LEGO Friends: demand outstripping supply

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Olivia's Tree House

An article in this month's Toy News trade magazine states that Friends is such a success that LEGO can't keep up with demand. Apparently, it sold 'twice as much as anticipated' when it was launched and is now 'bigger than Sylvanian Families'.

I guess this means we won't see the sets deeply discounted any time soon, and that the summer sets will be in short supply during the run-up to Christmas. So, if you have daughters that you need to buy them for, it'll probably be as well to do so now.

LEGO UK MD Drew Brazer states that they will not be saturating the marketplace in the short term to solve the problem but that "[Friends] will be with us for years and decades to come".

The trade magazine doesn't usually contain much worth reporting here but this month there are several interesting articles and statistics related to LEGO:

  • LEGO minifigures are at the top of the chart for UK retails sales this year, both by volume and value of sales, beating Moshi Monsters, Hot Wheels, Match Attax and other pocket-money toys.
  • A survey of 500 children commissioned by the magazine revealed that 92% have played with LEGO compared to just 58% who have played with with M???B???s. They probably didn't need a survey to find that out, did they...
  • The UK construction toy market was valued at £280 million in 2011, a growth of 12% over 2010. I think we can conclude LEGO take the lion's share of that based on the previous statistic.

The August edition isn't available online yet but it should be soon. Keep a look out for the digital edition of the magazine if you want to find out more.

50 comments on this article

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By in Germany,

That was... unexpected... :P

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By in United States,

I wonder who is buying them? Here in NC the selves at Walmart and Target have a pretty full selection. I talked to a Lego store employee who said that the adults would buy the Friends line as gifts for girls but the girls themselves would select "normal" lego sets when given the choice.

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By in United Kingdom,

Interesting to see that Friends is doing well following all of the backlash. Apart from that no surprises here. I am however starting to find that a few stores are gathering stock of Series 5, in Argos they were selling them for just 49 pence and they still had boxes left! Many places have over-ordered on those it would seem.

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By in United Kingdom,

Excellent news about Friends! I'd heard from Lego store staff that it was selling well, but great to have it officially confirmed. I'm so pleased it's been a hit with its target market, I certainly love the range :-)
Gonna have to pick up the last two sets I need from Wave 1 around RRP though I guess, doesn't sound like I'll be seeing a big discount on Olivia's house any time soon...

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By in Norway,

What!? And i who thought they were gonna be a huge fail. This theme dosen't deserve it's succes, it's the most desgustingly stereotypical pink insult to the female gender. I would rather suggest Lego would start making more unisex themes rather than making individual themes for boys and girls, but in todays society thats just the way it's done right?

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By in United Kingdom,

Also in yesterday's news - Character Options, who make the Dr Who construction toys, are expecting big losses blaming the market, Jubilympics etc. great to see Lego doing so well.

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By in Germany,

Friends is a big success since wave one. Most of the time the shelves are empty in all stores. With Wave two it's the same.
I think Lego found the right way with this series between colours for girls like pink and purple and regular colours like tan and white.
My wife and I are really glad not to get the same hot pink overdose like with the Barbie stuff. Thanks for that, TLG.

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By in United Kingdom,

^^^ Stereotypical? And yet the theme includes a design studio and an inventors workshop. The boys themes never had that. There seems to be a lot of variation for so early in a theme's life. Oh, and there's been research that girls prefer colours such as pink and pastels more than boys, even without the conditioning to do so they are given by society. Lego spent a lot of money on this theme to try to give girls what they want. Can we stop pretending the sexes are the same and celebrate the differences?

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By in United States,

BOING!
Really? I counted is as a fail too. My Target has TONS of them! Who knew...

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By in United States,

My walmart has tons of them...was waiting for them to go into clearance

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By in United Kingdom,

I have not been buying any Friends sets, but I have Bricklinked one or two pieces from them so I am pleased that they are doing well as that surely means that Lego will keep releasing more sets. More sets mean more pieces!

@caperberry - Jubilympics? Has somebody been watching Twenty Twelve?

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By in Switzerland,

I am with Coolcomedian. And Jabba - the "differences" we are told to celebrate are (except for the body as a mass of flesh) 100% constructed. The Friends series is highly stereotypical, no inventor's workshop or design studio changes that. The main themes are ponies, clothing, bulimic beauties with long hair. And of course the boys sets do not have girl's stuff in them, the boys just do not like playing with those color's, you know? Pink was, btw. as of 100 years ago a manly color, something which can still be seen in some socities.

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By in United States,

Agree that here in NC they are just shelf warmers. I'm sure they are doing a little better in the stores that moved them to the girls aisles, maybe. But here they are always full never sold out or down.

I'm still really surprised that Character Building hasn't sued Lego due to the figure design being almost a dead ringer for theirs. They are also ugly. I hate the figures of these. I'd buy the sets if the figures went with the regular ones.

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By in United Kingdom,

Mickitat - the main themes are going to be ponies and clothing etc. That's what the girls requested. Lego didn't need to include the inventor's workshop, design studio or airshow. That's why I don't think it's stereotypical. The boys themes are if anything more stereotypical. Why didn't they have an inventor's workshop but not in pink? Differences aren't 100% constructed; the differences in hormones affect not only the flesh.

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By in Norway,

^^^@Mickitat, thanks! @Jabba the Taff, you're right, The Friends theme isn't the only theme focusing on attracting a certain gender, but Friends is over the top stereotypical. As much as i love City i've got to admit they only focus on "male proffesions" like construction workers, police men garbage men, or firemen. Honestly, the theme should rather be called "Jobs". My entire minifigure collection consists of probably 20% female minifigs if not less. I've got to give props to the modular bouldings designers for including 50% female minifigs in their sets without printing lipstick and huge boobs on them. XD
Just look at this and tell me Friends isn't stereotypical: http://www.youtube.com/watch?nomobile=1&v=ZEbJQmiZlEk

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By in United States,

No surprises here. You can't walk into the TN LEGO Store without seeing about ten girls walking out with medium to large sized Friends sets.

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By in United States,

Wow... they must be a hit over the pond. Here, not so much. My Target and Walmart are full of them and no one appears to be buying (in fact, my local Target typically has them on sale which is a sign that they have too much stock). I just happened to be in the Downtown Disney TLS over the weekend and the "Friends" section was full and hardly anyone walking around it... whereas the SW and CITY was shoulder to shoulder.

In the end, if kids are happy, then good for Lego.

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By in Australia,

I bought Olivia's tree house for my 4 year old daughter, she loves it. But so does my 2 year old son. He's played with it as much as he's played with any other new set, and really seems to like the minifig. I won't be buying the beauty shop or the karaoke set any time soon, but most of the rest of the sets look fine to me.

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By in Netherlands,

Where does M????B???? Stand for?

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By in Hungary,

Didn't they cancel the Friends Advent Calendar because the line wasn't successful enough? Or wasn't that an official info (I mean the cancellation)?

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By in United Kingdom,

^^ I would tell you but I'd have to ban myself for swearing :-)

^ I believe it may have been cancelled in some markets but it should be available in most places.

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By in Germany,

Oh great, the feminists have arrived even here... :P *Shields behind shield* :P

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By in United States,

I think there are several things to consider here.
If you go to Target and Walmart, is the Lego City section bare? Does that mean Lego city is not a success? Obviously we know differently, since Lego City has been around forever. If I go to my stores even the Ninjago section right now, there is product just sitting on the shelves. We all know that Ninjago is crazy popular. Star Wars has a ton of product also. The exception being recently released summer product for these lines. Those are the new shines, and those are the ones flying.

Lego Friends has been around since January. The first wave flew off the shelves, just as the Ninjago items did. It was a long while before The product kept up with demand. Eventually, though, it does.

I don't think we can look at a fully stocked Friends section right now and state that we are surprised Friends is a success, or else we would really need to do that with a number of other Lego lines. I would expect, that the new sets do have the potential to fly off the shelves as well, and if they are not planning on overstocking, then these will be hard to find by the holidays.
I will be seeing which of these my kids are interested and buying early.
As for the line itself, I have always expressed two thoughts.
This is an entry line for girls that have not expressed intererst in Lego before. Because of that, they have done. Ton of market research and they are going very girly. Lego also has a ton of lines, where there is no question that they are going stereotypical boy. (Seriously, how many of it's lines are about fighting and vehicles?) I actually do not have an issue with Lego deciding to do that. As for the characters, I guess I have never understood the backlash. They look very much like many 4th grade girls I know. A bit of up front development, trendy clothes and average size. The dolls are not bulimic. I know my girls would really like the minifigs, and I wasn't wrong.
Now, where I do take huge issue, is not with this line, but with the fact that Lego is very much ignoring girls/women that are fans of Lego. The ratio of female minifigs to the number of boxes within a line, is quite horrid across almost all their lines. I understand that their primary market is boys, but if they are trying to pull girls into Leog, what lines do they expect females to grow into? People always say Lego City or Creator, but those lines are just as bad. They ratio of female minifigs to boxes in the line is very low, and the focus again is really on traditional boy themes like vehicles. I have two girls that are very huge Lego fans, but we really struggle finding good lines for them. We bought every single Harry Potter set out there, because they truly emphasized various females, and because the line had appeal across boys and girls. They like the winter sets, because that also seems more neutral. I have mentioned before that my darters have absolutely adored The playmobil Egyptian line, but they had negative interest in the Lego Egyptian line. The difference was females in the former including N Egyotian family, and lack thereof in the later. The other difference is that while the former had a focus on fighting, there was also as strong of a focus on exploration. A few tweaks by Lego on that line, and they could have still attracting the boy group, but had a draw to the smaller group of females already interested in Lego. They may have had a far more successful line.

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By in United States,

@tamamahm: I agree. My biggest fear with the Friends line's success is the LEGO will try to eliminate females from other lines because they are seen as "boy's toys". Worse, if LEGO ever tries to make stuff based off of a Disney movie that is considered girly (anything that is Disney Princess), I fear they'll try to make them Friends figure instead of Minifigures. I have other complaints, but most of them have been around since we found out that they were not using Minifigures.

I am stateside, and I really only go to my local LEGO store, but Friends is really low on stock. At one point there was only five sets, all $20 or less for almost two months. Just recently they got back Olivia's house, which I hadn't seen since April. However, my personal belief is that Friends success has to do with the fact that LEGO finally deiced to make a (mostly) minifigure scale girl theme. I've seen many parents ask for girl's LEGO sets and not care about the contents outside of having girl figures. Honestly, I can't help but feel that it could be more desirable universally with AFOLs and TFOLS if LEGO had made it exactly the same, except put proper Minifigures in it.

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By in United Kingdom,

I think there is too often a rush to condemn Friends, particularly from those desperate to de-gender toys.

My little girl is 6 and really likes friends, conversely, she really loves Harry Potter, POTC & Dino, all reasonably gender neutral.

I honestly don't see what all the fuss is about. All it takes is a two minute look around Lego's on-line shop to see that the enormous array of choice caters for every taste, gender, etc. many of them totally neutral.

At the end of the day, if you don't like the set, use the bricks to make something else. If my 6 year old can turn the Friends Cafe in to a spaceship, then that ends the argument for me.

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By in Netherlands,

@huw I think I've got the picture now, thnx!

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By in United Kingdom,

^^ Great comment. And I'd love to see that spaceship :-)

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By in United States,

YES!

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By in United Kingdom,

It was my Daughters 7th birthday yesterday - for months's she had been asking for the Heartlake city vet's as her main present (She wants to be a Vet)- Duly delivered. With her birthday money we then went straight to Argos and picked up the Summer wave Horse box and car.
While the themes may be stereotypical - ponies etc - that's exactly what my 7 year old wants, but she will let her brother build for her while she add's the bow's and flowers after.
Besides we are very excited to have that hedgehog fromm the Vet's.
The Advent Calendar is in the Argos book also, so it has not been cancelled.

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By in United Kingdom,

^ Correct - the Friends Advent calendar has not been cancelled.

And sorry to sound dismissive, but the whole gender stereotyping thing is a load of nonsense. I'd maybe concede the point if LEGO refused to sell anything EXCEPT Friends sets to girls, but since they don't there's no case to answer. LEGO offer an enormous number and variety of different sets, many of which could be described as "gender neutral" if you really care to label items as such. Are the critics really suggesting that LEGO should NOT offer products which cater for people who want to build using pastel colours, even if such products only make up a tiny fraction of their product offering ? You must be joking. So what's next on the agenda - banning the Star Wars sets because of male stereotyping ?

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By in United States,

As a female AFOL, I'm happy with the Friends theme with a couple of exceptions. I'm delighted to have an enhanced range of pieces in colors like magenta and pink and light blue and turquoise. I like having a good dose of plant material in many or most sets. And I love the emphasis on animals, because Lego animals are a great focus for liveliness in lots of MOCs. However, I feel a little condescended to by the fact that so many of the Friends animals have "big eyes" and look artificially "cute." Lego dolphins and parrots are beautiful. Lego Friends puppies and horsies and even hedgehogs are kind of embarrassing, with their little exaggerated cartoon faces. As far as animals go, I'll take Belville any day.

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By in Denmark,

I'm not too surprised, the sets aren't actually that bad. The only problem is the "minifigures" and the overuse of pink and light blue. But I guess that's what attracts the target audience.

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By in United Kingdom,

I think I have to take this news with a pinch of salt.
"An article in this month's Toy News trade magazine states that Friends is such a success that LEGO can't keep up with demand. "

I marked a few Friends sets in various shops around Nottingham and apart from the ones I bought myself I have not seen much evidence of sets flying off the shelves. The same stock has sat there for weeks at a time.

Maybe it has been selling elsewhere ???

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By in United States,

Stereotypical? Until I see a hoard of 6-12 girls screaming how much they hate the line and how it's 'stereotypical' I will continue to believe Lego made a wise move for this theme. And while we're saying that pink is so stereotypical, lets also say that guns, blue, explosions, violence and weapons are stereotypical of boys. Of course I guess it's just a coincidence that every single boy I have ever known has liked everything I just mentioned. So far I've seen that 95% of Friends haters are guy AFOL's, and there are only 5% female haters of Friends. I'm sick of how eager people are to create a whole controversy about A PIECE OF FRIGGIN' PLASTIC. And guess what? Turns out that MANY of the Friends target audience prefer pink, light blue and generally speaking more doll-like figures. So that's what Lego made! And now it's selling 'twice as much as anticipated' and outselling it's non-Lego counterpart, thus introducing more girls to Lego.

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By in United States,

I am shocked beyond amazed. I thought this theme was doomed to fail, I mean, I thought girls would prefer minifigures over LEGO-ized barbies anyway, but now I'm proved wrong. BUT, I do think that quite a bit of buyers of Friends are AFoLs because of all the new colors and pieces to "NPU".

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By in United Kingdom,

I have bought all but one of the first wave of Friends sets. I think they are excellent, the new colours are the main attraction for me and my granddaughter loves figures.
At the end of the day its another successes for Lego, which can only be a good thing, whether its meant for males or females.

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By in Poland,

And I've just spent the last few hours setting up a tiny Friends town and now the news :) My town is tiny because Friends sets sell out too quickly for me to find them in stores, so I do believe the demand is higher than expected.
All of you saying that your stores have shelves full of Friends sets please send some my way. Except for the smallest sets I can't buy anything because all the bigger sets are gone the day they're restocked, no joke. I'd really love to be able to complete my Friends collection, and with wave 1 so hard to find I already fear for wave 2. Seeing how popular the theme is all online sellers rose the prices.
Friends is really popular here which is great but I want to see those sets on the shelves! Everytime I call a store to ask about their stock the moment they hear 'Lego Friends' the instant answer is "sorry, almost everything's sold out". Or maybe it's the distribution that sucks so much? Anyway, I love the line and I'm really happy to hear that Friends is staying for good.

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By in Australia,

I am not terribly surprised, I am a huge fan of the Friends range, as both an AFOL (delicious colours) and as a mother (reasonably priced for a playable toy), so this is great news. I have bought the first wave (multiples of a number of them, like the vet, which is an awesome set) and I can't wait for the second wave. In my local stores in Australia run out of stock so quickly and I can't imagine the second wave will be any different.

And I agree, a success for Lego is a success for all AFOLs, even if they don't like the Friends range.

As a feminist and a mother, I consider that my job is to provide choice for my daughter to let her discover who she is and not tell her that certain choices or preferences are wrong (this also applies to my son), and she currently has Friends minifigs running a Playmobil pirate ship with two Lego ghosts.

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By in United States,

^Haha that's awesome!

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By in United States,

Generally, I would consider a theme not doing well to account to a bunch of sales. I haven't seen bare shelves where Friends sets were supposed to be, but I haven't seen many sales for those sets either. They may not be flying off the shelves as fast as Series 1 Minifigures, but I wouldn't say they're not selling at all.

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By in United States,

Great news about Friends. I see my local Lego shop sell the Friends line like crazy. The little girls really love the theme and many a mom I see buying these sets. And as an Afol, love the selection of parts too!
Also of note..theres a Friends Brickmaster coming out with exclusive figs and stories to go along with the build. Good to see the Friends line bringing more girls into building and Lego.
Here's link to the Friends Brickmaster on Amazon...
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1409383261/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1409383261&linkCode=as2&tag=tonbr-20

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By in United States,

My local TRU is usually pretty low on Friends...
Also up till a few weeks ago they still has CMF S5&6!

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By in United States,

Minidolls are bulimic? To that I say, minifigures are overweight. *Sheesh*

I'm a huge fan of LEGO Friends. It offers something completely different and lacking in the LEGO world. My huge problem is the exclusion of Boy Minidolls. We have one father minidoll.

Are they lacking and too gender-typed? Sure, but not for the reasons discussed here so far. I'd really like to see some boy minidolls that boy what may be interested in picking up a Friends set, or that parent that may want to pick up a Friends set for their son, could feel more comfortable about it. I don't think girls would be discouraged from the sets if boy mindolls were included (I think they'd rather fancy them), and it would sure make the Friends world seem more realistic to have a boy or two (or three) running about Heartlake City. The Flying Club would have been the perfect set to introduce Stephanie's little brother as a minidoll.

I'd really like to see Andrea get a mother and father minidoll figure too. Since LEGO made the choice to use skintones, I think giving only a light skinned father is a bit insensitive.

I congratulate LEGO on this theme and I thank them because it really brings a lot of storytelling play back into LEGO (how many different fire fighting storylines can a youngster really create? I hope to see it grow (and especially grow to include boy minidolls) in the future.

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By in Sweden,

No suprise there. Shortage of supply has been a problem here in sweden pretty much since the release. A few weeks ago we recieved a letter from Lego at work where they estimated that delivery could not be done until early october.

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By in Sweden,

I just got back from a weekend visiting some friends...where I gave their 7yr old daughter the Heartlake Vet set. It was a huge success and she played with it pretty much the whole weekend. Even using the Minidolls as pieces in a boardgame! She lives in the countryside and loves animals, so this set was perfect for her, and now the pieces are becoming a lot more 'realistic' I feel that it aided the success. I'm very much against stereotyping toys, which is why I hate 'barbies'...and even worse 'bratz'!!!!!. However I feel it was a really smart move for Lego. It's quite sad, but very true that girls in recent years have become much more in to toys that are pink and girly. Lego Friends is a step towards that, but I see it as a way of bringing girls back to Lego. A friend at work brought Stephanie's bunny buggy set for his little girl, which he says was a big success, but then so was the Lego police helicopter. These things fit together...Lego friends still has studs and holes which fit with the Lego of yesteryear :)

I have very good feelings about the future of Lego, it's ridiculous to think a company shouldn't change and 'move with the times', however if they do it in a right way, which I feel Lego has done, then I don't think there is something to complain about. They are releasing many new themes, which are attractive to different groups, for example my friends daughter loves Dinosaurs...guess what she got for her birthday ;) This is the way to go! And it's even better for AFOLs like me.

One final story, another friend of mine...her 7yr old loves Lego Friends so much, especially when I come to stay as we will build whatever present I bring...but the most awesome part of this story is her 11yr old sister loved the set I brought (Stephanies Bakery), making it much larger with her brothers bricks...that she wanted some more sets. Bringing an older girl back into the Lego world...that's got to be a good thing!

Lego is forever and for everyone :)

p.s. @Mirandir, webhallen has stock most of the time, and pixmania.se if you want to order online. They are my 'usual suppliers'.

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By in United States,

The whole Friends theme pains me greatly for one reason, the dolls. If they had just gone with minifigures, I would be grabbing them all. Sure they are about the same size and you can still fit a minifigure in a seat designed for a doll, but there is a noticable difference in scale when you put a minifigure in the sets, and it doesn't fit in. Paradisa was awesome.

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By in United States,

Congrats to LEGO and the team that developed it. Initially, I was somewhat skeptical that the product line could compete with prefabricated competitors. Glad I was wrong.

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By in Sweden,

@k0d: Right now I think most stores will have Friends sets in stock as the second wave came in just last week. But I expect it to not take long before the shelves will be empty and filled with "replacement sets" again as I think that ordering in new stock of Friends just isn't possible until early october.

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By in Canada,

I think when you make a judgement that a particular LEGO theme is doing well or not base on your local store shelves you may only see a tiny part of the whole picture. As a fairly good size independent LEGO toy reseller we generally have had very good fill rate from LEGO. However, our Friends order from the beginning of the year was postponed by LEGO to August and eventually cancelled by them completely. It does indeed seem like Friends are in very short supply. Basing only on our own information and not any official information, is that LEGO cancelled our orders along with many other independent toy resellers (ITS) to fulfill the demand from big chain stores. We were recently told that our order of the Friends advent calendar has not been cancelled. Many orders from ITS, like us, are cancelled due to extreme limited supplies. Official words from LEGO is that: "Due to the limited supply, the company has made the decision to support our brick & mortar only customers at this point". As often the case and most frustrating part of this business being an independent LEGO reseller is that the big chaings always get their orders filled first especially for the most popular lines. We understanding completely this is just part of the business, but still very frustrating nonetheless.

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By in Netherlands,

Just noticed that the digital edition of Toynews is online now.

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