First of all, there have been a lot of controversy surrounding one of Lego's newest themes for 2012: Lego Friends, which is their latest attempt on getting girls to buy Lego Bricks. A majority of Lego claim that the new "ladyfigs' don't look like the old-fashioned minifigures used since 1978, and they look more like Polly Pocket dolls than actual Lego minifigures. Most Lego fans claim that the sets show stereotypical things girls normally do, such as taking care of pets or running a beauty shop. Also, there are more purple, aqua, turquoise, and pink bricks than any other current Lego theme out there. While some older Lego fans and guys would buy the sets just to get that certain brick or color for their MOC (such as a Perry the Platypus MOC), others would simply ignore the ladyfigs or the whole set together.
Face it folks, the pink Lego brick has been around for a long time, even with the Paradisa theme of the 1990s, Lego's attempt on getting girls to play with the normal Lego bricks and minifigs boys play. I have to admit that I own at least 2-3 sets from the Paradisa theme (the Ice Cream stand and the beach playsets). Don't forget Belville, Scala, and the fashion-oriented, jewelry-like Clickit sets from 2003, which (partially) caused the financial meltdown over at the Lego company in 2004, when they recorded record losses.
Since then, Lego re-focused their products on boys, especially on popular themes such as Star Wars, Bionicle, Racers, Creator, and City, with the occasional female minifigure or character (like Gali or Natalie Breez) thrown along. Still, those female minifigures weren't acceptable to some girls since it's not "curvy" enough for them, even with some of the collectible minfigs Lego has today. Tecnically, according to the Lego company's press release on their 2012 sets, these ladyfigs are called "mini-doll figures", and they have the same functions as a regular minifigure, such as hairpieces and hands, which can be compatible with Lego System elements such as cups, caps, and even those Star Wars lightsabers. Unfortunately, these mini-dolls are a bit taller than the regular minifig, curvier, skinnier, and has the ability to add additional accessories to the hairpiece, such as bows and headbands (bows definitely). And they won't fit into some regular sets and vehicles (too bad there's not enough room for them in those new Ninjago vehicles, unless you buy Kai's transforming motorcycle. Seriously, I dare you to).
I have to admit that I came up with the idea of improving the Lego lineup towards girls back in February 2009, when Lego announced their partnership with Disney to bring Prince of Persia, Toy Story, and Disney/Pixar Cars to the Lego lineup. At that time, Disney Channel shows such as Hannah Montana and Wizards of Waverly Place are popular, so I figured, why not have them as Lego themes? I basically used social media sites to start up a petition to convince Lego to make Lego sets based on Hannah Montana and High School Musical, but that ended up as an epic failure. And think about the licensing fees too.
Nevertheless, I heard about the new Lego Friends sets through Brickset and seen the pics, but I haven't seen the sets yet at the Lego section of my local Target (or most likely soon, the girls' section with all of the Barbie/iCarly/Victoria Justice stuff), but I'm impressed of the quality of the sets. Gone are the days of fairy-tale themes or playing "house" (no, no the TV show on Fox, the houses Lego released for their Creator lineup or the set that's going to be included in the Friends theme). And welcome to a world of much more modern stuff that we see in real life. Not only that, but there are things that I might get for my Lego minifigs too (like a pool)!
And regarding about whether the theme will succeed or not, I think it will. If Lego pulls out all the right stuff for creating the sets and promoting the theme, then it will become the next Bionicle/Ninjago/Hero Factory, but for girls. It's time that Lego needs to listen to their consumers, fans, and Lego Club members on product input, especially with a girl's theme like Lego Friends. However, Lego needs to use social media websites (such as Twitter) to advertise and promote Lego Friends, as well as buying ad space on girls' magazines in order to get the word about Lego Friends out. Plus, having a couple of TV specials or a TV series (just like Lego did with Ninjago and Hero Factory) would help Lego Friends out too, whether they're online or on a cable TV network like Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network. If they focus more on the theme, then Lego can become a top toy company for girls just like what they did with boys during the past year.
So, do you think Lego Friends will become the next big thing in the Lego universe, or end up as a publicity stunt just like Kim Kardashian's wedding and 72-day marriage? Comment and Happy Holidays!
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~ VM 4.0