epershand: Rose brandishing knitting needles. (Rose)
epershand ([personal profile] epershand) wrote2012-02-08 11:50 pm

In defense of Lego Friends

So I just watched this well-done video on the new Lego Friends line, from Feminist Frequency:

Over the course of the video I went from peeved at Lego to actually really impressed with what they've done and grumpy at all the hate they've been getting for it, the exact opposite of what the video was aiming for.

I know! It's horribly gender-essentialist, all these pink and purple sets designed to help build houses instead of cities, with their human figures that look more like dolls than the iconic lego figurines.

But it's *exactly* the sort of thing that might have gotten me started playing with legos as a kid. I was never really into legos. I loved lincoln logs--I used them to build doll houses. I loved blocks--I used them to build doll houses. And I loved erector sets and chemical bond model kits (look I was the grandchild of a nano-physicist ok????) and mostly I really, really, loved cardboard, which I could cut and fold into ANY SHAPE I WANTED to build things with. (Mostly things for my dolls to live in and/or use.)

Legos always seemed horribly limiting. They only came in rectangles, for one, unlike things like erector sets and all the neat toys at my grandparents' you could use to build elaborate crystalline structures. And there were never enough vertical panels so if you wanted to build a doll house you had to build all your walls out of bricks, which just wasn't that fascinating an activity.

And those lego figures--they're pretty neat, I'll admit, with their different hair options and differently-colored shirts and stuff. But they're anonymous. They're not really people--they're just another shape of brick that you can use to decorate your scenes.

Lego friends introduces a set of distinct *characters* with names and personalities and identifiable features. That's an inroad to being able to use them to tell stories. And if there was one thing that I liked more than designing and building elaborate dollhouses out of everything I could possibly find for that purpose, it was acting out stories with my little sister and our dolls. Lego Friends would have let us do that, and hey, if we needed more pieces or wanted colors other than pink or purple we could have then turned to THE ENTIRE REST OF LEGO-KIND.

The uproar is about the fact that these are being marketed as "legos for girls", and I keep seeing this image being passed around the internet as a preferred marketing campaign:

Little girl in traditionally boyish clothes grinning with her legos. Text overlay reads 'what it is is beautiful.'

And that's great for girls who want to play "like boys". But what about girls (and boys, and others) who want to play "like girls"? Lego Friends isn't necessarily Legos for Girls. It's Legos for Feminine Kids. And I'm sorry, but I can't be angry at Lego marketing itself to feminine kids and giving them a doorway into the broader world of playing with Legos. I created my own inroad with erector sets and the other "masculine" toys I played with, but not every kid does that on their own.

The path "forward" doesn't necessarily have to be a brave march forward into an increasingly "gender-neutral" future where masculinity is the norm. That's not gender-neutral. That's masculine. Sometimes girls don't need to be given the freedom to "act like boys". Sometimes they need the freedom to "act like girls", damnit. (This is the part where I really want to insert a pithy Julia Serano quotation but if I tried it would wind up being everything she's ever said. If you want to pause at this point and get a copy of Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity and read the entire thing I don't blame you--that would be an excellent life choice. But there's only one more paragraph and you can go read all the Serano after that.)

Twenty-ish years ago another toy company did the same thing--they took a toy traditionally sold in neutral colors and created a pastel version, with a set of unique characters, each with their own personality. That was My Little Pony, a toy that's increasingly in the news as it gains more fans of all genders. Can we give Lego the opportunity to do the same?

unjapanologist: (Default)

[personal profile] unjapanologist 2012-02-09 09:17 am (UTC)(link)
As far as I can tell, the problem isn't that Lego is making a pink and purple set and marketing it to girls, but that they're marketing only this set to girls. Basically, they're acting like there's a difference between "people lego" and "girl lego", and that this is a natural difference that they discovered through years of researchery.

Maybe this will draw girls more into Lego. That would be awesome. *moment of childhood Lego nostalgia* But in my opinion, the pink and purple stuff should have been inserted into/marketed as part of the existing Lego world, diversifying that world to include more feminine stuff that does indeed appeal to lots of girls. Now it seems like they're creating a separate girl enclave, and that's just totally unnecessary.
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[personal profile] bluestalking 2012-02-09 06:29 pm (UTC)(link)
I'd say your first paragraph is a better reason to rework how Legos are marketed than to make a new, even more exclusive product. I mean, you are saying the new line is for girls AND feminine kids, but that's not what they're selling. They are selling Girl Only Toys. So...not so much a step forward as, exactly what the toy industry is already doing with every other product. Yup, that's the world they work in, but conforming to it doesn't make them revolutionary. Selling the new stuff and the old stuff, both, to kids of ALL GENDERS, that would be revolutionary, and then I think I'd be more in agreement with you.
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[personal profile] bluestalking 2012-02-09 07:50 pm (UTC)(link)
I guess I'm saying that I've seen all this before. I mean, what they're marketing follows all the usual rules of gendered toys, so of course it's appealing--that's what we've been trained and studied and reminded to like for decades. And they're pretty well-designed toys, too--I LIKE them. But while selling a new, girl-targeted toy in pinks and purples with no male figures, without remarketing the old product to a broader rage of kid audiences may not make Lego EVIL, and it may be the business, it's a bad system. Treating femininity as evil is, in fact, evil, but treating femininity as necessary to girlhood is not any better, and the fact that it's hard to change how the system works isn't enough to make me sympathetic to Lego's going along with it.

In relation to another comment I made, actually, yes, the images of Lego Friends do have breasts:



unjapanologist: (Default)

[personal profile] unjapanologist 2012-02-09 11:50 pm (UTC)(link)
"that's a world they have to operate in" absolves Lego of responsibility a bit much, IMO. They chose to stop marketing their product to girls, and they chose to let the Lego world evolve into something that was full of heavily masculinized themes. They could have included more "feminine" aspects in the Lego world years ago, instead of acting like they have suddenly discovered the secret to girl minds through "research".

Many girls like stereotypically feminine toys, no problem! It's the fact that Lego acts like this segregation they're creating is normal and unavoidable that rubs me the wrong way. They're saying "well, we have to do beauty parlors and vet offices or girls won't buy our product". Girls would have bought their product more if it had been marketed to them in the first place, and beauty parlors and vet offices should have been a part of the great "people Lego" world from the start. Not something you tack on after, through years of "research", you discover that these sorts of things are part of the world as well. It may be a step in the right direction, perhaps, but it's a very clumsy step that does not make the company look intelligent or aware of gender issues.

[personal profile] octette 2012-02-09 11:47 am (UTC)(link)
My problem is that Lego seems to be saying (from what I have seen), "This is how girls should play" instead of "Here is another awesome Lego option!"

It's the "This is how girls should play" (sub)text that is tripping me up here, and that's what most of the critiques of it I've seen have also been saying. (Granted, I am not reading critiques outside of fandom for the most part!)

[personal profile] octette 2012-02-09 11:48 am (UTC)(link)
(Separately, it actually really really really bugs me that things that are "gender neutral" and "androgynous" in general are just "masculine" -- that is not proper at all. :( Ugh.)
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[personal profile] bluestalking 2012-02-09 11:58 am (UTC)(link)
Agreed. I want some pretty pink things up in this neutrality!
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[personal profile] bluestalking 2012-02-09 11:57 am (UTC)(link)

Hmm...I agree that 'girly stuff' and figures and characters are great--my favorite parts of Lego growing up were the figures and the little bits of kit like trees and sharks and guns and tiny gold pieces--but I also agree with broader criticisms that designating their scrupulously constructed 'feminine play' as THE 'Lego for girls' isn't helpful. I'm not convinced that the limited color range is a good point of argument either. Yeah, pastels worked for My Little Pony in the 80s; it's something basically EVERY 'for girls' toy does, because it's now a quick, easy way to designate who is supposed to like their product. Which is stupid and pointless, and really doesn't help infant misogyny--how many boys in the last twenty years have been honestly scared to like pink because the toy industry says it's not okay? How many girls and gender-variant kids have refused to wear it because it makes people see them the wrong way? The version of My Little Pony that's catching everyone's attention, NOW, has a bright gorgeous full-color palate. And good characters. And a predominantly female cast. The pastel-only thing is stupid and harmful.

As a personal point, I also really feel no need for one more pink girl-toy with breasts. Barbies never taught me anything about appreciating or anticipating grown-up female bodies; I preferred to play with Kelly and Stacy and their familiar androgyny. I liked Legos for the same reason. And American girl. And, for that matter, Quints (which I also liked for having boys as well as girls) and Polly Pocket. The girls were still girls, the women were still women. They didn't need breasts to do it. This is not to say BREASTS ARE NOT APPROPRIATE FOR KIDS; that's stupid and misogynistic. And girls are allowed to want them, in every sense! However, there's nothing in the toy industry's presentation of female beauty that makes me thing they're saying, "breasts are great and it's okay to have them!" so much as "this is what you'll turn out to look like, so get on it!" I didn't like it then and I still don't like it now, especially when it's basically the ONE kind of (physical) figure the new Lego line is offering as correct for young ladies. Oops, we're making girl-toys now! Better add tits!

Huh--but I'm also not interpreting the old Legos ad the way you are. As I read it, it's not defending her Lego creation as masculine play that's acceptable for a beautiful girl; it's defending a weird lopsided not-quite-anything-recognizable as a legitimate piece of Lego art by a creative kid. Perhaps that's not cynical enough, but it's what I read.
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[personal profile] feverbeats 2012-02-09 04:28 pm (UTC)(link)
Its goal is--given the overly broad gender stereotyping in the world of toys, to create something that girly-girls will pick up and play with too.
Hm--Speaking as someone who was girly as fuck as a child--I was delighted by frilly, "girly", glittery shit and butch, "masculine" shit in equally measures. Also speaking as someone who was a substitute teacher and got to see a ton of kids playing with a ton of things, I'm honestly not sure I've seen this phenomenon. Any kid with an imagination (shocker, that is pretty much all the kids!) can make something like legos (which are fairly neutral and have a pretty broad scope and a lot of options) as girly as they want. That's what I always did. That's what I've seen other kids do. I just don't feel like this is a niche that isn't being filled.
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[personal profile] futuransky 2012-02-09 12:48 pm (UTC)(link)
The path "forward" doesn't necessarily have to be a brave march forward into an increasingly "gender-neutral" future where masculinity is the norm. That's not gender-neutral. That's masculine.

OMG THANK YOU YES. It's not that I don't love the old Lego ad or think that compulsory pinkness is horrible––I hate compulsory pinkness––but the way femininity is always a problem... Yay Serano!
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[personal profile] naraht 2012-02-09 12:59 pm (UTC)(link)
I'm... really not sure I agree with this. On the one hand, yes, you have some very important points about the valuing of masculinity over femininity and the need to allow children of all genders to be free to be feminine.

On the other hand, do we really want to be arguing that traditional Lego is un-feminine? I certainly never thought about it that way as a child. I loved both Legos and acting out stories, but then I used to act out stories using marbles, which had neither names or personalities to start with. (There's another issue here about giving children the freedom to use their imagination rather than always guiding it down pre-existing paths.)

Why do Legos have to replicate a gender binary of masculine vs. feminine? Why couldn't we just have gender-neutral Legos? (You've implied that in color terms, the choice is neutral or pastel, so there's certainly an argument that traditional Legos *are* neutral Legos anyway.)

ETA: Also, there are already Lego sets that come with stories attached. As a child I had a moonbase Lego and an awesome Robin Hood tree hideout.
Edited 2012-02-09 13:16 (UTC)
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[personal profile] caminante 2012-02-09 01:14 pm (UTC)(link)
Thanks for posting this. I hadn't heard about this controversy at all because I live in the future (or, rather, abroad).

This really isn't relevant to the discussion at all, but pink and purple are super gender neutral in Korea and it makes me happy. Nothing warms the heart quite like watching two high school boys ride down the street sharing a pink bicycle (a scene I've actually observed more than once).

A perspective from a former merchandiser

[identity profile] route52.livejournal.com 2012-02-09 02:19 pm (UTC)(link)
I spent most nights of November/December 2011 stocking the toy aisle of Target, and when I got placed on the presentation (visual merchandising) team, the first reset we did was the toy section. So I know whereof I speak.

I'm quite comfortable in saying that the decision by Lego to market pink Legos has absolutely ZERO to do with gender politics or the desire to reify gender norms. Go into your local Target (or Walmart, or whatever). Look at the way the toys are merchandised. It will become obvious very quickly that there are distinct boy aisles and girl aisles. Blue backing paper for the boy aisles, pink for the girl aisles. Stocked in the girl aisle? Dolls, barbies, fake makeup kits, etc. In the boy aisle, trucks, fake guns, Nerf, etc. Oh, and Legos.

So toys are merchandised in an EXTREMELY gender-normy way. Now, think like a Lego executive. Your toys are *actually* gender neutral, but they are getting shelved in the 'boy' section, literally because the colors of the legos and lego boxes correspond more obviously with blue and therefore boys colors. Not to mention there are a lot of lego toys that aren't bricks and those are often cars, trucks, military themed, etc - in other words, boy stuff in the eyes of your friendly neighborhood planogram designer, and your friendly neighborhood planogram designer wants to keep all toys of the same brand in the same sections and not spread them out across different aisles.

In other words, because of the way toys are merchandised, Lego had NO shelf space in the girl aisles. Again, this is not Lego's fault. So if you're that Lego executive, you have a few choices. 1) Keep with the status quo. Legos are super popular already. Who cares if there are zero legos in the girl section. 2) Expand your brand and your shelf presence by creating pink Lego sets, thereby increasing your customer base and the likelihood that girls will buy not only the pink legos, but the regular legos as well. I'm sorry, but you have to go with #2. Notice that there was no option 3) completely revamp the way toys are merchandised in America -- close to impossible and not Lego's responsibility anyway. I see their merchandise as less "Pink Lego" and more "Dollhouses sold under the Lego brand designed to make parents and kids then want to explore more products sold under the Lego brand."

So in short I am worked up about this not at all.
unjapanologist: (Default)

Re: A perspective from a former merchandiser

[personal profile] unjapanologist 2012-02-10 12:02 am (UTC)(link)
Now, think like a Lego executive. Your toys are *actually* gender neutral, but they are getting shelved in the 'boy' section, literally because the colors of the legos and lego boxes correspond more obviously with blue and therefore boys colors. Not to mention there are a lot of lego toys that aren't bricks and those are often cars, trucks, military themed, etc

Hmmm, this makes it sound like the colors of the legos, the colors of the boxes, and the themes of lego toys all "happened" to Lego executives complete outside of their own volition. They are the ones who made the colors and the themes, though. They could easily have included stereotypically feminine colors and themes along with the "boy stuff". They didn't, and they chose to start marketing exclusively to boys, so it only makes sense their products got put in the boy aisles.

I'm not disagreeing with your characterization of toy merchandising, absolutely not. But I feel that Lego as a company does indeed bear a lot of the responsibility for their products ending up in the boy aisles alone.

[identity profile] orangetyger.livejournal.com 2012-02-09 02:57 pm (UTC)(link)
Yeah, my biggest problem with lego friends is simply that the figures wouldn't play well with other sets, because they are bigger. Because it's true...we had a TON of legos growing up and played with them all the time, but a lot of that time was spent building elaborate doll houses for the figures, and I see no problem with sets built around that. But these figures couldn't ride the horses from the medieval legos, for example, or go into any of the sets created for the little figures...and that's too bad.
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[personal profile] krait 2012-02-09 10:50 pm (UTC)(link)
I played with a LOT of dolls of different sizes growing up, and I had no problem getting them to interact together in their worlds. I mean, the barbies and the plastic dinosaurs were BEST FRIENDS.

Heehee, maybe this is a thing! Barbies, Ninja Turtles, and rubber snakes were all standard features of the games I played, and the size differences... I guess didn't even register, or got handwaved with "April O'Neill is actually really short" and/or "they're MAGIC snakes". :D
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[personal profile] girlpearl 2012-02-09 11:20 pm (UTC)(link)
My sister & I had a long-running soap opera in which our barbies & their bffs, the my little ponies, owned a breyer horse ranch (just go with it) which was frequently visited by strawberry shortcake characters. Size is only a barrier in your mind :)
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[personal profile] prismakaos 2012-02-10 04:57 pm (UTC)(link)
In my childhood world, the lego guys where the dozers (the builders from Fraggle Rock), and were inevitably enslaved by the Evil Naked Barbies, and then promptly rescued by the My Little Ponies, who exiled the Barbies to the Land of the Potted Plant. Occasionally, the MLPs would have to treat with the lego horses, who, of course, ruled over the lego people with an iron fist. Hoof. Whatever.

...eventually, the evil master mind and ruler of the world was a kitten from a dollhouse set, who is, no joke, smaller than half of my pinkie nail. I still have her, and she resides in a golden scarab box. She is perhaps the proper size of kitten for a lego person.
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[personal profile] yarngeek 2012-02-09 04:01 pm (UTC)(link)
At work, so I am skipping the vid. Looking at the ad, I wonder if I would have played with Lego (or Duplo, the toddler version) more if there had been sets all in one color available at the time. (They're available *now*, but not in upstate NY in the mid-eighties. Internet, ILU.) I seem to remember making something and getting really frustrated that there weren't enough bricks in the right color to finish whatever I was making.
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[personal profile] krait 2012-02-09 10:48 pm (UTC)(link)
Hahaha, I used to build according to colour. First all the greens and blues were used; then yellow and white; and then -- if I absolutely had to -- red.
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[personal profile] fifteendozentimes 2012-02-09 04:32 pm (UTC)(link)
Ugh I am of like sixteen minds about this.

Like, first, the Lego Friends sets are really neat, and as far as I can tell get as big and complex as any of the Lego series (barring maybe Star Wars & Harry Potter, which have the big Millenium Falcon and Hogwarts sets), so I think that's cool? Lego series have been getting increasingly niche-y, so you can buy Harry Potter or DC Superhero or Star Wars or Dinosaur or Alien Lego sets more readily than just the basic box of blocks you can do anything with. And in that situation, I think Lego Friends are great, because they cover a niche Lego was ignoring.

And I see every day parents who will not buy shit for their kids if it's not marketed gender-specifically. All Christmas season I had people asking if we had "Legos for girls" before Friends had even come out (and I never knew how to answer that! Yes, we do, but not the way you mean?), so this is the only way some girls will get building toys to play with, so I appreciate it on that level?

But I had a customer the other night ask if they had Lego Friends for boys, because those same people who won't buy their girls "boy" Legos aren't going to buy their boys "girl" Legos. I think "this is a new approach to playing with Legos" is great, but not "this is the girl approach to playing with Legos," which is the strategy they're going with.

I like the idea of Lego dolls? I do not like that they are incompatible with "boy" Legos, or that they only come in purple boxes, or that they're marketed specifically for girls. And a lot of that is my own baggage, I guess, but I mean, I think it is entirely reasonable for me to be tired of having things I like being classified as "for girls"?

(Anonymous) 2012-02-09 11:25 pm (UTC)(link)
Yeah, I think my ideal would be both the core Legislation and the Friends expanding & neutralizing, so like if I want my dolls to have a fire station or dinosaur encounter I can, and if I want my Lego town to have a cafe or salon next door to Hogwarts I can.

-15dozentimes, too lazy to sign in from his phone
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[personal profile] eccentric_hat 2012-02-09 04:50 pm (UTC)(link)
I suppose I was one of the girls who didn't play much with Legos, though it's hard to say how much that was for reasons related to gender (I was a pretty gender-normative little girl, and my brother was all over that kind of toy) and how much it was because I was such a bookworm. I didn't actually play with toys very much once I learned to read. Anyway, I really just wanted to thank you for the book recommendation, because I think "the scapegoating of femininity" is a phrase I needed for a pattern I catch myself in when talking about girlhood. My go-to example of "things we say to little girls" is about playing with dolls, and how if a girl is treating a doll roughly, adults will tend to tell her "don't, you're hurting it," whereas if a boy treats a doll/action figure in a similar way, adults generally see it as just playing rough. It took me quite a while to reflect that "not hurting things" is not necessarily the negative message in that whole scenario.

Heaven only knows when I'll find room in my reading list for a book of this kind, but I'll try to get a hold of it.
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[personal profile] ellen_fremedon 2012-02-09 06:42 pm (UTC)(link)
Haven't watched the video, because I'm at work, but I looked at the Lego Friends sets on the Lego website.

I played with a lot of Legos as a kid, in very much the way you describe-- I built settings and staged stories in them. I had about equal amounts of the Space, Castle, and City legos. And poking around the website-- the space sets and the castle sets have gotten more and more elaborate since I was little, but the city sets are just gone. The lego city now consists of transportation and emergency services and nothing else.

I'm not happy with the size disparity between the Friends figures and the regular Legos, which will make it harder to integrate the Friends sets with a larger lego collection; and I'm not thrilled that the sets mostly offer the same approved girly interests as any other toy marked to girls (salon, veterinary clinic, cafe, yawn.)

But if gendering the sets was the only way they could manage to reintroduce cafes and clinics and houses and any modern buildings that are not emergency services and transport hubs to the line-- better that than nothing.

That lineup actually makes me much sadder for the boys growing up today, than for the girls. If the sets that I grew up playing with-- a house with a garden, a minifig assortment that had a mailman with letters and a baker in a toque and a construction worker in a hardhat and a janitor with a broom, a delivery van, a garage with a lift and a tow truck and a mechanic with a wrench-- if those have all been retired as insufficiently masculine for a male-gendered toy line, then what's left?
Edited (clarity) 2012-02-09 18:43 (UTC)
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[personal profile] ellen_fremedon 2012-02-09 07:15 pm (UTC)(link)
Hmm. The "Bricks and More" sets tend to be clunkier and intended for smaller children-- they'll let you make a thing in the general shape of something, but usually without a lot of moving parts or specialized pieces. The City sets have a much more limited range these days, but they've got a much greater level of detail-- the same level as the Friends sets.

So Lego Friends isn't the only way to get those things into play, but it does seem to be the only way to get specialized pieces and props relating to gardens, bakeries, etc.

(Anonymous) 2012-02-09 07:07 pm (UTC)(link)
Hi - it's Julia from LJ and HS :)

This has been an interesting topic to read other opinions and viewpoints on. I discussed this with my mom recently and it brought back memories of having girl "legos" when I was a kid. My only irritation with it back then was that they were generic and couldn't be used with the regular legos because they were just off enough that they didn't match up!

But, now, as a parent, I have a different point of view. My problem isn't with Lego, or with the marketing used. It's with PARENTS who choose to only expose their children to gender-specific toys. Yes, Lego is marketing things a certain way, but it's the parents who ultimately make the decision on what toys are brought into their household for their children. In our household, we have decided to go the Waldorf route - basic, simple, open-ended toys. If we were to ever do Legos at all, I'd probably buy a set of both and mix them all together. ALL COLORS!

I don't think that the colors of Legos is going to impact a child's gender. Will it make it harder if that child is being forced into one category when they actually identify with another? Probably. But then so will everything else in the world. I agree with what others said about making things "gender-neutral" and actually making them masculine. Femininity is okay. Pink is okay. Princesses are okay. If it's the child's choice whether the child is male or female.

As a parent, I have more of an issue with the commercialization of toys. I don't care if Lego makes a boy set and a girl set. I do have a HUGE issue with STAR WARS/PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN/CARS/HARRY POTTER (etc.) Legos. We've made a choice to not expose our children to those things until later. Which is damn hard since EVERYTHING is branded.

Who knew toys could be such a political issue? My son is much more happy to play with cardboard and spoons than he is with other toys. We don't even buy him stuff! Everything he has are presents from other people.

The end. I have to stop now. I have a lot of thoughts about this topic :)
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[personal profile] eccentric_hat 2012-02-09 07:44 pm (UTC)(link)
I have a friend who just wrote an essay about this aspect of Legos--not the gender thing at all, but the branding of Legos with movie characters. He argued that it's a less open-ended form of play that limits creativity. I wish he'd published it so I could put a link here, but I don't think he has.
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[personal profile] prismakaos 2012-02-09 08:00 pm (UTC)(link)
I'm going to reply to your comment because it says a couple of things that I wanted to mention too, which is that I have a much harder time with lego now because all of their sets are so *heavily themed*, whether it's Star Wars or Bionic or Harry Potter or whatever. The themed stuff bothers me WAY more than this gender issue -- it's so specific that lego can't help but become more commercialized in their marketing.

That said, I was girly in that was I horse-crazed, and boyish in the dino/spaceship/bugs-are-fucking-awesome kind of way, and once I built a lego set, it just stayed built. I didn't have any need to create my own thing, but more to put together the exact set that was shown on the box.

Happily, back in the 80s, lego didn't sell pink bricks (I didn't like pink), but they DID have a lot of more domestic sets: http://www.brickset.com/detail/?Set=6379-1 and http://www.brickset.com/detail/?Set=6374-1 to pick two that I had. The horse stable in particular was awesome to me. :) (I also had the monorail* and Robin Hood and a lot of other things.)

Lego is a dying art form, in that kids are trained from video games and tv shows that toys they play with should be exact replicas of what's on the screen. Legos are kind of the 8-bit, pixelized version of playmobil -- and, as such, have had to start manufacturing more 'processed' pieces as kids are no longer satisfied with just generic sets.

I don't, for the record, think that plain legos are masculine.** I do think that a lot of the sets that came out in the 80s may only have appealed to boys, and there were some sets that came out that only appealed to girls. I think the sets now are shoehorned into being for boys -- someone put the legos in the boys aisle to start, boy-themed legos started selling better, lego became a little more siloed in their manufacturing, repeat. This new launch is the way to balance it.

And, actually, let's just be honest. They're modernizing and renaming their old Belville girls line, which produced from 1999-2008. See for example: http://www.brickset.com/detail/?Set=5808-1 (Ironically belville.lego.com, which was active during Christmas, now redirects to the new Friends homepage.***

Okay, kids, enough lego history.

* Clearly the best set EVAR: http://www.brickset.com/detail/?Set=6990-1
** The toy store I had when I was growing up had its own lego aisle/area, so the toys weren't mixed in with either the girl or the boy toys. They also had an animatronic/robotic lego display that changed every month or so, so I might have been spoiled, but oh man did I play with and buy many many lego sets.
*** I took the Lego Friends quiz. Today, I am like Olivia. I like creating new things and sharing them with friends. And playing with my chemistry set: http://friends.lego.com/en-us/Products/Details/3933.aspx and my treehouse: http://friends.lego.com/en-us/Products/Details/3065.aspx ('cept, I'd have dogs, not cats) I would totally play with either of these playsets NOW. :) (Also hee: http://friends.lego.com/en-us/Products/Details/3942.aspx) These sets are SO MUCH BETTER than Belville.
krait: a sea snake (krait) swimming (Default)

[personal profile] krait 2012-02-09 10:42 pm (UTC)(link)
'm going to reply to your comment because it says a couple of things that I wanted to mention too, which is that I have a much harder time with lego now because all of their sets are so *heavily themed*, whether it's Star Wars or Bionic or Harry Potter or whatever.

I'm with you on this. The strict themes mean that all the pieces are so specialised you can hardly build anything *but* what the package shows; what fun is that?! :D I'm so glad I grew up back when you could buy a bucket of basic pieces for a reasonable price.
sasha_feather: Amelie, white woman with dark hair, smiling cheerfully (Amelie)

[personal profile] sasha_feather 2012-02-09 10:34 pm (UTC)(link)
You make a good point. Elle Woods may very well agree.
krait: a sea snake (krait) swimming (Default)

[personal profile] krait 2012-02-09 10:39 pm (UTC)(link)
Whenever the issue of gendered toys comes up, I always start to giggle about my own youthful fascination with fishing worms (the rubber kind). They were brightly coloured! They often contained glitter! They had long trailing tails! And they were worms. Squishy worms. *giggling* I spent hours playing with them. The best toys are the ones nobody has created a marketing campaign for. :D

I was a big Lego fan as a kid, though -- we had a bucket or three (including one off-brand "girly" set with purple and pink and white bricks, intended for building 'dream houses'... sounds familiar!), and I mostly used them to build sets for other toys: Ninja turtles, rubber snakes, and once my neighbour's hamster. :D Oh, yes -- and the Lego people and their horses, both of which I liked just fine, despite the lack of distinguishing features. (In fact, I enjoyed that they were interchangeable -- I put white cylinders in place of heads when I wanted ghosts, stuck the little flowers on top of heads when I wanted aliens, and cheerfully mixed heads, torsos, wigs, and legs to make a variety of ad-hoc characters, most of whom were subsequently eaten by the rubber snakes.)


(Anonymous) 2013-05-22 07:03 am (UTC)(link)
The bridge looks fuolubas! All ready for the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant. You will need to build a Royal Lego barge with the Queen on it to pass beneath the bridge