Thursday, December 29, 2011

Hue and Cry: Lego for Girls

If there is one thing you can set your watch by, it's that the vast predominance of things done "for girls" or "for boys" are going to miss something about the core of what they are adapting.  Example, above, the new Lego Friends line of Legos aimed squarely at girls.

My first knee jerk response to this was: Wow, Lame. Legos has a product that appeals to girls, it's called Legos. They have female Lego characters, maybe not enough of them, but they exist and I remember loving them.

My nuanced response to this was: Wow, Lame. You can't even really play with the existing Lego sets with the new characters. One of the greatest crimes of childhood is that in imaginative play, where yes, branded characters end up fighting one another in epic battles, or domestic arguments, or quirky adventures, Scale Matters. 
Also, I don't see how she can pilot my space plane-castle in that outfit.
The only male action figure that was a similar size to my She-Ra was Batman, and he was a little short. He-Man and GI Joe and even the Ninja Turtles rarely played well together, entirely because of the size issue. 

Whatever one can say about play patterns and focus groups and test cases, and I'm sure Legos has reams and reams of Data, this seems to narrow what always made Legos so appealing. Choice.

They certainly are going out of their way to portray a certain type of girl, and while there seems to be a diversity of skin colors... what was wrong with the block shapes? wasn't this all about construction and a tabula rasa (or tabula yellow)?
You mean I can wear a short skirt AND bake?
Legos are building blocks and therefore can become ANYTHING, you can mix and match and imagine with them, but, the size differential of these dolls clearly call them out as "not other legos."
But to be honest, I have no idea why I'd buy a Lego pet toy when there are literally hundreds of doll/pet combos exactly like this one.
In defense, I would totally get a little girl this robot building doll set if she wanted it, it's pretty awesome, but can it play with her pirates handily? will her play experience be "a little off" because they aren't really of a piece?

And beyond the Robot kit, and the one girl on the ATV, it seems that these new toys are largely hitting the low hanging fruit of the Girls' Aisle or the "Pink Ghetto" as it often seems: Nurturing Pet Owner, Cook, Fashion Designer, Rock Diva, Lady of Leisure...
Can someone PLEASE tell me what is going on here?
I mean, seriously.  Is it landscape design? No, because this is landscape design:
There's a disconnect here as well in terms of aspirational clothing, if you scroll up you can see precisely one pair of covered legs, one long sleeve shirt, two pairs of Capri pants, and every other girl in a skirt and a lot of revealing tank tops. It may just be the marketing, but it doesn't present a product to a 5 year old in an ideal light.

With that in mind, this little girl has emerged as Patron Saint of this argument in the past couple weeks:

Preach it, Little Sister, I've been whining about this for years.

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