Feeds

It's Lego's 80th birthday party, but only the boys are invited

Girls get pink-boxed dollhouses, boys get to build

Build a business case: developing custom apps

'Welcome to beauuutiful Heartlake City'

Equipped with its mysterious research, Lego decided to do something to entice girls to buy its products. That something is Lego Friends, a pastel pink and purple world where mini-doll characters can indulge their vanity at the local beauty salon, cook and bake at the cafe or pet animals at the animal hospital.

Aside from its nods to every stereotype going about what it is that girls should be doing - cooking, playing house, caregiving, taking care of their looks so they can be sure to bag a man some day - the Friends sets seem to do their best to take actual construction out of girl's play. And that's caused a lot of worry for parents, who are well aware that Lego has been shown to have a whole host of benefits for kids, including helping spatial reasoning, fine motor skills and maths, not to mention encouraging independent play and accomplishment.

With Friends, the familiar green bases are there to build on, but instead of constructing the cafe, pet parlour or treehouse from bricks, whole walls and other big pieces are used to minimise the phase where the girl actually builds anything.

Lego Friends Emma small

Then it's basically a straight-up doll set with different characters that are "mini-dolls" instead of the usual yellow-headed minifigs. The traditional minifig was basically genderless for a long time before the advent of Lego systems with more detailed stories like Lego Pirates, or from the movies like Lego Star Wars. In those systems, minifigs were given details like eyepatches, more expression and closer resemblance to the movie characters they're supposed to represent.

In Friends, that animation has been taken one step further. Instead of any kind of minifig, the set has dolls that are taller and look more like adult women, with curves and skirts.

Up until the early '80s, Lego was clearly marketed to both boys and girls. Ads in the early 1980s still show girls and boys building and playing together with the bricks, although most often with the general bucket of bricks concept instead of the systems.

Lego systems are the different lines of the toys that are seen nowadays, Lego Star Wars, Lego City, Ninjago or Lego Friends. Each set from a system fits into that world, although of course the bricks are compatible across the ranges.

Lego City is the modern incarnation of basic Lego, which started out with sets mirroring real life - houses, cars, aeroplanes - and then moved into the occasional fantasy set like castles with knights.

A new approach to endpoint data protection

Next page: Ninjago... FIGHT!

More from The Register

next story
Amazon says Hachette should lower ebook prices, pay authors more
Oh yeah ... and a 30% cut for Amazon to seal the deal
Philip K Dick 'Nazi alternate reality' story to be made into TV series
Amazon Studios, Ridley Scott firm to produce The Man in the High Castle
Nintend-OH NO! Sorry, Mario – your profits are in another castle
Red-hatted mascot, red-colored logo, red-stained finance books
Sonos AXES support for Apple's iOS4 and 5
Want to use your iThing? You can't - it's too old
Joe Average isn't worth $10 a year to Mark Zuckerberg
The Social Network deflates the PC resurgence with mobile-only usage prediction
Feel free to BONK on the TUBE, says Transport for London
Plus: Almost NOBODY uses pay-by-bonk on buses - Visa
Twitch rich as Google flicks $1bn hitch switch, claims snitch
Gameplay streaming biz and search king refuse to deny fresh gobble rumors
Stick a 4K in them: Super high-res TVs are DONE
4,000 pixels is niche now... Don't say we didn't warn you
prev story

Whitepapers

7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
A new approach to endpoint data protection
What is the best way to ensure comprehensive visibility, management, and control of information on both company-owned and employee-owned devices?