Tag Archives: Legos

First Lego

My daughter received a fire station Lego kit for her birthday. It is a small kit that has directions for building a fire truck, a rescue helicopter, the idea of a station, a training structure, and a few assorted accessories to these models. The complexity of the set is just right to push my daughter to see how to build using directions. We worked on a few of them together at the beginning of her quiet time on Monday, and she then worked on a few others on her own. She needed a bit of help putting some of the smaller pieces together, but it is clear she is learning how to do it herself. I am extremely happy with this development because Legos were one of my favorite toys growing up. With the puzzles, Legos, doll house, soccer, baseball, and other toys she is now enjoying, I am entering the zone of play that I have been waiting for.

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Filed under activities

Toy of the Year, Says Who?

A friend posted this link to ABC”s slideshow of the Toy of the Year award winner. I then searched and found the Toy Industry Association’s news release for the event. Incredibly, the winner this year in two different categories is the toy that I featured over a year ago and then a second time in this blog. Lego introduced a pinked up version of their product aimed at girls, and it was a commercial success. This led it to gain accolades in the toy making industry. I moseyed over to the Lego website to see how the Lego Friends are doing. They have their own website. I am not sure how these mini-skirted, stereotyped bits of plastic fit the bill for an “outstanding toy developed for girls of any age, the Girl Toy of the Year” or an “outstanding toy that inspires creative play through various forms of activity, the Activity Toy of the Year”. I think they actually inhibit creative play by having all girls depicted in similar clothes with similar accessories. They have even skinnyified the arms and legs of the people. At least original Lego people, while very lacking in female characters, did not add the burden of eating disorders to the mix. Take a look through the available sets. It appears that girls can bake, take care of animals, play soccer (thank goodness for that) and karate, drive cars and boats, and relax in the sun. They do all of this with a splash of pink in every set. No science for you, Lego Friends! No exploration for you, Lego Friends! No plumbing, no carpentry, no building (ironic in a Lego set, no?) for you. No place in my house for you, Lego Friends.

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Filed under Stereotypes, Toys

Change is Slow, Perhaps Not At All

Near the beginning of this blog, I posted about the new Legos that have been created to draw the attention of girls. I have issues with this change for several reasons. The inclusion of pink, of cute, and of increasingly gendered Lego figure bodies sends the message that girls can only enjoy toys if they have these features. It also tells boys which pieces to stay away from in order to fit their gender roles. Instead of going down the easy path of pink, Lego could have made a commitment to evaluating its figurines on gender, role, race, disability, and many other aspects that often show bias in toys and then marketing a balanced group of toys with simple bodies. They could be leaders in the charge to encourage all children to enjoy creative toys in which they would find themselves represented but the rest of the blocks would be available to all. This also includes backing off the violent, over-macho pieces, too. Unsurprisingly, they did not do this, but their choice to further add gender characteristics to the pieces unleashed quite a bit of backlash.

Now Lego is meeting with “Feminist Parents” as a result of this uproar. I don’t know why the parents need to be feminist to object to limiting the roles and physical characteristic options available to their children, boys and girls. It is not surprising that market research shows girls like pink and curvy toys that encourage them to think about their looks. Enough money has been dumped into making them want those things that it would be surprising if they did not show those biases in research. It is a circular system that is only increasing in its intensity. I look forward to the day when a mass market toy company bucks the trend in a big way. Unfortunately there will be nowhere in the stores to put their product if it is not clearly gendered. There are no aisles left for toys for anyone.

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Filed under Stereotypes, Toys