A comic titled “LEGO Friends” recently went viral, striking a chord with people by humorously pointing out that girls don’t need a separate line of LEGO toys. No, no—girls just need better female representation within existing LEGO sets:
Maritsa is illustrator living in Brooklyn, NY who grew up just outside of Washington, DC and went to Pratt Institute to study illustration. Since graduating in 2010, she’s worked on staff at Marvel Comics, made backgrounds for a Cartoon Network show called MAD, and has worked in different editorial jobs, including a couple New Yorker comics. For the past three years, she’s also done the cartooning and animation for the shows “16 & Pregnant” and “Teen Mom 2” on MTV.
REBECCA HAINS: Your LEGO Friends cartoon has clearly struck a chord with people, and as someone who does work in this area, it’s been really gratifying to me as a bystander to see your piece go viral—as of this writing, it’s been reached by 106,304 people from my facebook page alone. The traction it has gained is really impressive. Can you tell me what inspired you to create this cartoon?
MARITSA PATRINOS: Thank you! This past week has certainly been a surprise! I definitely don’t consider myself an expert on anything regarding gender roles or LEGO. I can only speak for myself, someone who started playing with LEGO as a girl in the 90’s (and still plays with them now… I just bought a minecraft set…).
But I made this comic after I saw the short documentary Inside Lego. It was very informative, but the last stretch of it highlighted the “Friends” line and I was a little surprised. I had thought LEGO was a company that prided itself with being a unisex toy, so it seemed strange that now they would create a line targeted towards just girls. I actually don’t have a problem with the content—I know there’s absolutely nothing wrong with playing with juice bars or shopping malls. I just don’t know if those things should be associated with gender. I thought about the girls who don’t like those things, and the boys who do like those things, and wondered if they felt alienated at all.
I’m sure LEGO’s heart was in the right place and I’m sure they’ve done tons of research to pick their content. But when I saw the men in this documentary talk about how to connect with girls, it sounded a little like they were trying to decipher how to make contact with an alien species.
RH: You’re clearly a talented illustrator, and you’ve been posting comics to your site SeasonalDepressionComic.com since 2009, covering a pretty wide range of topics. How do you usually choose topics for your cartoons? What inspires you?
MP: I started Seasonal Depression really just as an exercise for me, almost like therapy. It’s a place for me to share personal stories and process whatever I’m thinking about at the time. Translating things into comics helps me to organize my thoughts. After doing more involved illustration work for clients, it’s also refreshing to loosen up- I try to use a simpler style that reads quickly and doesn’t overcomplicate what I want to say.
RH: Have any of your other posts gone viral like this one?
RH: What kinds of feedback have you been receiving from people about your LEGO Friends cartoon? What would you say the balance has been between supportive comments and comments that are critical in some way?
MP: Most of what comes directly to me has been very supportive. It’s gratifying to see so many other people identify with my work. There have also been people (both men and women) who disagree and engage others in discussion, which is great. Some of them have had good points. Like I said, I’m not an authority, but as a consumer it’s something I have feelings about and I’m just happy it’s a discussion.
The internet is a funny place. Things can gain momentum and amplify louder than you anticipated them to, they get regurgitated as scripture, and you wonder if you should have phrased things a little differently.
But I try not to actively participate in comment sections or forums. I’m no good at that stuff. I’d rather wonder if I should have spent a little more time coloring.
Rebecca would like to thank Maritsa Patrinos for taking the time to be interviewed for this blog, and would like to note that Maritsa is also available for freelance work! Be sure to check out Maritsa’s impressive portfolio.
Reblogged this on Dr. Jennifer W. Shewmaker and commented:
An interview by Rebecca Hains with the creator of that great LEGO Friends comic. I love it!
Toys have no gender. As kids even in the 50’s, I enjoyed playing with my brothers toys, and he enjoyed playing with mine. It was the adults around us that insisted the doll belonged to me and the trucks to my brother. They tried to “genderfy” us, but it really didn’t work that well. As my mother use to say, we were ALL a bunch of wild hunyats. The kids get it, even most of the parents get it. It’s the toy manufacturers who need a clue. And this little cartoon sums it up better than anyone ever could. duh.
LOVE THIS CARTOON. It says it SO well; the reaction shows how OVERDUE this is! Maybe LEGO will sit up and take notice now! They need to start listening to some of the people already working for them, who already understand this message!
And also, make figures to represent ALL RACES IN THE WORLD, for each set. Then add all the colours you would find in those huge colouring boxes, to ANY or ALL sets, NOT gendering anything!
The problem is that’s not economical. Toy companies have to name money. To do that they need to have the lowest production costs that they can.
My guess is that if Lego is marketing the friends line to girls it’s because they were missing a portion of the market. They probably did research and asked kids questions.
I will also say that my daughter had no interest in Legos before the Friends line came out. Even after seeing and loving the Lego movie. I tried, because I had probably 10 cubic meters of Legos as a kid, and loved building with them. No interest at all from her.
I firmly don’t believe Lego did anything wrong here. If anything, marketing some Legos specifically toward girls will get some of the more “girly” ones interested. If there is anything wrong here, it’s cultural.
What about the little girls and boys who love the lego friends toys? Mine sure do. No idea why. But I would never deny them those toys because they don’t conform to some anti pink agenda.
And no one is saying that you should. It’s just that this line shouldn’t be marketed to girls. If it’s there, great, but have it be there for everyone.
That’s exactly it. I don’t bring my kid into toy stores generally because they’re so gendered, but one time he saved up his allowance and really wanted to go. The first thing that caught his eye was a jewelry making machine, because he loves machines and he’d been getting into making jewelry with a beading kit recently. Then he suddenly got this sad look on his face and started walking away. After a bit of chatting, it turned out that he’d decided it “wasn’t for him” because he’s a boy and all the kids playing with the toy on the box were girls.
That’s what ends up happening with these toys when they are marketed so strongly by gender. You don’t have to tell kids that they aren’t allowed to have something for them to pick up on society’s expectations. The context cues can be extremely subtle, and they will still influence a kid’s choices and, ultimately, the identities they make for themselves.
I’m totally okay with the Friends line. It’s not my dig, but that’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with variety! The problem is that it’s positioned as being “LEGO for girls!” Which obviously implies that regular LEGOs are therefore *not* for girls.
I bought an electronics kit for my granddaughter who is almost 10. Was not happy – nor surprised – that it had some terribly neat little boy who had been dressed by his granny sitting beside the item he had made with the kit. Electronics, engineering NEED GIRLS too! Outrage from some staff at work when colleague bought her 2yr old boy a Frozen outfit!!! Sad that in this day and age that (some) women still define toys as Girls or Boys only!
That’s so sad!! Were you able to dissuade him of the box’s message?
On the flipside, I was incensed at the Magic Kingdom when a mom told her @4yo son that an Ariel shirt he wanted was for girls and pointed at my daughter and said something to the effect that it was something SHE would like. I sooooo wish I had given her a piece of my mind.
Good point. There are no pictures of real boys or girls playing with the sets on the boxes. Lego Friends is just another line, there for those who want it. The sets in this line are found in the “Lego aisle” of most toy stores. If a store chooses to place these products in a “girls section,” that’s a choice the store has made. There is nothing about Lego Friends that Lego explicitly claims are for girls. Its just another set, to appeal to those who want the pink and purple. I don’t like the way they have chosen to make the figures different from the classic mini-figures, but otherwise, they are okay and just another way to get some pieces you might want. I mean, does anyone really buy the kits with the expectation of keeping the model they build as-is?
With that said, I think the more relevant point of the cartoon is that the other sets don’t have enough female mini-figures in them. It really wouldn’t cost much to add an optional pony tail to each kit so you can make a mini-figure into a girl if you choose to.
I haven’t seen this comic yet. But can I just say how much I love it. It totally rocks.
Reblogged this on Rise Like Air and commented:
Love this cartoon from start to finish. Excellent interview as well with the creator. Going viral shows just how important and relevant this topic is to many people. Just had 2 teenagers, one male and one female, tell me how much they agreed with this cartoon. It’s an issue that is seeing agreement across genders and across generations. We just want to build!
Not too may years ago nearly everything Lego was Star Wars and the like. My nephew was into it but my niece was over everything being gray and militaristic. She had to downgrade to sets beneath her age group to get something not Star Wars. Since then, there have been other sets, including Harry Potter, that have made it better, but we almost lost her during the gray years.
For years I’ve thought the themed sets stifled creativity.
As a kid, I remember that we didn’t have any Lego “SET”.. we just had Lego, and a lot of it (like 2 or 3 of those red cases worth) and I could build pretty much anything I wanted from Ecto-1 to the Enterprise (so what if the nacelles were red, I have imagination!) and only once in the intervening 25 or so years (agh, I feel old!) can I remember seeing a commercial that was JUST for LEGO, and not a themed or branded set. and that was perhaps a year to two years ago, it was for a box of Lego that was just a pile of different pieces.
If the kid has no preconceived notion of what it’s “supposed” to be, it can be anything!
I remember those days! We had boxes and boxes of regular LEGOs! Oh the things I made! Houses, cars, green beaches, ah those were the days.
Oh and I mixed K’nex with my LEGOs!
Yeah, back then you got boxes with four- or five-digit product codes to identify which combination of abstract bricks (you could build anything with) were in the box… Bionicle and Chimera? Bah, you might as well buy regular action figures instead, since the parts belong together in models and aren’t suited for experimenting…
Your complaint about newer products shows just how backwards your point of view is.
So you say that a bucket of bricks is better for creativity, but you think something like Bionicle has no room for experimenting? Go Google Bionicle MOCs (my own creation) and tell me that again. Just because it doesn’t match your childhood doesn’t mean kids can’t enjoy it.
Brett I want to thank you for making the suggestion to google MOCs. There is so much to see! I had made the same complaint before, and said that Lego designers seem to be having more fun creating than the users. It’s great to see the creativity and community around making these unique creations, which is exactly what I think Lego is for. Parents/caregivers, and even Lego, should encourage children to experiment with their building kits and characters.
Alex, I totally agree with what you said about the themed sets quashing creativity. And I also especially find the customization of science and construction toys into ‘girly toys’ absolutely nauseating! It implies that the only way that young females would ever be interested in such foreign subjects is if they’re pink and lavender and, if possible, frilly!
Gender does not determine talents or abilities. Just put photos of both boys and girls on the box that the Legos come in, and let the children determine what their imagination wants them to build!
The ‘Lego City’ line of sets is generic city stuff like police cars and garbage trucks and the like, and Lego still does thier own lines. They also have a Creator series that come with instructions for like four different things and is great way to get a bunch of non themed pieces. They still sell those little red buckets as well~
But yeah, you have to get around the merchandising
I too hate themed sets. They curb kids imagination. Both my brother and I used to play for hours on end. We used to build cities. Fast forward 30 years and he’s an architect and I’m an architectural designer.
And THIS would be the reason I waited in the freezing sleet in a line outside of a walmart at 1am on Black Friday, just to be able to buy the Lego creativity tower for my daughter for half price. $30 for 1600 non-themed Lego bricks! Love what you can build with the sets nowadays, but it does stifle much of the creative drive that defined the lego experience for so many of us. Mind you, she also got the Star Wars Rebels Ghost ship set and the Guardians of the Galaxy Escape from Knowhere set… but, I have a feeling the tower will get much more use than either once they are fully built.
We also picked up the Lego Creatology game a little before the holidays for our family game nights… it’s basically pictionary but with Legos instead. VERY highly recommended if you can find it (retired).
Very well said!! I went looking for LEGOs over the holiday. All I could find was “sets”. Why would you want a “set”, it makes just one thing!! Give me a bucket of “generic” LEGOs and I can make anything!!!!!!
I get that. Some kids don’t just want colors in tones of grey all the time, but its not just girls who are like that. And the colorful sets should not be marketed solely to girls either. What about the boys who want a bit of color? Nor should girls be made to feel as though they are supposed to play with the “Girl” sets only because the other sets are obviously “Boy” sets.
Great stuff – I’m increasingly concerned and revolted by the programming to passivity of girls.
I see it as a human rights abuse – to from birth programme a girl to virtual paralysis, to see herself as an object.
It’s also part of society’s grooming of girls as ‘sex object’ !
This passivizing renders girls unable to act in their own self defence, unable to run, play games, develop the full range of their physicality !
Absolutely a Human Rights violation and child abuse !
can you dumb it down for poor saps like me, who maybe didn’t sleep with thesaurus for a pillow?
Why not lift yourself up rather than bring someone else down?
Why not quit being a jerk and be happy that he might also want true gender equality?
I’m confused. You are making some pretty bold statements there without backing them up. How does recognizing that young girls have different interests than young boys make them into sex object or make them passive? Have you seen some of the girl toys out there? They can tend towards thing that a girl naturally likes more, while at the same time allowing them to run, be strong, be able to defend themselves. There is a way to be a tender hearted woman while simultaneously being active rather than passive.
I agree, Theresa.
There is no such thing as something a girl “naturally likes” just because she is a girl. “Girly” interests, such as doll houses and pretty dresses, are socially ingrained, just as interest in cars and guns and being a hero is socialized into boys. “Boy” toys tend to lean more toward allowing boys to project themselves into action roles. Girl toys do not. I think that’s what she means.
I can only speak of my own experiences with my 2 year old. She loves princess movies be it Frozen, Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast etc. I’ve tried watching Cars, Big Hero and other “boy” movies with her, but she has no interest. I’ve never pushed her to like anything “feminine” but she has always gravitated towards “girl” toys. Whenever we would go to the local kids store, she would always go straight to the doll house and so I bought her one. I am not trying to turn her into a princess or make her like girl toys. Heck I wish she would grow up to be a bit of a tomboy so I could throw a baseball around with her or maybe shoot some hoops. And I’d love if she would start going down the Star Wars aisle and pick some of those toys because I secretly want some of them. But if these end up not being her thing and she would rather play dress up with her princess dresses, then I’m fine with that as long as she is happy.
Naturally? Or is it being nurtured? I have to say it’s more of a nurturing and it has been proven. Sure, a girl COULD naturally be into lots of pretty colors and ponies…but SO CAN A BOY. The problem is we tell the boys “No, that’s not ok, here’s a soldier with a killing weapon in his hands” and that is why it seems like boys are “naturally” into violent, gory, and heroics but the truth is you’re just NURTURING that. A girl can be just as “naturally” inclined to enjoy space toys, militaristic toys, and martial arts but if she is being constantly told “NO!” then what you did was go against nature. And our society does that quite often.
This is why we have Science. The information we have so far is that people fall along spectrums of various behaviours, however the distributions along the spectrum between boys are girls are different. It’s not to say that there are not girls that like playing with train sets, however they tend not to want to play with train sets.
Here is a great documentary looking into this (Norwegian with subtitles) : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tiJVJ5QRRUE
I’m not surprised boys are more likely to want to play with Lego. Of course some girls will want to as well but clearly LESS girls play with toys like Lego than boys do. This product is designed to try and bridge that gap. It’s aimed at the girls that don’t otherwise play with Lego … so every women claiming they played with Lego when they were young is not describing who this range is designed for!
I have a four year old daughter. If she decides she wants the Friends range to play with I will be over the moon. It means she is at least making something and if it turns out she really likes it then we can always incorporate more diverse sets down the line.
I know TONS of girls that like playing with train sets!! And (non friends) Lego… Me, my sister, my daughter, my best mate, her sister, her niece, my daughter’s two best friends…. What planet do you live on?
How many girls, exactly or roughly, is “TONS”? You mention 8 would would mean at least about 125 kg (275 pounds) each, which I find doub tful. My guess is you don’t know a statistically significant number of females who played with Legos and train sets combined. My point is, the Lego Friends line is directed specifically at girls. Why does anyone get all bent out of shape about that? In many cases girls and boys have different tastes in toys. You can bet Lego did some market research before they started this. I’ll bet that, for whatever reason, “boy” (for lack of a more concise term) Legos weren’t selling to literally half the market (girls) and that’s why they decided to expand the line. No doubt some girls like “boy” Legos. Just like, no doubt, some boys like Barbie dolls. That doesn’t mean there isn’t room on the shelves for GI Joe, as well.
The problem is that they’re fixing a problem they created in the first place. Lego didn’t used to be so gendered. In the 70s and 80s Lego was frequently pictured with boys and girls playing together, and that matched the reality I grew up with. Then I looked away and suddenly Lego was a boys toy and they were having to find a way to market to girls. Why couldn’t they market the main line to everybody like they used to?
Capitalism. They make more money by marketing to each gender separately. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t do it
Lighten the hell up people, they are just legos. Life is too short to be that serious about LEGOS! REALLY?
LEGO is the most profitable toy manufacturer in the world, and and such, they are incredibly influential. Why not take them seriously?
So, what does a girl “naturally” like more? Enlighten me.
Since you asked, try this:
Just read the abstract. It doesn’t contain the data, but it’s available for free, whereas the whole article would cost you 40 bucks. To anyone who doesn’t want to click the link (or in case it doesn’t work) it’s called “An Evolutionary Perspective of Sex-Typed Toy Preferences: Pink, Blue, and the Brain” and to sum up the abstract, there is a suggested (that’s scientifically suggested, not just someone’s guess) biological difference in toy preference based around gender. Surprise! Millions of years of evolution have prepared us for the roles that men and women traditional perform, and in many cases out preferences fall within those roles.
To suggest that men and women are created equal in every way is PC crap. Yes, we should have equal rights. That doesn’t mean we are all the same.
I agree it does happen- often unintentionally when adults punish a girl for standing up for herself, getting angry, being active, speaking up in class, or failing to be people-pleasing, they are sending out messages that aren’t good for the girl in the long term. Not all adults obviously, but sadly this does still happen if a girl does something seen as “unfeminine”.
If the girl doesn’t get much practice of standing up for herself, saying “no” to demands, or being confident enough to speak up when she has a good idea she might struggle to deal with these situations more when she is older
I loved this comic when I first saw it on Rebecca’s Facebook! Isn’t that what so many of us girls used to do when we were little? We would make them female by cutting out wigs with construction paper, a wig full of yarn or even sticking a boys wig on a girl’s head? (Who also put Barbie in GI Joe’s and Batman’s clothing?)
Little girls don’t need a whole new line for them; we just need one or two pieces to be happy, especially with Lego. And please don’t make the buckets blue and pink. What happened to the buckets just being red?
Hell, when I was a kid, I used to steal my mom’s handkerchief’s and use them to make ninja outfits for my barbies and skipper. And then my brother and I would have our ninjas, his GIJoes and my barbies either fight or play soccer matches
Buckets also came in blue, green, and yellow, even back in the day, so it is nothing new, miss.
Pink seems new, boy.
Reblogged this on starfishskies and commented:
That comic hits the nail on the head.
I love this comic, and it explains how I feel. But I don’t think it applies to all little girls. As a little girl I loved star wars, space related play, and I though Spock was just dreamy. I also played with dolls, my loom, and barbies. I had a cross section of play. That comic applies to me. But girls and boys are all different and even though my daughter has been heavily exposed to star wars and the like, she chooses to play with the sugary sweet world of my little pony, and has the pinkest room you have ever seen. She dreams up new nail polish combinations, and designs dresses for her dolls non-stop. We go through reams of paper. She is who she is. I don’t try to tell her she can not and should not follow her heart. Things will change, she will change, but I am not going to lead her one way or the other, she is making her own choices. I think many kids choose by their hearts. That’s just fine with me.
I agree! I loved legos when I was a younger and still do; however, I think the Friends sets are so fun. I’m glad Lego created them. I don’t have girls but bought a few just to put together. My oldest son is very boy but he thinks the Friends jungle rescue sets are great and said he would play with them if they didn’t have the pink blocks – I told him he could play with them whether they are pink or not – it’s just a color and does not need to be just for girls.
That’s a great answer to your son. Colors are for everyone! I hope we can get to a point where there is no longer a “pink ghetto.”
That’s a shame that your son was discouraged by the pink blocks, I guess you could buy some individual blocks in a different colour to replace the pink ones if he really hates them. I wish the Lego Friends sets included more boy characters as well as girls, themes like animal rescue, science, supermarkets, news vans, skateparks etc. aren’t gendered and should appeal to everyone!
Good for you for telling him that pink isn’t just for girls and he can play with them anyway!
What is wrong with engineering based building toys that have feminine characteristics to them? Just because some girls like sugary sweet themed things doesn’t make them less intelligent or less able to build creatively. For decades, building toys have had a boys gender bias (Star Wars, Star Trek, etc) What is wrong with creating building toys that girls will like? This almost negates what you are trying to say. If we really believe that girls can grow up to be anything, then we can’t gender shame girls who are more feminine and like pinky sugary sweet things saying—Oh..sweety…you like pretty pony? You will never be an engineer. Stick to your pink barbies and forget the legos. B.S. Girls who like girly things can be scientists and engineers as well. The more types of toys we have that appeal to a wide variety of children–the more we will open up more doors for everyone. Maybe even including the engineer minded boy that likes to play with pink sets as well. I’ve taught for years, and many girls like to play with girly things. That doesn’t make them any less intelligent or capable as mathematicians and scientists. There is nothing wrong with catering to their natural femininity and letting them play with building based toys at the same time. Maybe they will grow up to be architectual engineers, set designers, or chemists that work on makeup or perfume. Those ARE real and VALID jobs. And yes- if girls don’t like the girly lego sets, by all means let them build a Star Wars fighter ship. Who cares? Science is everywhere and it can include all types of gender based interests and projects.
“For decades, building toys have had a boys gender bias (Star Wars, Star Trek, etc) What is wrong with creating building toys that girls will like?”
Ouch. Star Wars is not for boys. Star Wars is for everyone. I have loved Star Wars ever since I saw it when I was a little girl.
I also liked ponies but my pony toys were anatomically correct horses in stable sets, not rainbow my little ponies. For the record, I also love glittery things.
On the one hand, I say “amen” to your assertion that Star Wars is for everyone. That being said, as a proud parent of an awesome 7yo padawan princess pirate, the merchandising arm of Disney seems to be completely disconnected with anything remotely resembling the modern age. The new Star Wars Rebels series features two awesome, inspiring female characters that are full members of the crew of six (five plus a robot), but you would be hard pressed to know they even exist if you look at the t-shirts, backpacks, toys, and so forth Disney has produced to support the show. They continue to insist that Star Wars products are primarily for boys over and over and over (again, they’ve released a ton of new SW merch since the acquisition, but the only Princess Leia items you can get are customizable ones special ordered from their website… the Disney store is a sharp division of 1/3 boys toys and 2/3 fun happy fluffy princess & mickey friends stuff.), and they also do the same with their Marvel lines. My daughter is still waiting for a T-shirt that features Gamora from Guardians of the Galaxy, but the only ones in her size are boy shirts that have all four male members of the team but don’t even acknowledge she exists. My daughter does the best she can (and we buy a LOT of t-shirts from sites like TeeFury and such) but it’s still very disheartening to have a company put out some awesome, strong likeable females characters on one hand, and to flip their female fan base the finger and say “boys only!” with the other.
Yes, this. My daughter is the same way. She looooves Marvel, but we always have a tough time finding merch featuring the female characters. It’s not that she wants individual “girly” things with female characters, but wants them included, and maybe a couple of shirts cut to fit a little girl. So, perhaps LEGO can do the same thing? While pink buildings do exist, maybe, just make city sets? They can have hospitals, and cafe’s, and a mall, and a martial arts studio… Keep the blocks neutral for the buildings, and have all of the really colorful little accessories that come with the Friends sets to fill the buildings with and decorate the city. Throw a couple of different sexed heads to pop on and off whatever occupational outfit body comes with. It seems like such a simple solution to make it gender neutral.
Check out her universe.com for Guardians shirtsthat include the female characters.
The site was started by the woman that did the voice for Ahsoka on the Clone Wars, Ashley Eckstein. They have all kinds of cool fan merchandize that are made for girls and women. 🙂
Lol, yep, our family are huge fans of Ashlet and heruniverse! We went to a SW weekend at Disney this year just so my daughter could meet her idol. 🙂 About a year ago my daughter, trying to find a Star Wars binder for school that had at least one female character (spoiler, there are none) got so fed up she decided to make one and created a “women of Star wars” binder. We sent Ashley a picture of it (since she was so prominently featured) and she ended up writing an entire blog post on starwars.com about it! (And for the record, she is every bit as nice and awesome as you’d imagine).
That being said, it took HU a fairly long time to get their GotG shirts and, to be honest, they were pretty plain and uninspired.
The problem with “Friends” is that it only goes together one way. You can’t build anything else out of them. I complained to Lego when they first came out. My grand daughters are into Ninjago and Minecraft. Ninjago was a bit of a problem as the boys in the oldest’ class (3rd grade) gave her a lot of grief about liking them. Fortunately she is a strong and stubborn young lady like her grandma and still went ahead and built every set. She is also a Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do.
I love Minecraft in all it’s forms — especially the Lego Builders Box!
“You can’t build anything else out of them” – Really? Have you actually used and/or built a Lego Friends set? We’ve had no problem building new constructions out of the Friends sets or of mixing it with the Ninjago or Minecraft sets my daughter also has 🙂
Uhhh, my husband (an adult Lego collector) uses the pieces from the Friends sets to build pink and purple robots. You can build absolutely whatever you want out of them. They’re just pastel bricks.
My nieces also love Ninjago and other characters who it’s almost impossible to find on clothes and merchandise in the “girls” section. Recently we had to tear off the lable of some socks because they said “for boys” on them which is a shame. I wish manufacturers would realise how many girls like these shows and start taking notice. The same goes for boys who are fans of My Little Pony etc, they need to stop stereotyping kids because it doesn’t work!
I think the problem with Lego Friends isn’t the pink. Like, if Lego had introduced some new sets with lots of pink bricks and changeable hair pieces for the minifigs and stuff, that’d be cool, welcome even. But they didn’t. They introduced minidolls, which do not have interchangable parts other than hair, and also came with socialite girl looking for love backstories, as well as sets that only include specialized pieces for like, a salon or a bakery – traditionally “female” things. It’s the message overall that people are upset about. First the gender-neutral minifig became masculinized, so that there were 50 clearly male minifigs for every female one. Then they went and created a new figure entirely “for girls.” So they genderized a gender-neutral toy, marketing regular legos for boys and a new separate line for girls. Take away the doll aspect and I’m sure kids would happily mix and match their sets to suit their own interests. It’s harmful for the company doesn’t need to enforce which toy is “for” the child based on their gender.
They are improving though. I got my goddaughter two boxes of the Lego Friends jungle sets, and the kid absolutely loved putting together the bridge and especially the helicopter that came with one of the two sets. She loved putting her favorite mini doll in the helicopter and imagining that she might one day fly a helicopter herself. Just as she loved her mini doll saving the animals, and putting one of her mini figs behind a microscope and being a vet.
My daughters love playing with the minisets and mixing and matching them. The pieces all end up in the same box, so following the example of the Lego Movie, they have become “Master Builders”. I myself actually quite like the flower legos, which can be used to more accurately portray anything, since flowers are everywhere, especially in and around buildings and houses, which is probably the number one thing that every kid builds in the beginning. and my daughters and I buy and plant and water flowers together, so I don’t think they are getting the message that flowers are only for girls, even though they are pretty. And since I run coffee shops, I also appreciate the cafe set. Anyway, mixed with other sets, I think they are a nice compliment, and its amazing to see the creative ways they come up with to use the specialty pieces.
It’s LEGO, or LEGO bricks/sets/models/kits… Not LEGOs. I emailed LEGO just the other day on this and they confirmed I’m right, it’s definately not nor ever will be “LEGOs”!!!
Equally, the proper word is “definitely.” There is not nor ever will be a “definately.”
Reblogged this on Atomic Fangirl and commented:
Had to share this excellent post from Rebecca Hains. As another girl who grew up loving Legos, here’s hoping that “pinking it up” doesn’t become the norm for that company.
And also, Maritsa Patrinos rocks.
I think this railing against the “girl Legos” is wrong-headed. For years Legos were entirely focused on boy-fantasy toys. I think the push against the pink and purple Legos is more patriarchal (though well-meaning) discrimination against typical “girl” colors and interests. Though cars and Marvel and Star Wars aren’t inherently of interest only to boys, they aren’t exactly gender neutral either, when the shows and movies they are based on barely feature women (and if they do, it’s a token girl here or there, not a fully developed cast of characters.) Where was the hue and cry when every single stupid Lego set was aimed at boys? Suddenly Lego does some research into what many girls enjoy and now suddenly we’re going to kick them? Shaming and demeaning pink and purple Legos with a cute panda, rather than red and blue ones with a toothy dino, is just another way of telling girls, and boys who enjoy playing with toys that feature female characters, that their interests, from colors, to “cute things”, to the idea of nurturing rather than playing war games, is inferior and that in order to be “equal” they should aim to be more like “boys.” Girls (and boys) who enjoy these sets are not giving in to some machine telling them to stay home and be cowed. Kids just like to play different games, and my girl would rather pretend to rescue animals from the jungle than shoot aliens with pointy phallic cars. That doesn’t make her soft. It makes her amazing and you’ll pry the pink legos out of my cold dead hands.
If they had standard minifigs, I’d love the Friends sets. Purple and pink are fine and I’ve collected all of the animals minisets. But changing to the doll-like Friends just breaks the feeling of compatibility that’s always been the heart of LEGO. The Chima sets bug me for similar reasons, Since with all the attachments the beast figures feel out of scale but at least they’re obviously inhuman.
What Joscelin said. Having sets that include pink bricks and juice bars is fine with me. Making them a whole separate line that doesn’t seem to fit with other LEGO sets is what bothers me. As for shaming girls for not liking standard LEGO sets: sure, that’s a problem. But the reverse problem that the Friends line introduces is the idea that since the Friends line is for girls, standard LEGO sets are for boys. And where does that leave the girls who like Star Wars and Ninjago?
In short: adding new LEGO sets to appeal to different interests is great. Separating certain lines from others, and designating who should be playing with them based on gender is not great.
Reblogged this on Lexy Wolfe and commented:
So much this. Go back to your roots, Lego! The only thing I ever wanted was to buy more blocks of certain types in particular colors because the generic sets always ran out of what I was using. Get away from the pre-fab kits that we have to assemble ourselves. Give us the generic kits and the ability to buy specific pieces in color and quantity. You’ll make a fortune. Trust me.
You know theres nothing that says you have to put them together, right? You could just as easily start building stuff. Plus Lego does have a way to buy pieces- Its called pick-a-brick on thier website.
Browse all the pieces available and choose how much you want of what
The idea is getting a bucket of bricks without specific things planned for them. If you look on the store shelves now, it’s Star Wars, Harry Potter, or whatever movie theme has a line of Lego toys.
My youngest child is over 20 now. My daughter is a few years older than him. Back when I was wanting to buy them Legos, they didn’t have the “pick a brick” thing. At least, not that I either knew of nor could afford at the time. Many of the smaller kits had so few bricks, there really wasn’t much that could be built other than what the kit was for. Just finding that generic bucket o’ bricks was nigh impossible. (Fun side challenge: find plain wooden blocks that don’t have a Disney or other major theme logo attached.)
It’s kinda like what Minecraft is now. An open world with no one and nothing telling you what to do. There are no missions but survive (if not in creative mode. In creative? There isn’t even that worry.) The only limit is your imagination. A generic bucket of Lego bricks is open ended. Sure, they had guides to build some things, but once you got started, the only limit was the number of bricks.
It would just be nice if they got away from the specialized kits, especially in stores. Buy a little bag of tall 4-dot bricks in red. Or black. Or whatever. Not everyone is going to humor a kid and go online to buy some bricks. But they might drop a few bucks if they see them in the store while shopping.
(Just like I would have loved to buy a box of black Crayola crayons because that’s the one I used up fastest. 😛 )
I was at the store today (specifically, Target). There were probably 8 or 9 different packages that were just BRICKS. No instructions or themed sets, just bricks. Different varieties, color schemes, numbers of bricks, styles of bricks… they’re widely available. If you’re not finding them, you’re not even looking at store shelves…
Yes and no, Jenni. Some stores carry them more often than others. I’ve been hitting quite a few Toys r Us stores in the last few weeks (looking for the flat bases that my daughter wants) and while they seem to have the most comprehensive range of Lego I’ve seen outside of an actual Lego store, I’ve seen VERY few generic sets carried there (and the ones they have are prohibitively expensive). Obviously, it’s better for them if you buy a specialized set and come back for more rather than a generic set that has more reusability. (But yes, agreen Target seems to carry several).
Love this! I have 3 girls. One that isn’t into Legos, one that is exactly like the girl in the comic, and one that is into the Lego Friends line. So see, there’s a market for it and it could even be boys that are into the Lego Friends. It’s simply that we need to stop thinking we’re marketing to GENDERS when we’re really just marketing to INTERESTS.
Both genders in all lego sets. Go Pink,Go purple. Why not? Male or female we have our colour preferences and they are not always gender specific.
When I first came across Lego, girls were wearing trousers, I was quite happy to accept the Lego figure as an androgynous figure. As time passes, I am less happy. Let us all be who we want to be and provide the toys to enable this , excluding none.
Not only did Lego completely bungle the launch of Friends, they bungled the CONCEPT. I still don’t know why they made new minifigs, when the old ones were perfect. But I disagree on a few points.
1) Friends is not a bad line. In fact, it’s outselling several other lines by miles. Friends ALONE is outselling all other blocks combined, save for Mega Blocks.
2) Galaxy Squad is not a good line, and is a poor example to use.
3) Lego actually promotes equality quite a bit. There’s no need for racial diversity (they’re all yellow people, not a real color) and when the opportunity arises, (ie: more than one minifig per box) they will normally make one of them a female. That is really, really cool, and something a lot of other lines don’t/won’t do. I mean, all they need to do is put eyelashes and lipstick on one of the characters and it’s a girl.
Look for example at the City line, or especially the Lego Movie line. Every “Extraordinary” set in the mid range size came with at least one female character. That’s very cool. Lego knew the appeal for this line was both boys and girls, so they made the effort to cover their bases.
Take a personal favorite of mine, the Lego City 4×4 with Powerboat. http://shop.lego.com/en-US/4×4-with-Powerboat-60085?fromListing=listing This is a very cool set. It has a wicked pickup, a speedboat that really floats (like all good Lego boats should) and two minifigs. The great thing abut Lego is you can do whatever you want; you don’t have to follow the directions. But here’s the thing. On the box, there’s a mechanic and a pilot. And not only does this set come with a female, but Lego shows her to be the pilot of this high speed piece of machinery! That may not seem like much, and yes, you can use your imagination for whatever while you’re playing, but adults tend to forget that little things like that drastically effect kids’ perceptions of the world. They shape and mold it.
Here’s the flipside though. I don’t think Friends is doing anything inherently WRONG. I love the Friends line. It’s fun, and you get a bunch of stuff you can’t get with a lot of other Lego lines. When was the last time Lego did a dude ranch? 1992. Does it suddenly not count that it’s in the Friends line? The pieces still cross over. Just the Friends Minifigs can’t sit down. There’s no better line in which to buy suburban-like pieces. City doesn’t have a lemonaid stand. They’re more interested in power repair trucks and Police Helicopters. I swear, there’s a Police Helicopter in ever set now. They should have just had a sub-line called “Police.” But I digress. Friends biggest competitor, from inside the same company at least, seems to be from the Creator line, believe it or not. They are more interested in houses and shopping malls than City is. And rather than competing, they compliment eachother quite well.
Lego is aware of what they’re doing. are they without criticism? Heavens no. Working from the inside for a time, I can safely say they have made bungle after bungle. Friends should be stocked ON the LEGO AISLE, for example, and NOT in the girls’ section. But they went from bankruptcy to the world’s largest toy manufacture in 10 years. They’re doing something right. And here’s what gives me hope: They’re still learning. They’re improving. And that’s a good thing. Does Friends need criticism? Yes. I have been very vocal about it. But should the entire company be written off or assigned to reform? No. There’s no need to be all Sarkesian about it.
Now, if you’ll excuse me. I feel the desire to go play with Legos.
“when the opportunity arises, (ie: more than one minifig per box) they will normally make one of them a female”
But in the real world, 50% of all people are female. Not 2%. Not 10%. Not an occasional person, “when the opportunity arises”. 50%. I think this just shows that women are still second-class citizens in LEGO’s playworld
Not to mention that they started out completely gender-neutral:
so they’ve been turning against equality over time, not promoting it.
Yes the world is pretty much 50/50 in gender population. But that doesn’t mean consumer gender population is the same. Basic equation here: if Legos primary demographic is boys, then they are going to make boys there primary focus. A good business savvy company would then take a look at why female consumership was low and then begin marketing products to that demographic. Like the Friends and Disney sets. It’s called market analysis. It doesn’t mean girls are excluded, it doesn’t mean they’re second class citizens. It means they’re paying attention to their consumers while also focusing on what will allow the company to be successful. If the company is successful, then it only continues to get better for all consumers.
Yes, the late 50s, when this set was created, was a very gender-neutral time. (Welcome to the modern world, where marketing by segment – age, gender, race – has been the norm for more than 50 years. I think things have gotten better over that time, not worse.)
I didn’t necessarily have a problem with Lego Friends when they were announced. If pink gets girls interested who would be otherwise, fine. My, at the time, 6 y.o. daughter got a kit for her birthday shortly thereafter and I was fine with that. Until. . . we actually went through the little booklet and put the pieces together following the story. It’s been a while, but here’s the gist: There’s a little club of four girls, very pale girls (one is maybe Latina, but none were definitively of color). They have a friend (a definitively dark skinned girl) who they like a lot, but she’s not part of the club. I’m paraphrasing, but it points that out pretty specifically. This dark skinned friend brings over her gramma’s journal that describes where to go to find a treasure. She and two of the pale girls go on this great adventure and find the treasure. At the end, the dark skinned friend has gone home, I assume, and the two very pale girls are sitting around talking about how they can’t wait to show the rest of the very pale girls in their club their new treasure they found. Wait! What happened to the dark skinned girl?! The treasure is at least partly, and one could argue primarily, hers! It was a whole story of reluctant inclusion and theft based on white privilege! It was a gift, so I hate to be ungrateful, but I found a lot of ways to divert attention when my daughter asked to play with that set again. I got her a new set this Christmas, but I picked very carefully, I HOPE, and found one that has both a girl and a boy character and they are doing things like flying a helicopter and driving a Jeep while they rescue animals in danger. I’m a little wary of what might be included in any accompanying stories, but I’ll just trash that part if it’s too out there. This has been bubbling away in the back of my head for 2 years now, so thanks for giving me a place to air it, without basically saying directly to my dear friends: “Thanks but no thanks!”
Whoops! If pink gets girls interested who would NOT be otherwise, fine.
No one here has said otherwise.
Actually, the entire premise of this comic was that girls don’t need “pink” legos to be interested.
Some people like the pink legos.
No shit, Dick Tracy.
My kid plays with Lego Friends, loves horses, knows how to defend herself and others against bullies and loves princesses. Pretty much a well-rounded, kick ass kid with her own interests, none of which were forced upon her. I’m kind of missing the point of how horses are suddenly “girlie” but that’s besides the point right now. I’m just having a hard time reading any comic from someone who proudly advertises working on animation for a tv show that glorifies underage pregnancies like it’s a joke instead of a real problem. Just…urrrgggh. I think I’d rather have my kid have a “princess problem” than aspire to work for trash tv.
I grew up a rather feminine child. My favorite toys were my Barbies, my doll house, and my china tea set. But I also enjoyed building items with Lincoln logs and LEGOs. I remember a “girl” set that my mom bought me back in the 90s. It was mainly for building houses or other everyday items and they came in pink, white, and green. It was pretty bitch’n that I finally had pink LEGOs and I can’t say that I would want to begrudge any child the same privilege. However, these new “girl” LEGOs come out of the box half formed already and cannot be changed. They aren’t really LEGOs, more like rearrangeable doll houses and that is what I find insulting.
I don’t know which sets you’re talking about. But I just spent several hours last week helping my niece build several of the Lego Friends sets I gave her for Christmas, and I can tell you right now that that just isn’t the case. At least not for the Jungle sets.
I had to help build those things up from the ground up. And sure I actually like having a plan to follow, but if Ffion decided to play with them according to her own wishes, she could easily do so and create something entirely new.
I really wish that LEGO would have made the Friends line more like the first Belville sets and the Paradisa sets from back in the day, as in the way that the sets could be built as well as how the mini figures could be built. The way that the Friends line is, quite honestly, lacking in the terms of being able to fully utilize the imagination of a LEGO set and it is also only one step above the Galidor theme.
I don’t have a problem with the Friends line. I have a problem with the merchandising of it. It should be sold right along with all the other Lego sets in the same aisle/section. Whenever I’ve seen them, they are separated out and put into the “girl” aisle. My son was at the store picking out a gift for a friend’s birthday party and commented that he liked one of the Friends sets. Then he asked why it wasn’t with all the other Lego sets. I had no good answer for him.
I guess that I don’t have that problem, since the store I went to for toys, had the Lego Friends sets in amongst the rest of the Lego. but then they tend to seperate toys out by brand and what they are, not by gender. So yes, the Monster High dolls and the Barbies are right next to one another, but so are all the board games, all the card games, and so on.
Being a 50 year old mother who grew up with two brothers, let me start by pointing out that Lego had “sets” even way back when I was a kid, and my brothers and I played with them equally — well before the advent of the minifigure! Truth is, we didn’t need a minifigure in the car to pretend that we were driving it, or in the windmill to pretend that we lived there. Yes, we had loose Lego. Yes, Lego had houses and pizza parlours and train stations and “cherry-picker” trucks before they branded the City line. Yes, I think the “Friends” minifigures are a mistake, but so were Belleville and Jack Stone (imho). I also think the hype around the new “women-can-be-scientists-and-professors” minifigures, and many people’s advocation for them is misplaced. I’m totally on the same wavelength as Maritsa Patrinos: all you need to do is swap the hair (or not, as a female with short hair); I don’t need to see lipstick and long lashes and accessory scarves to make me think a scientist can be a woman/girl.
PS: I’m also the mother of a soon-to-be 11 year old Brony, so let’s not even start on colours and ponies. 🙂
Um, the premise of the cartoon in that if Lego had just “one piece” – i.e. a “kickass girl” in every set, they wouldn’t need a “girls’ line.” But they do have kickass girl characters in both Chima and Ninjago. They’re very involved and have start status on the shows. So the premise of the cartoon is, well, kind of wrong. If you’re a girl you’re not forced to play with only Friends, and numerous Lego sets and lines feature action females – Batman, Star Wars, Marvel, Agents, etc.
I can see not liking the Friends line, but why is it bad to market toys to kids segments and not just generic toys to “all” kids. Different kids like different things and all toy manufacturers market to various segments – girls, boys, both.
While I agree that it would be a good idea to integrate female characters into the “boy sets”, not all girls are into spacecrafts, cars, ninjas and whatnot. As a kid, I probably would’ve loved the friends series; cute animals and pretty girls I can relate to – what’s not not to like? I played with legos when I was growing up – but with the “regular parts”, not any of my brother’s boyish looking sets. I would build houses with yards and other not-so-badass things. But most of the time I played with Barbies, My Little Ponys and Littlest Pet Shops (back when they still looked like real animals instead of manga charicatures), which carry a striking resemblance to LEGO Friends. But then again, maybe I should blame the society and toy companies for putting me in a box, because instead of becoming an astrophysician, I grew up wanting to work in fashion (gasp!).
Cool story, bro.
This is a good cartoon, and it made a good point. Why did it have to include blasphemy?
Possibly “hell”, definitely “goddamnit”. They don’t offend me, and I expect they’re in line with the rest of the artist’s work, but it’s worth knowing that it does still offend some people.
In a bright moment for Lego, I purchased my daughter her first Lego set for Christmas – a treehouse with a little boy mini figure. I asked at the Lego store how much they would chargw for girl hair from their bins to make the figure a girl, and the worker gave it to me for no charge! Not a corporate action, but something.
Lies! All lies!
Lego has had professional women for decades. Their city line of toys has female pilots, doctors, scientists, firefighters, police, etc. Stop spreading this bullshit just because they now have a toy that is infinitely better than the barbie alternative.
Love the comic, love many of the replies here, but…
Why is short hair “boy” hair and long hair “girl” hair? Hair is pretty neutral, there are plenty of women rockin’ short hair and plenty of men rockin’ long hair (hello, Fabio). It grows out of your head pretty much in complete disregard to whatever your genitals might be.
Needless to say, this girl-turned-woman never had a problem imagining herself as part of the action when playing with Lego sets back in the 80s & 90s.
But seriously, can we drop the gendered qualifiers for mini-fig descriptions? Hair is long, short, ponytailed, etc. Not “girl/boy” or “male/female”. The mini-figs can be whomever and whatever your imagination commands, regardless of accessories.
Elle, awesome points–but the faces on the minifigs have gotten much more detailed in recent years. Facial hair and makeup are increasingly common as signifiers to clarify whether a character is male or female, regardless of hair length or style.
I’d have loved to see them add the ideas the used in the LEGO Friends sets to the City range and maybe have a Country range too, as long as they are compatible with standard mini figs I’d be happy after all my off duty firemen might like a holiday on a ranch, or to go to the mall, or grab some juice with someone special.
You know, that is actually a good idea.
The girls line is awsome, EXEPT FOR ONE THING
YOU CANNOT MIX THE CHARICTORS
FROM THE BOYS W THE GIRLS
The Lego friends don’t have LEGO
They have these stupid other things
As a mom of a four year old boy
We do nothing but Legos most of the time
I love being able to get pink Legos and flowers and trees from the girl line
And I’m a skateboarding Tom boy momma
But I’m a fucking girl so Im ok w likening pink and having flowers
We build ships w weapons and flowers
Plus my boy loves the ice cream shop stuff,
But why can’t the people be real LEGO people
We have so much fun mix and matching
They make LEGO
Charictors that are girls
But they are in the boy sets
It’s just dumb
This whole comic is moot. Lego Friends has been a huge hit.
So, it can still be critiqued.
Reblogged this on Boston Metaphysical Society and commented:
I think LEGO totally missed the mark here! I LOVED playing with LEGOs growing up, and it never bothered me that it wasn’t “girlie”. For Christmas this year, my niece asked for money because she was saving up for LEGO Star Wars Death Star, and she was ecstatic when she got it!
Thank you for pointing out that girls don’t need a line of toys encouraging gender roles.
I don’t know what you’re talking about, Lego has always had female figures, ever since I was a kid. They even had women truck drivers. That’s cool!
Not the point of the comic.
I loved Lego growing up, and I am so excited to bring Lego toys to my children…who are finally graduating from Duplos. I, however, only agree with part of this article. Lego toys often include 1 girl in each set, which may contain 5+ mini-figures. My daughter is very upset that she does not get equal amounts of girls. I think Lego friends is a good solution overall to including girls and appealing to girls, but some of the sets are not. There is an entire line of Jungle Rescue Lego Friends sets where the girls are Veterinarians (which for now is the career path my 4 year old daughter wants to peruse), and they have lots of unique animals, doctors equipment, as well as the trucks and helicopters you’d find in a set more geared toward boys. My daughter and son enjoy playing with the Lego City Police Station together, but my daughter wants all the Lego mini-figures to be family whereas my son wants the police to catch the bad guys and put them in jail. I just think, for the most part, the Lego Friends series has many great sets that encourage young girls to build, explore and open their minds to a world where anything is possible, but some of the kinks (such as the Mall) need to be worked out. I am sure, with time, Lego will direct their set creation more toward sets like Oliva’s House, Heartlake Community Highschool, Dolphin Cruse, and the Jungle Rescue Theme…as opposed to the mall, juice bar ect.
Reblogged this on In the Web of Life and commented:
What girls want…
What bothers me about this comic is how people think that this applies to everyone, when in actuality it only applies to some. This whole gender thing has just gotten ridiculous. We constantly look at our kid’s lives through the eyes of an adult. My daughter, since birth, has always loved all thinks pink, fluffy and princess. It had nothing to do with what she was exposed to or brain washing or any of that nonsense. She just always tended to pick things that were considered traditionally girly. She was extremely excited for the Lego Friends line because she finally got the colors and themes she wanted . Before that, she would just put a girl head on the ninjago or star wars figures. Catastrophe averted. The part people don’t understand is that companies like Lego look to fill a consumer demand. If there wasn’t a demand for “girly Legos”, the company wouldn’t have made them. And given the success and overall expansion of the Disney and Friends Lego sets, I would say they have found a demanded genre. So though this comic is correct for some, it doesn’t apply to all.
How did she exercise a preference for pink & fluffy ‘from birth’? Those choices were made by the adults around her, supplying ‘things that were considered traditionally girly’ – so no surprise about her own subsequent ‘choices’!
While I dislike the gendered marketing of the LEGO friends sets, I love the addition of all the colors found in those sets to the general palette for LEGO builds. I just wish they didn’t print so much on the LEGO friends pieces and used decals like they do on most other sets. That way one could chose to use them or not. I generally don’t as a print or decal restricts later uses of the pieces.
This is the best thing ever!!!! It’s awesome cause it’s true!!
I love this! I loved lego’s as a kid and never understood why they had to switch to gendered sets. So we just buy the originals, the ‘boy’ ones and my nieces love them. This is a great post, and the comic is spot on!
That is great! Thank you for interviewing Ms. Patrinos, and thank you both for spotlighting this frustrating belief amongst toy makers.
– Lola, Who Cut Her Barbies’ Hair into Punk Rock Styles
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I was doing my Christmas shopping and I came up with a topic for my (mythical) PhD Thesis “Toys’r’Us and the Reenforcement of Gender Norms in American Children”
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I’m not familiar with the entire Lego Friends line, but my daughter got one for Christmas which was a girl “Emma” riding a motorcycle with a sidecar that holds a medic kit, and she (apparently) rides through the jungle and comes across a monkey stuck in a cave from a landslide and can dig him out and give him medical assistance. I thought it was pretty cool.
My six year old desperately wanted some Lego Friends. After a long conversation, we compromised. I got some of the pastel colored bricks (they’re just colors) to add to the household (2 adults, 2 boys, 2 girls) shared lego collection and got her a few of the minifigs. One thing that surprised me was that she was less concerned with the “guys” looking like girls (though she DID care) and more that they were more realistic looking than the regular ones.
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I’ve often wondered why toys about “shopping” are always marketed to girls exclusively. If somewhere along the line, we didn’t teach boys about the importance of shopping, I can’t help but think that boys and men would walk around naked and starving most of the time.
I think this is silly. My daughter loves Lego Friends and Lego Hobbit, Star Wars, Superheroes, etc… Just because they make Lego Friends doesn’t mean girls can’t play with the other stuff. And if this stuff does appeal more to some girls because of the pink and purple – then cool. Who cares? Let the kids have fun.
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My daughter LOVES Lego friends. I don’t agree with this comic at all. She’s a big fan of pink, purple, etc. if she wanted a Star Wars set, we’d buy her that, too (my wife had a Ton Ton toy growing up, and she wants to play with that). My daughter also likes Gremlins of all things. My son loves Legos, too. They both build all sorts of things with their blocks – sometimes following instructions, sometimes not. They like to share different pieces between their sets too. Its a shame that people are so up in arms about this type of thing. I hope Lego is not paying attention to the naysayers against this product line.
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The plural for Lego is Lego, this comic would have been so much better with that mistake corrected. It is still quite good as I think every Lego fan thinks ‘Lego Friends’ is foolish.
Roominate is on the basis of lego for girls and they’ve been making a killing….
clearly you aren’t playing with the same legos that my kids are. There are tons of female characters and I have the “hair” to back it up. One question though, if you want to have a female astronaut are you prepared to have a female prisoner or a female robber?
uhm why wouldn’t people want a female robber or a female prisoner? That’d be pretty cool actually. Or what about female pirates, female evil knights, female storm troopers, and so on. You know, other bad guy figures who aren’t stereotypical evil female roles like say… witches.
I think he’s implicitly suggesting people who want better representation of female characters in LEGO toys are misandrists. Doesn’t make much sense.
Sure, why wouldn’t we be?
Fuck off with your pretend misandry.
Hilarious cartoon, thanks for publishing!
I wonder – doesn’t LEGO release toys after doing intense market studies? I would assume the market responded better to LEGO Friends than other ‘gender-neutral’ toys. That’s why they released LEGO Friends.
They must’ve ran case studies with both kids themselves and moms to arrive at this conclusion.
I say this in doubt that a single insulated person within LEGO would’ve had the freedom to single-handedly decide to design and launch this huge project all by him/herself.
Thus, I would blame the market, not LEGO.
On a personal note, I thought the idea of LEGO Friends itself was quite odd and unnecessary… but the toy seemed to do very well and was sold out in many stores I visited in LA.
LEGO completely ignored the girl market from the 1980s through the 1990s (eg, their “Zack the LEGO maniac” ad campaign). Without any market research whatsoever, they assumed girls were uninterested in building…and were in tremendous financial trouble by the first part of the new millennium. Then they hired a new CEO who was data-driven, and began doing market research. They realized (duh!) they needed to do more to reach girls, as well.
Sadly, however, as I know from my time as a market research project director, a company’s assumptions can dramatically shape a market research project. Therefore, I think it’s quite likely that the questions they asked that led them to produce LEGO Friends had some bias to them, and that they did not consider a wide range of approaches to regaining the “girl” market they so stupidly cast aside in the 1980s.
The near bankruptcy of LEGO had nothing to do with them ignoring the “girls’ market” as you imply. It had everything to with ignoring their core competency, their old-school accounting methods and the perception – at the time – that “building toys” were a dead industry. If you want to actually make an informed comment on the subject, I suggest you read “Brick by Brick”, the book that follows the LEGO transformation from near-bankruptcy to the second largest toy manufacturer in the world.
Thank you for this recommendation. I will gladly check it out. Note that my commentary is informed in part by the LEGO documentary available on Netflix, which did state pretty plainly that LEGO ignored the girl industry due to a perception that girls, specifically, weren’t interested in building. You raise a good point that there may be alternate perspectives on/analyses of this history, however.
Ok all u people need to stop making a huge fuss over the lego friends they r a toy lego is not sterotyping girls in any way they gave girls another option n another thing this argument could go another way one could go is that stereotyping boys by only making the boy legos so there I am a girl n I absolutly love the lego friends n another thing if u don’t like em don’t buy em n if boys want boy legos that’s ok if girls wanna play with boy legos fine that’s ok to if boys wanna play with girls legos perfectly ok if girls wanna play with boy legos well that’s ok it is whetever u like to play with.
Thanks for reading, Payton. The point isn’t that LEGO Friends are inherently bad or that they shouldn’t exist. It’s that stereotyping girls is a problem.
Girls who differ from you, who aren’t attracted to LEGO Friends, shouldn’t feel like the rest of LEGO toys are meant for boys only–but that’s exactly what LEGO implies.
LEGO doesn’t imply that. Outraged consumers are implying that. LEGO friends sets contain boys AND girls. Other LEGO sets (City, etc) contain boys AND girls. My son loves LEGO friends. I (his mom) love LEGO City.
LEGO isn’t even remotely saying that because there are “girl” kits available (which is a pretty stupid thing to call them– they’re LEGO sets, not girl LEGO sets) that all other sets must be for boys. LEGO friends are great for both genders. So is LEGO city, LEGO creator, LEGO minecraft, LEGO star wars.
The unique piece of LEGO friends is that it allows kids who don’t get out of the Barbie/Pink/etc aisle to have access to building toys they may have otherwise overlooked. This is the same thing LEGO Star Wars is doing– giving kids a hands-on, tangible building toy to kids who are playing with Lightsabers and pretty much nothing else.
LEGO is appealing to everyone– boys, girls, non-gender specific kids, parents, non-parents– and meeting them where they are, regardless of if they’re sticking to the Star Wars aisle, the Pink aisle, the Minecraft and video games section, etc. They’re good at marketing. So what if the bricks have pink and purple and a bright fun green? So what if the minifigs are a little more realistic than plain yellow people?
It’s getting kids building. And that’s enough for the LEGO city fan in me and the LEGO friends fan in my son.
Calm the fuck down.
You’ve made a far too many comments here in a few hours and used a whole lot of profanity to be justified in telling anyone to calm down.
I don’t see what the big fuss is all about. Lego is lego. You build what ever you want. My daughter love ponies and pirates lego. We buy both for her. Colors are just colors. The only reason there are girl and boys sets is the fact people put so much on gender.
Lego back then was for both until parents got upset that there was no girls set and then Lego made a set for girls. Now we are upset about the set for girls.
Lets just let kids be kids.
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By no measure are my children growing up in a hetero normative house. Yet my girls love the Lego Friends toys. A lot of little girls like pink, purple and horses. I have no clue why. I try to get them to pick the race cars and fire trucks. Yet they want the “girly” lego’s. We don’t even have cable TV. The don’t go to church. I am far far to leftist side of the spectrum. But I don’t force anything on my children. I let them pick what interests them.
Just because it’s effeminate does not mean its evil. There is nothing wrong with being “girly”. Pink, purple, and fashion is a valid interest for boys or girls. Your full of your own self righteous crap.
This post isn’t about denying kids the toys they desire. It’s about the manufacturers reducing all girls to stereotypes–to pink, purple, fashion, and care-taking. It’s an insult to girls that LEGO spent two decades assuming girls didn’t like to build, and only recovered by creating a whole new line. Why not try a multi-pronged approach–creating a new line that follows the trends in girl culture (like LEGO Friends), AND being inclusive of girls in the existing lines?
I’m afraid that the only one here remarking that pink is evil, or who is sounding self-righteous, is you. I would encourage you to open your mind and check out my book, The Princess Problem, which explores the wonderful and not-so-wonderful parts of girl culture in detail, and offers parents useful tips to help address the not-so-wonderful elements while honoring their girls’ love of the stereotypically girlish.
It’s funny. We parent the same way. No forcing. No church. No school. Open minded and inclusive community. But for some reason, our boys love guns and fighting.
Like it or not, Lego is giving kids what they want.
Lego Sales Soar On Demand For New Girls’ Series, Lego Friends
Oh yay! More pushing political correctness on innocent kids! This is just grown ups bullying each other on how to raise their kids. My nieces love the new “feminine” style toys. Do we really need to hate on toy companies for this? Reality is that kids will play with whatever makes them happy. They’re innocent, we don’t need to corrupt that just yet. As long as they have parents who teach them to be kind to all, they will grow up accepting all types of people without exception.
Oh my god, fuck off skank.
As a father of two daughters, who spent most of the 1980’s and 1990’s playing with Lego, I was only too happy to see my oldest daughter take an interest in Lego (and later by extension, Minecraft), and I marveled the things she built with some of my original Lego sets. And I was even happier because Lego wasn’t confined to the gender binary. She built princess castles with 80’s Astronauts as the leading ladies, moon bases, sky scrapers, (barely-recognizable) replicas of famous landmarks, cars, ponies, spaceships, and everything in between, and she didn’t care if the astronaut was the damsel in distress because the best part was letting her imagination run wild, and never once did I coach her or tell her she should build things a certain (gender-specific) way, and you know what? She’s turning out just fine. Mind you, she’s only ten, so things may change. But for now? I have an imaginative and healthy 10-year-old who loves to build, loves to play Minecraft with me, loves Star Wars and Doctor Who, and still collects My Little Pony and Disney Fairies / Princesses.
1. Galaxy Squad actually does have a female minifig. Granted, only in one set. No ponytail, but they are all wearing space helmets. The males don’t have hair either.
2. I really doubt the majority of little girls are forward thinking feminists that want equality in boys toys. I bet at least half of them really do like pink and horses. Lego Friends is clearly a successful line since Lego has kept it going and expanded their girl-targeted sets into Disney Princesses and the new Elves line.
3. Look up “No Girls Allowed” at the website Polygon. Toy markers genuinely believe that it’s harder to market toys to both genders than to a single gender. It’s probably due to a severe lack of imagination, it’s definitely not out of malice towards girls, but this view is entrenched in the industry.
4. It’s not as if the comic is wrong, and historically Lego had been one of the more gender neutral toy products out there. But there’s no need for women to feel like victims or anything because a company wants to expand their sales a little. I’m all for pointing out genuine instances of sexism, but women who are stuck in the victimhood mindset are self-defeating to their cause.
I don’t see any problem with ‘girly’ legos. Personally I think it’s an awesome idea. Now lego can appeal to those who have not been interested in lego before with the new product.
There are girls/boys who are not interested in lego spaceships and astronauts and would rather have the lego friends and you know what? there is nothing wrong with that.
How the cartoon implies that lego that their approach of appealing to other audience is complete waste of time is offensive.
Check out LEGO’S policy 40 years ago!! (instructions that came with the kit)
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Reblogged this on At Home with Gina Sue and commented:
I sort of made this point a few years ago. I didn’t dig into the LEGO Friends. BUT the HAIR! It was all about the hair. Once we got the Paradisa set, any LEGO Mini-Figs could be a girl. (Well except the scruffy faced men. They would just be scruffy faced men with ponytails or long hair. But they could wear bikinis!) Now if LEGO would just come up with a way to get Indiana Jones’ hat to stay on the ponytail hair, I’d be all set!
Again though, you’re still reinforcing the gender stereotype that little girls have long hair. Girls can, and do (although it’s extremely unusual, peer pressure and all that), have short hair. Boys have long hair.
You don’t need that one extra piece to make it girls Lego. Lego isn’t gendered so don’t make it so, even by adding a “girls” hairstyle.
Actually, LEGO has become much more gendered in recent years. The minifig faces are rarely neutral–they have facial hair, lipstick, and so on.
I think the Friends series should have male mini-figs too and the other sets should have females as well. I think it’s weird that the vast majority of the blocks are pink in the friends sets. Basically, there should be legos that apply to family and home as well as action and adventure. I know when I was little we built a lot of houses and that sort of thing. We even had the little flowers out front. I loved it when I was a kid because we didn’t really have sets and the blocks were a lot more colorful. Also we could mix them all together without worrying about which pieces belonged to which set. My ideal is a large tub of legos that you can run your hands through. The options are endless.
My nieces liked playing with LEGOs; now, they adore LEGO Friends. The company is not saying “Hey, girls will only play with our toys if they are pink and include a cute dog,” they’re saying “Hey, let’s get the girls who are not interested in StarWars, Marvel, space aliens, castles, and basic-color bricks to play with LEGOs! If it happens that boys like our fun/clever Friends designs, so be it.” This cannot be a feminist movement; if it is, please discuss Target and the blatant colorism and shapism (the same issues at light in LEGO Friends sets) in their child apparel lines.
Everyone who complains about the Lego Friends line seems to miss the entire point of why the line needs to exist. Sure you are awesome parents who will buy their girl lego, but there are a whole bunch of parents out their who are idiots that think lego isn’t girly enough, and the daughters of those idiots deserve to own lego too.
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Lego mails out a Lego Friends comic and activity booklet to its target market and it is the subject of great ridicule from my 9-year-old daughter. She rolls her eyes at the characters, who talk about posting selfies on Instagram and who, in her words, “freak out” over tiny problems and aren’t appeased until everything is “perfect”. Lego uses gender stereotypes as a shortcut to the girls market instead of putting any deep thought into how to appeal to girls. Pure laziness.
My daughter sticks to the straight Lego bricks; no kits.
solo puedo decir que ya lo habia pensado, hace un par de meses que combiné Galaxy Squad con LEGO friends
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