Earlier this year, Lego released a new range specifically aimed at the female market (I’m saying this because as an AFOL, I suspect there are women who might also get this!). This followed a couple of years of analysis and research. I’ve read a few blogs that have suggested that there has been a lot of Lego marketing focused on the boys – I think Ninjago would be a great example of this, but for me the interest in this new range didn’t focus on the sets and their designs as such, but more on the new minifigures.
You see, Lego have created a new minifigure. More slim than the original and definitely more “girl” shaped. Even the boy in the larger sets seems to be more “feminine” in style. They stand a little taller than their original counterparts, and there’s little to be able to swap (although I did try Olivia’s and Avril’s hairs on each other and it seemed to work out). So all that’s nice – they certainly seem to be more “doll looking” than our other chums.
So this is all very nice and I know that the set of lab and power tools that Olivia once possessed will no doubt end up in Mike the Mechanic’s (Series 6) tool box. So all is peachy in the Lego world then? Well, yes and no for me.
I’m sure that this range will have it’s appeal. There are some great ideas that really do link back to the other girl-focused toys in Toys-R-Us and other toyshops, but I think there are two issues that Lego may have just dropped the ball on.
Firstly, I like the fact that Lego (in its purest sense) is non-gender specific. I know of girls who have Castles and Fire Stations; boys who will play with Mary and Steve as they drive their camper van off to the outdoors. City is not “for boys” but for children (err… and adults 🙂 ). Perhaps a greater marketing of the lady minifigures may have been a cheaper solution? After all the designs of the faces have come on leaps and bounds – even if many people don’t realise how many different girl figures there are now.
Secondly is the subject of shapes. In particular, the girl figure. Olivia and the other friends are definitely skinny (just look at the arms!) compared to the originals. I liked the fact that this was a standard size. You didn’t get a skinny Lego figure, you got A Lego figure. I know we’re not all the same size (heck I know I’m not thin!) but I do wonder how many girls will think that Olivia is the shape that they should be and wonder why they’re not. With so much in the newspapers about how young girls feel about their bodies, I wonder if this “standard” figure shape will help that.
But this is a new venture for Lego and I’m sure that they’ve done their research. I hope that this does better than Belville – and partly I hope that Lego are able to open the range up to allow young boys who can cope with more complex relationships between people (other than shooting at them with pistols and laser guns) can also play.