Derek

Friends "Controversy"

Friends Controversy  

524 members have voted

  1. 1. Do you like the LEGO Friends line?

    • Yes
      381
    • No
      140
  2. 2. Do you think the LEGO Friends line is too "effeminite" in appearance?

    • Yes
      194
    • No
      327
  3. 3. How could LEGO improve this "problem?"

    • I answered "No." I don't see any need for improvement.
      221
    • Make building more challenging
      68
    • Make monster trucks with female drivers
      34
    • Make monster trucks in pink
      25
    • Make houses in neutral colors
      107
    • Just let girls play with the other lines. Can't girls like construction without animals, lipstick and brighter colors?
      83
    • The sets are fine, but why are the minifigs different?
      189
    • Diversify other lines in theme
      78
    • Diversify other lines with more female characters
      163
    • Diversify other lines with brighter colors that appeal to boys and girls
      75
  4. 4. Which of the above issues affects your stance on this product the most?

    • I answered "No." I don't see any need for improvement.
      211
    • Make building more challenging
      23
    • Make monster trucks with female drivers
      3
    • Make monster trucks in pink
      6
    • Make houses in neutral colors
      27
    • Just let girls play with the other lines. Can't girls like construction without animals, lipstick and brighter colors?
      39
    • The sets are fine, but why are the minifigs different?
      126
    • Diversify other lines in theme
      21
    • Diversify other lines with more female characters
      53
    • Diversify other lines with brighter colors that appeal to boys and girls
      13
  5. 5. What is your expertise on the subject?

    • I have studied sociology
      62
    • I have studied child development
      54
    • I am just an opinionated AFOL with no credentials in marketing or child development
      334
    • I have studied consumer product research
      38
    • I have studied marketing
      55
    • I am a parent
      150
  6. 6. How do your children respond to the LEGO Friends line?

    • I do not have children
      343
    • I have a daughter who likes the Friends sets
      63
    • I have a daughter who doesn't like the Friends sets
      13
    • I have a daughter who likes the Friends sets and sets meant for boys
      60
    • I have a son who likes the Friends sets
      28
    • I have a son who doesn't like the Friends sets
      25
    • I have many children who all have different reactions to the Friends line
      24
  7. 7. Do you consider LEGO to be a unisex toy?

    • Yes
      348
    • No
      40
    • It used to be, it's not now
      52
    • It has always been a toy primarily for boys
      67
  8. 8. Do you think keeping Friends promoted only among girls toys in store and not with LEGO will reinforce the impression that LEGO is a boys toy in general?

    • Yes
      312
    • No
      195
  9. 9. Do sets marketed specifically to girls enforce the idea that the other sets are meant only for boys?

    • Yes
      285
    • No
      222


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Yessiree! I figured I might as well post if only to make the correction regarding the gender ratios in Legends of Chima.

Well, nicely done, then. :thumbup:

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That was an interesting read. I don't recall them specifically talking about collectible minifigures for the 5 females we receive there in every series amounting to 15 a year. Yes, the numbers are not 50/50, but it is changing.

Agreed and yet their calulation of 16% seems way off. There are so many current sets which have at least 1 female fig out of three and may not even be on LEGO.com at any given time due to it being a direct-to-consumer site; the vast majority of buyers use other retailers. Even Amazon.com would be a better venue from which to analyze the current ratios. Or, even better yet, Brickset. Plus, publishing an article in June with data from back in March is kinda strange in terms of LEGO products -- which is constantly rolling out new items.

Another source for their information is the woman who thought the Friends Cafe was pre-assembled; she's recently told them at Target store, out of 50 LEGO sets only 2 have female minifigures. That is quite subjective to any given inventory/store/day and whether or not the shopper realizes certain minifigures are indeed female. They complained about not enough female pilots -- yet fail to realize those figs will be wearing unisex uniforms. Horizon Express train engineer is another example overlooked female for their census.

Someone should do an accurate 2013 female fig to male fig ratio compilation. :wink:

It was an interesting read, indeed. It's unfortunate that they don't seem (from what I've seen) to know all that much about LEGO as a whole.

You've explained one of the huge issues with these groups! Knowing the history of the product evolution goes a long way in understanding why & when certain aspects change, or not.

Not only is their own data inaccurate, it's was out-dated even before they published it. The problem isn't just this one standalone article; it gets re-posted, tweeted, re-tweeted, re-published, shared, and re-quoted by some of their own 'joint' groups, as well as other similar groups. One reason is because talking about LEGO bricks gets people's attention; everyone has some level of experience with the product(s). That in-turn gets more people re-hashing their posted information (unaware of its false data) and then it's all over the Internet. They also use those incorrect numbers on their latest petition. Which, by any standard, gives reason to question any petition they place on that "change" site.

It's also interesting to read how they double-back on the issue of LEGO themes girls like. In their initial arguments last year they complained that girls "already" play with Star Wars, Harry Potter, Castle, NinjaGO, and other themes -- therefore Friends is uneccessary. Yes, girl fans do already build with those themes; so why say now that those themes aren't accessible to girls? It's that sort of bait & switch of tailoring their argument that these groups use to keep people riled up. They gain more donations, sell more t-shirts, books, etc. All off the backs of minifigures.

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Someone should do an accurate 2013 female fig to male fig ratio compilation. :wink:

On it. I had already done some rudimentary comparisons when we got our first pics of the full year's sets from Toy Fair, and I'm interested in seeing a more accurate picture.

At the same time, though, there may be some validity to their assessment. Even if it seriously undercuts the number of female characters, it does hint that female characters are not always being made obvious in product images. In the BIONICLE theme, part of the reason why female characters rarely had obviously-female physiques, aside from the fact that there were too few female characters to dedicate molds to that specific purpose, was that in general female action figures don't sell as well as male ones (you may see comparable numbers on store shelves sometimes, but the female ones do not need to be restocked as often). By making female characters gender-ambiguous at best, BIONICLE kept from alienating its core audience of six- to twelve-year-old boys.

If male characters appear unambiguously in prominent positions on LEGO product images and box art, but female characters are stuck in supporting roles where they're less visible at a glance, that is a legitimate concern in terms of gender equality, whether or not there are sound marketing reasons for it.

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Welp, I just ran some numbers and you're probably not going to like what I found. Let me first give some details of how I measured things:

  • I compared all 2013 sets on Brickset with five-digit set numbers. I did not include magnets, gear, books, or battle packs with six-digit set numbers.
  • I tallied total number of minifigures, number of male minifigures, number of female minifigures, and number of ambiguous minifigures (figures with no face or torso printing singling them out as male or female).
  • In some cases, you might disagree which I considered ambiguous and which I considered male, but there were not many figs that could lean either way.
  • I included Duplo figures and friends figures in my tallies, as well as roughly minifigure-size aliens and robots (which, besides those who appear as main characters in licensed themes and take pronouns, tend to fall under "ambiguous"). I included Jabba the Hutt but not the Rancor. I did not include constraction sets or brick-built Duplo and Bricks & More figures. I did not include animals.
  • I did not include sets from the Hobbit theme. Brickset calls these 2012 sets and while there's some room for argument (holiday 2012 and 2013 are not much different), I don't think it makes a huge difference in the analysis.
  • This was a tally of minifigures, not UNIQUE minifigures. Comparing only unique minifigures could yield radically different results if one gender's figs tend to reappear across multiple sets more than another gender's figs (which is likely the case).
  • Since I tallied only 2013 sets, not all sets on the LEGO website, I was not analyzing the exact same data as the SPARK Summit folks.

Now, overall I found 616 minifigures across all the sets tallied, out of which 443 were male, 91 were female, and 82 were ambiguous. This means in my tally, 72% were male, 15% were female, and 13% were ambiguous. This is not significantly different from the numbers the SPARK Summit arrived at. In fact, it points at possibly fewer female figures than their tally, which covered figures found in sets on the LEGO website.

Like them, I did another tally that disregarded licensed figs. This time, there were 381 total figs, out of which 254 were male, 74 were female, and 53 were ambiguous. Like in the SPARK Summit's analysis, this painted a slightly brighter picture: 67% male, 19% female, and 14% ambiguous. However, the percentage of female figures still fell short of the ones they arrived at, which was surprising. My brother suggests that the reason for the discrepancy is that polybag and promotional sets (which would not have appeared in the SPARK Summit tally) may be more likely to include male characters. Regardless, with only slight discrepancies between my data and the data posted to their website, I see no reason to doubt that their data is sound.

Once all the sets for the year are out and cataloged on Bricklink, we can more easily do a tally of UNIQUE 2013 figures only. I imagine this would paint a somewhat rosier picture for female minifigures than a tally of TOTAL minifigures, because in most themes, male minifigures are repeated more often than female minifigures. However, that isn't to say such a tally is more relevant to the problem. After all, no matter how many unique female minifigures there are, if there are fewer sets that contain them than male minifigures, then there is an imbalance that one day ought to be corrected.

Edited by Aanchir

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Yes, 20% sounds closer and then when factoring in polybags (Friends has 8-10) and bulk (bricks & more category) sets/containers it's going to be getting closer to 30% -- which is more consistent with real-time occupations of most of the classic LEGO sets genres.

Pretty much all newer set boxes have minifigure's images on them in separate inset frames, so there's no ambiguity.

At the end of the day, LEGO is a creative toy -- and kids are creative. There's ample availablity of various bricks & parts, in addition to set, for those concerned about social factors. The LEGO Group is a privately-held company and although generous in their response to customers, after the red ink of a less than a decade ago, they have to be their own advisors. They have no mandate to be the cure for gender inequality. It's up to parents to provide their kids a life-path for self-realization to know they can be whatever they want to be in life.

Loads of girls whose first LEGO set was one of Friends have gone onto other LEGO themes & products. They have also become more interested in 3D building. This will be a far better impact on the future results-gain by this gateway theme.

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Yes, 20% sounds closer and then when factoring in polybags (Friends has 8-10) and bulk (bricks & more category) sets/containers it's going to be getting closer to 30% -- which is more consistent with real-time occupations of most of the classic LEGO sets genres.

Pretty much all newer set boxes have minifigure's images on them in separate inset frames, so there's no ambiguity.

At the end of the day, LEGO is a creative toy -- and kids are creative. There's ample availablity of various bricks & parts, in addition to set, for those concerned about social factors. The LEGO Group is a privately-held company and although generous in their response to customers, after the red ink of a less than a decade ago, they have to be their own advisors. They have no mandate to be the cure for gender inequality. It's up to parents to provide their kids a life-path for self-realization to know they can be whatever they want to be in life.

Loads of girls whose first LEGO set was one of Friends have gone onto other LEGO themes & products. They have also become more interested in 3D building. This will be a far better impact on the future results-gain by this gateway theme.

Well, I included 2013 polybags and Bricks & More sets in my count, so I don't think it'd approach 30% unless there are a large number of female characters in 2013 sets that haven't been revealed yet. I agree though that LEGO Friends is doing its job in getting girls interested in LEGO building. Perhaps more importantly, it's helping to eliminate the stigma that construction toys are just for boys, and that means that if a girl DOES want LEGO sets other than LEGO Friends, their parents might be more open to the idea than they would have when it was perceived as a "boyish" hobby.

Edited by Aanchir

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Welp, I just ran some numbers...

Thanks for tallying these! I know how long it can take to do these tallys, so I appreciate you taking the time to pull them. Ever since I did my first tally, I've been wanting to go back and count all the years I skipped...

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in general female action figures don't sell as well as male ones

Sure. Just tell me next time you find an April O Neil among the armies of Raphaels and Donatellos. :tongue:

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Here's the NPR article I was interviewed for. It's a pretty basic story, nothing here that hasn't been covered many times before. I'm in it for approximately 10 seconds. While I tried to present a nuanced centrist argument over the course of the half-hour interview (in which I spent a lot of time defending Friends and bashing Mega Bloks Barbie), of course they only used the clip of me where I explain my criticism of the minidoll. :hmpf_bad:

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Here's the NPR article I was interviewed for. It's a pretty basic story, nothing here that hasn't been covered many times before. I'm in it for approximately 10 seconds. While I tried to present a nuanced centrist argument over the course of the half-hour interview (in which I spent a lot of time defending Friends and bashing Mega Bloks Barbie), of course they only used the clip of me where I explain my criticism of the minidoll. :hmpf_bad:

So it wasn't you who claimed that there were no female firefighters or police officers in the minifig lineup? Or that there wasn't a Wonder Woman minifig? I'm glad to hear it.

Overall it seemed like a pretty fair story, giving both pros and cons to Friends. About what I expect from NPR.

Since this thread has been resurrected, I may as well report on what happened to me a month or so ago on Ravelry. Ravelry is the biggest fiber arts (knitting and crochet) website in the world, and it has extremely active forums that cover a wide range of topics beyond knitting and crochet. On one of the general interest forums, somebody started a thread about the recent Disney Princess makeover for Merida. At some point this diverged into a conversation about Lego Friends, and let me tell you, the controversy is far from over.

What really struck me was that I kept on hearing the same misinformation that was originally used to condemn Friends when it was launched. "The girls all wear miniskirts". "The sets are simplified so there's hardly any building involved." "The Friends all do stereotypical things like go to beauty salons."

One woman was insisting that the Friends all wear makeup and nail polish. Never mind that no minifig or minidoll has ever even had fingernails, or that no Friend is wearing obvious makeup. She had it in her mind that they were a bunch of Barbies, presumably because she heard it from someone with an axe to grind.

Likewise, the same woman thought that there were no female minifigs in heroic roles outside of Friends. No firefighters, no ambulance drivers. She kept saying that the women in System were all damsels in distress waiting to be rescued by heroic men. I pointed out that this was very true a few years ago, but that TLG have been making great improvements in offering women opportunities to be heroic. I talked about Eris and Nya and the nameless ADU fighter pilot.

Another thing that is very obvious is that most adults tend to think Lego is still in the business of selling big boxes of generic bricks. They just don't understand that your average Friends set is very much like every other modern Lego set, with specialized pieces galore that are meant to build a specific scene. They see those Friends sets and think that the whole design philosophy of Lego has been bastardized for this Girls' Theme.

I showed the group some pictures of other sets with comparisons of the number of parts and complexity of the builds. I touted the non-stereotypical activities girls engage in throughout Friends. I tried to set the record straight about the roles females play in other Lego themes. I think I got through to some, aided somewhat by other posters who had more current experience with Lego through their kids. It was a pretty good discussion.

But there are still a lot of people who believe that Friends is basically evil.

I also have to say that many of the responses here are not very mature, and don't help the AFOL community at all. I did some rereading of this thread, having abandoned it originally when I found myself getting too worked up over the immature posts - and I started getting annoyed all over again. What I see here is a more or less complete failure to accept that other people may have different viewpoints, and that things aren't only bad if they affect us personally. It's a complete blanket denial that other people may be insulted by things that we (I'm using the impersonal "we" here) don't care about. It's more or less the same response that I see all around when people start to talk about racism - a response that comes from unquestioned privilege. "This doesn't bother me, so I don't see why it should bother you. You're being oversensitive."

That's not how it works, people. These things DO bother other people. You don't get to just deny that, or laugh it off, or make the controversy disappear by using ironic quotation marks (see title of thread). If you want people to respect you and your hobby, you need to try to be a little bit more "ambassadorial" in manner. We're not going to get people to see that Lego can be a respectable hobby for adults if we act like thirteen-year-olds. We won't convince people that Friends is really not sexist if every Eurobricks review of a Friends set devotes several paragraphs to being ironic about how the set was dumbed down for girls, and then goes on to give us a "clever" minifig comic that is a big winking "FU" to all women reading it. Why can't we just review the sets? Talk about the build, drop the whole ironic stance and treat the Friends sets the same way we would treat any other Lego set? Pandora does this pretty well. When she reviews a Friends set, it's just a Lego set. No wink-wink nudge-nudge "I don't need any of these girly colors, but SOME people might find them useful", just bricks and tiles with perhaps more cute animals than most themes have. I'd like to see the rest of us doing the same.

Okay, I'm not going to be on anybody's best buds list right now. But I had to say it. This is a very cool community. I just don't think we as a group handle the Friends theme very maturely.

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So it wasn't you who claimed that there were no female firefighters or police officers in the minifig lineup? Or that there wasn't a Wonder Woman minifig? I'm glad to hear it.

Yeah, it's unfortunate that she got the bit about the girl police officer wrong. To be fair, she didn't claim there wasn't a Wonder Woman minifig, just that there wasn't a Wonder Woman-centric set. Wonder Woman's presence in the Superman vs Lex Luthor set is somewhat problematic. It's great that we got a Wonder Woman figure, but she doesn't get mentioned in the set name and she's shown on the box cover in need of being saved.

Since this thread has been resurrected, I may as well report on what happened to me a month or so ago on Ravelry... It was a pretty good discussion.

Go you! It's really important for all of us AFOLs who know what Friends is really like to continue to explain its merits to those who don't. There's a lot of misinformation out there and most people have formed opinions based on it. It's up to us to help people understand what LEGO Friends sets are really like so that they can make informed decisions and have opinions based in fact.

What I see here is a more or less complete failure to accept that other people may have different viewpoints.

I hope you find it a little less than a complete failure. :sceptic: I admit that there have been many posts in this thread that have gotten me worked up, and the scare quotes in the thread title make me wince everytime I see them, but of all the places I have had conversations about Friends online, I have found this thread to be the one of the most nuanced and accepting of multiple viewpoints. The comment threads on most articles about Friends tend to rehash the same tired beats over and over. In contrast, reading the opinions of Aanchir and LegoMyMamma (and you) have helped me refine my own opinion. I don't agree with either of them 100%, but I value their opinions and viewpoints because I know they are coming from a place of understanding rather than dismissal.

I hope that you'll stick around. You obviously have a lot of interesting and important things to say. :sweet:

Why can't we just review the sets? Talk about the build, drop the whole ironic stance and treat the Friends sets the same way we would treat any other Lego set?

Like that :thumbup:

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So it wasn't you who claimed that there were no female firefighters or police officers in the minifig lineup? Or that there wasn't a Wonder Woman minifig? I'm glad to hear it.

Overall it seemed like a pretty fair story, giving both pros and cons to Friends. About what I expect from NPR.

Since this thread has been resurrected, I may as well report on what happened to me a month or so ago on Ravelry. Ravelry is the biggest fiber arts (knitting and crochet) website in the world, and it has extremely active forums that cover a wide range of topics beyond knitting and crochet. On one of the general interest forums, somebody started a thread about the recent Disney Princess makeover for Merida. At some point this diverged into a conversation about Lego Friends, and let me tell you, the controversy is far from over.

What really struck me was that I kept on hearing the same misinformation that was originally used to condemn Friends when it was launched. "The girls all wear miniskirts". "The sets are simplified so there's hardly any building involved." "The Friends all do stereotypical things like go to beauty salons."

One woman was insisting that the Friends all wear makeup and nail polish. Never mind that no minifig or minidoll has ever even had fingernails, or that no Friend is wearing obvious makeup. She had it in her mind that they were a bunch of Barbies, presumably because she heard it from someone with an axe to grind.

Likewise, the same woman thought that there were no female minifigs in heroic roles outside of Friends. No firefighters, no ambulance drivers. She kept saying that the women in System were all damsels in distress waiting to be rescued by heroic men. I pointed out that this was very true a few years ago, but that TLG have been making great improvements in offering women opportunities to be heroic. I talked about Eris and Nya and the nameless ADU fighter pilot.

Another thing that is very obvious is that most adults tend to think Lego is still in the business of selling big boxes of generic bricks. They just don't understand that your average Friends set is very much like every other modern Lego set, with specialized pieces galore that are meant to build a specific scene. They see those Friends sets and think that the whole design philosophy of Lego has been bastardized for this Girls' Theme.

I showed the group some pictures of other sets with comparisons of the number of parts and complexity of the builds. I touted the non-stereotypical activities girls engage in throughout Friends. I tried to set the record straight about the roles females play in other Lego themes. I think I got through to some, aided somewhat by other posters who had more current experience with Lego through their kids. It was a pretty good discussion.

But there are still a lot of people who believe that Friends is basically evil.

I also have to say that many of the responses here are not very mature, and don't help the AFOL community at all. I did some rereading of this thread, having abandoned it originally when I found myself getting too worked up over the immature posts - and I started getting annoyed all over again. What I see here is a more or less complete failure to accept that other people may have different viewpoints, and that things aren't only bad if they affect us personally. It's a complete blanket denial that other people may be insulted by things that we (I'm using the impersonal "we" here) don't care about. It's more or less the same response that I see all around when people start to talk about racism - a response that comes from unquestioned privilege. "This doesn't bother me, so I don't see why it should bother you. You're being oversensitive."

That's not how it works, people. These things DO bother other people. You don't get to just deny that, or laugh it off, or make the controversy disappear by using ironic quotation marks (see title of thread). If you want people to respect you and your hobby, you need to try to be a little bit more "ambassadorial" in manner. We're not going to get people to see that Lego can be a respectable hobby for adults if we act like thirteen-year-olds. We won't convince people that Friends is really not sexist if every Eurobricks review of a Friends set devotes several paragraphs to being ironic about how the set was dumbed down for girls, and then goes on to give us a "clever" minifig comic that is a big winking "FU" to all women reading it. Why can't we just review the sets? Talk about the build, drop the whole ironic stance and treat the Friends sets the same way we would treat any other Lego set? Pandora does this pretty well. When she reviews a Friends set, it's just a Lego set. No wink-wink nudge-nudge "I don't need any of these girly colors, but SOME people might find them useful", just bricks and tiles with perhaps more cute animals than most themes have. I'd like to see the rest of us doing the same.

Okay, I'm not going to be on anybody's best buds list right now. But I had to say it. This is a very cool community. I just don't think we as a group handle the Friends theme very maturely.

I definitely think you have some very interesting insights. Certainly the public misconception that basic bricks are the be-all and end-all of "traditional LEGO" is wide-spread, and I've seen it used in criticism of themes like Ninjago and BIONICLE as well as LEGO Friends. Some people seem to be unaware not only of how widespread "themed" LEGO is today, but of how long there have been "themed" sets with pieces specialized for those particular themes.

I also agree that the AFOL community sometimes does more harm than good by dismissing non-AFOL concerns outright instead of trying to be more diplomatic. We saw this with the Jabba's Palace controversy as well: sure, most of us can agree that LEGO was not in the wrong on that one, but very few people were putting forth an effort to empathize with the people who felt offended by the contents of that set. For a culture that is used to misrepresentation by western society, and that does not have an inherent familiarity with the Star Wars franchise, seeing elements of middle-eastern culture being used in this way could quite rightly be shocking, particularly when your first exposure to this is in the form of a beloved children's toy.

Part of why I like LEGO Friends is that currently, the AFOL community is extremely male-dominated. There are women in the community, but they are a minority, and as such sometimes traditions and jokes that are considered acceptable in the AFOL community may be a part of what alienates women who don't share that LEGO-loving background. LEGO Friends may be a key step to changing this by getting girls passionate about the LEGO brand at an early age and potentially leading them to be a part of the AFOL community. But it's not a guaranteed thing, particularly if the AFOL community continues to be perceived as a "boys' club" where women are expected to just play along with the the culture their primarily male predecessors have established. Thankfully many of the women here on Eurobricks have not been afraid to express their opinions even when those do conflict with the mainstream AFOL culture, including Pandora who has written many excellent reviews of sets her male colleagues might have had a hard time taking 100% seriously.

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- I still find segregating the figures a sexist move. It determines that friends is a sepearate thing from the other themes. All the other themes are boys' themes, whilst friends is the girls' theme.

- I don't think success is an argument against the existence of sexism.

- The sexism is affecting girls AND boys. In fact, while the effects of the sexism on Friends are mild (More pink than usual, different minifigures*).It is the effects of the sexism on the other themes that are quite awful. All themes are turning into stereotypical action themes. TLG are being sexist when they brag about their 'research' that assumes that only girls value beauty and detail in their construction sets, while boys value "action". We can't have a space exploration theme without fighting with aliens. Because that's supposedly what boys like. Why is City full of firefighters and cops? Why are 8 our of 13 Creator sets vehicles? A girls theme wasn't needed before, but it is now because themes are getting way too stereotypically boyish.

Or that there wasn't a Wonder Woman minifig? I'm glad to hear it.
NPR interviewee said that there is no Wonder Woman set. And that's true, isn't it? If someone wanted to buy a WW minifigure, you would have to get Supe vs. Luthor. Because Wonder Woman is a character that supports Super Man against Super Man's arch-enemy. Or at least that's what the set suggests.

Of course, in the case of super heroes, a lot of it is the fault of the original tale. This criticism is a lot like blaming TLG because Jabba's palace looks like a Mosque. Comics have serious issues of their own. Although it makes you wonder if it was wise for TLG to pick such a boy's club license... Back to square one.

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Another thing that is very obvious is that most adults tend to think Lego is still in the business of selling big boxes of generic bricks. They just don't understand that your average Friends set is very much like every other modern Lego set, with specialized pieces galore that are meant to build a specific scene. They see those Friends sets and think that the whole design philosophy of Lego has been bastardized for this Girls' Theme.

That is my experience as well, especially from parents in their late 30s up to late 40s. Probably because their most lasting memory of the toy is the one from when they were kids (70s and 80s) and their recent experience with it (for their own kids) constrasts wildly with their own experience.

We're not going to get people to see that Lego can be a respectable hobby for adults if we act like thirteen-year-olds. We won't convince people that Friends is really not sexist if every Eurobricks review of a Friends set devotes several paragraphs to being ironic about how the set was dumbed down for girls, and then goes on to give us a "clever" minifig comic that is a big winking "FU" to all women reading it. Why can't we just review the sets?

Although I haven't really contributed to this thread, here I disagree a bit.

1) Why should *I* care what non AFOLs think about our hobby ? Most of them probably think of me as "that creepy guy around the toy aisle" and I couldn't care less what these bigots think about me or my hobby being respectable to *their* eyes.

2) I find those ironic comics hilarious. :laugh:

Edited by SheepEater

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- I still find segregating the figures a sexist move. It determines that friends is a sepearate thing from the other themes. All the other themes are boys' themes, whilst friends is the girls' theme.

- I don't think success is an argument against the existence of sexism.

- The sexism is affecting girls AND boys. In fact, while the effects of the sexism on Friends are mild (More pink than usual, different minifigures*).It is the effects of the sexism on the other themes that are quite awful. All themes are turning into stereotypical action themes. TLG are being sexist when they brag about their 'research' that assumes that only girls value beauty and detail in their construction sets, while boys value "action". We can't have a space exploration theme without fighting with aliens. Because that's supposedly what boys like. Why is City full of firefighters and cops? Why are 8 our of 13 Creator sets vehicles? A girls theme wasn't needed before, but it is now because themes are getting way too stereotypically boyish.

Tell me again how girls and boys played with LEGO in equal numbers before this whole shift occurred. Obviously that was what The LEGO Group wanted to happen with their gender-neutral marketing in the 70s and 80s. But I don't think I've seen any indication that it worked. Truly, even back then, there were sets (like the "Homemaker" series) that were predominantly aimed at girls, presumably because LEGO simply wasn't reaching that audience effectively with their other toys.

LEGO is by nature a building toy, like Erector, Meccano, and other brands that came before it, and as such the LEGO Group was hardly the originator of the notion that construction is a boys' pastime. They inherited that notion and have made multiple attempts, whether those be through gendered marketing or gender-neutral marketing, to eliminate them. Friends is the first time that they have successfully gained any measurable ground in eliminating that stigma. They have proven that girls ARE a viable audience for building toys themselves, not just a periphery demographic existing on the fringes of a more reliable male audience. So in that regard, it achieves a goal that decades of previous attempts could not.

I don't see how LEGO Friends having a different figure is any different than, say, Technic having different figures back in the day, or BIONICLE having an entirely different figure design. LEGO was trying to target a demographic that wasn't nearly as interested in their traditional figures as they were in more naturalistic dolls, so they created a more naturalistic figure. Should they have just decided that girls who prefer more lifelike dolls to blocky minifigures are unworthy or incapable of enjoying building toys?

It hardly means that they are blind to the possibility that girls might take interest in their other themes, and they do capitalize on female interest in some of their other themes. For instance, LEGO Legends of Chima has set itself apart from previous "action themes" in that it includes four female minifigures rather than a single token girl. It's a small step, but I have no doubt that it was inspired by the unanticipated female audience that responded positively to character-driven action storytelling in LEGO Ninjago, despite that theme being heavily marketed towards boys. The collectible minifigures have also had an increase in the number of female characters per series, with nearly 30% of the figures in each recent series being female, though the ratios of female minifigures in a box of 60 are still woefully slim.

NPR interviewee said that there is no Wonder Woman set. And that's true, isn't it? If someone wanted to buy a WW minifigure, you would have to get Supe vs. Luthor. Because Wonder Woman is a character that supports Super Man against Super Man's arch-enemy. Or at least that's what the set suggests.

Of course, in the case of super heroes, a lot of it is the fault of the original tale. This criticism is a lot like blaming TLG because Jabba's palace looks like a Mosque. Comics have serious issues of their own. Although it makes you wonder if it was wise for TLG to pick such a boy's club license... Back to square one.

Bear in mind that sometimes one of the best justifications for grabbing a high-profile license is to prevent competitors from profiting off of it. And it can usually be justified as long as the license isn't a liability as far as PR is concerned (truly, this is why LEGO has avoided pursuing a first-person shooter license to compete with Mega Bloks's Halo line, and probably part of why they never sought out the Halo license for themselves in the first place).

Edited by Aanchir

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IMHO the Friends line (& in particular the introduction of a new scale minifigure) is a retrograde step for LEGO. If girls want to play with minature houses & gardens theres plenty of other toys much more suited to them - to name just one Sylvainian Families. What concerns me greatly about LEGO in general is that in a bid to appeal to the modern young generation we are seeing the introduction of too many pre-fabricated parts. Lego is about imagination & forging shape. Yes the toy & the brand have to develop, and don't get me wrong I welcome more bricks, but too often we are seeing perculiar single purpose bricks where all the work is done for you.

Please TLG, don't turn your wonderful product into PlayMobil!

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IMHO the Friends line (& in particular the introduction of a new scale minifigure) is a retrograde step for LEGO. If girls want to play with minature houses & gardens theres plenty of other toys much more suited to them - to name just one Sylvainian Families. What concerns me greatly about LEGO in general is that in a bid to appeal to the modern young generation we are seeing the introduction of too many pre-fabricated parts. Lego is about imagination & forging shape. Yes the toy & the brand have to develop, and don't get me wrong I welcome more bricks, but too often we are seeing perculiar single purpose bricks where all the work is done for you.

Please TLG, don't turn your wonderful product into PlayMobil!

But Sylvanian Families is not a building toy. The whole point of LEGO Friends is to create a building toy that girls will enjoy.

I hardly think LEGO Friends or any modern LEGO theme is at risk of turning into something like Playmobil, just because it's fundamentally a different type of toy. Sets are much, much less specialized today than they were in the late 90s and early 2000s, with lots of brick-built detailing. LEGO Friends is no exception. Some sets use wall panels to make building a bit easier for kids who aren't experienced LEGO builders, but that's been going on since Fabuland in preschool themes and since 1984 in mainstream System themes (1984 is when LEGO Castle introduced wall panels, and it's depended on them ever since). These days, the percentage of a set's piece count consisting of large wall panels is often much smaller than it would have been in those early LEGO castles.

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I am happy to find this topic, even though it is a long time after Friends was first released. I first found out about the Friends theme on the Shop at Home homepage at about the time they released the first wave of sets. It looked to me like a superior replacement for Belville. I thought that the new figures looked a bit unLegoish (like Bellville), and thought that it would be better to use minifigures, but the rest of the content appeared acceptable. I later saw the set models built in a display case at my local Toys R Us with my child brother, pleased to see that the set design wasn't downgraded for the target audience (at least average quality builds for retail sets, unlike Bellville). My brother initially said it looked good (for what it is), but he sometimes nowadays says bad things about Friends. I thought it was good that they were making a better line to appeal to girls.

I was a bit surprised to see that there was a controversy over the line in some newspapers. I support many feminist causes (even though I am male) myself, and I thought the content was good, absent of most of the bad female stereotypes found in the girls doll brands that I know. I thought it was silly that Friends would be criticized while Belville was not, but I guess that Belville was just too bad to become popular enough to get mainstream media attention. In fact, I can't remember ever hearing a reference to the Belville line outside of Lego-related websites. There were some problems that I initially thought when I saw the line, but I thought that they were justified when I read the article from TLegoG saying that they were a result of research and customer requests (so they respond to peoples opinions). There were some complaints from mainstream articles in the "controversy" that I could partially agree with, but are too widespread in general Lego products in recent years to fairly direct specifically at Friends. Many seem to think that this is the start of gender-targeted themed Lego sets, which is of course untrue. The only problem I have with the feminine theme of Friends is that some gender-neutral themes have become a bit more masculine and "action-packed". I have some bigger complaints for some boy-targeted themes.

Most seemingly fresh concepts of new themes turn out to be based on the same tired idea; fighting monsters to obtain treasure. It is psychologicaly known that action tends to appeal to males, but not as much for females. Even though they are just loose simple stories self-explained by the set models meant to work well for play, I still think there should be more variation in story, with less violence. One of my most "controversial" themes is the North American version of Dino Attack. Lego bent their own rule against military with a machine gun-wielding tank and helicopter, worse than the average action theme. However, it is interesting to see what Lego would be like if they either removed their violence regulations or reverted to "no violence", as well as cultural differences. It is interesting to see the Euro version, with the military heli converted into a heavy-lift heli with a T-rex cage.

I also disliked Mars Mission. For years of childhood, I wanted the Life on Mars AeroTube Hangar, after it was discontinued. I was excited when Mars Mission was unveiled, even more so when I saw that they made a successor to the before-mentioned set. (still being a child) My interest dropped when I saw the promo comic, with an austronaut explorer on mars on the radio, reporting back to Earth the life here which was "not very friendly". I liked the old cute LoM aliens, which I didn't like to think of as "bad guys". I think that there was some moral dissonance in this theme, which others also had. The humans and aliens (not martian, but from a different planet) were fighting over the same "energy crystals" on Mars for themselves. Even though the humans lived closer to Mars, I still think it is a bit unfair to present them as the "good guys". The humans often captured aliens. I think I recall one set where they dissected the live aliens. They destroyed the aliens hives when the theme ended. I don't think that the aliens were as violent against the humans as the humans were against them. I read on Cuusoo that they don't allow violence against humans or real animals, which explains the moral dissonance in many themes including Mars Mission. I don't think I ever bought anything from this seem that first appeared to be made for me.

We all here know that generic Lego part ascortments have been scarce for a long time (unlike some of those articles). I still think that there should be more and better part ascortments, and more generic gender-neutral themed sets (mostly civilisation related). One of my favourite things about the old pre-minifig Creator houses was that they appeared equally popular among the genders. Although I don't think that this primarily defines target audience, I was unhappy to notice that the first 6 minifig Creator houses in a row had a male (and no female) minifig, before a recent house to have one of each. Lego City used to be relatively gender-neutral, with a slight lean towards boys. The currently selection of products in the line seem to be more prevalent of action and conflict, defying a few complaints of too much Police and Fire. There is also an excess of specialised pieces in retail Lego sets, both Friends and Action Themes.

Back on topic; I just took a look at the Friends sets on Shop at Home, to update my opinion. I didn't analyse the information closely, but just read the title and looked at the images (which is as far as many customers probably go). I counted 38 building/play sets. Most were relatively generic models clean of unwanted stereotypes, such as restaurants, cars, rooms, and pet themed sets. The one that struck me the most as having a stereotypical "Polly Pocket" appeal to girls was 3187 Butterfly Beauty Salon. However, I don't think that 1 of 38 sets having this theme is pressuring girls to conform to those "look pretty" norms, but just one set to appeal to the ones that want that already want that stuff specifically. I remember the old Olivia's Invention Workshop to be a pleasant surprise when I first saw it; It had a good norm-defying female scientist role model, but it unfortunately lacked the slight bit of educational value that would be welcome in such a set. One small Technic function would be nice, and proper lab clothing. Olivia unfortunately appears less active in Science in recent sets.

On Bricklink, I have found that the colours in Friends are very different from the rest of Lego. This is not just the pink/purple/magenta range, but also other colours like Azure. This might be a way of including all the colours that people want in the pallete, while keeping it limited for each individual customer. I still think that it should be a bit more colour-compatible. Maybe have all colours both in and outside of Friends, but just alter the rarity of them. I first read that there were 3 new colours in the pink/purple/magenta category on Lego's own article at the beggining. Despite being against the colour-gender stereotype, I don't think that it is very controversial, just pointless. They have to keep the pallete small for compatibility. But the real deal of colours in Friends is the variety, not specifically about the "PPM" stuff.

Although I didn't fully agree with the Minidoll at first, I thought it was better justified when I read that it was made because people requested more realistic figures for young female fans. I still have some problems with it though; It's incompatibility with minifigs may make a barrier between fans of Friends and other Lego sets. If they were modified to be slightly bigger, with minifig heads, then they could solve the problem by using them as figures in large-scale sets such as the Sopwith Camel. Children might be accepting of the different figures alongside each-other though. Even though they are supposed to be more realistic to "identify with", their greater specialisation makes them less customizable. More posability could be better, but I think there should be more flexible plastic then hinges if they want "realistic". If Friends had standard minifigures, it could compensate for the gender-inequality in other sets. It instead inverts the problem with a new figure which are almost always female.

Now, overall I found 616 minifigures across all the sets tallied, out of which 443 were male, 91 were female, and 82 were ambiguous. This means in my tally, 72% were male, 15% were female, and 13% were ambiguous. This is not significantly different from the numbers the SPARK Summit arrived at. In fact, it points at possibly fewer female figures than their tally, which covered figures found in sets on the LEGO website.

That is unfortunate. They should make each gender be at least a third of the population of human minifigs. The percentage of ambiguous minifigures plus either gender should be more than 50%. I would like to know if you included non-human minifigures, as many of the ambiguous minifigs would be monsters and robots.

A would like it to be almost half and half in Creator Houses, Town related sets, and human collectible minifigures. A bit more than there is in action themes would also be good.

At the same time, though, there may be some validity to their assessment. Even if it seriously undercuts the number of female characters, it does hint that female characters are not always being made obvious in product images. In the BIONICLE theme, part of the reason why female characters rarely had obviously-female physiques, aside from the fact that there were too few female characters to dedicate molds to that specific purpose, was that in general female action figures don't sell as well as male ones (you may see comparable numbers on store shelves sometimes, but the female ones do not need to be restocked as often). By making female characters gender-ambiguous at best, BIONICLE kept from alienating its core audience of six- to twelve-year-old boys.

If male characters appear unambiguously in prominent positions on LEGO product images and box art, but female characters are stuck in supporting roles where they're less visible at a glance, that is a legitimate concern in terms of gender equality, whether or not there are sound marketing reasons for it.

Interesting to know that the Toa of water didn't sell as well as the other 5 individually. I often percieved the Toa of Water to be the second or third most significant in the team when I was young. I figure that they might of had only 1 of 6 female because that might be a similar fraction to the gender of Bionicle fans, and also because it would seem strange to create an all-male species.

I mostly disagree with the reason that they didn't have molds for female-shaped bodies on Ga-matoran/toa. Matoran are not human, so they would have different gender characteristics. Every element in Bionicle had it's own personality traits. Mr Farshty stated that gender differences are only phychological. I think that gender was just a tool for the writers to develop personalities of characters and groups of them, and also a way that the human audience thinks to understand the characters.

Enter WILD! Science. This is an apparently successful Australian company that sells science kits for kids. That’s great, and some of the kits look pretty good.

The problem is, they split some of the kits into ones for boys, and ones for girls. And that split is exactly what you think.

I find this article interesting, because the main example mentioned is Wild Science; a relatively obscure Science kit brand that I got I found an interest for back when I was in Grade 7. I didn't pay attention to their gender-specific products, but their gender-neutral ecology kits. I bought a terrarium kit from them, which I was satisfied with to some extent. I stopped buying from them because I thought that they chose the wrong target audience for their products. It was somewhat embarrasing to want an ant nest kit with a TV commercial with a silly childrens song and no good information. The terrarium was good, but it was advertised as for ages 6+, and the instruction book was a bit too childish. Nice to see an article that shares my disaproval with the companies marketing.

About the poll on this forum. It really needs an edit. When asking what problems someone has with Friends, the two options about monster trucks are just too specific and plain silly. You should include more important factors of the sets content like the activities and occupations of the characters, if viewed as role models.

I am sorry about the excessively long post. I just had so many ideas to express for this topic, and trouble narrowing it down. I worked on it at 3 separate short times throughout the day, so it might be a bit out of time.

Edited by LiamM32

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I think girls can get into Lego without it being all pink and sparkly. There are enough pink toys to go around, the girl's aisle in the toy store looks like a pink bomb exploded with glittery shrapnel. I like the idea of the friends line. I think girls like to play with toys that mimick real life. My stepdaughter likes to play with her baby dolls, change their diapers, feed them, etc. But she also plays dress up with doctor outfits, firefighter outfits, police, etc. She likes to mimick life, and that doens't necessarily mean "traditional" female roles. I actually bought her a "girl" duplo set for Christmas that lets you build cakes and pastries out of the pink, blue, and purple pieces. She doesn't touch it. My stepson actually plays with it more.

It's great that Friend's have a cast of characters who all live in a cohesive community. The color palette needs work, however. Everything in this fictional town Friends takes place in is pink, pastel, purple, etc. I think if the sets had a more realistic color scheme, more gilrs and even boys would buy them. I also don't see the need for a new kind of figure. Most girls I know who play with Lego think the original minifigure is pretty cute on it's own. Friends should have stuck to that so it's more cohesive with the rest of the system sets. They also enjoyed playing with the old "town" Lego theme sets. These were simple houses, restaurants, shops, etc. Also, I'm not saying that pink and purple have no place in Lego, I appreciate the new colors and think they should be used more. But, in my opinion, it's a problem when the entire theme is set in those colors soley to appeal to girls.

This thread reminds me of this ad. This is how Lego should be marketing towards girls. They've gone backwards IMHO.

lego-what-it-is-is-beautiful.jpeg

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A little while back, i discovered something that might surprise a lot of people. I know it surprised me.

The "What it is is beautiful" ad was not a standalone ad, and it gender-neutral message seems a little less inspirational when viewed in the context of the whole campaign. There was a whole series of ads in the same style, with different ones featuring boys, girls, or both.

Which is awesome, right? Proof that Lego was totally being marketed as a gender-neutral toy at that time, before the evils of modern marketing took hold?

Well, no. Not exactly. Because there were more boys than girls in the series, AND THE BOYS WERE BETTER BUILDERS. There's one that shows a boy and a younger girl. She's proudly holding up a multi-colored mess. He's displaying a well-crafted, color-coordinated airplane.

Now, I realise that the average AFOL is going to say, well of course, he's older so he's a better builder. It makes perfect sense. And this is true. But what you really need to look at is the gender roles that the ad assigns to its subjects. Someone took the time to decide exactly what each kid here would look like and what they would be holding. It wasn't random. They were trying to send a message to people who were looking for toys to buy their children.

The message was, this is a good toy for both genders. It will stimulate your young daughter's senses and hand-eye coordination. No preschool should be without Lego. And it will turn your son into A MASTER BUILDER. He will build detailed precision models of things that DO things, like this cool airplane. Heck, your boy might become an engineer if you buy him Lego! Do it now!!

Of course I am exaggerating (I have to say this because some people read everything literally, and most people don't like to analyze media messages). The message in the picture is not stated so boldly. And, yes, they were definitely trying to sell Lego to both boys and girls. But it's obvious that boys were the primary target market, and that they were pursuing that target by conforming to patriarchist gender perceptions, which were very much the norm at that time, in their advertising.

So, not so very different from today.

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The point I was trying to make in my earlier post is that I really don't think there is a need to remarket LEGO as "for girls, too" and in doing so LEGO have sent out a message they probably didn't intend to. Plenty of girls (including my girlfriend) played with LEGO as children, but I think the simple undeniable fact is that it will always be more appealing to boys because generally speaking male's are more technically-minded and oriented towards "building and playing" as opposed to "playing." It's probably a politically incorrect thing to say and some might call me sexist, but that's just my observation of the species.

Edited by colmoore

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It's great that Friend's have a cast of characters who all live in a cohesive community. The color palette needs work, however. Everything in this fictional town Friends takes place in is pink, pastel, purple, etc. I think if the sets had a more realistic color scheme, more gilrs and even boys would buy them.

Actually, compared to most "girl" toys, LEGO Friends color scheme is actually VERY realistic, and while it does have SOME pink and pastels, it's not to the "pink bomb exploded with glittery shrapnel" that Barbie, Disney Princesses and other such girl toy lines are. As a matter of fact, at least one set, Mia's Magic Tricks, has NO pastel or pink colors (aside from some flowers on a table) at all. The rest of the sets tend to use such colors in a more subdued and realistic way, particularly compared to the 'competition', Mega Bloks Barbie, which is 90% pink.

Of course, I came across something interesting recently, a video blog by a YouTube user known as "Girl Writes What" called "Feminism and the Disposable Male" that pretty much points out why, even now, girls and boys are raised differently from birth, and why there are so many issues, and also it essentially calls feminists of Spark's stripe on the carpet for being a bunch of hypocrites.

Essentially it explains that, while the old patriarchal system objectified women as highly-valuable baby factories, it ALSO objectified men by reducing them to disposable beasts of burden and expendable cannon fodder, she even pointed out interesting facts like how, even now, while girl babies cries are responded to almost immediately, boy babies are usually only responded to after about a minute or so. Of course, she also discusses how, back in the old days, when there weren't so many humans around, this was actually an evolutionary necessity: After all, one man can get 100 women pregnant, but the opposite isn't true, and natural selection favored those societies that treated men like meat shields and women as delicate treasures that needed protection. One good case in point is that more recent discoveries have shown that the Neanderthals had gender-egalitarian distribution of the labor, meaning that Neanderthal women would be doing the same kind of dangerous work that the men were, and just as likely to die (highly ironic, considering what the feminists' favorite insult to whomever doesn't agree with them is), and as a result, when modern humans moved into areas where the Neanderthals were, we were able to out-breed them, and we all know how that story ends.

She also goes on how even now, men are STILL expected to be the ones doing all the dangerous, dirty and physically demanding jobs as well as being the ones who fix bayonets and charge into machinegun fire, while women are STILL put up on a pedestal, but under the current system they don't even get the respect that they used to: Instead they get to hear about how they are all either a bunch of violent, abusive A-holes or stupid, bumbling, clueless incompetents (a la Al Bundy, Homer Simpson and Peter Griffith). While I do disagree with some of her conclusions, I do agree that (1) now that humanity is FAR from rare, the old patriarchal system is not necessary any more, and (2) until the feminists at least acknowledge that things under the old system (and especially now) are also unfair to men, then true gender equality won't be achieved...

Which is something I'm all for. If you don't believe me, just ask any self-declared feminist if she supports requiring women to register for selective service (in the US) or be drafted (in countries with mandatory conscription): Her answer is, IMO, the SUREST way to determine if she's truly serious about TRUE gender equality, or just on a dominatrix power/revenge-fantasy (HINT: If she supports either making conscription mandatory for both men and women, or abolishing it altogether, then she's for equality). Similarly, ask about her opinion on assigning women to active combat roles.... The reason I bring this point up is I've met more than a few feminists who, while DEMANDING equality, did not support women in combat roles or conscription of women, often for rather contradictory reasons.

As long as most of society, and the media keeps reinforcing such notions as Men are the Expendable Gender, what with 90% of the time men being the ones killed on screen, and their deaths treated as either nothing (for red shirts and faceless mooks), but the few female deaths treated as great tragedies and a way of show just how VILE and EVIL the main villain is, or the fact that men have to be doing something proactive to gain audience sympathy, while women merely have to exist, and the second a guy screws up or fails to act, the audience is supposed to hate him, but a woman can not only be a useless damsel in distress, but actually be completely incompetent to the point of messing things up for the heroes, but the audience is STILL supposed to be sympathetic towards her. As long as society, and the media, keep treating women as more "innocent" and "pure" than men, to the point where, in real life, women get, on average, HALF the prison time or fines for committing the same exact crimes as men (and trust me, you won't here any of the feminists complaining about THAT one), violence against men by women is treated as a non-issue, and in media, a female villain has to be twice as evil as a male villain to be seen as "irredeemable", you won't have gender equality.

One cracked article pretty much summed it up with the following: "Obviously if you're watching a scene with a woman tied to a bed while a man forces sex on her, the final act of that movie will involve said man getting shot in the face by Bruce Willis. If, on the other hand, it's a man being tied down and forced into sex by a pretty lady, well, you're watching a wacky romantic comedy." A VERY good case in point is the movie, "40 Days and 40 Nights", where the main character is ridiculed for taking a 40-day vow of chastity as his way of observing Lent, and at the end, his psychotic ex-girlfriend RAPES him in order to win a bet, and not only does she get off scott-free AND get the money, but the guy also has to "prove" to his current girlfriend that he didn't consent... I GUARANTEE that this movie would have been BANNED, or at least generated MASSIVE protests if the characters' genders would have been reversed.

On a more positive note, I've seen signs that this is starting to change: One of the best examples of avoiding most gender stereotypes and double standards in media I've seen is David Weber's Honor Harrington series of books. Granted, they are set about 2200 years in the future, but he has both women and men in all roles: Some of his most vile villains are women, as are some of his most heroic heroes (including the titular Honor Stephanie Harrington, who, by this point in the series has a large number of Titles of Nobility and Knightly orders under her belt), and both men and women serve equally on the front lines in most cases, and are equally likely to die, where it would make sense. The series also passes the Bechdel Test with flying colors as well....

So, to basically sum up this long rant, is that as long as society keeps treating women as high-value baby factories that are to be protected at all times (whether explicitly or implicitly) and men as throw-away human meat-shields and beasts of burden, you are going to see the same stereotypical toys: Passive princesses (the ultimate in high-value baby factories, especially back in the days before Nationalism and the Rule of Law when blood-ties were the only way of guaranteeing that the other kingdom would honor their treaty) girls and violent, action-based themes for boys (gotta get them used to their cannon-fodder roles early).

While I did (and still do) have some concerns about Friends, and the gender imbalance of other LEGO themes, I feel that overall, LEGO has been moving the right direction in the past 20 years: I started really getting into LEGO back in 1988, and at that time, aside from a few Town sets with either the old straight long hair piece or pigtail hair piece, there were NO female minifigs AT ALL. In 1989, they introduced the first heads with unique prints, including the first female head print, which only appeared in a few pirate sets (Black Seas Barracuda and Pirate Minifigs) and two Castle sets (Forestman's River Crossing and the King's Mountain Fortress). In the 24 years since then, the gender ratio (and thanks in part to Pick A Brick, availability) of female minifigs has increased sharply, and not all female minifigs are, as one clueless feminist put it "reduced to being damsels in distress": They have had at least one female paramedic, a female garbage collector (hardly a glamorous or stereotypically feminine role there!), and they even have a female Coast Guard officer (about as close to a modern military set as you'll find in LEGO City) and female police officers (including at least one pilot).

Granted, there is more to be done, but overall, I think Friends is ultimately a step in the right direction, which brings me to this point:

That's not how it works, people. These things DO bother other people. You don't get to just deny that, or laugh it off, or make the controversy disappear by using ironic quotation marks (see title of thread). If you want people to respect you and your hobby, you need to try to be a little bit more "ambassadorial" in manner. We're not going to get people to see that Lego can be a respectable hobby for adults if we act like thirteen-year-olds. We won't convince people that Friends is really not sexist if every Eurobricks review of a Friends set devotes several paragraphs to being ironic about how the set was dumbed down for girls, and then goes on to give us a "clever" minifig comic that is a big winking "FU" to all women reading it. Why can't we just review the sets? Talk about the build, drop the whole ironic stance and treat the Friends sets the same way we would treat any other Lego set?

While I agree with the second part, about just sticking to reviewing the Friends sets as one would a set belonging to a different theme, I disagree with the first part strongly! It may be my fundamentally Libertarian views, or the fact that I was assigned "Fahrenheit 451" as a reading project in High School and am opposed to censorship in just about any form, or it could be from the six years I spent in the Navy where I had to salute and show "proper respect" for officers who were too stupid and incompetent to find their way out of a wet paper bag with a map, but my policy is that you have to GIVE respect in order to GET respect. In this case, vandalism (yes, putting stickers on boxes in a store legally counts as vandalism), loudly declaiming something about which you have failed to do one shred of honest research about, and pulling the rhetorical equivalent of putting one's fingers in one's ears and shouting "LALALALA! I CAN'T HEAR YOU!!!" at the top of one's lungs is NOT the way to gain respect OR credibility for one's cause! While I do admit that some of the points made by Spark are completely valid, they are couched in so much hate and vitriol that it's like panning for gold in a sewer: You gotta go through a lot of crap to get to what's worthwhile, and I'm sick and tired of being told I have to "accommodate" others' viewpoints when those on the other side flat out refuses to do the same thing in return.

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Actually, compared to most "girl" toys, LEGO Friends color scheme is actually VERY realistic, and while it does have SOME pink and pastels, it's not to the "pink bomb exploded with glittery shrapnel" that Barbie, Disney Princesses and other such girl toy lines are. As a matter of fact, at least one set, Mia's Magic Tricks, has NO pastel or pink colors (aside from some flowers on a table) at all. The rest of the sets tend to use such colors in a more subdued and realistic way, particularly compared to the 'competition', Mega Bloks Barbie, which is 90% pink.

Fair enough, although I think they still lay on the pink and purple a little thick. Pink campers, pink roofs, purple window awnings, etc. Like I said, I'm totally fine and encourage Lego to expand the color palette, and I think pink and purple bricks are great. Though Friends is more realisically colored than let's say Barbie, it's still strongly emphasizing the traditional girl colors.

Why can't we get these colors incorporated into other themes? I think purple would look great in a space theme, for instance. There's a bit of purple in the Galaxy Squad theme, but it's pretty minimal.

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Why can't we get these colors incorporated into other themes? I think purple would look great in a space theme, for instance. There's a bit of purple in the Galaxy Squad theme, but it's pretty minimal.

Oh, I agree with you 100%: What I find interesting is that most of the friends buildings' color schemes and designs actually fit in well with the general 1950's design ethic: My brother's house was originally built around 1950, and it still has the pink and azure tiling in the bathroom, as well as the original aqua paint scheme in the bedrooms, and there are a few local diners dating back to the '50s around here that look uncannily like the Park Cafe, albeit with just SLIGHTLY less pastels (but not much)...

I have actually seen pleasure yachts IRL, during the time I was in the Navy, that had almost identical EXTERIOR paint schemes as the Dolphin cruiser, so I've not got any issues with that (the INTERIOR, on the other hand, has a bit too much pink for my liking). As for the dolls themselves....

My entire LEGO collection is part of a coherent (for a given value of the word, since it is based on what my brother and I played when we were kids, so it's kind of a sci-fi/fantasy kitchen sink with cross-overs out the wazoo) sci-fi, post-post-apocalytpic setting, so I just use the minidolls as another race of aliens/mutants in said setting... Considering that they are side-by-side with Alien Conquest Aliens, CMF series Greys, Star Wars aliens, Orcs, Elves, Dwarves, Hobbits, and Kre-O Battleship aliens, they don't stand out all that much.

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Why can't we get these colors incorporated into other themes? I think purple would look great in a space theme, for instance. There's a bit of purple in the Galaxy Squad theme, but it's pretty minimal.

Well, they are occasionally used in other themes. Medium Lilac (Bricklink's Dark Purple) was used in several boy-oriented sets, such as Danju, Dark Panther, Smash 'n' Grab, Voltix, most of the skeleton and snake vehicles from Ninjago (though on those it was an accent color, not the primary color), and the raven vehicles from Legends of Chima. Alien Conquest also used Medium Lilac as an accent color and used Bright Reddish Violet (Bricklink's Magenta) on all the alien uniforms except for that of the commander.

Light Purple (Bricklink's Bright Pink) isn't used much in boy-oriented themes, it's true, nor is Bright Purple (Bricklink's post-2004 Dark Pink). Neither are the two lavender colors. But most colors widely used in Friends have also been used for various minifigure parts and accessories, particularly in the collectible minifigures.

I would love to see more widespread use of the various colors used primarily in girl-oriented themes, particularly as a Hero Factory fan. Bright Reddish Violet (Magenta) is a nice bright color that would be great for action figure sets. The lavender colors are also terribly underused outside LEGO Friends. And from what I've heard, LEGO does test prototypes that feature these sorts of colors with focus groups when possible. But generally outside of LEGO Friends, sets with these colors just don't do as well in focus group tests as sets in more traditional colors. I'd love to see this change, though.

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