Friends: a male AFOL's view
My wife's been at a football match today (soccer I think most of you call it) so I found myself with time on my hands for a quick trip to Argos. My youngest daughter is a keen piano player so I thought I pick up 3932 Andrea's Stage for her. Unfortunately, being 17, she showed no interest in it whatsoever so I had to build it :-)
However, I do know that if these sets had come out 10 years ago she would have loved them. When my daughters were younger they had both Scala and Belville and enjoyed them both. However, I think they failed as LEGO sets because of the scale of the dolls. Because they were much larger than minifigs, the sets were full of large, specialised, and probably expensive parts which meant the sets themselves had few parts in them and scope for reuse was limited.
Friends, however, are pretty much minifig-scale and the sets and accessories can be used interchangeably with regular 'system' sets. I'm prepared to believe that little girls don't like minifigs and will find these mini-dolls far more appealing, remembering what I do about my two when they were young.
So, what about this set? Well, it consists of a 'stage' with a neat curtain-effect, a piano and another piece of stage with lights and mic. stand. All three parts are well designed but it's a shame they don't all go together with the piano on the stage and the fancy purple stage bit integrated into the main one. Still, I don't suppose it will be too much work to do just that with parts in your collection.
The magenta and medium lavender parts in this set are absolutely gorgeous and the tiles are printed which is always better than stickers, so there's nothing not to like about this set.
I'm going to end this by repeating what Lucy said below because I agree entirely: "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." If you want to see what skilled MOCers are doing with the parts, check out this spacecraft at Brothers-Brick.