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Women and LEGO: Why we do what we do

BothSidesOfTheBrickBothSidesOfTheBrick Member Posts: 18
edited August 2011 in Everything else LEGO
Calling all female LEGO fans! Oh, and men, you can come along too. ;-)

I want to write a blog on The Brick Blogger about what women like the most about LEGO. Take a look at why we do what we do with the hobby of LEGO. So women, please post below what draws you to LEGO, what do you enjoy the most and do you agree or disagree with my perspective.

From my perspective of both my own reasons for playing with LEGO and what I’ve seen of other women, LEGO has two main draws for women. One is the social aspect and two is the story-telling potential.

First, the social. I really enjoy interacting with others around and with LEGO. I think this is a big draw for many other women, too. LEGO is a medium, an activity, in which we gather, discuss, and do. Social groups are a big part in many women’s lives. It probably has something to do with how we’re wired, but all I know is that the women in my local club aren’t as much focused on building with LEGO as discussing and sharing. I kind of see the LEGO club much like a book club or knitting club. A common activity is the key to bringing women together, but after a while, it’s not necessarily the purpose. It’s still an integral part, but it’s not the sole focus.

Second, the story-telling. When it does get to women building with LEGO, I’ve often seen and experienced myself that the focus of building is on the who and the why. Men tend to focus more on the what and the where of a creation. These are generalizations and dangerous ground to tread, but remember I am speaking from my experiences and would love to know what others think. I pull a lot of this from my own building, my husband’s building and what I see of my local club. Men young and old brag of building this or that and how accurate or realistic it is. Women young and old talk more of the characters and the story behind what they’ve built. This goes back to LEGO trying to capture the young female audience by creating a separate line that focuses on role-playing. Whether or not they get the product right, the theory behind it seems sound. Women feel fulfilled with creating stories with their LEGO building.

Now that I’ve presented those two points of view, I want to know what other women think. Are the above true for you? What else do you get out of LEGO? What do you focus on?

Men, feel free to jump in with your experiences and observations as well. It’ll help balance out the perspective if I know whether or not I got it right about the differences between men and women.

Please let me know in your post whether you are okay with me quoting you in my blog. You can say yes or no, but if you do not address it, I will assume you don’t want to be quoted.

Also, I doubt I’m the first person to try to tackle this topic. If anyone knows of any blogs/articles about this, please post a link so I can read them.

Thanks so much for the help!


  • RobbRobb Member Posts: 144
    As an audience member of Lego creations, I can appreciate both types of building (the what/how and the why/who).

    Occasionally, I'm really intrigued by a complex or intricate creation and want to know how the builder pulled it off. But I think more often than not, I am interested in the story that is being told by the Lego creation. I guess this is one of the reasons that I am not a fan of Lego creations that are primarily spacecraft - they seem so dull no matter how big or inventive. I think this explains why the few Star Wars Lego creations that would appeal to me are the planet-based ones that focus on telling a narrative instead of recreating (yet another) flying grey vehicle.

    I especially like small scenes that reveal character traits in the subjects or that are snippets of action from a storyline. I find these works at least as inspiring as a creation that demonstrates an innovative approach to brickbuilding.

    I'm definitely interested in hearing from more WAFOLs (women AFOLS) to see what kind of diversity exists among this group. (I am a man, so I can't help you out, Sarah).
  • mnbvcmnbvc Member Posts: 143
    I'm female...and I think I'm the exact opposite of what you wrote!

    I build alone, and I don't really want to chatter away to other people whilst I build. I want to concentrate on getting to the end result without being distracted. I also tend to have an image in my mind of what I want to create, and I want to get to that without someone else taking over. I hate to say it, because I love guys and all of my best friends are guys...but some men get a little bit 'grabby' with the bricks and totally take over. Building alone means that I get to build what I want, however I want.

    I think the role playing element probably had some truth to it for me when I was younger - I liked making 'scenes' and having the figures interact with each other (and that's where I think Lego has missed out at times when they've tried to appeal to girls...all I ever wanted were a few more female figures who were as interesting as the blokes...forget princesses, I just wanted a few female pirates, or cops, or criminals etc).

    However, as an adult, I'm not all that fussed on what minifigures I get because I don't 'play' with them / or the model. I wouldn't say I was into accuracy in the way that some people make Technic cars where the entire layout is perfect, with working wipers and lights etc...but I want my models to look in proportion and wouldn't look odd if they were built in 'real life' as it were. The only use I have for minifigures is for making the scene look right (e.g. having a shopper coming out of the Grand Emporium with loaded bags)...but the build is what I'm interested in; not setting up the scenes (as lovely as they are!) that you can see in the pictures on the box.

    So, I don't really fit into either of the things you suggested. I just like snapping bricks together and grinnng at the finished product. I've worked a lot with computers (particularly making webpages and the like) and I think that I find that there's something really satisfying about creating something physical that you can touch and put on your shelf and show off.
  • akunthitaakunthita Member Posts: 1,038
    edited August 2011
    Sarah, that's an interesting and complex subject you are trying to tackle there! Good luck with your project!...(c:

    As for me, I'm also kind of like mnbvc, who commented above me. I like to build alone. I'm an artist, and LEGO for me is just an other creative medium. It is also a form of relaxation and winding down after a long day. I feel connected with creative spirits and centered in the serene silence of unmanifested possibilities, just like when I paint or draw.

    Having said that, I do have friends over at times and we build together. That is fun too, but a totally different energy. Although I like to build with friends at times and admire their creations, my preferred method of interacting with LEGO is by myself.

    The story-telling part I can relate to a bit. But it is kind of like the story-telling of a painting. I share my thoughts and feelings through a 3-dimensional medium.

    I would also add that I never played with doll housed, Barbies, or any "official" girl toys. They didn't touch me at all. I'm the same with the LEGO girly sets. My interest in them is luke-warm at best. I prefer the castle line, fantasy and city. I dislike Technic and Mindstorm. I consider those too boyish for my taste...(c;
  • MinifigsMeMinifigsMe Member Posts: 2,844
    I'm not sure what kind of LEGO person I am, I'm only 6 months out of my dark ages, and I think what I get from LEGO is still changing.
    I like building for sure, I enjoy finding the quirks and interactive bits, and seeing how interesting parts are built. I enjoy displaying the finished builds and creating simple diaromas, which is definitely stemming from my limited LEGO collection as a child. My sister and I built cities over and over, but had only about 10 sets and some bricks! Now I want to make awesome cities.
    I also really like sorting out bulk lots, part of that is the soothing nature of creating order out of chaos, but also a big kick is finding lost sets in neglected LEGO (and the thought of what a bargain it was!)
    Another big thing is finding sets at good discounts. I love shopping and buying things, and buying things cheap is a real kick :)

    So, yeah, lots of things!
    What I'm not is a major collector, I do like the fact that I have all the toy story sets, but I don't need to be a completist, I like have lots of the same theme so that they can be displayed together. But I can happily build a set from a bulk lot and then sell it on.

  • slovakiastephslovakiasteph Member Posts: 62
    Not sure I quite fit with what you've described there either.

    I build alone and enjoy the solitary aspect of it. My only social aspect of the hobby is online. While I often create some backstory for my projects (right now, a building with a studio upstairs for my S4 artist and a studio downstairs for a weaving loom), I often just build buildings. :)

    I like to build LEGO because I enjoy the puzzle-solving aspect. If I'm building a MOC, how can I make it best fit my ideas? The creative aspect-- how can I make what I've built look better-- also applies. And, details... I've always loved miniatures (had a dollhouse when I was young), LEGO is another form of that, but one that's MUCH more adaptable to many building scenarios. I also love working with my hands (I weave, crochet) and LEGO is another medium.

    When I was young I played with LEGO, but also dolls: paper, American Girl. We loved making up stories, but I guess I grew out of that in my 20s (also when I stopped writing stories).
  • DuchessaDuchessa Member Posts: 287
    I got back into Lego when the SW-sets first came out in 1999. That, in combination with the birth of my niece, got my Lego collection on the right track again.

    I'm a collector, a completist - and I'm probably one of the most organized collectors out there :) I really like buying stuff on E-bay, going through the sets, replacing broken or damaged pieces and the putting them back in ziplock bags in the original box. All my instructions are sorted in binders (if that's the correct word?). When I start collecting a line of Lego, I just have to have all the sets.

    I like the social aspect of the Lego communities out there, but they're not my main reason for being an AFOL.

    My only MOC is a project that I've been working on for several years, and it's probably going to keep my busy for the next 10 years as well. It's a replica of the house where I grew up. I love to think about the small details and try to figure out the best way to reproduce them in minifig scale.

    If I have to choose two main reasons for being an AFOL, it's the fact that it combines my geeky interest in SW with my favourite toy, and that it appeals to the completist in me.

  • boba_jagoda2boba_jagoda2 Member Posts: 25
    I am a castle collector focusing at the castle golden era 1984 - 1992.
    This is what fascinates me and what I have dreamed of as a child.
    I've managed to get all of the wanted castle sets - with boxes, which are, with their little depictions, also a work of art and very important to me.
    Pirate ships and indians are also my favorites and I have a little castle army.
    I know all of the 1984-1992 castle set numbers by heart (and beyond, but these I would know if somebody woke me up in the middle of the night and asked).

    I've came out of my dark age 3 years ago when I figured that it is ok to stay a child at heart - at least to some extent - other people are doing it too.

    I also keep my collection extremely organized and have a record of every purchase ever made, all sets are complete with correct parts and everything is very very catalogued. I spend a lot of time on the internet searching for deals, participating in forums and other LEGO-realted activities, but have made no live contact to other AFOLs up to now.

  • tomcatttomcatt Member Posts: 24
    I never had Lego as a kid, but played a bit with my younger brother's. As an adult (with no kids) I have a comfortable amount of disposable income, and I love that I'm pretty much able to buy what I want when I want it. I'm a computer geek by profession, and definitely have OCD-related tendencies. I love Star Wars, so when that line came out in 1999 (when I was 21), I started collecting. My collection was relatively small (maybe 50 sets) until about 2005 when I really got into it, and started collecting outside Star Wars. Now I'm at around the 400 sets mark. The fantasy-themed Castle line, modular buildings, and Creator houses are my most favourite non-SW.

    I think I am drawn to it for a few reasons:
    1. The 'OCD-related' organizational aspect (I love sorting, organizing, and displaying) and the fact that it's 'perfect' - everything is exactly measured and fits a specific way so when I build the set in the instructions it should look exactly like the instructions, and like anyone else's who has built it correctly. It is natural to strive for perfection and this lets you easily achieve it!
    2. Related to this is also the detail work - representing real-world detail with clever use of Lego excites me for some reason. The fact that the Fire Brigade uses grey frogs as hat hooks was just ingenious to my mind. It's not something I would ever think of. I have a very literal mind, and the creative use of Lego by the set designers always amazes me.
    3. I always build alone in my Lego room (sometimes the dogs sit with me), or on the coffee table while watching a movie with my spouse (who basically ignores it all). I love that it's something I can do alone for some quality 'me' time. I am an introvert and quickly tire of interacting with people. Lego is a stress release for me. I can even sit for hours in my Lego room not building, just thinking about how to organize my displays, moving sets, sorting brick. It's relaxing.
    4. The social aspect (funny, I know, given my last point) - I don't like building with others, but I do like gathering with my LUG members and talking about Lego, seeing people's collections, and getting together to display at an event. My spouse has no interest, and only a couple of my friends (all guys) have any Lego at all, so the LUG gives me some like-minded people to talk to. The group is mostly guys, but there are a couple of women in it as well. I only joined the group in the last year, and I enjoy interacting with them, but I would still continue to do Lego on my own without them.

    I have found that I'm a bit of a completest, but only in certain cases - I missed out on Cafe Corner and bought it earlier this year (and paid a fortune of course), and also the first Creator house (Model Town House), but for some themes I only buy a few sets that I really like. I am also missing a handful of SW sets from the early 2000's, but I'm only pursuing some of them. In going after older sets, I have also discovered that I do not like used items very much, unless I know where they have come from (a fellow LUG member) and that they have only been assembled once or twice, and never mixed in with other sets. The perfectionist in me would rather pay a lot more and buy a MISB older set that I will be the only person to ever build, than score a great deal on eBay, and perhaps have to Bricklink a few parts.

    Feel free to quote anything you like.
  • akunthitaakunthita Member Posts: 1,038
    edited August 2011
    Sarah, you may consider adding some kind of survey to your project. It may be revealing! I think you can do free surveys through surveymonkey.

    It may reveal things like the age-group of female lego fans, occupation, if they are married, have kids...I can't say for sure, but it may reveal a pattern that you could use for your study.

    You may be able to link it to your post:

    So far I have read the responses here and I keep saying to myself; "Me too!" "Me too!" "Yeah, I do that too!" Habits I haven't even thought to be that important or revealing. Like I'm also super organized with my LEGO and I also love sorting! (c:
  • akunthitaakunthita Member Posts: 1,038
    I have found an interesting article published today at the Fast Company Magazine website (I guess the topic of girls-boys-&-LEGO is in the air!) that references LEGO as the archeticipal boy-toy. )c:

    I couldn’t help but write a post about it, referencing the original article:

    What do you, gals, think? (c:
  • LegogeekLegogeek Member Posts: 714
    Very interesting topic with plenty of unique points of view.

    I'd like to comment, even though I'm not female....

    I think it is very difficult to come to any conclusions about who collects what and the how & why of it. As seen by the replies given, there are as many variables as there are people. To generalize male & female aspects may not be so simple, especially when considering the adult point of view (approach) to this hobby.

    I am male, and (uhum) 51. Quotes are fine with me!

    I did not have my own LEGO as a child. However, my cousins did, and I occasionally played with them, and longed for the day I might have my own. Looking at the sets I own, the earliest is from 1989. I have always enjoyed building with LEGO, but for me it has always been more of a personal experience. Growing up as a kid I had friends, but tended to be a loner. Later in life I have many friends, but I still enjoy doing things on my own, and this includes building LEGO sets. For LEGO social interaction, I have Brickset... not the most personal way to have social interaction, but very conveniant. For me, at this point in my life, it is difficult to find time to do social things away from home (work, life, wife, dog, aging father.... not enough time in the day for all of them...LOL). I think I'd like to be part of a LUG, by it's just not the time. I am also not a MOCer (is that proper LEGO speak?). I just don't seem to have the creativity or the patience to design my own works. I don't mind building sets as they come from the box. I enjoy the building experience and I enjoy looking at the end result. I don't play with the sets once they are built... well, maybe a little, but not much. Basically it is the journey that is fun, and the end result is the reward. The technical aspects don't really interest me, but I wouldn't mind if someone were to discuss them with me.

    So do I have female tendancies or male? It doesn't matter to me, cuz I'm having fun doing something that brings me happiness. Who says growing old has to be boring.... ;oP

  • theantiroxytheantiroxy Member Posts: 3
    I'm a female, 25, and LEGO is a totally solo thing for me too (like someone said above).

    For me building is very cathartic. I tend to build the most (and fastest) when I'm upset. LEGOs give me that ability to focus on a tiny little task, and take my mind off things for a while. And unlike most "take-my-mind-off-things" activities; at the end i have a lovely and wonderful set I've created. I don't socialize much about LEGOs other than an occasional Facebook status about it. Brickset is my first delving into finding more people who build. I get a little into the role-playing aspect of building, but not like most. It's more like a dollhouse collector would feel. Set up everything to that the pieces are "happy". It's the little girl in me that never had many LEGOs haha. My husband remarks that he hears me talk to them, but has gotten used to it haha. For example, he knocked apart my Hogwarts set accidentally, and one section came apart and knocked out the minifigs that I had placed so carefully. I got extremely upset of course, and put it back together and apologized to Filch because I couldn't find Mrs. Norris (found her later :D). It's silly, but I care about my sets. I don't really play with them though. I prefer to set up scenes and just enjoy the look of them.

    When I was younger I used to be, i guess what you'd call a "builder for hire". I had many friends into Star Wars who wanted to collect the LEGO sets, but who had no time or patience to build them. Since I was young and couldn't really afford LEGOs, my friends would pay me to build their sets for them. I got to enjoy my peaceful building, and the money helped me save up for my very first set :D
  • BlueTaylorBlueTaylor Member Posts: 51
    I am the opposite as well! I build alone, and while I always show friends and family the finished product I know they don't appreciate it like I do. I am a 23 year old girl and everyone thinks I'm a fruitcake for collecting Lego. I am currently working on a 'diorama' of the Harry Potter world in a glass-doored bookshelf, I'll do the same with Star Wars once that's done too. I'm also working on a shadow box display of the Series 1-8 (when 8's released) minifigures. It is interesting, Harry Potter got me into Lego and the SW Lego got me into Star Wars! Haha. I also find building to be very relaxing after a long day at work. I love the organisation part of it too. I love finding the best looking box on the store shelf, keeping all the instructions clean and organised and sorting my bricks out. Any suggestions for how to sort bricks btw? I have tens of thousands that are only sorted by colour at this stage. I also really appreciate all the cute little features Lego sets have and it takes me back to my childhood and makes me forget about all my worries.
  • tamamahmtamamahm Member Posts: 1,987
    I think it is very difficult to come to any conclusions about who collects what and the how & why of it. As seen by the replies given, there are as many variables as there are people. To generalize male & female aspects may not be so simple, especially when considering the adult point of view (approach) to this hobby.

    I agree with this.
    I think if we were talking about girls and boys, we would find some more commonalities with gender, but still differences. I think when we get to adults the reasons become even more diverse.

    I have read collector boards on several unrelated non-Lego items. (completely outside of the realm of building toys). I have seen similar. While the reasons for a child plays with an item are very similar, when we look at it from an adult level, there are usually a wide variation of reasons for adults. While one might be able to list the top 10 reasons , it becomes far harder to start separating it via gender.

    What draws me to Lego? I have 3 kids that enjoy it (one of those obsessed with it), and for either gender it is great toy for
    Visual-spatial skills
    Engineering skills

    Sets that personally draw me are those I can display.
  • UKtsumiUKtsumi Member Posts: 630
    No story telling here , just building and displaying.

  • beatlefan1966beatlefan1966 Member Posts: 31
    I am like theantiroxy in that building for me is very relaxing. I have a mathematical brain, so I like the order and balance of Lego, and I love to calculate how many Lego elements it would take to build something. I originally majored in engineering in college, so I think Lego appeals to my inner engineer. I decided to become a teacher, and Lego is a great way to bond with my elementary students!! I also love to organize. I bought 100 pounds of Lego from a friend of my husband's in March, and I am obsessed with getting it much so that I've hardly built anything since I bought it!
  • MandarineMandarine Member Posts: 31
    Well, for me it is about miniature worlds and creativity. I've always been fascinated with minis of all descriptions. As kids, my brother and I used to create these whole imaginary worlds and dioramas full of handmade settings, details and accessories, and then play with various toys in these settings for hours and hours - whether they were my Barbies or my brother's Masters of the Universe characters... We weren't that into LEGO interestingly, given we were both very creative and still are.

    As adults, we've both inherited our father's collecting gene, and as a family, we still have a very well-developed sense of fun and play. I've been collecting various vintage toys for years and years and so has my brother... Couple that with my family's love of all things Star Wars and Super Heroes (I was born in 74 and my brother in 77) and having two sons reaching LEGO age, and well, basically, it was only a matter of time till I got hooked!

    It started with my eldest having his "Star Wars initiation" as my brother and brother-in-law called it. They're both ridiculous Star Wars geeks, so it was a big deal to them to introduce my son to the whole saga... I went looking for something to feed his interest and stumbled across pictures of the 10188 Death Star. It was love at first sight! (For me, that is!) I just had to have it. Mini+Star Wars+collectibility. Sigh.

    Since then, I've gotten a ridiculous amount of SW sets stashed away, (for him or me???) and picked up a fair few of the Super Heroes sets too. I'm biased towards the playsets, as I obviously love the diorama aspect and I love playing with them with my boys. They're more into the Super Heroes line at the moment, so that's what they're getting to open and enjoy right now.

    So, for me, collecting LEGO is an extension of my other obsessions - including actual investment in certain toys and miniature worlds, and my desire to give my kids something we'll both enjoy together. I admit that I'm a total maniac when it comes to losing pieces and watching them when they play with the sets, so the Death Star may never actually be theirs... Might end up as mummy's, and "you can play with it under strict supervision"... LOL!

    Don't know if that helped, but it does go to illustrate that we're all different!

  • AFFOL_Shellz_BellzAFFOL_Shellz_Bellz Member Posts: 1,263
    Lego to me is a 3-D puzzle and I've loved puzzles for as long as I can remember! The bigger the set the more entranced I am by it, just as with puzzles I never wanted the 500 pc puzzle but preferred 1,000 pcs or larger. My eyesight doesn't allow me to enjoy puzzles any longer but I don't have a problem with Lego, save for the occasional instruction using dark colors. I rely on my Ott Lite and a magnifying glass on those occasions. It also helps with the arthritis in my hands, and it helps my husband continue to use his left hand which is affected by Parkinson's. Thursday I will be having surgery on my right hand which will limit my building for a few weeks!
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