When the female-skewing Lego Friends series launched, it was met with incredible backlash. Many consumers thought the company was gender stereotyping with the pink and purple bricks often depicting more domestic scenes than what Lego had been manufacturing, what with their rescue sets and Star Wars tableaus (as if girls weren’t invited to play with those somehow). Funny, but as a child I don’t recall wishing that I had pastel-colored Legos or dreamhouse-specific accessories that were brick-shaped. If I wanted to build a dreamhouse out of Legos, I did. Using the Legos I had. It’s called…creativity.
But, let’s take a look at the numbers. Turns out, these Lego Friends sets SOLD.
At least 3 were sold this month, for my daughter’s birthday.
Do I love that the sets dictate you must put the pieces together in a certain way to get your cafe or ice cream parlor built? No. Do I like that they come with no male characters, furthering the gender stereotype of females left to serve food and drink to others? No. Does my kid seem interested in building these pre-fab scenes? Not at the moment. She and her brother prefer to collaborate on Lego projects and since he’s 3, these littler bricks are harder to handle. I’ll keep watching to see if he chooses to play with them when HE turns 6.
This year, we’ve got a new toy for girls. Marketed to girls. GoldieBlox is an erector sets of sorts that weave in aspects of reading and characters. It’s also very pink and purple.
Awesome right? Did you catch they used the Ok Go video Rube Goldberg builder person? So good!
But I’m still having a tough time with these “girl versions” of what I SUPPOSE had been male-oriented types of toys: WERE Legos and Erector sets truly intended for boys, just because they didn’t have pastel-colored components or scenes with baby horses and vanity sets?
My main complaint about the Lego Friends sets is that there seem to be very few creative opportunities. Each set is a…set…meant to be put together in a certain way to yield the what the box shows you. Ok, so that’s like a model airplane. I get it. But where’s the innovation. That is where I’m hoping GoldieBlox will swoop in, with their promise of “unlimited building possibilities.” I like it.
So I think I see GoldieBlox taking off. Here’s the thing, those Lego Friends sets? HUGE uptick in sales for Lego. But I wonder – was it because girls didn’t want to play with Legos in their previous incarnations? Or was it because those with the purchasing power (um, adults, unless you know any 6-year-olds who control the purse strings in the family) THOUGHT girls would like these new ice cream colored building sets?
Hands down, I am glad to see toy developers considering what may be unique aspects of how SOME girls play. I am. I just don’t think it should become the new norm. Segregating toys whose aims are for kids to grow their motor, collaborative and engineering skills I see as counter-productive. Shouldn’t we be valuing an all-inclusive scenario? I mean, I don’t work with all females. I don’t interact with just women. I live in a co-ed world.
And…what if some boys want to play with GoldieBlox? Will they be made to feel like these toys really aren’t for them? That, I can’t get with. So what’s the message we’re sending with these candy-colored versions of playsets marketed to and for girls?
What is YOUR take on painting it all pink?