Friends: a female AFOL's view

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3061 City Park CafeYou've probably had enough of reviews of drab Star Wars sets, so I thought I'd bring you some colour in the form of a review of 3061 City Park Cafe by female AFOL Lucy, aka LostInTranslation:

As a girl who has loved Lego since birth (thanks to a 9-years-older brother), when I first heard that LEGO was bringing out a new range of sets specifically for girls – and without standard minifigures! – I received the announcement with a healthy degree of scepticism. Why can’t TLG just produce more female minifigs in girl-friendly settings within City (like Paradisa)? And what’s wrong with girls playing with adventure themes and Star Wars anyway (like I did – ok, still do!)?

But as more information emerged regarding the reasoning behind the decision and the extensive market research that had been undertaken with the aim of getting Friends right, the more intrigued I became, and by the time final images of the 14 sets became available, I was convinced enough to at least give Friends a chance.

One of the Friends sets I’ve purchased is 3061 City Park Cafe, and I’ve got to say, overall I’m impressed. The build is not overly complex in structure and maybe you could expect more parts for your money, but where the design really comes into its own is in the details, including cute little cupcake moulds, a multitude of kitchen utensils and a brick-built burger, while the gumball machine standing outside is also a nice touch.

The colours of the cafe (pink yes, but also red and white and some nice light-blue plates) are not so overwhelmingly girly as to prohibit their inclusion in any City layout, and with a little modification and expansion this set could easily be converted into a 50s-style diner, as the half-dozen or so stickers have a very retro feel to them. I’ve also bought 3183 and my nephew fell in love with the predominantly purple car, so I would also encourage the parents of future MAFOLS to consider buying some of these sets, despite the advertising focus on girls.

But what about the mini-dolls, I hear you cry? Well, I have to say that although I can see that they will appeal to their target audience due to their similarity with toys such as Polly Pockets, I personally will be populating the sets with standard minifigs. I’ve experimented with putting mini-doll hairpieces on minifigures and have yet to find a combination that I like (aside from C3PO à la Brian May), but I hope to eventually find at least one!

I certainly will be buying more of the Friends range, partly for the new parts and colours which I know MOCers are drooling over, but also on the basis of their own merits.

They’re good sets; tell your Friends!

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I had fun taking these photos, they certainly look a bit brighter than your average Star Wars set!

3061 City Park Cafe 3061 City Park Cafe 3061 City Park Cafe 3061 City Park Cafe 3061 City Park Cafe

38 comments on this article

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By in Israel,

What exactly is a MAFOL?

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By in United States,

Male AFOL

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By in Israel,

^Oh, I didn't know that there was a special term for it :S

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By in United States,

A thought on the prices of these sets - the average brick mold runs about $100,000 per mold to design and build - consider the amount of new molds that they are using in these sets and it becomes obvious that they need to amortize (Google it) the cost of not only the new molds, but developing formulas for new colors of bricks as well.

Factor in the amount of money spent on focus groups and other market research and it is unsurprising that cost per piece is higher on these sets. I own a manufacturing/direct retail business and can tell you from experience that bringing this much new product to market all at once gets VERY expensive.

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By in United States,

I bought this set yesterday and was very pleased with it. It is nice to see what an FAFOL says about them though.

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By in United Kingdom,

^^^ Yes I agree, a valid point, but there has got to be a point where the price exceeds customers pockets and the product becomes a flop. I think the friends sets are excellent with the bright colours and new elements but I also think they are on the edge of the price per piece factor.

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By in United Kingdom,

This is my favourite set of the wave. All the new accessories, the new colours, and the blonde hairpiece are great. A cafe is something I've been wanting in City for a long time, and I think this fits the bill.

Thanks for the review. It's good to hear that a woman actually likes the set, instead of just the parts-hungry male LEGO fans!

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By in United States,

Well I m a GMFOL gay male fan of lego (not shy to say it) but I only like the sets for baseplates. But I also like the looks of the car set., but thats just me.

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By in United States,

Drab Star Wars sets?!? I was looking forward to a Y-wing review today!!! Oh well.

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By in United States,

^ I have the X and Y in hand so will be building them and reviewing shortly...

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By in Germany,

I guessed right on who would review this set. :)

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By in Sweden,

Hmm, I'm not sure whether these sets will fly, as in fly-off-the-shelves, though. It's too niche towards girls. Why?

Lego did not used to be gender-skewed, i.e. these are for girls and those are boys. Why not incorporate these into the City theme instead of starting up a brand new theme?

Here's another idea for Lego if they want to get more girls to play with the Space theme. Instead of just having the usual UFOs, space craft base, alien bandits and cops, how about a "living in space" subtheme? Look at the scenes of humans living in the spaceship from Pixar's Wall-E film for inspiration.

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By in United States,

I will always feel resentment towards Friends because they have cooler things like gumball machines and cupcake moulds. I mean, what the heck LEGO? You don't think everyone wouldn't like cool new unique parts? I don't want to have to buy a girly house (aka 3315) just to get a grill.

So yeah. I hope LEGO doesn't waste their time completely, but I hope they learn that they should leave dolls out of LEGO.

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By in United Kingdom,

Good first review Luce.

Still not convinced by this theme though. Part of me just thinks it's simply wrong for LEGO to do this - this isn't LEGO!? But the other part knows that LEGO need to broaden their range and suit other's needs. My five year old actually chose Friends over Dino from the new catalogue last week- I wasn't impressed. :o) Speaking to a brand store manager last week, he told me their Friends sets were outselling the Superheros sets. He too shared my initial scepticism, but sale figures spoke for themselves. Let's see how long it lasts or whether or not the figures were achieved by MAFOLs making one last attempt of getting their previously non-interested daughters into it.

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By in United Kingdom,

Now I kind of want these sets... Darn you LostInTranslation with your excellent review!!! :P

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By in United States,

We have to remember that Lego Friends is for the Girls. My 7 year old daughter got Beauty shop and 3930. These are the first sets she actually built by herself using instructions! We also had Belville and other pink buckets with bricks but she never seemed excited to build it...
The only thing I noticed is the Friends minifigs hands. I hope they are not going to break or snap (you know how some standard lego minifigs sometimes break). Besides this my daugter and I enjoy new Friends theme.

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By in United Kingdom,

^ Yeah, I seem to have discovered little cracks in some of my minifigures lately and a lot of my other lego in general too. It really bugs me and I wondered if anyone else has the same problem. I never put too much pressure on parts or leave them in the sun. Whenever I do find a broken piece though, I just fill out an online damaged part form and get a replacement because LEGO really shouldn't be so breakable and it isn't my fault. Does anyone else have the same problem?
On another note, I'm not bothered by the friends theme. The new pieces are nice but I don't like how all the utensils are yellow in this set. It makes them look like they're bad quality. I mean, how hard is it to put silver into the mold instead of yellow? I also don't really like the hairpieces because they're rubber and don't look good with normal LEGO. Like flump6523 said, I think it's wrong for LEGO to be making doll figures - it's just not lego! and some of the little utensils don't look like lego either. I don't think LEGO should change what they are. If the majority of girls don't particularly like lego then they don't have to buy it. It's as simple as that.

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By in United Kingdom,

My daughter is almost 3, and was thrilled when I bought her two of the smaller Friends sets (we've got lots of Lego in our house, and she's a very sensible little girl).

She's had them fr almost a week and has played with them everyday so far. She keeps eyeing up the latest Lego magazine and looking at the bigger sets. It's going to be an expensive month!

Long story short, we like them in our house, me included!

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By in United Kingdom,

Nice job, Lucy.

Despite my disappointment that LEGO didn't use standard minifigures with these sets, I'll still be getting a few of them to see what the mini-dolls are like "in the flesh"

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By in United States,

I bought two of the sets for my son and daughter yesterday - the Vet's office and the workshop. It's great to see some old parts in new colors, like the drawers and cabinets. The new parts are also very exciting. I wonder why the new ambulance didn't come with some of the new medical accessories like the Otoscope and Stethoscope. I'd love to have extras of these (and the pen, clipboard, and other cool accessories), but I can't justify shelling out another $40-$45 just for those parts.

As for prices, I don't think they are outrageous. Have you ever looked at Belville prices? For that matter, almost everything in the girl's toy section commands a high price point. In the boy aisle you can buy Hot Wheels cars for $1, but try to find anything for a girl for $1. The $6-$10 price on many of these sets is reasonable, in line with similar boys LEGO sets if you consider the playability rather than the price per piece.

My biggest disappointment in the line is the minidolls (aka ladyfigs). Initially I was upset because LEGO went this way instead of minifigs, but when I saw the article describing their research, I decided to give them the benefit of the doubt. However, the execution on these just seems poor. Even my wife, a non-AFOL, was disappointed that the wrists are fixed so the figures can't push the cart in the vet set. Then she noticed that there isn't a way to attach the figure to the bench in the workshop because there aren't any holes in the legs like on a similar minifig. These two flaws are very disappointing and limit how kids can play with the sets.

We'll continue to buy the sets for the great designs, parts, and unique colors. However, I'm still not sure about the ladyfigs and wish LEGO had designed them better or stuck with the tried and true minifig design.

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By in United States,

I really dislike the Friends line but I wouldn't be surprised if they do well because girls are totally into pink, purple and princessy stuff these days. Maybe they will appeal to Bronies as well. As a 45 year old FAFOL I will stick with Star Wars etc. Note- I did buy a couple of these sets yesterday to check them out and I can't wait to give them away. blech.
oh, and some Star Wars sets have great colors- we got Lego 7133 this Christmas- Bounty Hunter pursuit with Zam Wessel. Lots of green and orange- a very cool set.

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By in United States,

@meyerc13, your first paragraph proves my point that girls are being targeted for all the new cool stuff and recolorings. And I completely agree with your last paragraph.

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By in United States,

I don't quite get where some of the dislike of Friends comes from. The sets don't seem too bad, and are about on line where City/Town was about 10 years ago, but with different colors and figures. But at the same time, they sport a lot more modern detailing.

Now the Belville sets from 10 years ago, those are some shameful 'girl-targeted' sets.

Overall, the sets seem to be mini-fig compatible, and wouldn't look out of place in a city layout.

Y'know, other than the fact that they aren't a fire station or a police station.

Maybe in another 10 years it will be City/Town sets that appeal to girls and boys by not being police/fire sets.

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By in Canada,

@Margot:

I fail to see a correlation between this Theme from LEGO and Bronies. I'm quite certain that Bronies will not immediately jump on the Friends bandwagon just because. I myself am a Brony and I for one have no interest in these sets, I may be tempted by the unique colors and accessories, but that doesn't mean I'm even going to buy them.

LEGO's Friends Theme as far as I know does not have a bunch of talented artists and story writers working on a well respected and highly impressive cartoon series. In fact LEGO's Friends Theme has nothing truly going for it to any AFOL except for parts and colors.

I have long been a fan of what I like, and what I like does not include everything under the sun LEGO does, there are some questionable decisions at times, and Friends is one of them. That being said, I highly doubt that any Brony would take kindly at being labeled such an outlandish thing simply for liking a 'Girl's Toyline/Cartoon'. And that isn't even the reason why I personally like My Little Pony, I've always enjoyed it since my younger days when playing with my cousin and watching the original cartoon.
So that doesn't mean I'm going to buy up all these LEGO Friends sets just because I happen to like My Little Pony.

As for this review, I am glad to see a legitimate review for the sets in question, at least it helps inform the public. I'm still doubtful I'll ever pick up a Friends set, but it's good to see that they aren't going to just be written off as LEGO's latest Ben 10 or Galidor thing from everybody. (And yes, I made a recent comment that did make allusions to such a thing, I am aware of this, I do not consider myself a hypocrite for saying it as I hadn't read anything much on the Friends Theme at the time from anyone with first hand experience on the sets in question. At least these Friends are a far cry better than attempted Action Figures made out of LEGO.)

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By in United States,

@Odeinoichus- I see a similarity between the color scheme of Lego Friends and My Little Pony. It's all pinks, purples, pastels...

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By in United Kingdom,

Great review Lucy.

I for one am massively excited about these sets, perhaps more than any others I've craved over the last year. The cafe and house especially look good. Why do I want them? partly because I think they're great designs and they satisfy the little girl within me who would have adored them as a child, and because my niece already does. And I can't wait to play with these with her.
Plus, my city needs a cafe, a vet and some more animals. The colours of course appeal, because of their brightness and difference to what I already have. Mind you, I don't like SW sets as they're too grey!

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By in Poland,

Thanks for the review and beautiful pics!
At first I wasn't convinced by the bright colors but now looking at all the pics they make me so happy :) I absolutely love the sets and I'm super excited about this theme.

I wanted more buildings for City and more female minifigs but if TLG decided this is what the girls want than let it be. This is so much better than Bellville anyway. The accessories are excellent but it's the fact that they're not just cars/spaceships that makes me love the theme.

I know I'll be using them in my City (with changed colors or not). I know I would love these sets as a kid too. The minidolls are cute and their future in my toyroom is unknown ;)
Now I just hope for better distribution than with other sets, I want to see these sets everywhere. And I hope the amount of Chinese parts will be limited to a minimum.

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By in United States,

Everyone's raving about these sets, but I don't see the point. i walked into my local Fred Meyer store and I see half the Lego section crowded with Friends and the other half a mix of old Star wars and a couple Dino sets.

Yeah, I have heard RAVING reviews about new pieces, colors, etc, but I don't see the point at ALL. I just don't use pink or lavender pieces. You can insult me however you want, but who really uses pink or lavender pieces?

Lastly, Star Wars has been since 1999. Friends has nowhere near as much potential as Star Wars had.

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By in United States,

My 5-year-old daughter, who has grown up with LEGO surrounding her all her life, LOVES these sets. Loves the details, loves the colors, and yes, loves the ladyfigs. I'm tickled that she most associates with Olivia, the inventor/scientist of the group. And I wouldn't say there's nothing you can do with the colors...brilliantly-colored row houses like the "Painted Ladies" in San Francisco come to mind.

Lots of interesting colors, shapes, and painted tiles/bricks in these sets...cupcake wrappers, a pink iPod, new flower types for the flower stems, lots of cool little detail elements! Some creative AFOL or two will find a great use for each one of these items.

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By in Denmark,

What's a Brony?

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By in United States,

@Goony - (from urbandictionary.com)
1. Brony
A name typically given to the male viewers/fans (whether they are straight, gay, bisexual, etc.) of the My Little Pony show or franchise. They typically do not give in to the hype that males aren't allowed to enjoy things that may be intended for females.
2 Brony
Fans of the new G4 My Little Pony show "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic". Mostly refers to the older male viewers of the show, but female fans use it too. A Brony is generally pretty involved in the community at large.
3. Brony
Typically refers to 13-30 year old male fans of the 2010 reboot of the show My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, but may also include females (see fillies).

Brony = Bro + Pony

While generally associated with a negative stereotype by outsiders, due to it's former 80's frilly girly-girl twinkle-toed tea-parties and all-female main casting, bronies are attracted to the new show by it's good animation, acting, writing, and humor.

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By in Denmark,

Thanks Margot. I had NO idea :-)

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By in United States,

@margot feel free to give them to me . . .

This should open the door to LEGO getting the licence to rainbow brite. THAT I'd buy!

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By in Australia,

Well, now I know what "Brony" means. You learn something new every day :).

I'm still of two minds about the Friends sets. I like parts of the idea, and I don't like other parts. But I'm with the OP on the City Park Cafe. I think it's gorgeous. It's minifig scale, and if you replaced the overly-pink pieces with other colours, you'd have a fantastic retro cafe for your Lego city. So that, I'm onboard with.

But yeah. The hair-pieces are the only things about the figures that I like.

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By in N/A,

I buy Lego for my 6 yr old niece who absolutely adores City, the new Dino & Ningajo sets. We talked about the new Friends theme over the phone and she is pretty sceptical about it. She agrees with me - why can't Lego just have more women minifigures/heroines in their mainstream sets. However, I have picked up some of the smaller new Friends sets for her so we can try them for ourselves - because we believe that there is no point in grousing about things until you actually try them out. I purchased the Friends cafe set, Andreas outdoor bakery, the design studio and Olivia's workshop. Some at Walmart here in Ontario, Canada and some on the Lego online site. Our TRU store still doesn't have any in stock. Sadly, TRU is the same old TRU around the world. ;) We haven't had the chance to build yet, but will post when we have. My 6 yr old niece already understands the value of new/rare Lego pieces and we will do lots of rebuilds with the new colours and accessories. However, I fear for the new Friends figures - she has gleefully told me that they will be "dinosaur bait!" - ie. she will feed them to her lego dinos! She might save the hair for her minifigs. She might also just feed the hair to her new Lego City bear! Just guessin' on that one. She also loves the Brickforge splats series and plans to splats the Friends minifigs lots. Well --- Lego IS supposed to be all about imagination after all! This is my first post - I've been following the blog for a few months now and find your up-to-the-minute news wonderfully helpful when it comes to Lego online sales, etc. Thanks for all your work as it is much appreciated in Canada! Cheers and best wishes for the New Year!

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By in United Kingdom,

These sets look okay I think Lego hit a miss my sister saw these and said that they should have made them like actual Lego minifigs but she will still buy them
@morty XD

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By in United Kingdom,

I got my 11 year daughter the inventor set and she love it for it playable nature and cool parts we can use for moc
She wants design studio to add deck and laptop to the lab and the outdoor bakery for the sink
She also said she could de-girlie the tree house for her endor layout
She Ditch the lady fig for mini figs as soon as she started to play
So sets a hit.
Lady fig a miss in this house

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