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What the MiniFig?! Legos Build The Wrong Message For Girls

By Stephanie Cole

I speak from personal experience when I say that to be “media aware” is to open oneself up to the possibility of being infuriated every day. It’s actually a pretty invigorating experience, but I find that since I’m a pretty positive person, I cannot allow every sexist or sexualizing thing to seriously bother me. Otherwise, I would be in a constant state of mental and/or verbal ranting.

When some new piece of media does come up that royally pisses me off, it’s interesting to think about what exactly about it struck a nerve. In the case of the announcement of the new Lego Friends line, I’m pretty darn steamed. And I know exactly why. To summarize; Lego, which up until recently tended to rely on licensing from pre-existing franchises to furnish it’s more narrative oriented products, (Star Wars, Batman, and Harry Potter, to name a few), has recently embarked on a new direction for their toys. While they aren’t giving up on movie partnerships, they are looking to market more Lego exclusive characters and stories. As a part of this new direction, the brand has embarked on its greatest departure from its previous MO with Lego Friends, a product line for girls, or as Lego CEO Jorgan Vig Knudstorp puts it, “We want to reach the other 50% of the world’s population.” The new Lego figures look drastically different from the toy’s traditional “minifigs.” They are taller, skinnier and they have boobs. They will be marketed to girls five and up. Why? Because, referring to the blocky figure of old, the Lego executive VP of Marketing Mads Nipper said, “Let’s be honest; girls hate him.” Hmm…..I was unaware that the proper pronoun when referring to Princess Leia and Hermione Granger was “him.”

The whole thing really pisses me off for two pretty blatant reasons. First of all, there is the awkward Barbie-fication at work here. I was never a Legos kid, not because I wanted my figurines to have boobs, but because I didn’t like all the assembly required before I could start staging battles and cowboy adventures. Playmobile was more my speed. The only appeal I can personally see in Legos is the hilarious, boxy figures of its characters. They all look the same, with their only curves bizarrely situated below their pelvises. Sure, the minfigs are weird looking, but that’s the point. To beautify them is completely anathema to the Lego brand.

And who is to say girls hate them? I’m guessing Lego arrived at that conclusion after some focus group fun. Which brings me to my next point of anger. Marketers and ad execs and Hollywood and just about everyone else in the media are so busy insisting that women and girls, 50% as Lego puts it, are not interested in what they are selling unless it is pink or cute or a romantic comedy or on Lifetime. But they say this even as they refuse to market their products to the women and girls they are so certain will not like them! Who populates commercials for Legos? Boys! Where in the toy store can you find them? “The boy’s aisle.” So no wonder girls won’t buy your products!

Having been in the education field throughout my college and post-grad life, I can speak from personal experience and assure you, Lego, that girls do like minifigs. They also like Star Wars and Harry Potter, and they like being creative and making up stories that involve adventures and good and evil and things blowing up. But if you keep on excluding them from your marketing vision, soon they will start to believe that they would rather have hot tubs and little plastic boobs. If your research is correct, many of them already have. And if that happens, some girls might miss out on all the fantastic, adventurous imaginative play that only comes around once a childhood. The part of me that still fondly remembers epic Lego vs. Playmobile battles with my sister and cousin, is pretty royally pissed off.

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7 Responses to “What the MiniFig?! Legos Build The Wrong Message For Girls”

  1. [...] Stephanie’s post on how Lego has sold girls out by selling them pink, traditionally girly, stereotyped toys, I ended [...]

  2. High Schooler says:

    I personally love the blocky figs, because they are blocky, because they remind me of being 4 and playing, making a helicopter and then a heart then a plane then a house… And then just messing around. We already have Polly Pockets, Holly Hobby and so many others for the small curvy plastic doll market. I want rainbow Legos, not pink, not black, all colors! I felt embarrassed asking for the ninja sets and such since they were all ten blocks and a trillion swords. Bring back pieces, not add pink!

  3. [...] Spark Summit Marketers and ad execs and Hollywood and just about everyone else in the media are so busy insisting that women and girls, 50% as Lego puts it, are not interested in what they are selling unless it is pink or cute or a romantic comedy or on Lifetime. But they say this even as they refuse to market their products to the women and girls they are so certain will not like them! Who populates commercials for Legos? Boys! Where in the toy store can you find them? “The boy’s aisle.” So no wonder girls won’t buy your products! [...]

  4. anonymous says:

    Firstly , I disagree with most your comments.
    They brought the lego friends out to the remaining people who didn’t like the figures with no beauty or personality. If girls liked the other figures they would have bought them anyway. They got lego friends for girls who like dolls and fashion. And its not legos fault where their products are put , boys or girls aisle. Ive seen many girls buying lego and many buying friends so have your say , but I think youre having a moody day if this struck your nerve.

  5. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    And who is to say girls hate them? I’m guessing Lego arrived at that conclusion after some focus group fun. Which brings me to my next point of anger. Marketers and ad execs and Hollywood and just about everyone else in the media are so busy insisting that women and girls, 50% as Lego puts it, are not interested in what they are selling unless it is pink or cute or a romantic comedy or on Lifetime.

    You saw the same thing with My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Just ask any Brony about “Pink Celestia.” It took two YEARS of Brony pressure before Hasbro came out with a show-accurate coloration for the ponies’ ruler and god-figure Princess Celestia — WHITE, not Pink. For over a year Hasbro’s response was to cite focus groups that “All our Focus Groups show Little Girls Like Pink — Celestia Stays Pink!”

    While figurine customizers plugged themselves as “Whitening pink Celestias since 2010!” and one Brony who worked at Toys-R-Us wrote “I’d like to drag some of these Hasbro suits down to where I work and have THEM answer all the little girls asking “Why is Celestia Pink? She’s supposed to be white!”

  6. [...] and the new, Barbie-fied LEGO Friends figures, and we didn’t like what we saw. So we wrote about it, talked to LEGO about it, and started our own Change.org campaign that got over 60,000 signatures. [...]

  7. [...] in the right place. Here, there be Barbies and other dolls, stuffed animals, toy kitchens and the pink “girl versions” of primarily boys’ toys like LEGO. If that’s what you’re looking for, the Pink Aisle is really helpful – but [...]

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