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Lego Friends - New Lego Sets for Girls!
Lego Friends Lego Sets
Lego Friends sets for girls
A few years ago, Lego set out to discover how girls play differently than boys, not only to boost the bottom line of the somewhat ailing Lego toy company, but to fulfill its generations-old mission - "toys for girls and for boys."
The result, Lego Friends -- a girl-themed Lego set that comes with newly styled Lego characters more appealing to girls, as well as pastel pieces never before produced by Lego. Unexpectedly, Lego has also created a bit of a Lego-for-girls controversy!
New Lego Sets 2012: Lego FriendsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Lego - After the toddler years
During the toddler years, both girls and boys play equally with the larger Duplo Lego bricks, but that no longer is the case around the age of five. Most of the more intricate Lego sets tend to be boy-themed.
Walk in any Lego store or down the Lego aisle of any major retailer and you will see Lego Star Wars sets, Lego Harry Potter sets, and other Lego toys designed with boys in mind. In fact, Lego sets are often found in the toy section for boys in most retailers.
It's not that girls can't play with these Lego sets. They do. But the fact of the matter is that these types of Lego themes do not necessarily appeal to girls, especially the "princess" crowd, or their parents for that matter.
Lego watched how girls play
Lego Group Chief Executive Officer Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, parent of two boys and two girls, witnessed how boys and girls play differently firsthand in his own home. In a Businessweek article he states,
I have two wonderful daughters next to my two sons, and they are in a very narrow age range, 4 to 10, so I have a little home study. They all love to build, but certainly they play in very different ways.
Knudstorp followed up his own casual observations with research focused on how girls play. The research literally involved watching kids in Germany, Korea, the U.K. and the U.S. play with toys for months.
The results show that girls do in fact love to build, but they favor role-play, and build differently than boys. Boys' building techniques tend to be more linear, racing-against the clock. Girls tend to build, then stop to incorporate storytelling and role-play, rearrange, and role-play again. These are observations that most parents of young girls can attest.
Lego Friends: Behind the Scenes
Lego Friends - designed to appeal to the way girls play
Lego Friends still of course involves building; it's just that this Lego theme is designed to appeal to the way girls ages 6-12 play, what Lego witnessed in its research. Armed with an understanding that a girl's playing style often involves role-play, Lego redesigned the character figures, and colors as well.
Lego Friends differs from the typical Lego sets:
- Lego Friends sets are packaged in multiple bags. Recall that girls mix building and storytelling. By packaging the buildings into multiple bags there is no need to build all at once the way a boy does. Girls can build a portion then storytell, build some more, and so on.
- Lego Friends has newly designed characters. In all there are twenty-nine "ladyfigs," five of which are key characters with their own stories and lives centered in Heartlake City. Lego did not do this on a whim of course. Their anthropological study clearly showed that boys mostly play with the characters in the third person, whereas girls "became" the character.
- Lego Friends comes in six new colors, including pink and purple -- colors often appealing to the five and up "princess" girls.
City Park Cafe
Lego Friends characters - five friends, many Lego sets
The Lego Friends theme is centered around five imaginary friends living in Heartlake City. The "ladyfigs" are different than the usual boxy "minifigs" found in the traditional Lego sets targeted to boys. Noticeably, the ladyfigs have legs in place of the brick-shaped bottom, are more life-like, have interchangeable hair and are fully functional.
Meet the five friends:
Mia loves animals, being green, and playing sports with friends. Lego Friends sets with Mia include:
- Heartlake Vet
- Mia's Puppy House
- Heartlake Dog Show
Olivia loves inventing things, building things and hanging out with friends. Lego Friends sets with Olivia include:
- Olivia's House
- Olivia's Tree House
- Olivia's Inventor's Workshop
Stephanie loves planning parties, her pet bunny, Daisy, and Coco (her dog). Lego Friends sets with Stephanie include:
- Stephanie's Cool Convertible
- Stephanie's Outdoor Bakery
- Stephanie's Pet Patrol
Emma loves drawing, fashion and giving her friends makeovers. Lego Friends sets with Emma include:
- Butterfly Beauty Shop
- Emma's Splash Pool
- Emma's Design School
Andrea loves music, singing and dancing with her friends. Lego Friends sets with Andrea include:
- City Park Cafe
- Andrea's Stage
Are Lego Friends Controversial in Your Opinion?
What do you think of Lego's new girl-themed sets?
The controversy with Lego sets for girls
The introduction of Lego Friends for girls is not without controversy. Some groups, fanning the flames of the "girl Lego controversy," claim that the figures are curvier and that the theme is centered around the characters hanging out at the beauty shop, cafe and pool.
Personally, I find this small backlash utterly ridiculous! Playing with Legos has actually been shown to improve both spatial and mathematical skills. And if creating a Lego theme with storylines and colors keeps girls playing with Lego bricks beyond the toddler years, then these girls also stand to benefit educationally.
Additionally, Lego has given the Lego Friends very worthwhile professions and interests, including: veterinarian, inventor, chef, fashion designer and musician. Personally, I think girls can relate more to these activities than to sorcerers and pirates.
Lego Friends for girls most certainly will inspire girls to not only build and construct, but to use their imaginations while doing so!
Will Lego Friends for girls payoff for Lego?
Admittedly, Lego has had several misses in the past when it comes to appealing to girls. But this time around, Lego is optimistically confident that Lego Friends will be a hit with young girls.
Afterall, Lego successfully turned around their products for boys based on an understanding of how boys play. The errant trend had been to "dumb-down" toys based on the belief that boys had a short attention span, but their research showed otherwise, and so their products and bottom line followed suit.
In fact, Lego sales improved 105% and U.S. sales topped the one billion dollar mark for the first time. Lego Friends for girls may turn out to help Lego finally fulfill its mission of providing "toys for girls and for boys."
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