What’s all the fuss about Lego for girls?
As soon as the toy giant announced its new range, even before most people could get their hands on it, there was an outcry among certain camps.
Some called it ‘patronising’, even ‘sexist’ and soon enough, there was a Facebook campaign set up.
I find the whole thing a bit OTT. As adults we’re often trying to impose our own ideals on our young ones.
But the stark reality is that kids are who they are. And since becoming a mum and observing many munchkins up close, I’ve come to the not very scientific conclusion that most boys are indeed little martians and most girls do come from Planet Pink.
So what’s the big deal about Lego offering something different from what, let’s face it, has become predominantly boy-focused?
I was invited to check out the new line at a London launch event.
From billboards, I’d imagined Lego Friends would be bigger, clunkier and more Bratz-like. Actually they’re just as tiddly and fiddly to put together as your typical Lego figurine.
There are 5 characters in the range, Olivia, Mea, Andrea, Stephanie and Emma – and yes they do look like a sort of miniature Spice Girls except only Andrea’s the rock star. The others’ day jobs range from inventor to chef, with personal workstations and accessories.
What really rocks about Lego is the attention to detail and you get nothing less here, from the range of tools in Olivia’s workshop to the cupcakes in the cafe.
I took a couple of Lego Friends sets** over to my nieces, ages 6 and 7 (the range is aimed at girls 5-12) and they literally tore into the packets, squealing. It was so sweet to watch them build and rebuild (well, for the first half hour anyway!) and even Ezra, who’d greeted the sets with ‘ewww, Lego for girls?!’ was drawn to the action for a minute.
Lego Friends is not for everyone, agreed, but I can only think of one girl I know in its target demographic who wouldn’t go nuts for the line.
What I do find patronising is the notion that letting girls play with dolls and dress-up, or Lego’s new ladyfigs, is somehow limiting their imaginations or inspiring them to grow up to be vapid, TOWIE types.
I adored my Barbies and hairdressing sets as a child and it certainly didn’t turn me into a dolly bird. Sure we can ask questions about gender, beauty and racial stereotyping of all the major merchandising brands, but how come nobody was digging at Lego before for its heavy focus on machismo fantasy?
If I had a daughter, I’d have no more issues with her preferring Lego Friends over traditional blocks (or vice versa) than I worry about whether my son spending 3 hours shooting toy bullets at a window (a present from his uncle) will turn him into Charlton Heston.
Kids are kids and toys are toys. It’s not that deep.
Lego Friends is available at select toy stores and on the official web site
**goody bag samples