For two months, toy stores have been updating their aisles with the newest 2013 offerings. They’re done with the “Hot Holiday Toys.” They know you’ve already bought all those. They want you to have new options for the new year. And one of the biggest new releases for 2013 toys has to be Barbie blocks, formally called Barbie Build n’ Style.
It only makes sense that after all of the success and attention that LEGO Friends has generated, the biggest girl brand on the market would want to get in on the action. Those hot pink kids at Mattel are always making sure that Barbs stays up on her trends. So now, Barbie has teamed up with Mega Blocks to give little girls the opportunity to build their own Dream House.
While LEGO at least attempted to give girls a variety of building locations and sets, from stables to cafes to camping trips, Barbie sticks to her comfort zone. My local Target has sets for a mansion, beach loft, boutique, and a pool party available. That being said, the design and appearance are extremely similar to that of LEGO. One box is pink. The other is purple. My daughter honestly assumed they were all the same thing.
Since I have a 5-year-old who happens to love herself some LEGO Friends, I thought I would test out Barbie’s new endeavor to see how it compares to other girly building set on the market. And I’m sorry to tell you Barbie fans out there, it was a pretty poor showing for Malibu.
LEGO Friends caught plenty of flack for being more about cutesy characters than building, but at least their sets took some time, thought, and creativity. The folks at Mattel through some “circle surfaces” on the floors and roof and called it a day. There was almost zero building to be done with these sets. Construction took my daughter and I all of 15 minutes. Then we were left with a little miniature beach loft, when we have a bigger, more detailed Barbie house just a few feet away in the toy room. Within seconds of completing our project, my daughter said, “Let’s just play real Barbies, Mom.”
For some feminist mothers, LEGO Friends was an affront. I suggest those moms not go anywhere near Barbie Build n’ Style. We didn’t realize it last year, but the girly block toys can be so much worse. Now, thanks to Mattel. They are worse. They’re not even building toys. They are the same old play sets your daughter already has sitting in her closet, just with a few more connectable pieces.
If Mattel thought they were creating a “building toy,” they failed. Who knew LEGO Friends could look so good?