Posts Tagged ‘Barbie’

LEGO Friends or Foe?

August 20, 2013

Hi all, I know I fell completely off the blog register. Traveling to two LEGO Conventions in less than two weeks will do that to you. That and the current commission I’m working on have sapped all my time. I will be writing posts on both BrickFair Virginia and Bricks by the Bay a little later, but a recent post on GeekMom really jumped out to me.

The issue was LEGO Friends. GeekMom Cristen Pantano was like many others before LEGO Friends was out. She wanted to hate it for all the gender stereotypes that it “perpetuated.”

This Studs comic from FBTB showed how silly it all was becoming.

So LEGO Friends came out, and soon became one of the best selling lines of LEGO. And yet still the taint of them being “for girls” left a bad taste that for some it couldn’t shake.

I 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 rest of my LEGO.

And that’s where GeekMom Cristen Pantano comes in. Oh she fought it, but when her daughter finally started asking for LEGO of her own instead of playing with her brother’s Cristen gave in and actually bought a couple sets.

No surprise to me, her daughter loved them. And now her daughter plays with both her LEGO and her brother’s.

You can read the whole article here, but to sum it up:

The most important thing is that girls are now building. They are gaining confidence, developing spatial and math skills, figuring out how things work, and having fun. There are aspects of the line that I do not agree with. I think that the animated characters on the web page are too old and sexualized for the target audience and our daughter is a bit confused why all of her boxes and instructions are purple. Maybe this line could have been sold with boy and girl mini-figs, since boys like my son and his friends love her kits too.

I had to respond on the post, heck I couldn’t help it. Here’s part of what I wrote:

Many people who were complaining about with the Friends line never took into account that Friends was an addition, not a substitution for “regular” LEGO. I’m all for new parts and colors — any colors. I like the new Legends of Chima theme for the same reason — new parts and colors. I’m not a big fan of those animal minifigs either, but I still like all the bright orange and olive green parts that come in the sets. LEGO isn’t about one particular theme. The whole point is for ALL the bricks from all the themes to be mixed together to create something new.

I’m glad she’s come around. I just wish she had bought the sets before she complained about them. What really surprises me is that there’s no petitions and ranting blog posts over the new Mega Blocs Barbie sets which are pretty much exactly what they were complaining about with LEGO Friends — Just saying. 😉

Mega Bloks Barbie

September 28, 2012

I rarely, very very rarely, report on clone brands, but I really couldn’t pass this one up. Apparently Mega Bloks is feeling the strain from LEGO Friends and will start their own girl specific line partnered with Mattel’s Barbie and, since we can’t leave the boys out of it, Hot Wheels.

Barbie® and Hot Wheels® to be First Mattel Brands Included in New Collection

This strategic alliance leverages the MEGA Bloks brand and its expertise by bringing Mattel’s most powerful properties to life in the fast-growing construction toy category.

The Mega Bloks Barbie™ collection will provide girls with a completely new Barbie play experience. With a focus on creative play and customization, the possibilities are endless. The line will feature Barbie and her friends in a buildable world of fashion and dream locations.

The Mega Bloks Hot Wheels™ collection will center on performance, stunts and the coolest cars. Boys can customize through construction, as vehicle play and construction toys merge to create and build a world of speed and excitement.

“Our exciting partnership with category leader, MEGA Brands, will offer both boys and girls a new way to play with their favorite brands,” says Rosa Zeegers, Senior Vice President Global Consumer Products Licensing for Mattel. “We look forward to continuing to build upon the transformative play experience girls have come to expect when they play with Barbie as well as giving boys the steering wheel to customize their own Hot Wheels brand products.”

Via Newswire

We’ll have to wait till next year to see what the sets look like, but I’m not holding my breath.

Are LEGO sets gender biased?

August 16, 2010

LEGO Collectable Minifigs Series 2 - Captions!

There has been a discussion going on lately on the Flickr group FFOL Brick Chick (Female Fans of LEGO) on whether LEGO as a company is gender biased or if it is the parents that buy into the stereotype that LEGO is a boy’s toy. Now with only 40 members in the FFOL group and 6,220 members in the LEGO Flickr group this is a valid point of discussion.

Here’s a little bit of what I said on FFOL:

I think it is a little bit of both the parents steroetyping and LEGO itself for still not getting what girls want. Even while LEGO tries to make inroads with female LEGO fans, they still mainly market and produce sets for boys.

No, I didn’t see LEGO as a gender biased toy growing up, but then again, I was more of a tomboy than a girlie-girl anyways. But even I made mostly houses and castles as a child. In fact the whole reason I got into LEGO was that I saw it as miniature houses that I could take apart and build in what ever way I wanted.

As I got older and realized that I was the odd girl out with most of my friends and family (heck, I took all my brothers’ LEGO when they grew out of it) and that most girls, including my sister stopped playing with LEGO when they were still kids. I also realized how much LEGO miss marketed their products, making it very clear what the “girl” sets were with pastels and pinks in the sets.

In fact, it seems that they were less gender biased when I was a kid in the 80s. At least then they didn’t make all the girl’s sets pink. Granted, that was because they didn’t have pink or much more than the six colors at that point but still.

According to Steve Witt, there is a new line of girls sets coming out next year that “is nothing like you’ve seen before” (direct quote). And that these new sets will have four new colors. I’ll still wait and see on that one.

But at the same time, I also asked Mads Nipper if they were ever going to produce a dollhouse-like set. He said no, and yet now we have the new city set that I could only call a dollhouse.

My real question is this — does LEGO even realize what constitutes as a girls versus a boys set? My own conclusion is no. I honestly don’t think LEGO even knows what they already have and what they need.

In the New York Times there was a recent article that talked about this:

There’s a particular kind of story one reads occasionally, making fun of the worst excesses of political correctness. But this entry is about the other extreme—a toy manufacturer so far in the dark ages that even Don Draper might snicker. I’m told that the latest craze among the toddler set is Lego Minifigures—little people to inhabit the recently-built creations of your own little person. I’ve been looking forward to the day I can build Lego houses with my daughter. But we won’t be playing with these Minifigures. You see, there are sixteen characters in the set, but only two are female. That’s the sort of gender ratio you see at a typical economics conference, but even we economists know that we need to do better. But the lesson that Lego leaves for impressionable minds is even worse. The two female characters are a cheerleader and a nurse. Even on Mad Men, Peggy Olson rose to copywriter.

Even Barbie stopped saying “Math class is tough” eighteen years ago.

Now knowing what I know of how LEGO is trying to find a better balance of male/female sets and representation, this article is a little harsh. But at the same time, even the next Collectible Minifigure series is stereotypical = pop singer, witch, and “baywatch” babe lifeguard for the female figs. Females can just as easily be Karate masters, surfers, etc., etc.

Of course since they are minifigs, you could always make the “boy” figures “girl” figures and vise-versa. 😉

So what do you think? And what can we do to change it?