Sunday, September 15, 2013
Musings on Lego
I finally finished a half written post started in early 2012, when Lego Friends, a line aimed at girls, was released and caused great controversy about whether Lego was contributing to the ghetto-ization of toys for girls. Accompanying pictures are from back then too.
Being a huge fan of Legos, as a child and now as a parent, the Lego Friends made me curious, so I bought the City Park Cafe set for myself (this is Mommy's!) and built it while the boys hovered nearby.
I had a blast. The construction is clever, the pieces all interwork with the original Lego, and it's amazing what a slight change to the color palette - addition of pink and pale blue - can do to the overall look.
The existence of a cafe set and the other Lego Friends offerings - a treehouse, horse ranch, pet shop, school - are really important, because there are very few Lego series that aren't about war and weapons these days. There's Star Wars, pirates, Ninjas, and the new Chima series, which is also battle focused. Even the Lego City sets often feature something like scruffy criminals robbing a bank, instead of something more traditional, like police officers with a police car.
Because of that conflict-based theming, it's easy to see where girls or less-combative boys might simply not be interested in Legos. My colleague's daughter loves Legos, but he said they'd already acquired every house and animal-based set there was, and she just didn't want to build warships. Lego Friends is perfect for her.
True, there is a beauty parlor set, which has taken a lot of flak, but that's just one among many choices, including a science lab, a dance studio, and other friendly, non-weapons-oriented play sets.
As soon as I was done building, I turned it over to the boys. Within moments, Buster had discarded the actual Lego Friends characters to the side and moved in his favorite Ninjagos and their enemy snake demons.
Cole, the black ninja, became the short order cook, frying up hamburgers with his swords in the harness crossing his back. The other ninjas and snakes gathered around the table companionably.
Rattlerz, with his little fangs showing, developed a fondness of flowers.
And so on and so forth. The micro dude loved it. He played for days. Eventually the cafe got dismantled and the pieces were mixed into the boys' vast bins of bricks, just like any other Lego.
So, from my perspective, Lego Friends is a win. Fun to build, opens up more opportunities for girls to engage with a construction toy, and welcomes equal opportunity experiences for boys, girls, and mutant snake creatures to play on the same turf.