LEGO Friends — Controversial or Cool?

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If you’ve been paying attention at all to the buzz around the internet, you’ve probably seen at least on or several posts or articles about the LEGO Friends line. When I first heard about a new girl theme coming out over a year and a half ago at the LEGO Conventions I kept hearing “It’s unlike anything you’ve seen before.”

My reaction, like most AFOLs (Adult Fans of LEGO), was — we’ll see.

The first low-res pictures didn’t do much to sway my cynical opinion. It looked like a rehashing of older themes. Once I finally saw good quality pictures, I thought it looked a lot like Polly Pocket. And it does. But so do a lot of other toys geared towards girls.

Unlike previous girl LEGO lines, LEGO Friends was widely promoted by the company. And almost before the first press release got out, the backlash started.

“LEGO already has a LEGOs for girls — they are called LEGOs” one person touted (and I apologize to all who cringe when an “s” is added to LEGO).

This comic posted on FBTB.net showed another side of it.

But what a lot of those who are complaining don’t know, or don’t care to research. Is that this is hardly the first time LEGO has made girl sets. They’ve been doing it for decades. Ever since the first Homemaker sets in 1971, LEGO has made sets clearly geared towards girls. That’s over 30 years people!

So why now? Well part of it is just because these naysayers can. Part of it is because LEGO didn’t promote previous incarnations like Belville and Scala as strongly as LEGO Friends. So all of these people who never really paid attention to LEGO themes before are taking sides over LEGO Friends. There’s even a petition to stop LEGO Friends.

A petition? Really? Don’t we have anything else to worry about?

I admit, Belville, Scala, and Clickits were never my favorite lines. I felt and still feel that they were an insult to my intelligence. There were no difficult builds and the figures looked like Barbie for LEGO — especially Scala. The only girl lines I liked were the Homemaker line which is a little bit before my time, and Paradisa.

If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know I’m not a girly girl. In fact I took over my brothers’ LEGO bricks when they grew out of them. Something I never did. So even though I like Paradisa, it was too girly for me. I much preferred Castle or City — before it was populated only by cops, firemen, and robbers. I grew up in the golden age of LEGO when some of the truly great lines came out. I was just as into space and pirates as my brother (my little brother was a little too young at the time).

So when Scala and Belville were finally available in the US — they were originally only available in Europe — I was already a die-hard LEGO fan. These sets annoyed me and I ignored them. I refused to buy them because I didn’t like them. But what I didn’t realize was how many cool accessories there were. Food and cooking elements especially. So as I got more building savvy and started looking as sets more like parts packs and less like sets, I started to purchase Scala and Belville.

So what do I think of LEGO Friends? Well I wanted to wait until I had gotten some before I gave my opinion. I was getting more and more excited as I saw all the fun elements. And now that I have a couple sets I really, really like them.

Even with the images I’d seen of Friends to Minifig scale comparisons, I didn’t really appreciate how very small they Friends dolls are. They are tiny! Which naturally makes them cuter. They won’t replace my love for the Minifig, but they won’t be relegated to the back of the LEGO box either.

When I saw the sets in the stores I wanted to buy all of them! Okay, maybe that is my girly side coming out, but I am a girl, so that’s okay. ;)

Lots of non-LEGO people are complaining about the pink. But there is actually very little pink in the sets. And there are all these great new colors and parts! There are just as many, if not more, male AFOLs wanting these sets because of the accessories.

So in short — after this long rant — I like LEGO Friends. Is it exactly what I would have wanted as a child? No, but that’s what Modular Buildings are for. I do want all of the sets, if not multiples. I love the new accessories and colors. The MOC (my own creation) potential is very high! And I will be recommending them to everyone. I hope they come out with more. My opinion — Cool. :)

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7 Responses to “LEGO Friends — Controversial or Cool?”

  1. mezba Says:

    I like it. I don’t see anything offensive about Lego Friends, and provided Lego has the market research to back their strategy, I see the Lego Friends being a very successful series. I know my niece and her friends already love it. I think some feminists (some) tend to just find the latest thing to be angry about. In the end, it’s Lego, and we know Lego bricks are awesome!

  2. Siabur Says:

    I think they are okay. The parts potential is pretty good. The price isn’t bad either. The most important and best part in my opinion, it’s not a licensed theme and have the mark up to go with it.

  3. Purple Dave Says:

    I have no problem with the theme in general, nor the addition of new colors in general. My two specific complaints are about the mini-dolls and a personal issue with how the new colors affected one set in particular.

    The mini-dolls are the wrong answer to a problem that LEGO created. The only reason girls are likely to feel that minifigs are “for boys” is because 99% of the minifigs are male (or at least not recognizably female), and most instances where a female minifig was included in a standard theme you had to spend at least $50 to get one. I’ve personally witnessed girls going crazy over the handful of female Series 2 minifigs at the soft opening for the local LEGO Store, so there’s clearly interest out there if only they’d try to fill it. Then there are the construction issues that this causes. The mini-dolls are almost completely incompatible with standard minifigs (apart from being able to wear the same hairstyles and use most of the same handheld gear), and the same goes for almost anything that’s built for them. They can’t sit in a minifig seat, so the car design required a special piece that their feet will pinch to hold them in. Their feet aren’t square, so I doubt they’d be able to use minifig skis, though the surfboard/snowboard/skateboard range is open to them.

    The other problem I have is that the purple and blue car uses one of the new shades of blue. I was so hoping that it would be Medium-Blue, as I’ve been eagerly awaiting the day they’d release the car fenders in that color so I can make a decent version of the Weasley’s flying car and make a two-tone med-blue/white version of my 50′s hot rod. Sadly, I don’t think we’ll ever see the 1x3x2 doors in this new shade of blue, so I’m not sure if I’ll ever find a use for those fenders, short of making a drift-racer with that specific color scheme.

  4. LEGO FriendsHats and other thoughts « Modelbuildingsecrets's Weblog Says:

    [...] I mentioned in my previous post I was skeptical of LEGO Friends at first. But the more I see of the sets and the things that are [...]

  5. Minifig Fun Says:

    I have Olivia’s Treehouse, the cafe, and Emma’s pool. I just love all the new pieces like the cupcake, pie and animals. The mini doll figs are really cute, but I do wish they were more compatible with minifigs. I love how the minifigs move and you can change parts with other minifigs to get the look you want. Overall, I’m very happy with Friends and hope to get a few more sets. And I love your blog, just found it this evening. Thanks for all your great posts.

  6. Amber Ludwig Says:

    got my first Friends set Olivia’s Tree House for my birthday, and loving it! =D i plan to get a few more of it due to the need of the brown elements for a much larger MOC i’m working on, but back to the topic of Friends. i’m a Belville lover as well, and i love how the Friends look right at home with them. :D if you wanna pull the ‘they have breasts’ card, geeze, the Belville and Scala figures got those, too, in fact Scala dolls are basically Barbie dolls thrown into LEGO sets. :/ anyways, i love ‘em, and if you wanna complain about them not being able to function well with the minifigures, then think about the traditional ‘brick skirts’ of the female minifigs. seriously, with those all a girl could do was stand around and look pretty. i’m happy that LEGO finally made a ‘brick skirt’ that actually looks nice as well as provides some functionality. maybe not to the extent of standard LEGO minifig legs, but hey, it’s a step in the right direction! ;D plus having grown up on the classic vintage Poly Pockets, (not the new ones of today) it’s almost like re-living my childhood. =D bravo LEGO! =D

  7. LEGO Friends or Foe? | Modelbuildingsecrets's Weblog Says:

    […] wrote a whole post on the controversy. And I love my LEGO Friends parts (not so much the mini dolls) as I love all the […]

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