A while back, before LEGO’s crowdsurfing ideas site became “LEGO IDEAS” (a much better title, IMO) a proposed set of ladies in scientific pursuits was proposed. It worked on the logic that LEGO had recently been focusing on girls through its Friends theme and boys through the standard City theme and that in the City theme there didn’t seem to be many girls doing, well, things.
The set reached the threshold of voting and it was taken forward. There was actually little variation between the proposed set and the set that the LEGO designers had ended up with. There was the more indifferent name of the product, and the figures had long hair and makeup (I guess to show that they were girls).
Then it was ready for release – and the result has been quite surprising. The set instantly sold out – on the LEGO site you are limited to how many you can buy, like the Exo Suit (which has also been a crowd-surfing success); and then this set became NEWS. The whole toys vs. gender wars started up again. I saw a shared story about how LEGO only released this set after receiving a letter from a seven year old girl (I’m sure that letter did the rounds just before this set was proposed, and there was debate whether it was actually written by a young girl or not), and Katie Hopkins of the sun also produced a column on this as well (I discovered this from a blog by Brickfanatics on their website: http://brickfanatics.co.uk/interesting-view-on-the-female-lego-debate/ )
So here’s my take. I got a set as soon as I could – not because of the minifigures, but because each of the three vignettes are pretty cool in themselves. Whilst I know that the original intention was to promote the fact that girls do stuff, I am a little surprised that there isn’t one male person in the set (I think there should be some balance here) – and besides, if this set is really about balancing the stereotype, then shouldn’t one of the figures be of, say, West Indian or African descent (yes, I know Lego figures are yellow to avoid the issue of racial colour, but even Friends has started to integrate here).
What I find of particular interest here is the psychology that is making its way forward. Although LEGO is primarily a child’s toy, the themes, franchises and general intelligent level of interest and direction from the general public has definitely brought it into the adult Point of View (take the themes of Star Wars, Batman, Ghostbusters, Back to the Future as examples) and as such there is much beard stroking and pondering about what could be implied if there are no ladies doing things. Which is interesting as I don’t think there has been much discussion about other building block toy products being balanced either.
Anyway, if you will excuse me I have a box of new Lego to play with. 🙂