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Wondering why [email protected]
decided to intro a Girls category? Really a poor choice on their part and wonder how this got approved. No Star Wars, no airplanes, no technic... Who exactly gets to choose what girls like anyway?
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That said - it's not meant to be a strict one-size-fits-all guideline. In the end, people should buy their girls what they like. But looking at the list, it seems like a pretty good default - Friends, Creator, Creator Expert, some Duplo and some basic brick packs.
(and yes, I have two girls. I'm not offended by this - I think it fits the mold of what 90%+ of girls would actually like. There are always exceptions of course, but such is life.)
Anyway, @margot - you're right. As the father of a girl, I find this sort of thing annoying. I was recently in a Target, and there was a little girl around my own daughter's age complaining to her mom that all the games were "boy games," and where was the girl stuff?
My daughter will venture outside Friends, for the Creator houses, but rejects most of the rest as being "boy" stuff. My dream is for TLG to make a Technic sports car in Friends colors, that can seat a couple of minidolls with a pet in the back seat, so that kids who have developed attitudes like this can give themselves permission to engage with engineering principles.
It's annoying. (Where's the Star Wars? Where are the planes?)
They're (sort of) two different things. TLG is probably being pragmatic and using the latter phenomenon to inform the former policies (like having retail partners place the Friends in a different aisle from the rest of their product). And it's working for them. Finally they're selling a decent amount to girls. But that doesn't make me feel any better about it, nor do I think you should. Plus, it's a chicken-and-egg problem: this is serving to further kids' self-limitation by (as you say) telling them what is supposed to be for them.
As a dad, I really, really would like to introduce my kid to the mind-expanding qualities of Technic, but I know my kid: I know that she won't bite unless the plastics are candy-colored. Sigh.
(I also know that she's resistant to anything that's conflict-based, which has made gaming with her a tricky proposition, as well. And unfortunately, a lot of the LEGO themes get categorized by little girls - like that kid in the Target store - as being "boy" because of that very thing.)
This is not new.
This category is not about limiting.
I have always felt this was more about giving gift ideas. Someone is clueless what to buy, they look in that category.
Sure, a girl can play with technic or other areas, but at the same time I am sure Lego has seen certain sets girls tend to gravitate to more... And for the person that is clueless about the kid they are buying for, this section gives a few ideas.
This category is no different than having a Friends line. Friends does not limit girls from buying other lines.
The issue for me is that often there simply aren't many lines that feature more thsn 1-2 female minifig types.
What is more irritating to me is that with the removal of the exclusive discount, it really hits sets that had a pretty even distribution of females/males.
They are actually okay with conflict, though, but there has to be a reason that furthers the story and be a story of interest.
This is a rehash of things I have said many times, but conflict in the HP theme was fine, but there were sets that were more than conflict/fights. There were details and female minifigs.
They stay clear of themes like TLR...
Train = Hogwarts express = want
Train= Constitution = no interest
I think really for them, it isn't about boy/girls or differentiating like that, but that so many themes are zero interest themes for them, or Lego's take on a them they have no interest in.. Playmobil Egyptian = want, Lego Egyptian= no interest)
When you add in minimal females and turns them off more.
This is obviously something TLG are trying to counter by creating more 'gateway' products that seem more 'girly', but obviously no-one is forced to buy from any certain section.
The reason I consider the lack of inroads to Technic for girls a lose is because playing with that sort of construction toy (when I was a kid, the Gilbert Erector sets filled this function) helps to foster an intuitive understanding of physics and engineering principles. Plus, it, in turn is a gateway to Mindstorms, and all the enrichment that goes with that. And there's no reason on earth to give girls the message, even if only implicitly and subtly, that science and technology is "for boys."
@tamamahm - Again, I can only talk about my girl's reaction to "conflict." And I'll try to be brief, so as to not derail this thread. In terms of gaming, conflict is built in, unless you're playing a "cooperative game," in that when one player wins, the other(s) lose. That's been hard for her to deal with, though she's come around a bit with Carcassonne, which she likes. But mostly, she's gravitated more to logic puzzles a la the Thinkfun, Smart Games, and Popular Playthings lines, because we can work on them together.
She's similarly not attracted to LOTR/Hobbit or any of the other story-based themes in the LEGO line. The Creator houses work for her because, in the final analysis, they're doll houses. Also, the common aspect of both Friends and Creator (houses) is that their microworlds are completely "friendly" and lacking in conflict. Even City is (as people point out repeatedly) something of a police state. She would probably have gone for the SpongeBob line, had I picked any up for her, and maybe the Pixar stuff...
Also, maybe girls would be engaged by building a completely different set of machines. The Technic sets are wonderful, but they are all based on the kinds of toys that preschool boys play with in their sandboxes. And that marks them as "boy" to little girls in the final analysis.
LEGO isn't trying to "limit girls", they are trying to provide a tiny tool that may or may not help someone find a suitable gift. Feel free to ignore it and click on the "Star Wars" theme instead. Honestly, this isn't a vast conspiracy to hold women back.
You're right about crossover appeal. That's a big aspect of why the Creator houses succeed.
As for technic for girls, the technic sets are more engineering based. Girls interested in engineering are more likely to incline towards cars, trucks and cranes than the "average" girl (if there is such a thing). I wouldn't really want to see technic sets in pastel colours. Females going into engineering know that those colours don't really occur much in engineering. The idea of fairground sets and so on is great, so long as they are in non-pastel (dare I say it, girly) colours. If they design and sell such sets, I would hope they appeal to both girls and boys, and making them in pink is not going to help sell them to boys. For example, they have WVM high up on the girls list, and I hope this appeals to girls as much as boys. Without too many pastels in there.
"As I have said before, one of the things that I find most disturbing about gender stereotyping is the way that it constricts a child’s vision for themselves. When a girl or boy repeatedly sees males and females displayed in very narrow roles, it is sure to impact their own view of how they should behave, what their dreams should be, and who they might become."
Those that don't want to be pigeon-holed wont care just as I know a few boys that have friends lego despite the pink packaging, butterflies and other 'girlie' features. Its quite likely that it will even encourage more girls into lego if it makes gift buying easier and then once hooked on lego, viewing other lego sets, the lego catalogue etc they will be exposed to all the other lego sets they may love. They won't get that opportunity when buying most other toys.
Quoting from another thread... "Thumbs down to whiners." ;-)
As far as color choices are concerned, I don't really care what color the bits are so long as the strategy works. But, also, aesthetically, I think it would be a hoot to introduce a wider palette (including pastels) to Technic. Modeling cars, for example, would become more fun for everyone. Go to any dealership, and you'll find most cars aren't in the Technic color scheme.
I also think it would be good for Technic to dare to venture outside the arena of little boy sandbox toys as source material. Crossover appeal is always a good thing, but specific girl appeal wouldn't hurt, either. Go Google engineering toys for girls, and you'll find that there are others who at least are attempting something in this arena.
I went to a very well-known science & engineering school, and we had young women (not nearly enough, but we had them). At the time, it was about 20% female. Although that ratio improved a little in later years, what I'm seeing in little kids nowadays concerns me. The little girl in the Target store was depressing. My wife was an engineer in the Soviet Union. She tells me that there, the majority of engineers (though not engineering managers) were female. Imagine that! It's not an innate gender bias to have the interest and talent. We are wasting the potential of a significant fraction of our population, and over what? The color of toys?
If however, clueless relative is bumbling around to buy a gift for a girl, they can search 'girls' and find a list of things girls tend to like.
If this was a little pink or blue star applied to each and every set on the website that said its either a boys toy or a girls toy then I'd agree with you, but that's blatantly not what this is - its a simple filter that gives shoppers a better idea of what sets may be of interest to them shopping for girls, it doesn't preclude them from looking in other categories that they know might also be of interest be it Star Wars, TMNT etc.
You make a good point about the technic models - I can't see and don't think LEGO should be expected to make a technic set with specific girl appeal as it a) probably wouldn't sell and b) would no doubt bring about another outcry over girls being excluded from all the other technic sets. However, creating a range of simple (as entry level, not the ability of the girl!) technic sets that focus on the mechanics rather than the aesthetic might be a decent approach.
With that in mind I'd definitely recommend having a look at the book, crazy action contraptions (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Lego-Crazy-Action-Contraptions-Klutz/dp/1591747694) and not just because it allows you to build a kitchen appliance (although its probably the best thing in there and certainly my 7 year old boys' favourite!). Don't be put off by the cover - it comes with a range of grey, white and red technic pieces and has instructions to build about 12 different and varied models. It focuses on the mechanics of each item (including gearing and power) and building working models rather than just static models.