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Dear LEGO… my opinion on LEGO Friends

by admin on December 19, 2011

in LEGO Friends

(Written by Sarah)

Just some thoughts on the new LEGO Friends theme… When I was a little girl, I played with a variety of LEGO themes. City, Castle and Pirate, but my favorite of all was LEGO Paradisa. The soft color palette, the whimsical sets and the minifigures all appealed to me. My favorite part of any LEGO set was the minifigures. I absolutely loved mixing and matching the parts.

When I found my childhood LEGO collection, I was almost horrified at how bizarre those combinations were. My adult sensibilities were in shock at seeing a minifigure with bare legs, a suit torso, a pirate head and female hair. Once I got over my adult self, I remembered how much fun it was to let my imagination go wild. The only minifigures I had “lost” were the oversized LEGO Technic figures that weren’t compatible.

And that brings me to my point for today: the new LEGO Friends series. For many years, LEGO has been desperately trying to reach out to girls and get them interested in LEGO. I think LEGO has had some great concepts, but some bad execution – mostly revolving around the figures.

Personally, I would have bought the fairy tale LEGO Belville sets if they had been minifigure size. I feel the same way about these new LEGO Friends sets. I like the concepts of the sets. Even with the bright colors – too much pink and purple in my opinion – I would probably buy them if it weren’t for the figures. The LEGO Friends figures – other than their hair – are not compatible with normal minifigures.

I think LEGO Friends will get quite a few new young girls interested in LEGO, but that interest will wane and here’s why; as they get older and want more complex sets, they’ll look to the rest of the LEGO universe and get upset that their LEGO Friends figures don’t fit in. Some will switch to normal LEGO and leave their LEGO Friends behind. Others will lose interest altogether.

As for adult female fans, LEGO has lost most of us with the LEGO Friends sets. Sure, we’ll probably pick up a few for the parts, but throw the figures away, except the hair pieces. Much like in my childhood, one of my favorite things to do is create unique minifigures out of various minifigure parts – and female minifigures are rare. And here’s another opportunity lost since LEGO was determined to make something different for girls instead of integrating them into the normal lines. If it weren’t for the licenses, I don’t think we’d have half as many female figures as we do now.

So in the end, I’m pretty sure LEGO Friends will sell well, but it won’t last because the minifigures are not completely compatible. And that’s one of the things LEGO is most famous for – the minifigures and the fact that almost everything is interchangeable.

What do you think, dear reader? Do you agree or disagree? What’s your opinion of the new LEGO Friends series? Will you be getting them? Please post your comments below. I’d love to know how you feel about the new LEGO Friends line. 😐

Here are some other posts on the LEGO Friends line you may like:

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SHARES

{ 113 comments… read them below or add one }

Martijn December 19, 2011 at 10:24 AM

I’m no girl, but I think you hit the nail on the head. Paradisa really looks like what everybody (me included) says they should have done. Did that not sell? If it didn’t then I can imagine they’re rather desperate, and I can understand why they think the minifig has to go.

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Sarah December 21, 2011 at 11:25 PM

Paradisa sold fine and would have done better except for two challenges. One, LEGO didn’t know how to advertise it. Two, LEGO was making a lot of bad decisions to expand into products that weren’t LEGO. So they had to pull back a lot to save themselves or they would have gone bankrupt. Paradisa got the axe with a lot of other products in the reorganization.

They are right that young girls like dolls and so remaking the minifigure for them makes some sense, but not in the long run. It may get new girls interested, but probably not permanently. It also alienates those current fans who do love the minifigure. So LEGO will need to walk a very thin to balance getting new fans and keeping current ones.

We have no idea how the research was done. If they only chose girls who didn’t like LEGO then the results make a lot of sense. But most little girls I know who are already fans of LEGO, they love the minifigure as it is.

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Martijn December 22, 2011 at 6:16 AM

I’ve been thinking, if they don’t think the minifigs are good enough, wouldn’t a complete redesign of the minifig be a better idea? Make them all a bit thinner and rounder, but without sacrificng any of the advantages of the minifig (like being able to sit on studs), and then use those minifigs for all themes.

I love the old minifig, but if it’s done right, I wouldn’t be completely adverse to a redesign. It’s better than each theme having its own incompatible minifig.

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Sarah December 22, 2011 at 9:10 AM

I agree. If they made one figure that was still compatible, I’d be okay with a redesign.

However, I know a lot of people that would get upset over that. People are upset as it is with the flesh colored license minifigures.

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Nathanael January 23, 2012 at 7:42 PM

I’ve always wanted a minifigure with shorter studs on the top of the leg section, so that we could easily build other critters on top of the legs. Being able to attach the arms like the skeleton figures would open up a lot of possibilities (the minifig arms are kind of finicky to remove and re-add, not really designed for it). And there are other ways that they could be improved while retaining compatibility. Even the occasional compatibility break would be OK if it was a clear improvement (I sadly accepted the 2nd generation helmets/visors, breaking compatibility with the first generation helmets/visors, because the visors *do* stay on better).

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admin January 24, 2012 at 10:37 AM

Nathanael, I don’t think LEGO had a goal of replacing or improving the regular minifigs with the Friends line. They just wanted to hook little girls with them. As Sarah mentioned; this is not the first time LEGO developed different figures to surve a particular purpose. They have done it with the Technic figs, the Jack Stone figures (which was a transition between DUPLO and LEGO), Belville, etc. If LEGO would want to replace the regular figures there would be a major revolution! 🙄

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Strider April 12, 2013 at 1:51 PM

You got that right. I WOULD PICK UP MY SWORD AND DASH HEROICALLY INTO LEGO HQ DEMANDING REPENTANCE DEMANDING A CONFESSION FOR THE GREAT AND TERRIBLE SIIIINNNNN etc. etc. (…nevermind, I wouldn’t do that. But I would be pretty darn angry.)

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M.A. December 26, 2011 at 1:33 AM

Your timeline is a little off. Paradisa was not successful at all. It lasted from 1992 to 1997, well before LEGO’s serious financial difficulties began in 2001-02. I absolutely loved Paradisa, even as an 8 year old boy at the time, but the sets didn’t sellawesome ten ended up at retailers like MacFrugal’s and Tuesday Morning at steep discounts. Belville, on the other hand, was an extremely successful product line, especially in Europe, and had a very long and healthy run from 1994 to 2011. I see Friends as a mixture of Paradisa and Belville and believe LEGO has a huge hit. I absolutely agree with you that regular minifigures would have been the better choice, but I don’t necessarily think the lack of will hurt sales.

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Sarah December 26, 2011 at 10:22 AM

Thanks for correcting me on the timeline. I still wonder why Paradisa didn’t sell well since so many people liked it. I still think they didn’t do a good job of advertising it.

Friends will sell well, I’m sure. I’m just worried what they’ll do next with the ladyfigs. I expect, but hope that they won’t use them for Disney Princesses. So many people I talk to just want more female minifigures and having fancy dresses would be very helpful, especially for the fantasy castle builders.

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Håkan February 23, 2014 at 1:53 PM

And now, as expected, the prediction has come true. =/

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Nathanael January 23, 2012 at 7:44 PM

I’m started that you claim that Belville “was extremely successful”. In the US it basically didn’t sell at all. I wonder whether European sales were entirely to ignorant, sexist parents, because I really can’t imagine kids buying them more than once. It was dreadful.

However, it would certainly have been a highly *profitable* product line, because *the piece counts were miniscule*. Lego was making absurd margins on Belville. Is it possible that that — not large sales, but large *profits* — is why it had such a long run?

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MrPopularSentiment December 19, 2011 at 10:37 AM

Agree! As a little girl who loved LEGOs, I was disappointed by how few female minifigs there were.I wanted to see myself in my sets, or at least figures who were “like me,” but those were hard to find. My favourites were the medieval sets (Robin Hood, Castle, etc), so either all my women were witches or they didn’t look right in the setting (such as when I used Paradisa ladies to even out the gender balances).

Now that I’m starting to look into LEGOs again for my own little ones, I do see that LEGO has made some improvements in that area. But there are still some very male-dominated collections, and those all seem to be the most interesting ones.

My personal preference would have been for LEGO to add more female minifigs to their existing collections, rather than segregating females off into special pink and lilac collections and making it harder for them to be integrated into the existing ones.

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Sarah December 21, 2011 at 11:28 PM

Exactly! There should not be a separation of girls and boys. It should be integrated. There should be more female minifigures in the existing themes.

As far as I can tell, this would make a lot of people happy. I can’t imagine that many boys that would be upset at their being a female minifigure in every set. But then maybe I’m biased being an adult female.

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Nathanael January 23, 2012 at 6:20 PM

Every boy I ever knew wanted more female minifigures. The more sexist boys would have used them all as princesses, wives, and daughters to be rescued, but even they were a bit stymied by the total absence of female minifigs.

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Nat January 31, 2017 at 11:52 AM

I did run into a mom feeling up the collectible minifigs who was very concerned to avoid any female minifigs for her son’s birthday present. She was convinced they would be rejected out of hand as a “no-present”, but I have no way of knowing whether that’s true or she was just projecting.

I’ve also overheard far too many boys at the Lego Store sneering at female minifigs, including complaining about characters like Macy and Nya in bigger sets and avoiding smaller sets that feature them. And I’ve overheard far too many parents explicitly steering their little girl to the “girl Legos”. I so want the staff to answer the question of “where are the girl Legos” with “they’re all ‘girl Legos'”–but they never do.

I blame advertising and their parents, not the kids, but unfortunately far too many (“any” is too many) little boys /are/ upset by female minifigs in their sets.

On the upside, I’ve been noticing more female minifigs in the “boy” sets–seems like all the city sets big enough to have more than 2 minifigs now have at least one girl/woman in the mix.

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admin January 31, 2017 at 12:14 PM

That’s interesting. Thanks for sharing. The fact is that most young boys are just not interested in girls and girly things. Whether this is conditioning, a natural phase, or both, can be argued, but in general boys are enamored by superheroes, police and firemen, cars, spaceships and the like.

In recent years, LEGO has been doing an excellent job including female minifigures in pretty much all of their sets to create a balance. However just like you have mentioned, I have also seen boys rejecting Nya and Macy as useless characters or representing nothing more than annoying sisters. On the other hand, I have also seen boys who are really into LEGO Elves and some of the other softer themes.

The good thing is that this is LEGO we are dealing with, and there are plenty of choices. Sets and characters can always be mixed, and even minifigs can be rebuilt to change their gender. So there is something for everyone, no matter what phase of life they are in or what they are into. 🙂

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YTjedi December 19, 2011 at 10:53 AM

I totally agree on your last statement “that’s one of the things LEGO is most famous for – the minifigures and the fact that almost everything is interchangeable.” I focus my collecting interests solely on LEGO not on action figures because of the minifigs and compatibility. I can’t go to the toy aisle and get a Luke Skywalker, Iron Man, Harry Potter, and Batman figure that are all the same scale or that can comfortably hold each others accessories or use each others vehicles. It just doesn’t work. With LEGO it’s cake to play and have the greatest story mashups of all time.

That being the case, with these Friends sets it’s difficult to fit them into the rest of the LEGO world. It’s nice that the hair is compatible with regular minifigs and that the ladyfigs are close to the same size, but beyond that I think it’ll be hard for them to fit in beyond their own sets.

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Sarah December 21, 2011 at 11:31 PM

I totally agree! It’s so much fun to combine a wide variety of minifigures from different themes into one scene. That’s a lot of the fun of LEGO.

The ladyfigs are just too different. When standing next to a normal sized minifigure, they look like they dwarf the normal minifigure even though it’s not that much taller.

Not to be insensitive, but the only situations that I could see it working is where you have short parents whose daughters are taller than them.

Or just Amazonian women, as my husband would change them. 😉

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Katie December 19, 2011 at 11:56 AM

I completely agree!

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Sarah December 21, 2011 at 11:31 PM

Glad to know I’m not alone in my opinions. 😀

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Andy at smallplasticbricks.com December 19, 2011 at 1:27 PM

I agree too! What’s the real difference between Belville and Friends? It seems like Friends is just a repeat. Dissapointing. I think they are trying too hard. Maybe Lego could simply include more female minifigs in normal sets, have more advertising/games/videos for girls, and have more City sets with a little pink or not so fire/police-related (bakery, school, hospital, hair salon, shopping mall, houses, grocery store). Boys would buy those too.

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Sarah December 21, 2011 at 11:33 PM

It would definitely expand the minds of boys that are being filled with too much violence. I mean, really, how many different police or fire or fighting sets can you make?

If they just balanced out the ratio of male to female in their normal sets and add a little more variety of color, I think it could really do well as a truly gender-neutral toy.

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Nathanael January 23, 2012 at 6:18 PM

Friends has higher piece counts, which makes it FAR better than the abortive Belville.

But, like you, I wish there were just more city sets with more variety. And more normal female minifigs. And more pink and purple bricks in everything (the Star Wars sets actually have *gobs* of pink and purple, amusingly).

Honestly, if it weren’t for the different/less articulated/incompatible minifigs, Friends *could* be the city sets.

I always wanted a bunch of “dream house” sets, each comprising a room design, so they you could hook them together into a giant dollhouse for minifigs. 🙂 Lego is actually superb for this but they’ve rarely capitalized on it.

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admin January 24, 2012 at 10:33 AM

Nathanael, good point about how the Friends line could have been the missing City sets, if only the minifigs were regular. I guess it wouldn’t be much just to replace the figs though as they are about the same height, so the sets themselves would be a good fit for regular figs too. They can just take over Hearlake City and quarantine the girls. 😉

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Martijn December 19, 2011 at 2:10 PM

Getting back to Paradisa sales figures, this article: http://articles.latimes.com/1993-12-02/news/vw-63187_1_lego-toys/2 claims it sold very well, to both girls and boys. But it also says that the it went too far and “panders to the gender difference rather than understand it.”

So why go even further and pander even more?

The article (from 1993!) suggest girls like building big houses, and maybe the instruction booklets need a redesign. It sounds much more sensible than what Lego is doing now. It really sounds like they already had the solution 18 years ago.

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Sarah December 21, 2011 at 11:36 PM

Definitely. Too many people think Paradisa failed when it was LEGO that was failing in general at the time. Paradisa was actually very successful. LEGO needs to implement how girls play with LEGO without separating them from boys. It further reinforces stereotypes that just aren’t healthy.

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Antoinette December 19, 2011 at 2:49 PM

As an 25 year old female, I am really disappointed in the new figures. I really want this to fail so LEGO will see that girls do not need to be separated to enjoy it. I am somewhat hypocritical because I will buy the sets. A lot of the pieces will be good for the houses that I build. The figures, however, will have their hair removed and be pushed aside. The whole idea that girls need an actual doll to play with is absurd. LEGO is supposed to be about education and imagination. I know another user said that the logo looks like the Disney Princess lineup, which is exactly what I thought when I saw it. How are girls supposed to feel included in the LEGO universe when their products look so completely different, and (I read) sold in a completely different aisle? I’m such a big fan of LEGO and this just breaks my heart.

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Sarah December 21, 2011 at 11:39 PM

It breaks my heart too! I badly want these sets for the building parts, but the figures are just so off.

And that’s the problem. It will succeed because fans will buy them, but throw the figures away. I bet they’ll sell very cheaply on Ebay, though bald girls may not capture everyone’s attention.

I plan to email LEGO every time I buy a set, telling them that I like the execution of the building, but that I wish it had normal minifigures and I will be replacing the dolls with normal minifigures.

And about the Friends being sold in the girls’ aisle – sadly, that is the only way they’d sell, to non-LEGO fans. But it further reinforces that girls don’t belong in the LEGO Universe. 🙁

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admin December 22, 2011 at 10:16 AM

Sarah, that last sentence hit the nail right on the head! It is really sad! 😥

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toy December 19, 2011 at 2:52 PM

Great post. I plan to buy LEGO friends for the buildings and stuff, Make it a sub-town of my LEGO city, and throw away the figs. The figs are a BIG deal.

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Sarah December 21, 2011 at 11:40 PM

I have a similar plan. I think the city dumps will be filled with bald little dolls.

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Ahmie January 19, 2012 at 3:39 PM

I have plans to make a snarky web comic featuring the Friends dolls. I’ll happily take any that folks don’t want, bald dolls are fine (I’ll just borrow from my massive collection of hair from my massive REAL minifig collection 😉 ). Will try to get contact info on my site (which I’ve been trying to find the time around three children, graduate school, writing a few novels, and photography projects to move to a new server – there’s not much there at the moment). Until then, I am Squirrel on BrickLink.com if anyone wants to find a way to get them to me. There are several minidolls with hair on there but I don’t really want to spend that much on this project (I’ve already bought several of the smaller sets so I do have a full set of the main characters with hair, and will likely pick up most of the sets on my own – mostly just looking to have wardrobe changes and additional background characters).

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admin January 19, 2012 at 8:07 PM

Ahmie, would love to see your web-comic! Let us know when you got it posted! 🙂

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Quad December 19, 2011 at 3:55 PM

I bet that if Lego makes sets with only girl (Or at least mostly girl) Lego minifigures the girls will want them and the guys will want them to expand their collection.

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Sarah December 21, 2011 at 11:41 PM

I expect the same would happen too. I know a lot of male fans who are always clamoring for more female minifigures.

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Jacob December 19, 2011 at 5:45 PM

I agree completely as well. LEGO seems to have isolated Friends from the rest of its lines. If they used regular Minifigures, you would have people purchase other, namely city products, to expand their collections and play values, and would have given a good reason for AFOL to purchase the sets, since they have extremely under produced female minifigures in other lines. Due to this, I have two large fears. One, is that LEGO will reduce the number of proper female figures they release. This does not seem like a big deal yet, as they have relased a few female figs recently. (But, in typical LEGO fashion, only one female fig only in the most expensive DINO set, and the female figs in the newest city sets are either all the same heads, or are only available in the most expensive set). My other fear is that, since LEGO has a Diseny license, any Disney sets that are based around “girl” properties will not feature minifigures, but friend figures.

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admin December 19, 2011 at 6:58 PM

Jacob, you are bringing up a really good point and a valid fear that LEGO may go in the direction of using the new figures for their Disney license sets. I haven’t even thought of this before! And I hope this is not going to happen! Although I like the figures as they are cute, I would certainly not want them to expand further from the Friends sets! 😡

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Sarah December 21, 2011 at 11:43 PM

I have the same fear that LEGO will use the Friends figures for their Disney licenses and reduce normal female minifigure production.

I am really hoping that LEGO will expand Disney Princess to regular sets, but I pray that they do normal minifigures so we can have a new larger base of female minifigures to use in our own creations.

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Joanna Selkirk December 20, 2011 at 10:27 AM

As a mother of two girls, I have to say I am disappointed that LEGO is taking this direction. I agree with many of the posts above; using a different platform for the minifigures (which on first glance appear moderately sexist and reinforce harmful body image stereotypes)is just a bad idea. My girls love the LEGO city sets they have…why couldn’t you have produced more girl-friendl sets and minifigures in that line? One of the things we cherish about LEGO as parents is the sense that individual purchases for birthdays and Christmas all “fit together” into an existing universe. The new minifigure design walls our young girls off from that 🙁

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admin December 20, 2011 at 10:45 PM

So sorry, Joanna, your comment got caught in my spam-filter due to the s-e-x word. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! It seems like the overwhelming response from everyone is the sets are nice, but why couldn’t LEGO just use the regular minifigs? I really hope that LEGO will respond to that! 😕

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Sarah December 21, 2011 at 11:47 PM

This is a sad state of affairs. LEGO is doing corporate decision-making, to make money now. They do not seem to be very concerned about how this will affect young girls. Sure, girls will like it, for a while, but like you said, it will reinforce negative body images and make them feel separated from others.

I hope everyone emails or calls LEGO and let them know what you think and how you feel. Especially if you have young girls. Let LEGO know that your girls are unhappy with Friends.

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Nathanael January 23, 2012 at 4:47 PM

You and Sarah bothy hit the nail on the head. As a boy in the 1980s, I would *almost* have loved these sets — I never had enough purple or pink, I was always short on arches and household equipment (my spaceships and moonbases needed to have a full kitchen, for realism, you know. 🙂 ). Unlike Belville, these sets have large numbers of pieces.

— but I would have been really upset about the nonstandard minifigures without poseable legs or moveable hands. I mean, seriously, that’s just pathetic. Why do that? Unless you, the executives, are sexist pigs…

My favorite two minifigs as a kid were the princess from the original Lego castle and the woman wearing a string of pearls from one of the Legoland city sets. There has always been a shortage of female minifigs, even back in the day when all minifigs had the same head (shortage of “women’s” torsos). Boys notice and complain about this too.

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Sarah December 22, 2011 at 4:09 PM

A friend just shared a news article she found that has a slightly different perspective on the LEGO Friends controversy. I thought you all might like to see it: http://www.hlntv.com/article/2011/12/21/boys-and-pink-lego-friends-gender-stereotypes?hpt=hp_c2

But then again, my problem is not the pink or the story of Friends – it’s the new minifigures. I think they should include more female minifigures in normal sets and make them more gender balanced. Boys shouldn’t be over-saturated with macho or violent influences just like girls shouldn’t be over-saturated with pink and social expectations.

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admin December 22, 2011 at 8:19 PM

Sarah, wow! That is an interesting article! Looks like it raised a lot of eyebrows! The comments are even more interesting! 😀
I’m really not understnading why LEGO can’t just incorporate more standard female minifigures into LEGO sets. Everything else is fine with LEGO Friends. As you said; it is only the figures that are controversial. 😕

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chris December 23, 2011 at 12:03 AM

cool they have a man minifig in lego friends. I’m not gonna buy the sits because im a boy

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chris December 23, 2011 at 12:07 AM

cool they have a man minifig in lego friends. I’m not gonna buy the sets because im a boy. also the legs doesn’t move…

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Roger January 12, 2012 at 3:33 AM

The legs not being able to move independently from one another is a big issue for me. The legs are also too long now so sitting looks awkward.
Minifig legs are short enough that sitting like this this doesn’t look unnatural. They should have added a knee joint for such a long leg. This might have allowed them (depending on the knee mechanism) to have interchangeable feet and shoes (think rollerblades, sneakers, smart shoes etc.) which would appeal to some girls. I know my wife would like this but my sister probably wouldn’t care.

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darkon December 24, 2011 at 11:51 AM

Okay, everyone calm down! Just because Lego makes a theme with different minifigs doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. I do think it would have been better for lego to rerelease Paradisa, but I still think these sets will sell well. I like the new girl minifigs and animals. They’re cute, and that is why they’re marketable. Lego is taking a risk, but they’ve taken risks before. (Bionicle was a huge risk, but it lasted ten years and became insanely popular). My point is, it’s not about the minifigs; it’s about the fun. Friends looks like it’s going to be lots of fun, and I support it 100%. 🙂

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Sarah December 26, 2011 at 10:26 AM

Thanks for voicing your opinion. I’m glad to know that there are people that do like the ladyfigs and will enjoy the new sets.

Do you plan on building creations with both the new ladyfigs and normal minifigures? I’d really like to see how they look mixed together. Maybe it’s not as bad as I think it will be. I’m just worried about the lack of compatibility between the ladyfigs and normal minifigures.

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Liz January 2, 2012 at 10:11 PM

I haven’t got any of this new series, but there are so many LEGO clones with mini-figures now, not compatible, that I don’t think one more type will make any difference to me. We have various MEGA sets and some new sets from Character Building. My partner had the larger LEGO mini-figures when he was a child, but he didn’t really like playing with them for the reasons you’ve mentioned, but we still have them now and they no longer stand out like a sore thumb.

Maybe for children it will be more of an issue (I guess they are the target market after all), because I find that children like matching stuff more, but for adult collectors of figures, any female is worth having, just to make up the number.

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Nathanael January 23, 2012 at 4:50 PM

Matching stuff indeed. As a kid, my constant complaint was that I couldn’t get enough Lego parts in the same color, and my spaceships and houses all ended up multicolored.

As an adult, I ordered the bulk brick sets. 😉 But anyway, I’m an example in *that* regard of a typical kid attitude; kids will settle for mismatched parts, but matching ones are way cooler.

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vandydoctor December 31, 2011 at 8:02 PM

I’ll be buying them for the parts, especially the ones with the medium lavender color.

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Cali_in_Jersey January 1, 2012 at 10:28 PM

We took my daughter (then 3.5 yrs) to Legoland California on our vacation this summer. (BTW – GO! It was awesome and we want to go back!) We got her caricature drawn in the park and she requested that she be drawn as a princess – a Lego princess. That’s right, at 3.5 years old she wanted to be drawn as a minifig princess. So many companies kill themselves trying new things instead of improving upon what they already do well. All Lego has to do to get more girls interested is to make the girls see themselves in the Legos. I am not sure Lego Friends will hold my daughters interest longer than a year or two.

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Mother Lydia January 2, 2012 at 1:23 AM

I am 38 years old and got interested in Legos BEFORE minifigures! (gasp) When I started building Legos, you had “Head and arms” pieces and then built up the person using 2×2 blocks and (For girls) a trapezoidal piece for a skirt. Different heights for the parents and kids. (These were called Homemaker figures). Lots of mix and match involved.

So I don’t see reconfiguring the minifigures as anything other than long overdue. Does it really take 30 years to realize that what they have is out of date? Or because they have done something for 30 years they can not change it? IF they had not changed it in the first place, we would not have the minifigs that are so beloved now.

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Ahmie January 19, 2012 at 3:52 PM

as another Homemaker Fig collector (I have more than a dozen of them, not sure if I’ve exceeded 20 yet, starting with the 2 that were mine as a child – I’m 35), I partially agree with you, but it brings up a big problem that I have with the Friendfigs – they reduced the points of articulation. HomemakerFigs may not have had legs but they had articulated wrists on ball joints, and Technic-like elbow and shoulder joints, plus heads swiveled on neck. Makes them able to position in a lot of different ways that minifigs can’t, and then the Friendfigs reduced the positioning options below that of the minifig (wrists aren’t articulated, legs don’t move independently, and they can’t bend/lean backwards). I wouldn’t personally be nearly as irritated about the Friendfigs if they’d not basically made them such a TINY upgrade over Duplo figs (they have exactly the same articulation as the current Duplo figs, only advancement for the older age range is being able to swap hair, head, torso, and legs between figs and being smaller choking hazard size). THAT is what makes it feel like it’s dumbed down for girls to me (as another female AFOL and mom – though I have sons and no daughters as of yet). I would LOVE to see the Minifig get an update and redesign, but only as long as it wasn’t a step BACK in their evolution. Even if it made them not so compatible with the existing minifigs – in fact, if they were a bit taller like friendfigs, that would increase play value for girls, who could repurpose the existing minifigs as children in costumes with the new taller figs being grownups (and the current “child” figs could become toddlers/babies).

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Nathanael January 23, 2012 at 4:51 PM

Oh, I have a few of the original “full size” figures. I didn’t know they were called “Homemaker” figures, but I always knew that the “minifigs” were “mini” because these were the “full size” ones.

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Nathanael January 23, 2012 at 4:53 PM

The problem with the Homemaker figs is that to build a house for them you need a GOB of Lego, perhaps Duplo. The minifigs allowed you to build houses for them — that was the reason they were better.

The LadyFigs are unfortunately not better. If they had moveable hands and moveable legs and, in general , more interchangeable parts, that might be different. (Notice that the little “skeleton minifigs” are popular precisely because they have the Lego trademark of lots of moveable, reconstructable little pieces.)

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Beth January 3, 2012 at 8:37 PM

I have a 13 year old lego enthusiast daughter…I fueled the fire with ebay and lego.com purchases of Paradisa and Belville since they were never really mass marketed….I never saw them on the store shelf anywhere! She likes the building part and it seems to me the “girl” lego lines have always been simplified. She likes the more complex models…we have all of the modulars that are on the market (gone too fast, lego!!!) even though they are hard to afford. They are very intricate, challenging to build and have amazing creative details. I, too, wish they would just expand the City theme with more non-violent sets. We’re about at the point where she has everything in that theme that really interests her as she does not care for cops and robbers, space ships or battle themes. She has no interest in this “friends” line…too old for the simple builds, over the princess/barbie type thing. She is a “girlie girl”, but she doesn’t want “girl” legos, she just wants good legos.

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admin January 3, 2012 at 9:07 PM

Beth, well said! Totally agree with your daughter’s choice! 🙂

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Nathanael January 23, 2012 at 5:56 PM

“She likes the building part and it seems to me the “girl” lego lines have always been simplified.”
And that’s what’s sexist about it!

“I, too, wish they would just expand the City theme with more non-violent sets.”
They had gobs and gobs of these in the 1980s. The airport comes to mind, or the firehouse, or the “Main Street”.

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admin January 5, 2012 at 11:42 AM

UPDATE: LEGO Friends are now available! See here: LEGO Friends Available Now! Enjoy! 😉

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Karel Smutný January 7, 2012 at 11:16 AM

I guess I would be the only one in this discussion, but I sorta like these new minifigs. And I think they are pretty compatible in ways I find important. They’re roughly the same size, so there is no obstacle to befriend regular minifis, they can stand on two nops, they can sit (one nop instead of four for regular minifigs), last but not least they can hold all the accessories in their hands. These new girls are much more compatible than Belville figures. I’m much more concerned about “compatibility” of the Lego Cars (my 2yrs old son loves) new parts since you can hardly use them for something else than Lightning McQueen or Mater (or their mutants). For the record, I’m 31yrs old daddy of 5yrs old girl a I play with Lego since I was 3yrs

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admin January 7, 2012 at 10:48 PM

Karel, thanks for sharing! That is actually a really good point about the LEGO Cars I never heard anyone mention before. Definitely some food for thought there! As far as LEGO Friends, we shall see how they do. Personally I have been smitten by their cuteness, but I also understand the concerns Sarah and others raised. At least we got some nice hair-pieces and great new colors! 🙂

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Roger January 12, 2012 at 3:53 AM

I see many comments so far about scale. I have noticed that the house sets for example are ~slightly~ too big for the minifigs but are the perfect scale for the new Friends figures. I imagine the house sets appeal more to the female market than other overdone themes like fire/police. I think the new scale friends figures therefor have a niche already created for them.
Having said that I think the figures are a little unresolved. The ‘clip’ hands look freakish when placed on the more personified body. Also as I have mentioned above I think making the legs as one piece was a massive under sight. Making the heads the same diameter was definitely a good idea.
I must also add that when I was a teenager Iprefered the the larger Technic figures because they were more realistic than the minifigs. For two reasons the legs and arms had knee and elbow joints respectively and you didn’t have to take off their hair to put on a helmet. This was the only thing I liked about Playmobile figures but always preferred Lego because of the incredibly well executed molecularity and compatibility.
Does anyone else think that overall the new figures look a little too much like Playmobile figures?

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admin January 12, 2012 at 11:20 AM

Roger, yes, the Friends figs actaully do have a very similar mechanism as Playmobil. There are some customizers who are working on fixing the unmovable legs issue. I have seen some really great results! I will write a post about this soon! 😉

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Roger January 12, 2012 at 12:03 PM

As an Industrial Designer, I would be interested to see that 🙂 Thanks

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admin January 12, 2012 at 12:27 PM

Roger, I will post on it sometime next week. My customizer friends are still working out some details, but the progress so far is great! 😀

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Roger January 12, 2012 at 1:01 PM

Cool, I am pretty good at stuff like that so if they need an additional collaborator I would be very keen to chip in
🙂

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admin January 12, 2012 at 3:52 PM

Roger, I will post what the guys have, and you can communicate with them further. 😉

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Kirk February 13, 2012 at 4:40 PM

I guess I’m not too surprised about people opposing change. Personally I think the new sets are great. My daughter and wife both love the collections. I think Lego definitely hit the mark on this one, which is a relief because I’ve been looking for Lego that appeals to my daughter for years. My son is already a long time fanatic, and my daughter always was drawn to girl Lego minifigs, but she much prefers the Lego Friends line to the old minifig design and she’s already playing more with the Lego Friends collection she has more than she ever played with traditional Lego collections.

We all love that they’re not the typical yellow minifig, which now feels dated compared to the newer pink skin minifigs. Given that Lego only uses the pink skin minifigs for licensed products like Harry Potter and Star Wars, I think they made the right choice with coming up with a new minifig for this one that is both compatible with existing Lego parts (hands can hold Lego and hair pieces work just fine) and keeping to the true skin colors.

My only complaint is that the legs on the new Lego Friends figures are not separately movable. I really wish you could move each leg separately. Other than that I wouldn’t change a thing.

I’ll be enjoying giving my daughter Lego Friends collections throughout the year and the Lego Friends advent calendar around Christmas!

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admin February 13, 2012 at 8:34 PM

Kirk, there will be more LEGO Friends sets coming out this summer, so I’m sure your wife and daughter will be in LEGO-heaven! 🙂

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Sean February 29, 2012 at 5:08 PM

I love the new lego friends, my daughter has play with my sons legos and she is only 4, so when we found the new lego friends, she fell in love with them and we were happy , she spends hours playing with them and her imagination is at work at all times, thank you for making something girl oriented, too many boy ones and a few for the little ones this set is fun and playful for a girl who loves pink and purple : ) , because after all very few girls don’t like this colors.

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admin February 29, 2012 at 5:27 PM

Sean, yes, it seems that Friends has been a hit with the target audience. 😀

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Stephanie March 31, 2012 at 8:44 PM

I LOVE the Friends sets!! My 7 year old daughter plays with these for hours. I have many of the Paradisa sets that I saved from my childhood and she puts those together and puts all the sets together to make a “Town”. Please Lego company keep these Girl sets coming!!!! Finally something for girls. 🙂

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admin March 31, 2012 at 10:49 PM

Stephanie, your wish is already granted and on its way. More great sets are coming in this line this summer. 😉

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Amaranth April 3, 2012 at 5:11 PM

I have a daughter who didn’t used to look at legos much at all. She was into dollhouses and the problem with the minifigs was that you couldn’t really build furniture for the dolls, one brick was all that you could use and that was it. She also gets drawn to the pink and purple, and I don’t quite remember where it was but I think I read a study that the choice of color does give an emotional connection to girls. But since the ‘Friends’ came out suddenly the Legos have taken over from the tiny pet shop and the fairies. She is building houses and furniture like crazy and I see a lot more creative play going on than before. I am waiting for a sale on the big doll house kit from the ‘Friends’ hopefully before her birthday in August, but even having a few of the smaller sets was enough to give a lot of options. So for me, I think the new figures are helpful for some girls, even if it’s a downer for people who enjoy the old style minifigs. I agree it would be better if things weren’t so segregated, but they are, and just pushing the envelope a bit is already a lot. Where that’s concerned I -love- the investor set with the roboticist, that’s great and it immediately appealed to my daughter. I don’t think Lego is doing girls a disservice with this, it’s giving them enough pink and ‘storytelling’ options to be familiar and acceptable even for parents who are segregating girl and boy toys on purpose, and it has enough changes (actually having a toy that you can rebuild and change as well as having at least one rolemodel that shows a girl in the sciences) to push the envelope. Sorry this got so long 🙂

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admin April 3, 2012 at 8:23 PM

Amaranth, thanks for the excellent review! I’m glad your daughter is having fun building! There will be more awesome sets coming in the Friends line this summer, so you will have plenty to choose from for her birthday! 🙂

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Lego Girl April 21, 2013 at 9:19 PM

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 😀

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SuperWeapon July 30, 2012 at 8:25 PM

Lego friends is like the missing “city” in lego CITY.
Lego city gives you police, fire fighters, etc. but no city for them to do their stuff in. Lego friends is the opposite.
They should just stop lego friends and add more civilian stuff into City.

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admin July 30, 2012 at 8:31 PM

That’s probably the most profound observation I have read about Friends! LEGO should hire you! 😀

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jay awesome November 4, 2012 at 8:24 PM

i agree with disgarding lego friends but if they put an actual city in lego city it would be kind of boring and wouldn’t sell good
(plus they sort of already do havethe city in lego city).

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jay awesome November 4, 2012 at 8:26 PM

i agree with disgarding lego friends but if they put an actual city in lego city it would be kind of boring and wouldn’t sell good
(plus they sort of already do havethe city in lego city)…

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Lego Girl April 21, 2013 at 9:18 PM

There’s no system. I agree with you.

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Raven July 27, 2014 at 4:01 PM

The lego city stuff is so ugly, I would stop playing with legos if they discontinued the friends line. I guess its hard for some people to understand but some people want to play with cute “girly” things I’m not sure why you feel the desire to have that be taken away from people who enjoy it, its understandable to want more variation in other themes, but to say that there should be no feminine sets for the people that like them is just mean.

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jay awesome November 4, 2012 at 8:17 PM

i think that lego shouldn’t be trying to get girls to like lego i think they should spend their time and money making thees for boys

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Lego Girl April 21, 2013 at 9:17 PM

Nope. I don’t agree with you.

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jay awesome November 4, 2012 at 8:19 PM

i think they should make lego friends figures interchangeable (not that i agree on making lego friends in the first place.

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LegoFan April 21, 2013 at 9:17 PM

Yup, same here about the minifigures. Lego friends IS too girly, but at least there is a normal toy for girls. Who plays with Barbie or My Little Pony?

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Raven July 27, 2014 at 4:04 PM

Its not too girly for people who are into girly things. those people exist and we deserve to have a lego theme that suits our needs. regular mini-figs are ugly and unappealing to some people and it is nice to have another option.

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Rexi November 15, 2012 at 2:42 AM

I think it’s a little insulting. Does LEGO really think that toys have to be covered in pink and sparkles for girls to like them? Why can’t girls play with the pirate sets, or those based off of Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings? I played with the generic, the soccer, and the Harry Potter sets as a little girl and they were my favorite toys. The storylines that I imagined with these characters were more developed than the vapid smile and “I like to bake things” personality that the LEGO friends characters suggest. I am disappointed in LEGO because of the assumptions that they’re making about girls.

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admin November 15, 2012 at 11:23 AM

Rexi, thanks for sharing! Since this article was written, Friends has become a huge success for LEGO. I guess girls do like it. Please note that the LEGO Friends line include sets with girls doing science projects, practicing sports (karate, soccer, horseback-riding, water-skiing), music, taking care of pets, etc. There are only a couple of sets which are related to making something in the kitchen. And as the line grows I’m sure more will be included. 😉

As far as pink and sparkles, the main color of LEGO Friends is shades of purple. There is also pink, but it seems quite balanced with other colors for the sets I have personally seen. And I have not seen any sparkle in any of the sets. At Official LEGO Stores and at some retailers you can see some of the sets fully built and displayed. It is worth checking them out as they are quite nice.

In regards to other LEGO sets like Pirates, Harry Potter, etc., there is no reason why girls can’t continue to play with them. LEGO elements are fully compatible with each other. So there are still plenty of choices, and now with LEGO Friends we have even more. 🙂

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Kirsty January 11, 2013 at 9:47 AM

I don’t think it’s insulting at all. What I’ve heard is that girls and girls’ parents came to Lego asking for products like these. Nobody is forcing the girls to play with them either. They are still free to play with the “boy” sets, but the fact is that many girls like pink, cute, girly things. Personally, I loved pink toys but I never limited myself to only the girly Lego. At the same time as I was playing with Belville, I was also playing with the original Lego Mindstorms. Options are good 🙂

About the dolls… as a young woman who is still very in touch with her girl side (I still buy toys!) I can honestly say that I much prefer these dolls to the Paradisa ones that my older cousin had in the early 90s and the Belville dolls that I had in the late 90s. The Lego Friends figures are nice to hold, have attractive faces, modern clothes, and real-shaped bodies in comparison to the square minifigures. I played with Lego as a girl but I was never really that into it. I would have been if Friends had been around back then. It’s true that they don’t blend in well with the other figures but at least they are the right size to fit in most of the sets. The Belville dolls were huge in comparison.

My favorite thing about the Lego Friends is not the dolls though. It’s that there is a lot more building involved with these than with Belville. I was looking at some pieces from an old Belville set of mine and I realized that some of the pieces – two large sandcastles – were pre made, no building involved whatsoever. I ordered a couple of small Friends sets just to try them out, and I was impressed by how much building was involved. Nothing came pre made apart from a few tiny accessories, just like it is with the large modular sets for older teens and adults. I can actually imagine some of these sets being challenging for girls, and that’s great!

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admin January 11, 2013 at 10:15 AM

Kirsty, thanks for sharing! Yes, the building feature of the Friends sets is quite complex. Also the colors are very lovely. I like the mini-dolls too and collect them. They are cute and about the same size as regular minifigs. I also LOVE their hair-pieces and accessories as they are perfectly compatible with regular LEGO minifigs. As far as I know the line is very successful. So much so that Barbie just came out with a similar line of products. 😉

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LegoFan April 21, 2013 at 9:14 PM

I don’t agree with you. I’m not trying to be offensive.

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Raven July 27, 2014 at 4:07 PM

i need legos to be covered in pink and sparkles to find them appealing. the regular set are ugly, i could play with them if i wanted but it don’t. some of the licensed stuff is ok but i don’t find it nearly as fun as building bakeries and houses and things in fun pretty colors. Girly girls DO exist and we deserve one measly theme that we can enjoy.

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Lego Friends Publisher April 21, 2013 at 9:13 PM

Sarah, I love LEGO Friends. It did sell well.

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SpyBrick August 31, 2013 at 6:18 PM

I wonder what would happen if Lego made sets with figures more like normal figs but with different skin tones. Then added those figures into the Friends sets instead.

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admin August 31, 2013 at 10:52 PM

LEGO actually already has many skin-tones in regular sets – Usually the licensed lines – so it wouldn’t be that difficult to do it. But I guess they decided to create unique figures for the line was more appealing to little girls. Since this article was written LEGO Friends has become extremely popular, so looks like the girls are here to stay. 🙂

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Håkan February 23, 2014 at 8:07 PM

Alas, there are still very few non-caucasian female figures available. Checking out Bricklink, there seems to have been produced one single female darker-skinned head up until now.

http://www.bricklink.com/catalogItem.asp?P=3626cpb980

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admin February 23, 2014 at 8:10 PM

That is very true. I wonder how is LEGO’s target audience in this regard. Is LEGO popular with young black girls, Asian girls, etc.? It would be interesting to find out…

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Håkan February 24, 2014 at 4:42 AM

I’ve read somewhere that the traditional yellow skin is meant to be a generic and symbolical non-ethnicity.

But still, even for licensed characters with more natural skin-tones, non-caucasians are still extremely under-represented. And the combination of under-represented ethnicities and under-represented females aggravate the results.

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admin February 24, 2014 at 9:02 AM

Hakan, yes, the yellow skin originally supposed to mean ethnic and gender neutrality. Remember that minifigs for quite some time only had one kind of smiley face. Their gender was only differentiated by their hair and accessories.

Skin colored minifigs only come in licensed sets. So I guess if the movie doesn’t have a variety of skin-tones for the main characters, LEGO can’t force the issue. They are only remaking what the movie is making. BTW, Star Wars have manym-many skin tones for female characters; even colors like orange, blue and green, so even non-human species are fairly represented. 😉

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axecaliva February 22, 2014 at 10:22 AM

You nailed my thoughts exactly. The little sets are very cute and have some great accessories, but the minidolls are just terrible. Good thing the extras work just as well with regular minifigs (or sometimes even better, such as the bicycles) because I’ll probably end up doing what you said and just resell or donate the Friends dolls or something :F

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Håkan February 23, 2014 at 8:02 PM

Concerning Friends, I’m positive to the colors and minifig accessories. Then, there are certain aspects of the minidoll where I see problems. That there are no studholes at the back legs for sitting, I find okay, it would look rather ugly with holes in the hindpart… =/

Another more important point is the lack of articulation, the absence of separate wrist articulation and hip/leg articulation clearly limits posability, which is particularly obvious in the karate and soccer set. I know customizers have found ways around it, but it isn’t an easy way to solve it. (I remember some customizer managed a construction allowing individual legs movement, but I cannot find the link now.)

http://www.brothers-brick.com/2012/01/05/dissecting-the-new-lego-friends-mini-dolls-guest-post/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/catsy/6693671701/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/catsy/6695917675/in/photostream/

Another thing is that the realist approach of having different skin tones , instead of the generic non-ethnicity of the traditional minifig, is yet another obstacle when it comes to customization. Mixing the parts from minifigs of different skin colors would often give rather weird results. Then, I don’t really have a good solution to that issue, since including only caucasian characters really isn’t a viable option. =/

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admin February 23, 2014 at 8:07 PM

Yeah, the lack of articulation can put Friends into some really odd poses. They can’t really sit properly, or run, or hold accessories at different angles. I guess if girls do find that bothersome, they could easily replace the minidolls with traditional minifigures in any of the LEGO Friends sets.

LEGO Friends are just different, with both pluses and minuses. I have seen little girls play with them and most of them enjoy the minidolls because they identify with them more than traditional minifigs. And since they are the target audience, let them enjoy! It just means they won’t “accidentally borrow” my minifigs. 😉

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Håkan February 24, 2014 at 9:00 AM
admin February 24, 2014 at 9:05 AM

Yeah, I really liked that redisign. I’m not sure why LEGO didn’t make that happen. I understand the hands not being movable as the arms are so skinny, but I think movable legs could have been possible.

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Håkan February 24, 2014 at 11:45 AM

Yeah, pretty good. Maybe a separate leg movement was deemed too fragile when the legs are thinner. It would have been interesting to know the reasoning, although the designers probably aren’t allowed to reveal much.

Btw, on Lisa’s redesign, I suspect the legs might be too wide to stand firmly on the studs. It looks like one of the legs would stand right between two studs. Trial and error…

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admin February 24, 2014 at 12:07 PM

I think it would have worked fine. The old Juniors minifigs have quite similar legs and Lisa’s design on how they should work is also similar. Basically a small rod goes thru the legs and hips, making them movable.

This reminds me that I just picked up some MegaBloks Call of Duty and Halo minifigs a few days ago, and the articulation of the joints is incredible. They are hardly taller than LEGO minifigs, so I know it can be done. I wouldn’t want LEGO to switch to minifigs like that, I like my stocky little friends just fine, but since Friends are already so different LEGO could have added at least some movable legs. 🙂

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lego friends rocker July 3, 2014 at 12:09 AM

Dont mean to be rude or anything, but lego friends is great! yeah sure i know people (kids) that cant stick ’em but some do! it flys of the shelves!

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Raven July 27, 2014 at 4:11 PM

I don’t understand why people who find feminine things unappealing, have to demonize this theme and desire for it to not exist. is it not enough for you to already have themes and set that you like? do you really think everyone should be forced to like the themes you like? does it really make your experience with lego less to have others enjoying a theme you don’t care for? I hate most lego themes but at least I think it’s ok for them to exist.

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Jay September 1, 2014 at 7:29 AM

I have to say looking at the lego friends sets I am most sad I am not a little girl anymore and my own little girl is only a few weeks old! My little boy however is growing out of duplo and loves lego I feel very sad that lego friends is soo girly because he would live the camper am set way more accessories and gas stove eyc unlike the lego city equivalent I have seen he would also love the juice bar and baking set and especially I’ve cream set but they have made it too girly which is actually really sad why can’t boys have all this stuff why is it only girls that are getting a more “city” feel and this more chance of letting their imagination free because they are not limited to fire stations and police
Also the girls sets have swimming pools and beach themes and animals

I have to say I am extremely disappointed that it is not more gender neutral so as boys can have it too 🙁 even the box is too girly

Sorry about the rant 🙁 but thank you for letting me know that the usual lego figures can be used in place of these girl figures so there may be a chance I could get them for my son if dad can get past the girly bricks etc (he doesn’t even want little girl to have too much pink or have barbies)

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admin September 1, 2014 at 9:36 AM

Jay, I actually know several little boys (and adults too!) who favor the Friends sets. Not all of them have girly colors, in fact most are just nice pastel colors that both boys and girls should be just fine to play with. Also, you can always just swap out colors that you don’t like. I also really like the camper-van, and that’s a good candidate for a little color-swap.

Girls finally are getting LEGO sets that they really like; they are the ones who choose the colors and the mini-dolls in LEGO’s years of extensive of testing. And yes, the sets are awesome, however just like girls can modify more boy-oriented LEGO sets to their liking, boys can do the same with the girl-oriented sets. And that’s the great thing about LEGO.

And modifying sets also encourages creativity and expands one’s design and building skills. Please see some other LEGO Friends related articles we have published here with all the amazing things people have been doing with LEGO Friends. 😉

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