. These LEGO toys, however, seem like they would limit, rather than expand, a young girls playing with and interacting with LEGO. I thought (perhaps naively) that toys were beginning to make cautious moves away from such narrow-minded and restrictive gender stereotypes….

  31. 3rd January 2012 / 3:32 pm

    I think it looks like a great range, and yes I would buy it and probably will as my 6 year old daughter loves everything pink and girly and I know that she’d adore it, so should I not buy something for her because of principles that she won’t yet understand?
    There’s plenty of what I would call unisex Lego out there and I also think there are plenty of Lego ranges that seemed to be aimed at the male of the species so I don’t see why there shouldn’t be a range aimed at the girls. It often feels like everyone tries to fight against the pink for girls thing but not so much where boys are concerned. If this was a new Lego range launched for boys would there be so much dialogue on it? I very much doubt it.
    Life’s too short to get het up about things like this I think. It’s just a toy. I think NOT buying something for children because it’s against your own ideas of what is right, is just as stifling as someone only buying girls pink toys. When my daughter grows up and her only ambition is to wear heels, pink lipstick and go shopping then I’ll have to hold my hands up and say I was wrong but until then, she can play with whatever she chooses.
    This from the mother who TODAY bought a box of pink Lego. I’ll get my coat.

  32. 3rd January 2012 / 3:42 pm

    Oh, I agree with you 100%. I have been known to have a little bit of a rant about toys and why they’re targeted towards specific genders.
    We’re still only on Duplo at our house but I don’t understand why a girls range needs to be introduced. We have girl figures in our sets, all fondly named Betty, who aren’t all dressed in pink skirts but are in fact zookeepers and vets. What is wrong with that?
    BUT despite my opinion, I do have friends with girls who would never consider buying them Lego so at least this might make them introduce it to their daughters.

  33. 3rd January 2012 / 4:04 pm

    Lego to me has always been unisex regardless of the colour or picture on the box. Which is why i may be missing the point a bit?
    My children play with toys, some happen to be pink & some happen to be blue but they play with what they choose, not what I vet for them. I don’t deny my Girl a pretty impressive collection of little pet shops despite the fact I think they are grotesque and overpriced.
    There are parents out there that for whatever reason see Lego as a “boys toy” and not even a horsebox or campervan will encourage them to even consider purchasing a single brick for their little girl.
    All you have to do is look down the ‘pink’ aisle in any toy shop to see that companies are cashing in and just when you’ve taken out that second mortgage to complete your puppy in my pocket collection (including the puppy palace and the limited edition glitter ones) whammo – kitty in my pocket appears and the whole sorry saga begins again. Why is this any different? By Introducing this range Lego are tapping into that demographic. – Clever Lego!!! Just carry on as normal & ignore it.
    Rest assured there’ll be a new Lego “power Atlantis ninja wars” range each year for those who don’t like “girl toys”.

  34. 3rd January 2012 / 4:23 pm

    I think you are slightly missing the point. I’m not opposed to the idea of there being a girls’ range of LEGO. As I said, I can see the current ranges are quite boy-centric and therefore as a commercial decision LEGO has invented a product that will appeal to children who prefer stereotypically girlie toys. I’m not an advocate of censorship. But why must “girls” toys be so bloody limited? Why, if my child wants a girls’ toy, is she presented with such a narrow range of opportunities? Yes, we can buy young girls the boys’ ranges if they prefer them but the message they’re getting, loud and clear, in letters of neon is that they are not playing with a “proper” girls toy. Because “proper” girls play with hair and purses and make-up and worry about being pretty.
    Why can’t “proper” girls be brave and ambitious, or criminals, or pirates, or dinosaur hunters? Why is that what boys are? We are introducing children to the idea of gender difference before it exists, purely to fall in line with commercial interests, and serve the needs of big business.
    I have a daughter who likes to play pirates, who likes swords and shields. She builds rockets. She wants to be a diver. And every time we turn on the TV or open a magazine or look at a toy store, she is bombarded with powerful, sophisticated messages telling her that isn’t what girls are supposed to do. She’s supposed to shut up and put some more braids in her hair, and top up her lipgloss.
    Now obviously I battle against those messages. We have had the mantra “only idiots think there’s such a thing as boys and girls toys” since she could sit up. But I’m one voice against billions of marketing dollars and thousands of sophisticated images a day. And yes – it’s depressing.
    Perhaps you didn’t grow up as a tomboy, and perhaps you’re not raising a tomboy. But I did, and I am. And I know that being constantly told you’re not doing things “normal” girls do gets wearing after a while. And I would just love my daughter to be able to play with whatever she likes while celebrating being female and feminine. But I suspect it’s just too much to ask.
    And I’m sorry if people think this makes me an idiot and a bad parent, but it’s my blog, my opinion, and I am perfectly willing to admit that this range made me feel sad.

  35. 3rd January 2012 / 4:28 pm

    I wish there were more toys not aimed at either boys or girls. I think what I’d really love is a range of “classic” LEGO – something boys or girls might be tempted to play with, or really just a MASSIVE box of LEGO bricks so kids could build their own stuff more easily.

  36. 3rd January 2012 / 4:28 pm

    I hoped so, too – didn’t Hamleys just get rid of its boys’ and girls’ floors?

  37. 3rd January 2012 / 4:31 pm

    See my comment above. I’m not opposed to pink in principle and I certainly don’t censor.
    But I’m sad when toy companies steer girls towards specific sets and give a very clear message that these (simpler, less challenging sets) are for them and the other (more complex, adventurous) sets are for boys. Kids are very susceptible to that, I think.
    Second, by all means make a girls’ range – some kids will love it, and that’s all well and good – but could the female characters be a bit less drippy? A bit less shallow? A bit less sexualised?

  38. 3rd January 2012 / 4:32 pm

    Yes, it will be interesting to see if overall sales increase, or whether it’s just that girls migrate away from traditional LEGO towards the gender-specific ranges.

  39. 3rd January 2012 / 5:01 pm

    Interesting that you should right this as I was in the toy shop last week with a friend and he commented how LEGO used to be about making stuff whereas now you gert a moulded carcass of eg a helicopter or fire engine, and you only have to add a few bricks for the detail. Do they think our children aren’t as capable as we were at creating things from scratch?

  40. 3rd January 2012 / 7:39 pm

    I have to admit to being a little excited when I saw the new Lego range, its not that I believe girls should play with pink and boys blue, but its nice there is an option.
    My three year old tells me she ‘hates pink and wants to wear boys trousers’. She also can be found most days dressed up as a pirate, so I know will love pirate Lego as much as her brother, but if she did want something pink I don’t see an issue with that.
    I really believe Lego is a great creative and learning toy, but there are some girly girls who perhaps wouldn’t be interested in the more boyish sets, is it not better that they have something rather than miss out on the whole Lego experience?
    I am however disappointed by the moulded figures, I don’t think there is any need for that.
    I’d like to point out that I am not girly, and have many boxes of my childhood train set lego in our playroom.
    It’s quite an interesting discussion. Moving away from Lego, I noticed that there is a range of science sets aimed at girls, where they make perfume and face masks. Now those, I absolutely would not buy. I’ll stick to rocket and slime making, I’m now however wondering how that fits with my Lego argument. 🙂

  41. 3rd January 2012 / 7:50 pm

    Well Firstly BB is the Duplo Ambassador I’m just the responsible adult who agreed to it, small difference but as you point it out I feel I should clarify it. This doesn’t mean that I have to rate Lego products as being the best, nor does it mean that I jump to Lego’s defence what I did mean to do by commenting on this post and creating my own over at PippaWorld.com was to point out that just because you and the others who dislike that some girls toys are pink can shout loudly doesn’t mean you are right.
    Yes, there is a fortune put into toy marketing, both boys and girls. Yes most of the toys aimed at girls are pink or lilac and the ones aimed at boys are primary colours but so what? Who says you have to buy a “girl” toy for a girl and a “boy” toy for a boy? Nobody. If you don’t want them then don’t buy them.
    I don’t understand why you say that these toys limit children’s play. I imagine that children playing with them use their imaginations when playing. I know that my children don’t just play one game with their toys and I’m certain that children feel these toys are real characters rather than bits of plastic.
    Tops has told me about this range as she had been researching for her birthday presents and she looked at these. As far as I understand you can put them together into buildings and you can then play a game with them… which sounds just like the so called normal Lego. So, they are more simple to put together. Well I’m going to guess that these Lego’s aren’t aimed at the consumers who already buy Lego and so a simpler approach was thought necessary to introduce them to Lego sets. Yes Lego is dead simple to put together but as they are reaching to a market that hasn’t been playing with Lego sets I can see why they were cautious. Who knows seeing as these haven’t been out for too long maybe the next sets will have more pieces or will be more complicated?
    Well done for Playmobil but surely if Lego copied this then people would just claim they were copying Playmobil? I haven’t ever cared if the toy I was playing with was a man or a woman, to me all that mattered was that it was a toy… and I’m pretty sure that children haven’t changed too much since I was young.
    I’m not entirely sure seeing as we don’t have a lot of Playmobil but don’t they do the pink and blue packaging thing? Isn’t that something that you should be “shouting” about rather than a toy that you aren’t ever going to buy but depresses you enough to write a blog post about?

  42. 3rd January 2012 / 7:57 pm

    Ok – having only just heard about this range I admit to not knowing much about the “new female characters” that Lego have developed specifically with girls in mind. So I went back to look & noted that the sets included a tree house & invention workshop. I then looked at the profiles of each girl who listed their likes, hobbies, skills and ambitions as…..
    Inventing & building, reading maps, navigation by stars, science, hiking, photography, computers & computer games, soccer, sports, working outside, canoeing, playing drums, crafts & interior design, remodelling. Martial arts, theatre, drama, composing own songs. They wanted to be journalist or editor, animal psychologist, designer, singer songwriter and scientist or engineer!
    I couldn’t actually see the parts that mentioned lip gloss, hair braids, hanging out at the mall or a desire to be the next Amy Childs
    I also think that the girls don’t look over sexualised, scantily clad, tarty or overly curvatious at all
    It appears that Lego have done their homework and not only produced a range for girls but have included some positive role models into the mix.
    I don’t think you are an idiot and you are no worse a parent than I am. You are right I don’t know what it’s like to be a tomboy or raise a tomboy, in the same way I suppose you could say that you don’t know what it’s like to raise a girly girl who loves all things pink. Just because some girls prefer princesses and ponies this doesn’t mean that we are raising fragile non-ambitious women or that we agree with many of the toys aimed at girls and the negative messages they send out. But in this instance I don’t think the Lego friends range are guilty as charged.

  43. 3rd January 2012 / 8:52 pm

    I suspect the difference in our opinion is that I think children are influenced by marketing messages, you don’t. I sincerely hope you’re right, but I fear you’re not, as since this is my blog, I get to write about that. I don’t think anything here was “shouting”. I think I said I love LEGO but I’m disappointed. Is that “shouting loudly”?
    Obviously you think I’m talking bollocks. That’s fair enough and thanks for taking the time to comment and share your views, which I think are really interesting. But if you don’t mind, on this one I reserve the right to disagree.

  44. 3rd January 2012 / 8:55 pm

    Thanks for commenting – I can see where you’re coming from, to an extent. Perhaps I’m being judgmental and it’s fine for girls to want to be princesses and beauty parlour owners. I don’t know. It just doesn’t sit easy for me – but I’ve chatted with LEGO today and will be trying some of the range out, so if I change my mind, I’ll let you know!

  45. Michelle Twin Mum
    3rd January 2012 / 9:25 pm

    My girls have already seen these and informed me they will be on their birthday lists. They are both avid lego builders already and are keen to add a bit of girly stuff to their box.
    I do not have a problem with them having girly stuff but I would not force it on them. In this house they just get taught to aim for the stars and follow their dreams, wherever that may take them.
    Very interesting debate you have provoked Sally.
    Mich x

  46. 3rd January 2012 / 9:35 pm

    What a lovely philosophy you have for your girls. I agree with you to an extent – we certainly don’t ban pink or hate pink (well, Flea does, but that’s another matter). I just want the girls in pink to be doing awesome things, too.

  47. 3rd January 2012 / 10:01 pm

    What a fabulous and vital piece. It’s a crying shame that Lego have created stereotypical, archaic notions of who girls should be and as much as it’s about choice (ie. choosing not to buy), making toys that aspire to be WAGS which is what they essentially are, sends out a limiting, misogynist view of women and what aspirations they are permitted to have. I’m appalled. The suffragettes are turning in their graves.

  48. 3rd January 2012 / 11:32 pm

    Well if Flea really hates the range we’ll happily give it a loving home when you’re done with it 😉
    This has sparked an interesting conversation with my 7 year old Girl this evening… I asked her if she was a tomboy, she stood with her waist-long hair she refuses to cut or tie back and pink dog PJ’s and answered without hesitation “yes” I then asked her if boys were better than girls to which she replied “no” – are girls better than boys then? “no” why? I asked her to which she shrugged and responded “they’re just the same”
    I then settled down to read yet another painful chapter of “holly the Christmas fairy” from the rainbow fairies range which we have been ‘reading’ since september (and i cant make it go away). *sigh*

  49. 3rd January 2012 / 11:36 pm

    Sorry but these “Lego friends” don’t aspire to be wags at all they like computers, football and martial arts and want to be scientists engineers and journalists!

  50. 3rd January 2012 / 11:40 pm

    How exactly are young girls to deduce this – because the beauty parlour and the pink butterfly notebook and the lipstick don’t say “I’m doing cool science experiments” to me…maybe it will be evident when I look at the toy itself, I should reserve judgment, I guess.

  51. 3rd January 2012 / 11:46 pm

    Ha! Glad to have escaped those books, at least.
    The flip side of the coin is for every kid who thinks boys and girls are the same, there are 10 who are raised differently. This I know, because my daughter isn’t invited to birthday parties by several of the girls in her class, because they know that Flea “doesn’t like playing with girls toys” or “playing girls’ games”. These are children of 5 and 6. It’s just a shame, is all. I’d love to see more toys aimed at both boys and girls, or at least less of a division in the marketing.
    That said, if Flea doesn’t like the toys, we’ll know who to pass them on to 🙂

  52. 4th January 2012 / 12:35 am

    And my boy (8) missed out on a lot of parties at his previous school because he’s not really into football or running around like a Tasmanian devil. Pink was his favourite colour until he started primary school and bowed to peer pressure. Now if you serve him food on his “favourite pink plate” he will accuse you of trying to poison him! I never told him pink was only for girls – society did!
    I think toys have actually come a long way since tin cars and china dolls and I think Lego is one of the champions of unisex toys along with playmobil and MB games. I think toy manufacturers are listening to parents , ELC began manufacturing their role-play household in primary colours so boys could play with “girls toys”, but I think we are all going to have to accept that the division will always be there. At least now it is more socially acceptable to be seen in the supermarket with your son pushing a toy pram or for your daughter to go out dressed as Spiderman
    Flea is blessed to have a mother who embraces her preferences, who doesn’t try to pigeonhole her, imagine if she was one of the other ten who’s mother insisted she wear a dress!

  53. 4th January 2012 / 1:04 am

    Fair comment, there are dozens of toys aimed at girls on the shelves that do imply that girls have to wear make up & dress in a certain way to be accepted & popular and I agree that this is not right.
    I think the Lego friends home page is a problem and misleading, they have cartoonised and humanised the girls rather than make them look more like the (slightly oversized) mini figures they are. It is easy for parents sick of Bratz, Barbie, Polly Pocket et al to draw conclusions (myself included) and dismiss the product outright before even giving it a chance.
    I’ll look forward to reading your review Sally

  54. 4th January 2012 / 12:07 pm

    Not in the UK, unfortunately – but it’s a fun idea (if a little costly – I bet a 15c a brick, it soon adds up!)

  55. Nikki
    5th January 2012 / 11:29 am

    Well said Sally. I think the sheer number of like-minded responses you’ve received back you up also. End of 🙂
    PS Would still be interested in hearing what Lego have to say….

  56. katie
    10th January 2012 / 1:37 pm

    Totally agree. As a mum to boy aged 4 and a girl aged 3 I’ve found my daughter loves to play the ‘boys’ games, and my little boy happily cares for one of the dolls or cuddly toys that share our home. I avoid pink toys or those that i think restrict play in one direction. I can’t ban pink, my daughter loves being girly too, but so too does she love to build a train track, and hurl dinosaurs around in moon sand. I love that my children play together using their imaginations, making whatever they want from the huge box of lego they share. I recently discovered you can by boxes of wheels, or doors and windows – essential for house building projects. Our preschool ran a little project last year to see if the girls would be more inclined to play with the lego if it was pink – they didn’t. I guess some love to build, and some don’t.
    My friend runs an organization dedicated to tackling the rising issue of gender specific toys and segregation, and successfully tackled some retailers on the issue. Just shows how many of us just want our children to be children and play without stereotypes.

  57. 16th January 2012 / 3:09 pm

    I have a three year old daughter and she loves pink things and girly things. She also loves typical boy stuff like dinosaurs, fire engines, cars, train sets etc. However, don’t get me started on this new Lego Friends!!!! Now I love Lego and like you always saw it to be a unisex toy. However on closer inspection I guess the current sets are kind of aimed at “boys” things – space, pirates, Star Wars or whatever. Therefore I didn’t really see the harm in a few “girls” sets. After all whatver it takes to get more children involved in what is essentially a fabulous toy! But…… I am so disappointed in the new characters. They’re not Lego characters. In fact when I first saw the advert for it on the telly I didn’t even realise it was Lego. It’s really stupid because it means the sets aren’t compatible. Mr Spaceman Lego piece can’t come into the cafe for example or have a go at inventing something in the lab. This means instead of encourage girls and boys to play Lego together you’re going get the boys playing with their sets and the girl’s separately with theirs. Totally defeats the object. Grrrrr.

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