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I'm definitely going to be buying loads of the Friends theme. But although I think the mini-dolls are pretty cute and will appeal to their target audience, I have to say I prefer a minifig behind the wheel of the convertible...
Now, if only you could offer some insight as to why these aren't available at the Brand Retail Stores before christmas. I know the reason they aren't available elsewhere - shelf space in the "girl" aisles. But I wish I could get these at a brand store. Oh well.
My opinion so far is that Friends will do well, it has the things that will make a girl friendly line work. If the new 'fig works for AFOL's or not isn't the point to me, introducing sets that designed to attract the target girl audience is, there is a mismatch between the new 'fig size and minifig's but it's not huge, it's not a insurmountable difference given some imagination.
Secondly no online support was a big mistake. They should have included a unique code in each set to take online. Build a lego house, interact, trade items etc. Look at the success of Moshi Monsters, Webkinz, Club Penguin etc. They then could have sold smaller booster sets with codes to unlock unique items. Boys are happy with playsets, girls like to interact and expand.
No doubt parents who by lego for their boys will try these out on the girls this shopping season. I don't see girls going for these voluntarily however. These might have done well 20 years ago.....not in todays market. Ironically a theme based on the TV show Friends probably would have done better than these Barbie stand-ins.
Time will tell on the success - but I suspect if this won't work, then not sure that anything will. figure that compares to other girl-oriented toys, sets desigened in system scale with standard pieces, placement on girl toy aisles, mini moves, web tie-ins, massive marketing campaign. Not sure what else they can do.
With me being a 40+ year old male I'm obviously not the target audience; I don't like the girly figs or the new colours. Still I hope that the theme will be a success as that can only be good for all of us in the long run. Going by comments from my wife, daughter and niece Lego have got it right with the figures and the colours.
My worry is the price. I think the sets are way too expensive.
Look at Friends set 3183, the Cool convertible, and compare that to City set 7639, the camper. Both cost €17,99 on shop at home. The Friends set has 130 pieces including one minifig, the City set has 165 pieces including two minifigs.
Olivia's workshop cost me €12,99 though the Shop at Home price is €11,99. The set contains 81 pieces, mostly simple bricks and plates. For €12,99 you could also buy City 7942, a fire truck with trailer consisting of 130 pieces. In Creator €12,99 will get you the 149 piece helicopter set 5866. For only €9,99 you can buy the 144 piece basic castle set 5929. The only sets with a worse price per piece ratio than Olivia are licensed sets with multiple minifigs like the Star Wars battle packs.
I think a set like Olivia's workshop should not cost more than €10 to make it attractive, keeping in mind that the prospective buyers of these sets are parents of girls who at the moment don't play with Lego...
This blog is run by a woman, who asked for my help in gathering some history on LEGO sets that pertain mainly for girls, and I was glad to give her a lot of documentation and images that I had to help make her counterpoint on the topic.
For me, this has nothing to do with "girl LEGO"... but at spreading misinformation about the product we love, and the company that we like.... ;-)
1) Pink. Look at the sets, pink is hardly dominant and over-represented
2) simplified building. This is simply false. These sets use exactly the same building style as City
3) Female role stereotypes. Ok, we have a vet, a musician, a scientist, a social girl, and a fashion designer. Seems pretty wide-ranging to me.
4) Incompatibility with other LEGO sets. simply untrue. all standard blocks, done in system scale
5) over-abundance of accessories at the expense of building. There are definitely more accessories than other sets - not a TON more, but slightly more. Newsflash - most girls (heck most of us guys too!) WANT more accessories
6) mini-skirts and bodies. I guess they can win this one. The girls mostly do wear skirts and dresses, although one of the five of them ONLY wears pants, and another one is seen in pants in one of her outfits.
Judging from her reaction, it is going to be a hit.
No on to the convertible and the cafe!
Olivia's House 69.99 for 695 pieces
Heartlake Vet 39.99 for 343 pieces
City Park Cafe 29.99 for 222 pieces
Beauty Shop 24.99 for 221 pieces
Tree House 19.99 for 191 pieces
Convertible 14.99 for 130 pieces
5 other sets are all 9.99 and range from 64 to 87 pieces
Alien conquest? Star Wars? Ninjago?
Harry Potter and City are the closest they have to gender neutral sets and they seem to be end of lining the one. City has almost no interest for my girls because it is so vehicle oriented, and because they don't have nearly enough girl characters.
My issue with Friends is not about Friends, but the fact that Lego is still not getting it. What they have now done, especially if these sets are not even stocked by normal Legos, is that they have now created the concept that these sets are for girls, which creates the mentality of the other sets are for boys.
In addition, they have done nothing to create lines for 2012 that are girl friendly, and then at local retail stores made a bigger gap to jump to any other Lego sets by separating them. If Friends is supposed to be line that pulls girls in, then what on earth keeps them in?
My girls love Legos, especially large sets. The only lines they have found in the past that interest them are Harry Potter and the winter sets, because they have gender neutral stories, have tons of accessories, and girl characters. Looking at the 2012 sets, they don't have anything else that fits that.
Instead of resolving the issue by creating a product that isn't inherently targeted to just boy, they went the opposite direction and made a product that was targeted to just girls. I very much hate how toy companies do this. So many girl items out there are girl colors. Why does Little Petshop have to be inherently targeted to girls? My son likes animals. Why do Barbie campers have to be pink? My son would have loved camper. Why are Lego building sets specifically geared to boys, when girls like to build? Why does Lego have to make a cool vetshop that is done in 'girl colors', and have only girl figures? My son would have enjoyed playing with that. Everything in the toy industry is so focused on girl or boy, as opposed to simply focusing on cool toys that any kid would love. Of course, while this aspect really annoys me, it doeesn't mean that this wasn't the better business decision by making the girl/boy split.
I do think the line will be successful, but Lego really could have led the way with this. They still could have girls and boys in the sets, and had fun colors that appealed to both genders, and still had all the cool small details, and not gone for stereotypical items like a beauty shop or specific girl colors in every single set.
I think what Lego has done right with the new Friends line is
A) Create the new girl figs.
B) Insure the line had a ton of accessories to pretend with
C) Market it by personality. The whole concept of which girl are you like, will be a huge draw.
Where Lego messed up is by still not creating any relatively gender neutral line that would appeal to girls once they draw them in, and that wouod still appeal to boys. As a parent, the girl Lego and boy Lego concept really annoys me to no end, but it has proven successful in the toy industry. I just wish the toy industry would stop the nonsense of genderizing toys.
That was a very well thought out post. While I don't disagree with your thoughts, I think it may be asking too much of LEGO for them to "take one for the (toy manufacturers) team" in this regard. My guess is the reason that so many toys are skewed toward one gender or another is because of sales. I'm sure any toy company would love to instantly double their potential customer base, but they are finding that a difficult nut to crack.
As far as LEGO goes, I believe they had the farm lineup in City a year or so ago, which was as gender neutral and non-conflict based as it comes. Judging by the heavy discounting that went on with most of the sets, it must not have sold extremely well. When given the choice, my guess is most (not all) boys would pick up a Star Wars, Kingdoms, or Ninja set over a tractor and some pigs. And of course most girls aren't looking at LEGO at all, so there's that problem, which is what they are trying to solve with Friends.
Hopefully the goal is to first reel some girls in with Friends - given the 20+ sets in the theme this year, they are likely banking on girls taking quite a while to build out their collection in that theme. Once they have them interested, then they can perhaps roll-out some non-Friends sets that would have crossover appeal. Or maybe they won't - maybe this new demographic of customer will just continue to want more Friends. Who knows.
I think "Farm" may be the wrong comparison, though. Certain lines are simply not successful. Knowing my kids, I don't think any of them would have been interested in a farm line. I think it just didn't necessarily appeal to boys or girls.
They definitely need to find a way to 'hook' and I do think they have. They just need a way to maintain. My concern is that they aren't considering that, and they see this line as 'the main item for girls'. Time will tell with their approach, and maybe the focus this year is just to hook. At the moment with the 2012 line-up, there just isn't much else that is general enough that my girls would enjoy. (Here is hoping for 2013. :-). )
It just seems that from a sheer business perspective it would have made sense to have had one line this year that would have been a bit more generic, to capture any spillover interest if they manage to capture the girl market.
Of course, I am coming at this as somebody with girls that did the Wnter Toyshop at 5 and Diagon Alley at 6. I need more variation out there for girls. :-)
Creator is pretty gender-neutral as well. right now you can get the log cabin, lighthouse, apple tree house, and the hillside house.
But I personally think its about time TLG has decided and came out with the Friends theme. I have a very small customer base in my country BUT every few days someone new comes up to me to ask me 'Don't you have anything our girls could play with, as LEGO is so productive and creative and what not' So, LEGO Friends will easily satisfy people. I know a lot of people still buy the Belville theme so Friends will be a big seller :)
I'll try to chime in with my 2-cents worth, although I don't think it will be as well thought out or written as some others.
To start with, I certainly hope that Friends is a hit. From the sounds of things, it certainly should be.
In regards to the gender basing of themes, that is an unfortunate & I think unavoidable result of today's society in general. In the business sense, if the competition is doing it, you better do it too. Friends is just taking off, so there is no telling where it may lead. Perhaps, if it is a hit with the girls, LEGO might expand the Friends Universe with a bigger color pallette and inntroduce some stuff for boys too.
I think the CITY theme could be the perfect gender neutral theme if LEGO would back-off on all the police and fire sets, and instead make more civilian sets. There is plenty of online talk of what CITY could be...
As a side note, something I've noticed almost every time I've visited a LEGO store... everytime I go it looks like the girls outnumber the boys at the minifig building station. From my brief observations it looks like the girls enjoy creating minifigs more than the boys do. I don't know if this is truely the case, but I'm sure LEGO is keeping a watch on this sort of activity also.
All-in-all, I think LEGO is a great product for both boys and girls, and it is as much up to the parents to help break the gender gap as it is to the toy makers. Much of what our children learn comes from society and parents directly, and indirectly (subliminal). To really change things we must start at home.
I read a lot of posts from people who want Lego to make "gender neutral" sets... I read that to mean sets that really no one gets excited over. Why does City have so much police and fire sets? Because that is what boys WANT of course. City Farm sets don't sell, City Police sets do, it is as simple as that.
Girls and boys are not the same, and trying to make them so doesn't work. I have both and I can tell you from my sample size of three, you will not make a boy out of my little girl and you won't make a girl out of my sons. They are boys and girls, my sons like to crash and smash stuff, my girl likes to play nicely and they get into fights when they try to combine these play styles.
My little girl makes up stores about all her Duplo figures, my son likes to tear apart his minifigs and create death scenes of destruction.
That is just how it is...
And grabbed some leftover Freeing Dobbys.
And personally I loved it too. The colours are a bit off for a city set, but the new flowers and ladybirds (plus the bird in this set) are adorable. Can't wait for some discounts so I can get more.
It was interesting to watch.
Gender neutral does not equate to boring to me. I consider Harry Potter to be a neutral set. It appeals to boys and girls. I do not consider that boring. Some of the suggestions that people have mentioned recently such as Phineus and Ferb or Buffy, could easily appeal to both genders, and I find neither one of those lines boring.
I can emphatically say that my boy absolutely does not want police or fire, and has no interest in police or fire and never has. He considers that to be boring.
Boys and girls can play differently, but I think saying that is just how it is, is not necessarily valid. My son is definitely not about crash and smash, and is beyond distraught when his models break. (think, 'child has broken a limb' distraught). My son is all about the build, but then it is ALL about the imaginary play and stories. Sure, the stories sometimes include bad guys that are shooting, but he really enjoys all the little mechanisms that Lego puts into their sets, and enjoys the small bits and pieces. For him, his favorite lines have been Power Miners (rock monsters are the good guys), Atlantis (sea creatures are the good guys), and Alien Conquest (aliens are the good guys).
When I talk about gender neutral lines, I refer to
A) incorporating more than the token female character
B) a line that appeals to boys and girls (farm to me just does not appeal to either)
C) incorporating sets that are not all about fighting or vehicles
I am not suggesting to get rid of lines that appeal and try to calture the boy market. Not all lines need to be gender neutral, but with two girls, I want options of anything besides just Friends.
Lord of the Rings is an amazing story and can have appeal to boys and girls. It was my favorite story that I read in grade school and for many years. My older daughter is at a point she could read it. I considered having her read it with the new LOTR Lego sets coming out, but at this point I am not.
Is there a single female in the sets that are going to be released?? From everything I have seen or read, I am disappointed with the answer to this question.
Look at the names of the sets. There is a very common theme.
How amazing would it be to see a set with Galadriel and the home of the elves. Lego could have easily made a set that did not focus just on conflict and a set that could have appealed to both genders.
This is what I mean by lines that appeal to both genders. Within a line you can have sets that are more than just fighting, and you can include female characters.
My younger daughter has to build until it is complete. We have had issues pulling her away from a build. My older daughter is as you describe. She HAS to put those minifigs together first, and then she wants to start playing. She slowly will build, but then will want to play.
My son does the build first, but isn't quite as obsessive as my younger daughter during the build process.
I do suspect that it would be more typical to see what you describe, though. I suspect many girls have not been introduced to Lego before, and recently witnessed a mom tell a girl who wanted to look at Ninjago, that it was a toy for boys. :-( That was sad to see, and if my girls had interest in Ninjas, I would fully support that interest.
I suspect this is truly where this line will excel, and reaching a customer base (and parent base) that may have been unwilling to buy Legos for girls.
My daughter was big into Lego about a year ago, and that is what brought me out of my dark ages.
On getting the Lego magazine and her seein the friends sets, she seems to be back liking Lego, she wants all the friends sets.
She has some TRU vouchers to spend and indicates she is getting 2 friends sets and has already selected which ones.
One point may be the figures have been given names and one of them is her best friends name and one is hers.
Shall report back if it has got her back into Lego and building.
Sets are clearly and purposefully heavy on complete interiors with lots of extra detail and accessories. There is no shortage of bows, purses, radios, hair brushes, dishes, food, etc. There are also three new flower molds which come in several colors. They fit on the old style 3-prong stems: roses, daisies, and maybe a lily or violet or something (I'm no expert. ;-))
the house is modular in design, and can be configured in multiple ways. There are clever building techniques and details throughout - the shower for one.
While all the sets are quite good, for me, the Cafe is a cut above and would be the best of the bunch, followed by the tree house. Of the five $10 sets, the workshop and design studio stand out, though the brick-built piano from the stage set must be mentioned. the outdoor bakery is a gem at just $6.
For those not into the new minidolls (they are a huge hit with my two girls), all sets can easily be used for standard minifigs. Building are 7 bricks high, with furniture all being same height/size as those used in City sets. You may want to make some minor alterations to the car or ATV to fit minifigs differently, though it isn't completely necessary - they will work as-is.
Lots of bright pastel colors throughout. My only beef is the colors are quite often not realistic for what they are representing. I feel they could have used more standard colors to make the base wall/street/floors, etc, and still had plenty of room to fill in an abundant amount of bright colors around this. Ultimately, that is what will make these the hardest to blend into a standard town, as the scale size is completely compliant. But that's a minor quibble for me, and one my girls didn't seem to complain about.
Well My daughter purchased 2 friends sets on New Years Day and has not stopped playing with them, in fact has started modifying them like she used to do with other sets before seeming to stop playing with Lego.
She only had enough money on her gift card to buy the 2 cheapest sets. Emmas splash pool and stephanie's bakery.
So for my household a HIT.
The mini dolls are not that bad in the flesh, the new hair is great on normal minifigs, and is more plyable, than the standard hair. It is not rubber, but certainly has a rubber content.
In fact after mentioning to my daughter that the hair is the only item inter-changeable with regular minifigs, she had great fun swapping hair, hats etc. Some great results, wish I had taken some pictures. The standard hair on a friends doll does not look out of place in fact in some cases really good results can be had.
More sets on the way, I suspect.
I love these sets. CREEPER ALERT! But seriously, I just think they're very well-done and I can't imagine these being anything other than a huge hit. The premise of Heartlake City and all of the detail they went into marketing this playland for girls is very impressive.
I'm not sure that I'll ever own any, but I have to admit it's tempting to get my hands on one of the sets just for kicks. I just saw the full line of sets at Target and they're better than I thought they would be.
Also, unless stores got very little stock, these things are flying off shelves like crazy. My Target was wiped out sans some of the $10 sets and I noticed lots of people buying them at Toys R Us and The LEGO Store.
And she absolutely went insane for LEGO Friends - first when she saw the insert in the January 2012 catalog, and then when we saw them in person at Toys R Us last night. She had a $25 gift card to spend and ended up getting Stephanie's Outdoor Bakery, Emma's Design Studio and Olivia's Invention Workshop. She wanted the convertible, but it was the only one out of the entire line that was priced above MSRP at that location, so I talked her out of it. Unlike other sets that I've built with her which we had to walk away from half-baked because she lost interest, she has built all three already completely on her own. Sure, they're relatively smaller sets, but some of the items are pretty complex - especially in Olivia's Workshop (that bench vice is just fantastically designed!)
I asked her last night if she felt it was necessary to design new figures and she essentially had the same views expressed in Nabii's post atop page two of this discussion (in 5 y/o speak) - and this is from a girl who already regularly plays with standard minifigures.
We've played many "conflict-driven" scenarios with our LEGO sets before, with the Pharaoh's Quest, Atlantis and Alien Conquest humans fighting the mummies, sea creatures and aliens, but then she said it was all just a big misunderstanding, and they all had a picnic because now they were friends - so even the name is spot on.
Of course, her favorite girl is Mia - why? Because that's the name of the main character in The Princess Diaries! I told her that these weren't princesses, though, just normal girls, and that the sets and accessories hinted at what they were interested in. She retorted that they were just toys and she could make up her own story that they were all princesses if she wanted to. Touché.
I loved that tale, thanks! You seem to have a daughter than anyone would be more than proud to call their own.
Sounds like your daughter is reacting to the sets exactly the way LEGO's research indicated. The rest of the lineup is really strong as well. In addition to the convertible, the $20 tree house is a truly excellent set. Add those two at some point and the Friends will have somewhere to hang out, and a vehicle to get them there. ;-)