LEGO responds to Friends backlash

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Olivia stroking her catLEGO has noticed the negativity generated by the launch of Friends, which I think most of us here agree is totally unjustified and unnecessary, and issued a statement on their website: LEGO Group commentary on attracting more girls to construction play.

It's an interesting read, in particular: "We want to correct any misinterpretation that LEGO Friends is our only offering for girls. This is by no means the case. We know that many girls love to build and play with the wide variety of LEGO products already available. LEGO Friends joins this global collection of products as yet another theme option from which parents may choose the best building experience for their child’s skill and interest."

I hope you like the picture I took to accompany this article, Olivia stroking her, er, cat...

(Thanks to Gary D for posting about this in the Brickish forums)

44 comments on this article

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By in United States,

No real problem with Friends after seeing close ups of the sets. I don't care for the minidolls, that's the biggest issue for me, but there are still a few of the sets I want to get. I'd just hand the minidolls to my daughter.

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By in United States,

"Stroking her, er, cat... BLAHHHHHHA!

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By in Bolivia,

The press release says many nice things. Many of which contradict what TLG itself says in the BusinessWeek article. But they are nice things.

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By in United Kingdom,

Friends is a good series for girls but so are all of the other City sets etc. Friends is just a bit more specialised towards girls (although I have purchased a couple).

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By in United States,

My girls like the sets a lot. They each have one and would like more. They play with City, PotC and Star Wars sets as well, especial my younger daughter who is obsessed with Ashoka. It just cool for them to have the mini dolls.
They are better then Belville sets. People just need to relax.

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By in United Kingdom,

I can't worlk out what the other shade of purple is - lego said they'd made two new shades. I can only spot one - the paler one as we already had the dark purple before friends. And what are the two new greens? I can see any. Don't suppose anyone else knows?
Overall, this statement seemed a little defensive.

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By in United States,

Mads Nipper, who was quoted in both articles, does seem to be backtracking somewhat, from "Let's face it, girls don't like minifigs" to "We know that many girls love to build and play with the wide variety of LEGO products"

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By in United Kingdom,

TLG are not committing the worst crime in this area, go see TRU. The sets seem great but a few minidoll issues that spring to mind are:

Belville was worse, but could they not have just included standard MFs to make it combine like Paradisa.

What defines 'girl' products and 'boy' products? should there be a difference at all? Do boys not have 'friends'?

Can we have purple, pink and cyan blue bricks available across the entire range and not just marketed for girls?

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By in United Kingdom,

What negativity ? I've 3 daughters of my own, each of whom practically ripped open the club magazine when it arrived through door! Given the money, they'd devour the entire friends range, and populate it with the series 7 figs. Someone's market research has been right on the button - so very well done to LEGO :-D

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By in United Kingdom,

I don't have any problems with the Friands sets other than the price, which seems to have increased significantly across the entire Lego range this year. I would say the Friends sets appeal to everyone, male or female.
The main appeal to me is the colours and I agree with 'roguetrader1987', can we have more of these colours in other sets.

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By in New Zealand,

Still dont understand why they didnt just 'fix' female minifigs across all lego, i.e. make the new female minifigs compatible with (same scale as) 'normal' male minifigs.

The fact this has created a seperate system of lego for girls with different scales is part of the problem I think as it 'gender seperates' lego, in the eyes of kids.

Had they got this right, I would be all in favour of it, but this ghettoised system misses many opportunities.

Having said that, its a lot better than belville (not hard).

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By in United States,

Let's be clear there is a perception from some parents that lego's are boy toys. My wife and I frequent yard sales (the best place to buy lego's by far). My first question do you have any lego's? A typical response from many "no we only had girls" or "our children were girls". It is a foolish concept; like a girl would not enjoy a telescope, microscope or even board games (unless they are the Hanna Montana, or Dreamdate or whatever.)

If you raising your daughter to not play with intellectually stimulation toys, you are doing them a disservice

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By in United States,

If you read the reviews on Lego.com by regular people,most girls love them.Most "Friends" sets have all 5 yellow bricks filled.It doesn't make sense why us males are backlashing.

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By in United States,

Plus, I saw on another article about this theme from December that you could have the correct colors to build (item withheld).

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By in United States,

@Si_Dorking_Surrey

Not sure what you mean about the scale - the scale IS the same. The fig itself is very slightly taller, but all the construction - walls, tables, chairs, etc. is exactly the same scale as the other system sets. As well, all hand-held accessories are cross-compatible.

I continue to hear the scale complaint, and I am completely confused by it - there is no scale issue at all.

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By in United States,

I don't care if LEGO released a thousand press releases stating that this is not segregating girls. Well look LEGO, it is! You have made this awful faultline between boys and girls. Duplo combines with system, without too much awkwardness.

Now try putting a minidoll in a standard set. Does it work?

LEGO is ruining their integrity by releasing these minidolls and ruining the concept of Legos - FUN FOR ALL CHILDREN!!! They might as well say "Oh you're a girl, so you have to play with this."

I'm waiting for a promise made by LEGO to never make something representative of people or humanoids besides the minifig. Jack Stone failed. Belville failed. Friends?????

We'll see LEGO. And when this does fail, you'll see me laughing.

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By in United States,

I am honestly surprised by all the negativity by the themes. Yeah, no wonder boys don't like the PINK GIRLY FRIENDS THEME! Until I see girls say they think this theme stinks this theme is a success. Despite what some would like to believe, most Lego themes are more oriented towards boys. Some of these would be Ninjago, HF and SW. Now, I'm not saying girls DON'T play with these kinds of Lego's, just that they are mostly geared towards BOYS. Is it so bad that Lego is giving some of it's resources to girls? Whether you like it or not not all girls are going to pick up a X-Wing and start a dog fight with Tie-Fighter. I understand that a lot of the annoyance is of the figures, the general thought being, "Why couldn't they just make them Minifigs?" I agree that they should've done minifigs. But I'm not a girl, so my opinion doesn't really matter, does it?
Thank you for reading and apologies if I seem a bit 'angry'.

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By in Canada,

@jonbuddy

Jack Stone and Belville were COMPLETELY different than the Friends line. So far the Friends has been a hit - its 100% compatible with System sets. And if you think the minidoll ruined Lego, then hide it in another container like myself......all the other pieces are great! And when Friends continues to be a great seller years down the road, you'll see me laughing at all the negative press this has received.

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By in Canada,

I do not understand the backlash against the Friends theme. I was at the LEGO store today and a bunch of people were buying the sets for their kids (mainly their daughters). It is not something I would personally buy, but it is not geared towards me and that is fine. In my opinion Paradisia was the best "girl" themed LEGO but how successful was it? LEGO has the sales data. If it was a very successful and profitable line would they not have continued making Paradisia sets? LEGO claims to have done 4 years of research on the Friends theme. Maybe they're onto something with the mini-doll.

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By in Philippines,

The negativity seems to be centered on the mini-doll and, as I have often read, people would be buying it for the wonderful colors.

How are they to measure success, then? By the outcome of sales? How will they distinguish people buying the sets for the intended market rather than people stocking up for the palette of bricks?

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By in United States,

LEGO is absolutely right. Lots of girls like LEGO, but the Friends line is catering towards the girls want pink bricks. It just goes to show how stupid People Nation. You just can't please them.

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By in United States,

It's amazing how people get irked by a toy company making a line of toys for girls. It's just another theme in their line. These people want everything to be 'gender neutral' and that way, the world will be a better place. This Friends line will break down the very fabric of our society...'cause social unrest amongst children...oy vey. When you REALLY think about it you'll come to realize you were very, very silly to even remotely be bothered by this. It's natural though...a knee jerk reaction to a...toy.

Here's the solution...don't buy the Friends line for your daughters or nieces, etc...just enjoy the regular line of Lego product and do what my son and I do. We have warrior customs we like to make and since we'd like a variety. We swap out the heads for female faces and use longer hair wigs and the like. This is where female CMF extra's come in handy and VOILA' we have a diversity of male and females in our warrior camps and all is right with the universe.
You realize Lego is customizable homeys...hmmm?

Also check out some custom guys doing neat things with the Friends figs. on Flickr.... Cool stuff out there.

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By in Australia,

I think the problems with the Friends line-up (and there are problems), aren't really sexist-ones, but because the theme is aimed at girls, that's what people are thinking.

The figures being the biggest problem. And I still can't fathom why Lego went out of its way to create a whole new line-up just to appeal to girls, when they could've just increased the number of female minifigs and broadened the City range (as opposed to the five-hundredth revamp of Police and Fire)?

You know, like in the late 80s or early 90s when you actually *could* build a city with mechanics and restaurants and post offices and things like that?

These days, unless you were made of money (and could afford the insane prices for the modular buildings. Forgive me, I'm Australian, and being charged twice as much as the rest of the world), your whole Lego city is police stations and fire stations and police stations and fire stations and police stations and fire stations. Maybe a coast guard building along the river/beach, and a train station here and there.

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By in United States,

"I think the problems with the Friends line-up (and there are problems), ..."

No, no problems at all. That's where most people go wrong. You're trying to see a 'problem' with a set of....toys.

Again, if you need female characters mini-fig form. You can customize by mixing and matching heads and wigs. It's really not hard to do. As Spongebob says...."...IMAGINATION..."

Just don't buy the Friends line and...'problem' solved. Remember the larger dolls are just another type of toy. No more, no less. There are some folks that'll collect them and some that won't . With Lego you don't have to collect the whole line. They'd love you too, but you don't have to. Easy peezy, japaneezy...:)

Also, I feel for you with the Aussie prices. Go eBay.

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By in Australia,

"No, no problems at all. That's where most people go wrong."

By that logic, there's no problems with anything, ever, in the entire history of the Universe.

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By in United States,

I am a father of three girls, no boys. They are 4 and a half, and twins who are turning 2 years old next week. The 4 year old has loved playing with Mega Bloks and Duplo for a long time now, and the twins are loving Duplo...as a matter of fact I think they are mostly getting Duplo for their birthdays. I started introducing the 4 year old to Lego a couple of months ago, and helping her get used to the smaller pieces and reading the instructions for the sets. She was in love with them immediately. Now I am buying up Lego like crazy for myself as well, and always doing them with her...except Technic sets.

Once I found out about Friends, I could not have been happier and I got her a couple of the small sets the day they were released. She loves them, and now even got her mom to to do a set with her. My wife's birthday is at the end of the month and I got the Friends house for her from all the kids for her to do with them. See, this is great because not only does my daughter love them, even though she loves Lego already and is dying for me to get the Queen Anne's Revenge and loves to do the Creator sets with me (she calls them "Transformers" since they build different things from one set), but now she has my wife participating, which she probably wouldn't do with the "boy"-ish sets.

I agree...no Lego sets are just for boys or girls. I explained to my daughter....they are all, no matter what the instructions say, a bunch of pieces that we can build anything we want to build from. That's what makes them great....and I hope she gets it.

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By in United States,

@suckerpunch83, Yes, I suppose that is a fair point, but what about the segregation?

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By in Australia,

What's the bet that the people who are making the most noise aren't even Lego fans themselves? Personally, I have no problem with Lego marketing their new Friends theme this way. If they feel that it's the best way to appeal to the wider community, then I'm all for it and hopefully it does well.

Somehow, I doubt that there would be this much fuss if it we were talking about Barbie and Matel here. I don't see people complaining about how that product may cause stererotypes, so why pick on TLG only?

And I'm sure Lego would be more than happy for girls to play and buy their products from other themes. It's just that Lego thinks this particular line will appeal more to them. Nothing wrong with that surely?

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By in Canada,

@jonbuddy

Usually I would have an issue with the Friends line being marketed in the "girls" section of stores, but remember the stat of 9%. How else would you try and gain more girl builders? Obviously by putting them near the Polly Pockets and Barbies, girls will take notice. By putting the Friends line in between Technic and City in the Lego section, I'm sure the theme would have miserably failed to create any awareness at all.

I would also love to see that stat in a few years to see if it increases. If it does, I'm sure all of the Lego will be in the Lego section.

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By in United States,

Despite all of the controversy that certain misguided people are trying to create, these sets seem to be selling quite well. I stopped into Toys R Us two weeks ago when these sets were released, and they had a good stock. Today I stopped back and despite the 'TRU tax,' several of these sets were completely sold out, and others were almost sold out. Same thing at Wal Mart, they had a big display in the center aisle, now they have a few sets left shelved in the LEGO section.

I know certain people are criticizing LEGO for stereotyping young girls, but honestly I'm beginning to think LEGO is actually targeting these more at moms. Like Voypro's story above, here is a scence I saw play out in Target a few months ago:

Girl to mom: Mom, I want to buy this with my money. (Holds up LEGO City Space set)
Mom to girl: Honey, you don't want to buy that, that's a boy toy.

We've heard that many of the people protesting these sets, never bought LEGO for their daughters in the first place. Why not?

In the LEGO statement, "We heard very clear requests from moms and girls for more details and interior building, a brighter color palette..."

So why didn't the moms buy LEGO for their daughters before? Because they thought it was a boys toy, because it didn't have a bright color palette. Honestly I think LEGO is targeting moms more than kids with these sets, because it was the moms who thought LEGO was for boys. I bet if many girls had been given a chance, they would have bought LEGO without any of these changes. Now, with the brighter color palette and the toys being in the girls aisle, the moms will finally buy LEGO for their daughters. The real trick will be for LEGO to get the retailers to display some of the other sets like Creator and City next to the Friends sets in the 'girl' aisle of the store. Then they can maybe break down some of the walls that were put there by the parents, not by LEGO.

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By in Canada,

^"Honey, you don't want to buy that, that's a boy toy."

There is the problem right there. Spot on meyer13.
I do not have kids, but when I will let them buy what the want to buy. If my 10 year old girl wants a Technic set sobeit.

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By in Poland,

I can't really understand the problem and I think LEGO Group should not let draw itself into any big discussion.
We live in difficult times... soon we will have people of different orientations, ethnicities, religions and dietetary
choices, all questioning LEGO toys for being unneutral and/or discriminating.
One cannot simply meet everyboyd's expectations..

I think "Friends" is a really good theme. Better that Belleville.

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By in United States,

@suckerpunch83, Ah, well yes, point taken again. But if they don't want Lego then why go in the Lego aisle? Then they can buy real girl toys.

@meyerc13, That post is amazing. Those two pieces of dialog shocked me. My sister LOVED legos when she was my age & younger, and she had Star Wars and Adventurers. I just don't get people sometimes....

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By in United States,

Yeah, I don't see why toys have to be gender neutral. That would ensure that the toys are lame and not greatly appealed by either group. The entire world doesn't have to be gender neutral. The last time I checked boys and girls are different. We are not some androgynous society with only 1 sex.

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By in United States,

I agree that all this negativity towards the Friends theme is ridiculous. I think I will buy a couple of sets for my girlfriend to support this new theme.:)

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By in United States,

all of the negativity is actually making me buy more sets. lol
i got my daughter 6 and my wife 1 so far.

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By in United States,

@sharky, Okay, if every toy had to be branded one way or the other, it would be unfair. Let's say Legos become a boys' toy only. If you were a girl and wanted Legos, you'd be out of luck.

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By in United States,

Jonbuddy- Last time I heard it's a free world and anyone cane buy whatever toy they want. I don't see a anything on Lego's saying 'Boys only', or if there is a anything on Friends sets saying, "Girls only", do you? No, that's because there is NOTHING stopping anyone from buying these sets. But you know what, this theme is geared towards girls for a reason. It's easy for someone to say, "Gosh, EVERYONE like guns and explosives! Why make a whole theme geared towards a massively overlooked part of the Lego community?"

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By in United States,

I was a bit flaky about the Friends line.... but now that I picked up Olivia with the lab and mixed her up with mini figure parts, I'd say they have something.

I think the Friends sets proper, are a little "too" girly. Not everything needed to be all girl colors... because then they don't mix well with other sets. So far all the hairs and stuff mix nicely with the girl Series Minifigures.... in fact they are quite nice. They could also use some boys as well, and add proper kids!

If they really want to take the Friends seriously, they need to make one set from each "regular" series with the mini dolls that match the lineup. They should be doing a Dino, Castle, City, etc.. set with the Friends as all the main characters. Maybe adjust the sets so the cars and trucks properly seat mini dolls instead of mini figures. The education Fantasy pack is just BEGGING to be remade with the new mini dolls. I think they could do a whole mini doll collectable series... and have the girls actually LOOK like girls. If they really want to make the mini dolls take off... make some nice princesses with nice dresses that aren't wedges! They seem to blend quite nicely with all the mini figure components... we just need a lot MORE of them in a hurry.

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By in Canada,

Wake up Lego this is gay crap that not even a girl in the right mind would even want to look at for too long.

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