I’ve been a fan of Lego for over 30 years, and I’ve never felt that Lego was exclusively a boys toy. Maybe it’s because I’ve always been a bit of a tomboy, but I don’t feel that the majority of themes are that boy centric, but I can see why some people might consider it so. The city sets are often transport based, and there are also plenty of ‘police’ and ‘fireman’ sets. Many of the other themes are also a bit ‘battle’ centric, the castle sets, pirates, cowboys, super heroes, space and so on. I’ve always been a big fan of the castle sets – lots of horses and little soldiers with swords and bows and arrows. Not very girly though, but then I’ve never been a very girly girl. Up until now I’ve never owned any ‘girly’ Lego. There have been attempts by Lego to produce sets for girls, but I’ve never sure how successful they have been. The first sets that I noticed were the Belville ones. There may have been earlier attempts, but if so I never even noticed them! I always thought that the Belville sets were trying too hard to be girly. They were too pink, too saccharin, and a bit too fairytale. A bit Disney if you will, with Princes and Princesses, Fairies, and mummy and daddy play-sets. The characters were more mini-dolls than Lego. The themes were too stereotyped and also around at the point where Lego had made the sets minimalist in terms of building and flexibility. I never considered buying a set, or if I’m honest even taking a closer look.
Recently Lego have introduced the new Lego Friends theme sets. Again, this theme is clearly aimed at girls, but I think this time they have actually done a much better job. The sets are based on the ‘lives’ of five different Lego ‘girl’ characters. Mia, Emma, Andrea, Stephanie and Olivia. These characters are sophisticated teenage girls each with different personalities and interests. The sets then are based around the interests and normal buildings associated with the girls. No fairytale castles or princes, but instead a nice house, cafe, swimming pool, vets, stables, riding school, flying club, treehouse, and music stage. Still fantasy stuff, but acknowledging that girls might want to do horse-riding, be a musician, a vet, or run a cafe, rather than be a princess and be rescued by a handsome plastic prince! Hurray!
The characters are less doll like (above), but still recognisable and individual (and I can see why this might be preferable to the anonymity of minifigs). The sets are nice girly colours, and not saccharin pink. The sets have both build and play elements, with accessories for the characters that are in many respects more relevant and up-to-date than the traditional sets – see the laptop and smart phone in the Design studio below. The sets are interesting and appealing, and to be honest if I had infinite amounts of money, I would actually collect many of them. I mention again, I’m not a girly girl, I’ve never dressed up as a princess, owned a magic wand, or at all liked barbie! These are not girly girly sets! The buildings are pretty and the sets come with a nice variety of accessories that I think really improve the ‘playability’ of the sets.
The two sets below I’ve bought deliberately because of the furniture and accessories in the set (for a secret Lego project). Firstly is Olivia’s invention studio because this has some nice chemistry lab type elements and tools that will be useful for my project. The second is Emma’s Design Studio, which has some nice furniture and accessories. Although I am a bit dubious about the cucumber roll or lettuce sandwich- thats what it looks like to me anyway!
I’m adoring Lego more than ever at the moment, with the wonderful modular building serious, the exclusive and creator ranges, and the architecture ranges. I think Lego Friends is a great job at making Lego appealing to girls who maybe don’t want the more traditional sets – but of course both can be combined! So well done Lego!