Childrearing

Those Girly LEGOs Are Selling And That’s All LEGO Really Cares About

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legosWhen parents and the childless started taking LEGO to task for developing a pink-washed line for girls that included busty figurines and other wondrous aptitude-enhancing experiences like nail salons, tanning, and shopping, the company quickly responded. In response to petitions from parents and the chiding of girls’ issues experts like Peggy Orenstein, LEGO stated that they had given the “Friends” line “a lot of thought” and agreed that “girls are very powerful and need to be represented as such.”

But despite much concern from the parenting and feminist blogosphere, those hyper-gendered girly LEGOs are selling — and that’s really all LEGO cares about in the first place. Hugo Schwyzer writes that “Olivia’s Tree House” — a product of the Friends line — is currently on Amazon’s list of 20 bestselling games and toys. The Friends play sets also make up about half of the top-selling toys currently on Walmart.com. He adds that although no numbers of sales have been released, it can be easily discerned that the Friends LEGOs are doing well. Profits of course allow LEGO to dismiss all this controversy as simply that — controversy, and affirms that they were correct to design a hyper-feminine play set that assumes all the superficial aspects of girls without considering their real strengths because at the end of the day, they’re making money.

And companies like LEGO that assume the worst of our sons and our daughters will continue to do so unless parents put their money where their values and concerns for their kids are, and show push back with sales. Because LEGO and the like aren’t really all that invested in kids or what they glean about themselves and their capabilities from their toys, otherwise they wouldn’t have produced this obscenely sexist collection. They’re a business and they only care about money.  So unless parents can break it down into a language they understand — like “low sales,” “in the red,” and “unmoved product,” then there really is no incentive for LEGO to cease developing anything short of a “Happy Hooker House” complete with a madame and cash register.

(photo: amazon.com)

17 Comments

  1. Abigail

    February 7, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    In that case, I’ll be rushing out to be a thousand sets for my darling sons who love pink and purple and are very excited to have girls to add to their “cowboy ninja princess superhero team” (their words). I think people are making way too big of a deal about this. If these had come out when I was a kid, I would have gone crazy for them, and not because I am princess-crazy. I would have loved them because I could have played with the regular Legos AND the girly looking Legos at the same time. These Legos are not the end of the world and they are not anti-fem, unless you make them that way. All things in moderation, including moderation. Teaching your children proper values is much more important than banning pink Legos from your life.

  2. bl

    February 7, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    Like the Legos or not, I think parents are putting “their money where their values and concerns for their kids are.” I doubt many of the parents who did by these for their children are very invested in gender neutral toys or they wouldn’t have ordered them. Even if they thought the Lego Friends were an unnecessary, sexist addition, they didn’t seem to feel strongly enough about it to say no.

    I’m sure some parents have said no to these, but most probably just don’t care. And honestly if a girl loves princesses and tutus and firetrucks and dinosaurs, what the difference between all that and liking princesses and girly Legos and firetrucks and dinosaurs?

  3. ABC

    February 8, 2012 at 9:27 am

    I think this whole things has been blown HUGELY out of proportion. Here’s a little news flash for you: little girls live pink and purple. I know, shocking isn’t it.

    My niece played with her legos before, but when she got a bunch of these pink and purple sets for Christmas she went wild. She loved them and builds all kinds of things out of them. I think it was a very smart strategy on Lego’s part.

    In regards to gender neutral toys. This is such BS. My sister has a common playroom where she stocked all kinds of different toys in it and didn’t assign any particular toy to a particular kid. Her son and daughter (twins) naturally gravitated to the toys of their choice without my sister doing a thing about it. Her daughter plays with dolls (and now her pink legos) and her son plays with trucks and cars. It is not gender stereotype, it is NATURE. Although her son plays with the kitchen too.

    Get a grip on yourself. Legos was smart to try to include a huge demographic that despite anyone’s efforts, was just not interested in building star wars ships. To suggest that they were pandering to gender stereotypes is just short sighted.

  4. Samantha

    February 8, 2012 at 11:08 am

    Um, have you noticed that these LEGOs are not as complex? That the assembly isn’t nearly as difficult (i.e., challenging) as the ‘boy’ LEGOs? And that the situations are ALL stereotypically shallow (tanning parlor? salon?). And that the characters have boobs, and a waist?

    I have NO problem with pink, purple or pastel LEGOs. And I have NO problem with offering more female mini-figs (right now, the only ones we have found are pirates, princess Leia, and the creepy Beatrix LeStrange). I’ve advocated for more female characters and am thrilled LEGO realizes that young girls like LEGOs, too.

    However, I DO have a problem with LEGO telling my daughter that she can’t handle the same complex assembly that her brother is faced with. Or that she needs to have boobs at the age of 5. They look like BRATZ LEGOs. And why couldn’t LEGO come out with more female friendly LEGO sets that speak to girls AND encourage them to do more than shop and tan. LEGO vet sets? LEGO hospital or schools? LEGO law firms and office buildings sound dull (even to me) but what about SPY KIDS legos?

    It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it probably shouldn’t insult me, or my daughter.

    • Steph

      February 9, 2012 at 1:00 am

      So buy your daughter normal Lego.

    • Stephanie Steinberg

      May 12, 2012 at 5:42 am

      Have you seen the Lego Friends sets? There is a vet! There is no tanning salon. There is a cafe, a science lab, a recording studio, a house, a design studio, a car, a tree house and yes a beauty salon.. The whole focus of the girls is career oriented with each character aspiring to a different career (scientist, veternarian, singer, journalist, etc.) I am not a fan of the t.v ad but the printed brochures from the lego shop emphasized the employment goals of the characters. I am not sure why they didn’t stick with that for the whole campaign. The figures are not that curvy. They seem to be pre-teens or young teens, hardly Barbies! I am not sure why these Lego sets are getting so much heat when things like Barbie and Bratz are around and so much more offensive. Also, it seems crazy to me that people are complaining about these sets without even bothering to actually investigate them.

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  6. Brandy

    February 8, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    I know this might seem like news, but pink Legos aren’t really new. They were around 20+ years ago when I was a kid (late 80s-mid 90s). I should know, I owned both traditional legos and the pink girl ones. I’m pretty darned girly, but I highly doubt it is due to playing with pink colored plastic.
    I think we should just be happy kids are interested in playing with something tangible instead of video games.

  7. Steph

    February 9, 2012 at 12:59 am

    Are we still talking about this? SOME GIRLS LIKE PINK AND SHOPPING AND NAIL SALONS AND THAT’S OKAY!!!!

    I think the bloggers on Mommyish are the only ones who really care about this ‘issue’ and to make such a big deal about girls choosing a particular toy is grossly anti-feminist.

  8. Kate

    February 9, 2012 at 4:51 am

    Whats this about the girls ones not being complex? Two years ago my mother bought my daughter that huge horse stable one in the big purple box for Christmas and it took rotating turns of me, my husband, my brother, my sister in law and my 14yr old niece to put it together, and it still didnt turn out right. (Mind you, my mother seemed to get out of the construction of that one, funny that)

    Some kids like girly stuff, get over it.

  9. Leslie

    February 9, 2012 at 10:07 am

    My 5 year old daughter had no interest in legos, despite having inherited tons of them from older cousins. However when she saw the treehouse Friends set in the store she immediately wanted it. She took it home, we put it together, she’s played with it a bunch, and since then she’s been much more interested in playing with the other sets she already had. I say if it can attract kids who might otherwise NOT be interested in legos, it’s a good thing!

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  13. Doug Foreman

    May 20, 2012 at 11:41 am

    If the only thing Lego company cared about is sales, they would have caved into the market pressure for modern military sets long ago.

    They just don’t care about YOUR paranoia regarding trying to erase gender differences

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  15. Emmett Reid

    June 18, 2012 at 9:47 am

    girls dont need pink briks to hav fun! they should’nt bother to make so many girl legos

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