"LEGO is for girls", article in Businessweek

Posted by ,

There's an excellent article at Bloomberg Businessweek (that's actually easier to read on their mobile site) about the forthcoming launch of the Friends sets. It provides an interesting insight into how the theme was developed, how it caters for the different ways that girls play and why the sets have different-sized figures, 'ladyfigs' it calls them, because, apparently, "Let’s be honest: Girls hate [the minifigure]".

It states that they will be available "Dec. 26 in the U.K. and Jan. 1 in the U.S", although as you may have read in the forum, people in some European countries have been able to buy them already.

I like the quote at the end: "Oh, we’re going to buy Lego Friends," says Joe Meno (when asked about AFOL's view of them), “but we’re going to buy it for all the wrong reasons. We want the sets for the new colors. One of the colors is ideal for a Perry the Platypus I want to build.” The lady minifig, he predicts, “I’ll probably toss aside.” I think that pretty much captures my thoughts exactly!

39 comments on this article

Gravatar
By in Australia,

He may toss the fig, but I bet sure as hell that he will keep the hair piece.

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

"Let’s be honest: Girls hate [the minifigure]". Cripes - my 3 daughters have completely the opposite opinion!

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

I like the standard female minifigs, but when showing friends pictures of my recent purchases (e.g the wedding set) a lot of them were disappointed with how chunky they looked and that the waist was printed on rather than moulded, so I can see how TLG got that idea. I guess it depends on whether you just have always been used to the old figs and hence accept them, or whether you are a potential buyer who has never really paid much attention to Lego before.

Gravatar
By in United States,

Girls hate minifigures? Most girls I know find them charming...

Gravatar
By in United States,

^^ tell me about it. well, i have only boys, but i loved and love lego.

regarding "girl" sets - lego needs to learn the lesson from lionel. in the late 50s lionel (an american electric toy train company) wanted to open the market to girls. so they fell back on the old trope of girls needing to be duped into liking something with soft colours. the product was a complete and utter failure. it was figured that girls who liked trains, liked toy trains that looked realistic and not a dumbed-toy. it's only found success in the after-life as a rare collectible.

http://modeltrains.about.com/od/collectingmodeltrains/tp/girls_set.htm

I totally get wanting to be represented (even at a young age, i was bothered when school letters referred to generic children as "him" or the parents were Ms. Dad's Name.) but instead of spending time and money on the often failing "pink ghetto" why not integrate the themes already established - like why did they get rid of breez in the HF 3.0? why is there only one female ninja? there are no female power miners (moot point now). the city theme with the horse trailer was awesome (while i did enjoy my male friends' and cousins' lego in general, i did like the horses a lot)

or lego needs to take a good hard look at this ad, in case they have forgotten. girls want to build, they want science, they want to feel accomplished and capable and respected by the toys they play with (their parents, too). is this friends theme doing this? or are they just trying to get a corner on an unreached segment.

http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2009/07/17/vintage-lego-ad/

Gravatar
By in Canada,

I'll be buying these sets for the bricks in new/rare colours, as well as the minifig-compatible utensils (whoo authentic Lego knives and forks!). The minifigurettes, though? I'll likely keep the hair pieces but toss the rest.

Gravatar
By in Canada,

@gardenom -- My take on this new line is that girls-targeted sets are always a risk for Lego. So, the strategy here is to minimize that risk by making the sets fully compatible with the standard minifigure-scale sets, meaning that moulds developed for this new line can be repurposed for other sets. As well, by putting in lots of rare colored bricks, the sets will appeal to builders as well as Bricklink sellers.

Gravatar
By in United States,

TLG probably think that girls will like the new figurettes because they resemble other popular girls dolls like Bratz or whatever else is current with preteen girls. I dislike that they look too different from regular minifigs to use together. It's basically incompatible. It's even worse than the pink flesh minifig heads and hands for HP, PotC, PoP, SW, etc, versus the yellow heads and hands for City, Kingdoms, etc. You can use a yellow head on a torso with pink flesh hands, but it will look odd. If you put a Friends figurette next to a minifig, it will look like a creature from another planet.
That said, I do like some of the concepts for sets, like the Cafe, treehouse, and Olivia's House. They would fit well in a regular City/Town layout. Olivia's House is like a big version of the 8403 City House. I may even build a pool like Emma's Splash Pool!

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

An interesting article and a lot of sense, although my little girl is fascinated by minifigs!

Gravatar
By in United States,

Feel free to send all your unwanted friends figures, my daughter would be happy to have lots. :)

Gravatar
By in United States,

I think the most interesting thing is that people rally against "gender-typed" toys, but when researchers and anthropologists go digging, they invariably find that most boys prefer one type of toy and most girls prefer the other. Now it's a whole chicken-and-egg problem...or is it a problem at all that boys play with castles and girls play with dolls?

I, for one, do not envision ever buying anything from Friends, heh.

Gravatar
By in United States,

This is one other product line that won't be around for long...

Gravatar
By in United States,

I mostly own only Harry Potter sets, and did buy the two "Pretty" sets. I didn't like the cardboard walls, I did like the pretty colors.

If all of the parts of these Friends sets are interchangeable, then that would be great! There are times when I need more blue (Beauxbatons carriage) or other colored bricks.

I'm not interested in the mini-figs. But if the parts interchange, then that gives a whole new line of faces and hair. These do look like the other products already mentioned.

If it keeps Lego solvent, then I can't complain.

Oh - I always blew away the gender based anything. I wish that I had been young enough for the Lego-technix-robot competitions.

Gravatar
By in United States,

As the father of three young girls, I'm torn.

My unofficial anthropological research tells me that girl-centric sets are unnecessary. My 7-year-old daughter loves following the instructions and building sets (sometimes asking me to take a set apart so she can rebuild it). My 5-year-old daughter loves the minifigs, with which she makes plenty of girls and does plenty of "girlie" things, including making an impressive wedding scene (she cut a piece of napkin and put it between the head and body to make the wedding dress train).

I make sure to keep my collection stocked with flowers, horses, and bicycles (all things that have been fought over), and I take pride in getting lots of female minifig parts to keep the interest level high. It's amazing how just a few animals entranced my daughters for hours, over several days, as they built a Lego zoo. I even bought a couple extra Pirate Code games on sale so their minifigs could be drenched in jewels.

(Speaking of games, my 5- and 7-year-old fight over whether we should play Pirate Code or Lava Dragon, respectively. Creationary has been hit or miss so far. Overall, I've been pleasantly surprised by the quality of Lego games.)

I started my girls with City sets that are easily aimed at both genders: 7635 4WD with Horse Trailer and 7639 Camper. Basically anything that is not Police or Fire or Construction (all of which we have, though, and they play with).

So I am both excited about and hesitant to get Lego Friends.

I avoided Belville because I didn't want my daughters interested in one small segment of the Lego world. To me it seemed like pandering.
On the other hand, I've been consistently frustrated by Lego stores all having only one pink brick, and the same brick at that.

I've taken my daughters into Lego stores for extended periods of Daddy-PAB-Time, and they play computer games, make minifigs (whether we are going to buy them or not) and, luckily, have never noticed Belville sets.

The point of Friends, I suppose, is to get girls into building with Lego so that they can get all the same benefits that the boys have had (I wholeheartedly believe Lego is significantly responsible for whatever logical thinking abilities I have and I would not have become a programmer without Lego). For my daughters, I think it's unnecessary because they've found aspects of regular Lego sets that interests them and keep them engaged.

One question about Lego Friends, though: are there male ladyfigs so my daughters can make a Friends wedding?

Gravatar
By in United States,

One more thing:
the image of the Lego ad gardenom linked to is phenomenal. I could run today and be very effective.

Gravatar
By in United States,

@DMETCALF yes there is a male, at least one, in Olivias house 3315.

Gravatar
By in United States,

I'm an adult female Lego fan, but I really don't care for all the Boy-themed Lego sets out there at all (I like the modular buildings and the Winter Village theme). Unlike many of the female collectors here, I love dolls, doll houses and traditionally girly things. I love pink, flowers, cute and pretty things. So this line is perfect for me (except that robot set which feels out of place in the theme)! I love and am quite knowledgeable about girl toys, so I have a feeling this theme will probably do quite well. The next thing this theme needs is more clothes so they can have a boutique!

If you want to sell things to girls, you have to make what appeals to many girls! I think Lego is finally doing a better job. I've read some male Lego collectors saying something like "girls can enjoy this (very male-oriented) lego set because there's a female minifig!" That's just silly because it's like saying guys should play with Barbie because there's Ken.

Anyway, as a female collector who loves typical girl toys, I'm very excited to get all of these Friends set (except that weird robot set)! Good job, lego!

Gravatar
By in United States,

@Maya my daughter will actually love the robot set. :)

Gravatar
By in United States,

@dixondog, I didn't even know who he was until I just Googled him! Presumably a US thing?

Gravatar
By in Canada,

Isnt there a male fig in the Friends sets? So thats a... male ladyfig? It might not sound as good but my "FriendFig" suggestion is more gender friendly than these feminist articles.

Gravatar
By in Canada,

Also they go so far as to call Paradisa out for "lacking details of standard Lego" maybe I'm confused but, back in the day Paradisa seemed top notch for details along side the regular themes?

Gravatar
By in United States,

I want a LEGO Perry the Platypus!!

Gravatar
By in United States,

Face it lego is 95% more popular with boys. so I wonder why lego even bothers

Gravatar
By in Australia,

^^ Yup, in 3315. I guess the fact that that they went to the trouble of making male body molds indicates that they'll not put them to waste and proceed to dole out at least one male fig per wave, assuming the line continues on?

Honestly, I wonder whether the claim that the traditional minifig lacks appeal to girls (or, for that matter, that it incites outright hatred in them... strong claim there :?) has any weight to it. My younger sister seemed to appreciate both normal minifigs and Belville figs (and early BIONICLE sets, however briefly) with sort of equal weight on the few occasions she had anything to do with LEGO products, though given she's been a decidedly unfeminine football player for a good decade or so she may not be the best evidence on these things. My experience with other users of LEGO of any age, never mind female users, is pretty much nonexistent, so it's probably better if I just stop pondering the point.

Gravatar
By in United States,

My daughter loves the minifigs. Interchangeable hair, bodies, faces, legs, dresses and accessories. What's not to like?

I really wish LEGO would shell out for Disney princess licence. Cinderella's castel, Rupunzelle's tower, Dwarves house from Snow White would all appeal not only to the 'girl' demographic but more collectors.

Gravatar
By in United States,

@znodis I believe Disney Princesses will be DUPLO only.

Gravatar
By in United States,

Girls hate the minifigure? Where are they getting THAT from? (that article has to be one of the most sexist things I've read in a long time...)

Gravatar
By in United States,

Personally, I think that it's pretty cool that this new 'girly' Lego theme includes something like "3933 Olivia’s Inventor’s Workshop". I mean, it's a lab! With science stuff! And tools! And a robot that looks like the Mindstorms NXT 2.0 robot! :D
I'm a guy and, yes, I will probably be buying that set for the parts, as well as the convertible. :D

Gravatar
By in United States,

I would imagine there is a larger majority of girls out there that are not interested in what Lego had to offer in the past both from the perspective of the parents and the girls themselves. It is unfortunate because as people here have mentioned if given the chance I think girls really can enjoy the standard minifigure. I think the casual Lego buyer sees most sets and simply doesn't buy them. However, with some extra searching I think one can find good sets that girls can enjoy, but it does take extra effort that non-AFOLs probably won't do. I think the beefed up marketing will be essential to get the word out.

From the Friends sets I've seen I think they are taking a step in the right direction in wooing a larger percentage of girls to Lego. I love the micro builds for the piano, etc. I think components from Friends will work well to finish out the Creator houses that my daughter enjoys.

Gravatar
By in Canada,

I didn't know girls responded less to Lego's minifigs... my sister still thinks they're great. As for the Friends theme I already said I thought the parts were great as soon as I saw them. It's not like my opinion ever had to be changed.

The girly-figures still get tossed aside for me, and the theme itself will unless I get some darn good deals on it. I'm not made of money and I know since many collectors will be trying to unload these figs on the internet the normal "minifig value" is completely gone. I'm not made of money, which means buying sets for the "right parts" gets difficult when there're many other sets actually targeting my gender!!!

Gravatar
By in United States,

@Huw: Yup, it started here in America. The show is one of my favorites. :)

Anyhoo, what does it mean girls hate the minifigure? My sister loves them... and some girls complain they have the weird figures.

Gravatar
By in United States,

Well first off, I think the article is wrong in saying that girls don't like minifgs, take it from me. I have at least 20 girl cousins, and they are obsessed with Lego and minifigs.
Now since I'm a boy, my opinion doesn't really matter here :P But I think it'd be better for Lego to do more girl oriented city sets, such as pet store, only not pink all over etc But please, correct me if I'm wrong.

Gravatar
By in United States,

Great article!

Gravatar
By in United States,

I could believe that "girls hate the minifigure." Sure, the girls that are on Brickset and the girls around those that are on Brickset fans of LEGO or family of fans of LEGO, and not just "fans" but serious enough fans to seek out a community of people like them. Outside of a fan community, there is going to be a larger percentage of girls that LEGO would love to have buying their products that are most likely not buying their products because sadly LEGO has become stereotyped as a "boys" toy.

My wife did not own a peice of LEGO until her brother was born. I know that the only kids I could talk to about LEGO growing up in the 80s were boys. Alternating police and fire themes for the past two decades, LEGO has become a boy's dream world. There were a good many years when a female minifig was rare to nonexistant.

I want to agree with KillDeer. That "LEGO Girl Graveyard" is weak. Paradisa was the last bright spot of my initial LEGO Collecting Dynasty because it was finally offering some sets that just allowed the minifigures to have some fun (with some girls... and in my twisted tween-teen mind there were a few Paradisa murder mystery stories. I loved pushing minifigures off of that poolside balcony to land on the driveway for some reason...). Calling Scala out for lacking "completed walls" is utterly ridiculous because that was why I began to stop all LEGO- simplification. It wasn't just the girls' lines that fell victim to that!

I'm not sure how I feel about the new FriendFigs (again, thank you, KillDeer, for that name), but I'll definitely try them out especially with my two year old daughter. My biggest complaint about the line is that they tried too hard to lure the girls in forgetting about the boy audience. I think that a good number of boys may have liked this sets but now will not have access to them because of the lack of male FriendFigs. Yes, there is one father figure in the one set. I would have really liked to see two boy figures in the line. I would have still strongly be geared to the girl market, but allow some access to the boy market. So, in my opinion, by trying to un-gender-stereotype LEGO, LEGO has just drawn the division line more permanantly within their own product yet!

Gravatar
By in Israel,

I think more females should be commenting their opinions here, and not guys with their opinions about what they think that the other gender will think. Seriously.

Gravatar
By in Germany,

Very interesting article! And I like the new theme - way better than Bellville. I hope my daughter will finally have fun with lego when playing with Lego Friends.

Gravatar
By in United States,

My girls are 5 and 8, and they both love the minifigs. They were introduced to Lego when we took a trip to Chicago. There was a Lego store next door to the American Girl store. We never had a Lego before, but they fell in love with them at that store. Our first purchase was a fire truck and the 3 custom minifigs that they created in the store. They are getting the Fire Station and the Police Station and several other City sets along with some Creator sets, Harry Potter sets, Kingdoms, and POTC for Christmas. They only asked for Lego this Christmas.

Gravatar
By in United States,

@Be-Burger: everyone should and is welcome to participate. Seriously.

Gravatar
By in United States,

My daughter will go crazy for these, but I have to point out the she actually LOVES playing with minifigs as they are today.

Commenting has ended on this article.

Return to home page »