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There is a new girl in town, a character perfectly designed by LEGO for little girls everywhere. From December 2011, LEGO introduced its new range to the market. This more fashion-conscious range was marked by pretty skirts, smiling princesses, and pinks and purples. It was launched on December 26 in the U.K. and on the first of January in the United States.
It goes by the name of “Lego Friends” and is designed to be the new “it” toy for girls older than five. LEGO used to be a toy range aimed almost exclusively at boys. There were girls who enjoyed playing with LEGO, but their focus on the LEGO generally did not last as long as boys’ focus on this entertainment. This was most likely due to the boyish nature of the “old” LEGO.
It had predominantly bright primary colors, a LEGO man who would seem a bit too square and unattractive for girls and LEGO sets designed along the lines of boys’ interests, such as LEGO® Star Wars or LEGO® Racers. The LEGO component for younger children under the age of five, LEGO DUPLO®, aimed a significant portion of its sets at girls.
One example of this is the LEGO DUPLO Pink Brick Box, rated by the public as being a five-brick play set (ratings varying from one brick, meaning bad, to five bricks, meaning very good). LEGO DUPLO even advertises this set as being “designed especially for young girls”. LEGO is now picking up on that trend, it seems.
This toy range introduces more conventionally feminine colors than those previously sported by LEGO. Pinks, purples, and softer, lighter shades of color are seen. The famous LEGO man has been replaced by LEGO girls with pretty dresses and long locks. Instead of the usual action range for boys, such as pirates or policemen LEGO, the range has a more fairytale feel to it.
Your typical LEGO set would be called something like “Olivia’s Tree House” or “Butterfly Beauty Shop”. A typical example of such a set is “Stephanie’s Cool Convertible”, which features a LEGO girl with long blonde hair, a purple car, and a dog with a perfect, pink bow on its head. In fact, these sets of LEGO for girls can remind one much of the themes on which toys such as Barbie and Polly Pocket are based.
The LEGO girl herself is designed to fit into girls’ tastes. There are five “friends” to choose from: Olivia, Stephanie, Mia, Emma, and Andrea, each with a different hair color and outfit. The LEGO girl can detach into four parts: the lower body, upper body, head, and hair. Girls can enjoy hours of play simply by mixing and matching hairstyles for LEGO girl.
She also has a range of pets, such as dogs, cats, birds, and even robots. Sets range from dollhouses to street cafes, tree houses, and beauty parlors. The difference between your usual toys for girls and LEGO Friends is that girls have to apply themselves to build the street cafes, castles, and sometimes even LEGO girls from small pieces of LEGO.
LEGO develops and improves the fine motor skills in young children by helping develop the smaller muscles in the body. The smaller muscles in the hand are important for activities such as writing, typing, and playing a musical instrument. LEGO also stimulates a child’s perception and manipulation of the three-dimensional world, as children build three-dimensional objects using LEGO pieces.
Through developing a child’s three-dimensional awareness and manipulation, skills such as geometry and three-dimensional mathematics are developed. A more obvious advantage of LEGO is that it stimulates a child’s creativity, as children have to design the LEGO into unique works of childhood art. LEGO’s traditional focus on boys caused them to have an upper hand in mathematics, for example. The new LEGO friends will hopefully engage girls into the world of LEGO, allowing them to share in the advantages it holds.
Bloomberg Businessweek had a LEGO girl on its front page. In its article, “LEGO is for girls“, it claims that the company launched a line of 23 different LEGO Friends products and spent up to forty million dollars in global marketing for the product. It further quotes the Lego Group Chief Executive Officer, Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, in saying: “This is the most significant strategic launch we’ve done in a decade.
We want to reach the other 50 percent of the world’s children.” Fans of LEGO have responded to this launch. The internet is swarming with reviews of various LEGO Friends sets, posted by overjoyed or concerned parents and fans. LEGO fans are still deciding whether they should be for or against this latest trend.
LEGO has launched a huge, new dimension to its toy range, and the world is taking notice. If LEGO Friends is successful, it should surely bring increased profits and popularity to the LEGO industry. Girls will be pleased to see this entertaining brand gear up to please them, and their parents will enjoy the educational benefits. Lego’s new relevance to girls is an important step in balancing its brand and the equality of the sexes.