Wednesday, February 12, 2014

I would have played with that...

As much as I'm supposed to hate Lego Friends, I only hate it a little.

First off, my philosophy is not to hate anything except orcs and Jenny McCarthy. Seriously, hate is a negative thing that I actively work against.

Second, why do I bother to write about toys? I don't have any kids, but my friends have kids. And I have a two year old niece and as of yesterday a baby nephew who will be playing with this stuff. I want them to play with what they want and not what the colors on the box say they have to play with.

Third, I write about toys now because I couldn't when I was a kid.


The 1d4p worst things about Lego Friends.

1. The ads are super stupid.
2. Most of the models are boring.
3. They gave the mini dolls names and back stories and made them all the same age, thus forcing them into a specific role instead of encouraging kids to decide.
4. They merchandise them on the damn pink aisle instead of with Lego toys.
p. They weren't in The Lego Movie, meaning its a separate world.

The best thing about Lego Friends.

I would have played with that.

The One Ring and a light saber. Fear me.
I know, I know, that makes me a terrible feminist. This Businessweek article from 2011 prior to the Friends initial launch talks about the research the company did to create the toy. The following quote from that article is what makes me a terrible feminist:

The key difference between girls and the ladyfig and boys and the minifig was that many more girls projected themselves onto the ladyfig—she became an avatar. Boys tend to play with minifigs in the third person. “The girls needed a figure they could identify with, that looks like them,” says Rosario Costa, a Lego design director. The Lego team knew they were on to something when girls told them, “I want to shrink down and be there.”

That made me think back to being a kid, I loved little toys and I would have liked the mini doll. Really liked it, because they are little and cute and can be hidden. I had a tiny plastic motorcycle that I loved for many reasons including that it fit in my pocket. Same with Hot Wheels. Same with marbles and those little Tonka trucks that ran on AA batteries. Little toys rock. If I put myself in my little kid shoes, I'd like the mini dolls as much as the mini figs.

The main argument against the mini doll is they are not compatible with the mini fig. I agree that would make them 100% cooler. They are a little bit compatible. The hairpieces can be swapped between them and they can hold the same things. The little mini doll's hands don't turn, though, making it tough to wield a lightsaber to its full potential, but she can hold it. The range of outfits is limited. I want one dressed as a cop, a ranger, a Jedi. Basically it says the girl toy and the boy toy don't work together. I still don't know what makes Friends "for girls" and everything else Lego makes "for boys" except marketing because nothing else on the box says that, unless you base the decision on location in the store and what the TV ads promote. Otherwise, kids should be free to pick whatever set they want to build with.

The other thing that this conflict does is call out the appearance of the "girls'" fig. Once again the "girls'" toy is judged by how it looks.

I made the following deal with my ornery feminist. The mini doll is just another piece. There is no use comparing a brick to a wheel, so why bother putting the mini doll up against the mini fig and whining about it? There are so many possible combinations, just put together a unique character and pick out a mini you like. Problem solved.

Coming up: I have a lot of awesome girl mini figs. I'll share some...