Feeds

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

Girls get pink-boxed dollhouses, boys get to build

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

'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.

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Next page: Ninjago... FIGHT!

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Special pleading against mass surveillance won't help anyone
Protecting journalists alone won't protect their sources
Big Content Australia just blew a big hole in its credibility
AHEDA's research on average content prices did not expose methodology, so appears less than rigourous
Vodafone to buy 140 Phones 4u stores from stricken retailer
887 jobs 'preserved' in the process, says administrator PwC
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.