Have you seen the new LEGO sets? They’re called LEGO Friends, and it seems that they’re causing quite a stir. Aimed strictly at girls, they’re being criticised for reinforcing gender stereotypes.
The sets are all based around a group of five girls, and follow themes such as baking, animals or being a pop star. However, there are also kits such as an inventor’s workshop and design school. Considering that most of the ‘regular’ LEGO sets feature ninjas, pirates and are very boy-oriented, this could be a good thing.
The issues arise when you consider that the sets have been over simplified to make them easier to build. In fact, many of the sets can be played with before they’re even finished. The boy’s sets, on the other hand, come with plenty of instructions and bags of pieces to be meticulously put together. While the boy’s city sets are packed with doctors and firefighters, the most “skilled” role in the LEGO Friends collection is a vet. Not to mention that the sets themselves are all pink and purple, and the five girls in the set come with accessories such as lipstick and a hair brush.
I remember fondly playing with LEGO with my stepbrother, and we never once thought about “boy’s sets” or “girl’s sets”. We just had a large box of assorted pieces, including male and female minifigs (Although if I remember correctly, you just had to swap their heads!). In fact, LEGO used to be this way; one of their “10 Characteristic of LEGO”, defined in 1963, was that it was for “girls and boys”.
While I do think that nowadays, LEGO needs become more girl friendly, their LEGO Friends set might just be the wrong way to do it. LEGO could be a great way to encourage girls to play together with their brothers, as well as encouraging creativity, but to do this they need to create unisex sets that appeal to both genders at the same time.
What do you think of the issue? Are your girls looking forward to LEGO Friends, and is some form of LEGO better for them than none? Do you by LEGO or stick to more traditional crafts for kids? Or do your kids quite happily play with the “boy sets”? Whatever your thoughts or opinions, let us know! Leave us a comment below, or find us on Twitter or Facebook!