Tragic Banjo, on 03 July 2011 - 07:39 PM, said:
I really hope you're wrong about this too. While I'm generally a little wary about having a separate girls' theme to begin with - it creates an unnecessary dichotomy in what should be a toy for any gender - I'm well aware of the need to have a sort of gateway to LEGO for girls who have been brought up with an onslaught of hyperfeminine pink toys. But where TLG constantly gets their approach wrong is the scaling, rendering the "girly" themes incompatible with other LEGO sets and giving no real incentive to expand into other themes further down the road. Making an effort to bring LEGO to more girls is one thing, but treating them like some kind of niche market demographic instead of, you know, half the population of potential consumers just has the effect of girls being left to their own special little corner and told to either stay there or abandon LEGO entirely.
Well, there are a couple problems with this.
- TLG already has plenty of what would seem like non-gender-specific toys. And in general, girls don't want to buy them. If they did TLG would have no reason to even try making a separate girls' theme-- as it is, though, both parents and girls themselves overlook even the least gender-specific sets.
Frankly, a lot of people come in here talking about how girl-specific themes are a bad idea that discriminates against girls. But what they fail to realize is considering how girls don't buy most LEGO sets, this essentially means that those sets are unintentionally "boy-specific". TLG has two options to counter this imbalance: they can either create niche products for girls, which is a low-risk decision, or they can change their already successful "boys' themes" to make them less gender-specific-- a considerably higher risk considering that that means potentially alienating some of their best buyers.
- The assumption that girls' LEGO products are only valid as a gateway to other products is a really awful one. For one thing, it assumes that girls should like the average LEGO products like fire engines, pirate ships, and spaceships, and that they shouldn't like more stereotypically "girly" things like dollhouses and riding stables. And while you can say all you like about the effect of girls' toys on society, but the fact remains that these are things that girls often like, not just because they're pressured into buying them but because these are the toys they legitimately enjoy.
Think of it this way: train sets are stereotypically a boys' toy. Does this mean LEGO trains should only exist as a "gateway" to less gender-specific themes like Castle, City, and Harry Potter? You might argue that trains are different, because both boys and girls can enjoy them, and only girls can enjoy dollhouses. But in fact this is untrue-- trains are the same as dollhouses because both girls and boys can enjoy them, but they appeal primarily to one gender over the other.
- Your assumption that different scaling makes sets incompatible is laughable. All LEGO is compatible. If different scales are such a big problem, then Duplo and Technic should both be discontinued for being incompatible with regular minifigure-based LEGO themes. And Fabuland should be reviled for creating a group of fans who never went on to become regular LEGO fans. Only wait! It didn't. People who are fans of one of these themes regularly become fans of other themes.
As a child, I was primarily a fan of Duplo. I moved from that to regular LEGO System without the least bit of hassle. As I got older I began collecting Technic not instead of, but alongside, System sets. And then I moved from Technic to BIONICLE, and most recently from BIONICLE to Hero Factory. Not one of these transitions made my parts incompatible with other sets (besides arguably the Duplo-System transition, since I never mixed parts from those two themes), nor was it difficult to move into sets with a larger or smaller scale than I was used to. The only "incentive" I needed was my own curiosity.
- Furthermore, you call the different scaling of girls' themes a bad thing without considering basic history. Paradisa was a minifigure-based girls' theme running from 1992-1997-- a total of six years of sets. Belville was a doll-based theme running from 1994-2008-- a total of 15 years of sets. Between 1994 and 1997, both themes were running simultaneously. Belville existed after 1997 because it was successful where Paradisa was not. Your misguided notion that doll-based themes are a bad business decision is one a lot of AFOLs share, but there's no evidence for it and a lot against it.
Frankly, there already exist plenty of minifigure-based themes that girls are perfectly free to buy. However, Paradisa and Belville demonstrated that even when a minifigure-based theme exists that's custom-tailored to the interests of female buyers, girls still prefer a doll-based theme. And TLG, by releasing sets that buyers simply don't want, would be doing both itself and its audience a disservice.
Personally, I think that as a toy company it's not TLG's responsibility to create social change. There are a lot more influential toy companies that would be working counter to that purpose anyway. But at the same time, something that has to be acknowledged is that if TLG continues releasing sets that girls tend to ignore, they're not helping girls grow up without gender stereotypes, or creating equality, or any of those things. All they're doing is perpetuating their reputation as a boys' toy and their feebleness at getting girls older than five years old to even care.
Now here's my own perspective on this revelation, if it turns out to be true. I may very easily ignore this theme when it comes out if the minifigures are terribly incompatible with regular LEGO ones. At the same time, my little brother was a fan of Jack Stone sets in the early 2000s, and I didn't make fun of the sets at all. Instead, I was a bit of a fan myself. They were not minifigure scale, but they were LEGO and Technic-based sets that still encouraged creative building and role-play, just for a younger audience. If I jumped on the hate-train for this theme like a lot of AFOLs are so ready to, then I'd be a hypocrite, because I'd be imposing my own values on LEGO sets clearly not aimed at 20-year-old men like myself.
Even the most obstinate AFOL isn't likely to complain about Duplo sets being "too juniorized", so complaining about girls' sets being "too girly" is just as illogical. TLG has put a lot of time and effort into market research trying to find what sells, so the best thing we can do is hope that their time and effort pays off rather than trying to claim that our own armchair psychology explains girls better than actual research by a company that has actual money at stake if the theme is not successful.
At the same time, it's way too early to pretend we know anything for certain about these sets. Our first information about the Ninjago theme, from someone who had seen pictures of the sets himself, led us to expect ninjas in improbable colors like purple and orange, when in fact the final theme's ninjas were all in colors that had been seen in sets over ten years previously. I don't doubt the information itself in this case, but drawing conclusions about whether it's good or bad involves making a lot of huge and often baseless assumptions based on a couple sentences (most of which apply just as much to fan-favorite theme Fabuland as they do to this new girls' theme, by the way).