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Why LEGO Is Considered "Gender-Specific"

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Why LEGO Is Considered "Gender-Specific"

Postby Lamanda2 » Thu Jun 26, 2008 1:35 am

Well, this stems off from an off-topic discussion in Kairyai's "Hi!!!" Topic(Page two, I think)

What I am wondering, is why LEGO seems to come off to many as a "Gender Specific" toy?

I know their target audience is with younger boys, around the age of ten, but I don't quite see a reason myself for some to label the toy this way.

So, what are your thoughts?
Do you think it could be a wise move for LEGO to try out a theme/line set for the young female audience (Or perhaps due to possible unsuccess with the earlier "Paradisa" (Think I spelled that right) line, they don't want to march forward in thois direction?)?

I particularly like the idea Peppermint Pig had discussed, about a LEGO doll house line. I think something like that would be quite appealing to young girls, while providing room for some possible new accessories (Or more use of certain design elements), and of course some new female minifigs.


In "Hi!!!" Munchy Wrote:
"I guess I'm the oddball then. My bundle of pink joy gets both the LEGO's and stuff from the "aisle of infinite pinkness". She was regularly stealing her brothers Speed Racer cars until I bought a set for her."

Now that's the way it should be! Personally, I feel that if a kid has an interest in a certain toy there should be no reason to shun them away from it (Unless it's unsafe or something like that. You know, reasonable explanations.), if they like it, and enjoy playing with it, that is excellent!

LEGO, as we all know, is a wonderful toy for kids to play with; keeps them active, and is great for their creativity. :)

I guess some (But certainly not all) might think that if their little girl plays with things like army men and toy cars, or their little boy plays with dolls, that it'll mess with them or something. But meh.. I don't really think the kids are even thinking about anything else other than how fun that specific toy is.

Thanks.

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Postby Bruce N H » Thu Jun 26, 2008 2:24 am

Hey,

I think there are a few factors at play here.
-So many themes are 'conflict' driven, rather than 'story' driven. In the Western theme, for instance, we got all kinds of guns and explosions but no family of homesteaders with a covered wagon. Of course we've all lamented the lack of civilian sets in the Castle theme. In Town we get about ten police and fire stations for every house.
-Total neglect of female figs. The forest babe, pirate babe, ninja princess, various princesses are so valued because of their scarcity. In Star Wars we got tons of Luke, but only a few Leias, and those mostly in the most expensive sets (and the most accessible was in the slave outfit, which wouldn't be the first I would run out to buy for my daughter). Even Harry Potter suffered from this, even though the books seemed equally popular with girls as boys. I didn't get a ton of the HP sets, but I've got a stack of Harry and Ron figs but only two Hermiones, no Ginny, and one McGonnagal (and at least three Dumbledores).
-I think it is a huge mistake that the (IMO overly) 'girly' theme, Belville, isn't fig scale. This makes it that much harder for those girls who do get into these to transition to other themes. Also, I never see Belville sets on the shelves of Target etc, so it seems that LEGO isn't doing enough to push this to distributors.

Solutions:
-more girl figs
-more non-conflict sets - more homes, businesses, things like a circus or zoo theme
-reinstatement of Paradisa as a fig-scale girl-centric theme
-I'd love to see fairy tales as a castle sub-theme. We could get good castly settings but also perennial favorites of younger girls like Cinderella. This could be a Disney tie-in or not.

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Postby castlebuilder100 » Thu Jun 26, 2008 2:30 am

Bruce N H wrote:Solutions:
-more girl figs
-more non-conflict sets - more homes, businesses, things like a circus or zoo theme
-reinstatement of Paradisa as a fig-scale girl-centric theme
-I'd love to see fairy tales as a castle sub-theme. We could get good castly settings but also perennial favorites of younger girls like Cinderella. This could be a Disney tie-in or not.


I totally agree with this. I really want to see some civilian castle sets.
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Postby Shadowviking » Thu Jun 26, 2008 3:34 am

Bruce N H wrote:Hey,

<massive snip>

Bruce


But that's just catering towards more "Infinite Aisles of Pinkness". :P
Not that those aren't good ideas, it's just that I would appreciate a covered wagon just as much as a saloon gunfight (I'm a guy BTW). I think it's unfair that that's what's considered a "girl set", when in fact the only thing that makes it such is preconceived notions.

My two cents.
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Postby Remyth » Thu Jun 26, 2008 3:46 am

Shadowviking wrote:I think it's unfair that that's what's considered a "girl set", when in fact the only thing that makes it such is preconceived notions.


I think that what Bruce meant was that girls tend to (but do not always) like the civilian-style themes than the "conflict driven" themes. I, too, appreciate the civilian sets (and last time I checked I was a guy). This is not true for everyone, and can even be seen as stereotypical, but is general more-or-less true.


I would concur with almost everything that Bruce said. I don't think LEGO needs to make a theme just for girls, but rather a theme that both boys and girls enjoy equally. When I was a little tike and saw the pink-and-purple sets, I shied away from them automatically. I would, of course, now look for useful pieces in those sets first, but not then. I remember always needing more female heads for figs when I was just playing. You need somebody to be your damsel in distress, right?

Anyway, those are my thoughts on the topic. I agree with Bruce's solutions, and would love to see LEGO making a move to cater to their female fans, just as they have with the younger boys and AFOLs in general.

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Postby Bruce N H » Thu Jun 26, 2008 4:08 am

Hey Shadowviking,

You make a good point. I have two trains of thought in there and didn't distinguish between them very well at all. I want both a better foray into the aisle of infinite pinkness (eg a Cinderella set) and more gender neutral sets in the established themes (eg covered wagon or circus sets).

I know this is a dead horse as the Western theme is defunct, but I always thought they missed the boat in not having a third year with more civilian stuff. Think anything you saw on the Little House on the Prarie tv show--farm, covered wagon, one room school, general store (I know, there was one in Gold City Junction), stagecoach, gold prospector, cattle drive (ok, I don't remember any cattle drive on that show), train station, etc. Now LHotP was seen as more girl-oriented mainly due to the central figure of Laura, but it was overall pretty family centric, and certainly any of those set ideas is gender neutral.

I should note that there are very strong gender neutral offerings from LEGO, notably the Creator line and the Cafe Corner line. This last, though is priced more to the adult who is well established in the hobby rather than trying to get kids into the hobby.

Question- Has there been a licensed theme with a female lead?
-edit- I should have said 'System theme' - I had forgotten about the Dora the Explorer Duplo sets.
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Postby wobnam » Thu Jun 26, 2008 4:20 am

Ah. I'll ramble a bit on this one, as it's somewhat in my field.

In my experience, lego is definitely considered a male toy, but not exclusively. It is far more "accepted" for girls to play with lego than with military action figures, or it is for boys to play with dolls.

I think this view is pretty realistic. Lego is more popular among boys than girls. The obvious question, of course, is why.

First of all; there are some basic differences (biological or not) between genders that affect toy choices and preferences at very early ages. I think we have to accept that lego being a male-dominated toy is not something we or the LEGO company alone can change.

I do, however, think there are ways and reasons to create better balance between genders.

I might be wrong, but I have an impression lego intended for younger children is considered more gender neutral. I see two reasons for this: the first is that using basic bricks as simple building blocks is more common at early age, and the second is that the Duplo line has a lot more gender neutral and even feminine sets than "regular" lego. This would support the view that while the lego brick is genderless (or at least more gender neutral), lego sets are not. Bruce already mentioned it; many sets and themes (luckily, there are exceptions), are focused on conflict and action. In some themes this is natural, but in others it's simply a choice by LEGO. City is in my opinion the best example of a theme with great potential for sets with different gender connotations, but currently dominated by male ones.

Lego is a palette for creating anything you can imagine. Official sets should be a variety of examples to get you started. It's probably safe to assume that sets with the action/conflict-focus do better in the market. However, by limiting sets to certain values or functionality, I think LEGO might create a negative spiral for themselves; the long term effects of a narrower appeal could be disastrous.

So.. what should they do?

Focus on including, not dividing. I don't mind a "girl theme", but it has to be as compatible with other themes as possible. A line of dolls that happen to live among some lego bricks could almost be considered counterproductive. More than a girl theme though, of course, like everyone else I'd like to see more sets in existing themes (especially City) that doesn't have the conflict/action focus. More gender-neutral themes would also be nice - Bruce's fairy tales sounds like a good idea, if done correctly.

But wait, there's more. LEGO has to actively and in many different ways work with their image so that the public will see them and their products as suitable for girls as well as boys. This is extremely important because bottom line, parents play a significant role in their children's toy choices.
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Postby Peppermint Pig » Thu Jun 26, 2008 5:15 am

-I think it is a huge mistake that the (IMO overly) 'girly' theme, Belville, isn't fig scale. This makes it that much harder for those girls who do get into these to transition to other themes. Also, I never see Belville sets on the shelves of Target etc, so it seems that LEGO isn't doing enough to push this to distributors.


Exactly.

Also, I would hate to tell Lego to make a cool/hip product, because they would probably blow that out of proportion and give us some stereotyped teen 'fashion model' thing, and that's not my point at all.

A checklist:

1. Price parity. By being in minifig scale, comparable prices with other minifig scale themes is expected. To ignore this is to fail.

2. At least some of the sets need to use a somewhat 'girly' colored packaging to attract buyers that have been neglected over the length of time that any female oriented Lego sets have not been stocked by the stores.

That said, this should be a line with mass appeal, so boxes could be Red, red/yellow, purple, bright green, bright green/sky blue, yellow/bright green, or orange/purple.

3. Fix the ratio. A 13 to 6 female to male minifig ratio to make up for the situation. They don't have to all be pink either!

4. Design with non-violence and gender-neutrality in mind. Set part colors need not be 'girly'.

4. Not monotonous. Monotonous would be an entire fire/police theme that always comes out with similar vehicles EVERY YEAR.

5. Do not discount 'sophistication' in the sets, though most sets will need to be far simpler to build than, say, a Corner Cafe, while echoing some of its finer points.

6. Just because it's not a violent theme does not mean it needs to be a prosaic and monotonous civilian line:

I think that what Bruce meant was that girls tend to (but do not always) like the civilian-style themes than the "conflict driven" themes. I, too, appreciate the civilian sets (and last time I checked I was a guy). This is not true for everyone, and can even be seen as stereotypical, but is general more-or-less true.


There is a third way: Take the best of pop culture while avoiding the shallow. Maybe that would not be normally defined as 'civilian', but Lego should redefine how it approaches civil type sets. Why can't there be a cool set that doesn't reduce itself to an 'EXTREME!!!' cliche?? Take a note from the generation growing up with games like The Sims and build a world of choices. Theme can bounce between 'more female oriented' and 'more male oriented', and it would be FINE.



Sets that Pep demands!!! :evil: :roll: :lol:

A 50s themed diner car. A row of stools. A brick built juke box! A selection of Parfait/desserts: Ice cream under trans clear dome pieces. Tan countertops. Red seats. Aqua bricks. Some chrome pieces. Doesn't have to be on a straight piece of train track (it can be a converted car with a regular building structure). 2x2 45 degree slope with printing on the flat side as poodle skirt for minifig?? White minifig 'police' cap with black printing on the bill (milkman). New part: Diner hat?? Maybe a classic convertible car? This set would be awesome!!!


A horse ranch. New horse colors. Several pieces of fence in a new color, like tan or dark tan. D bucket accessory in a new color. Ranch hands/horse riders. Orange based plaid shirt torso. Retro parts: Bring back pigtails in new colors. A few jump bars and a green 'sculpted' hedge row made out of lots of plant parts or hinges for steeple chase!


A 70s automobile, a roomy wagon (Think Chevy Chase Vacation :P ) with a couple of scout masters and kids in scout uniforms. Camping supplies on the roof of the car. :)


Okay, I'm done ranting for now. :)
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I agree

Postby Baites » Thu Jun 26, 2008 8:01 am

I see alot of posts with ideas that I wholly agree with. The Lego company can make in-roads, but that need moderation, not to go for extremes.

Take the paradisa theme. It was minifig scale, but was dominated by pinks and cream colours. While these sets added to my colour palate as an adult builder, as a child it was too girly for me. They could have included more of the standard colours to even out the look.

Then the women's soccer team in the soccer line. Unlike their male counterparts, they didn't have a team van. They looked like they had no funding for equipent. They had to use flags for goal posts and traffic cones to mark the field.

It seems like we're saying that all girls want is pink and bows. So we go to the extreme, it doesn't sell well. Now we all say that girls obviously don't want lego, so why bother trying again.

Then there is the lack of female minifigs. They all seem to be in expensive sets (I will admit, there are a few excepts). In the city theme, they could be spread around more. It could have been a woman postal carrier or add some female police and fire officers.

PaB can start to address this. There are female heads and hair available. Being little minifigs, a female head on a standard torso works (I don't think many torsos have pecs). So, you could adjust some of the cops to women. PaB needs to be promoted. Add an ad to the last page of the instructions with the line of "additional boy and girl heads available" or something like that. Or an ad in the Lego magazine. Those of us that frequent Lego sites or S@H known about PaB, but those that don't are unaware of this service (I have a friend in that category and he has an essablished Lego room).
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Postby Munchy » Thu Jun 26, 2008 1:38 pm

Good discussion.

Let me share some of my observations. I am from a large family so my experience in the toy field is varied. To support this statement, I present to you the total number of neices, nephews and children I have: 16 - 7 boys and 9 girls.

How many play with/own LEGO?

4

How many of those are girls?

1

So, based on my own little statistical sampling 1 out of 9 girls and 3 out of 7 boys play with LEGO. Interestingly enough, I believe that percentage is roughly the same as LEGO's own research.

So what do the girls play with?

9 of the 9 have a portable game device.
8 of the 9 play with Barbie's.
7 of the 9 have some sort of doll house.
6 of the 9 play with jewelry of some kind.
6 of the 9 have toy cooking sets.
4 of the 9 have some sports related toys.


Surprisingly enough, most of their parents would actively support their children purchasing LEGO sets. In two instances, the mothers are very close to becoming AFOL's (...must push harder...). In one instance, the mother absolutely refuses to buy LEGOs (whack job!). The other mother's are ambivelent on the issue. All of the fathers support LEGO toy purchases. All in all, the parents of this statistical sample are supportive of LEGO. So what is causing their girls to stay away from LEGO?

None of their freinds play with LEGO's.

Get around that problem and we'll see an upswing in female participation in our hobby.
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Postby Donut » Thu Jun 26, 2008 1:51 pm

Hmm, a lot of interesting points have been brought up. Another problem I see is in stores, where they are shelving LEGOs. If they could put girl themed sets along with the Barbie dolls and the other toys that Muchy has listed, then I think that might promote sell to girls. Visibility is the key, but that brings up another problem, I don't see many (if any) girl themed sets even in the LEGO shelves at Target or TRU. You will have to purchase them online, and the LEGO catalog doesn't even list the Belville sets anymore.
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Postby Tower of Iron Will » Thu Jun 26, 2008 2:14 pm

castlebuilder100 wrote:
Bruce N H wrote:Solutions:
-more girl figs
-more non-conflict sets - more homes, businesses, things like a circus or zoo theme
-reinstatement of Paradisa as a fig-scale girl-centric theme
-I'd love to see fairy tales as a castle sub-theme. We could get good castly settings but also perennial favorites of younger girls like Cinderella. This could be a Disney tie-in or not.


I totally agree with this. I really want to see some civilian castle sets.


I agree with most of the above posts but this sums it up quite nicely, with large emphasis on the civilian Castle sets. Or maybe a SAH civilian pack with just Castle town members so that AFOLs can build their own hamlets.
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Postby Lamanda2 » Thu Jun 26, 2008 6:24 pm

Lots of highly constructive posts in this topic, thanks for the input, guys!

Bruce wrote:
"-I think it is a huge mistake that the (IMO overly) 'girly' theme, Belville, isn't fig scale. This makes it that much harder for those girls who do get into these to transition to other themes."

Yes. Having the Belville theme make the transition to fig scale would be a great move (In my opinion).
That way, as the child gets a little older, they will be much more likely to branch out into other themes as well.

I've never heard of any long-term Belville fans. Probably because it comes off as a very 'childish' theme. But turn it fig scale and I think it would increase the age group interested in that theme.

Shadowviking wrote:
"I think it's unfair that that's what's considered a "girl set", when in fact the only thing that makes it such is preconceived notions."

But it's not that the set is considered 'girly', just that it would have more iterest with a female audience.

Thomas wrote:
"I think that what Bruce meant was that girls tend to (but do not always) like the civilian-style themes than the "conflict driven" themes. I, too, appreciate the civilian sets (and last time I checked I was a guy). This is not true for everyone, and can even be seen as stereotypical, but is general more-or-less true."

Exactly. When I was younger, I never liked anything 'girly' or pink (A product of three older brothers), but when we would play with our LEGO, I seemed to be the only one of us who had a large interest in 'peaceful' play, while the boys were more taken to warfare and battles (Although I liked this equally, or possibly more so than the peace.).

Munchy Wrote:
"Let me share some of my observations. I am from a large family so my experience in the toy field is varied. To support this statement, I present to you the total number of neices, nephews and children I have: 16 - 7 boys and 9 girls.

..."


Very interesting statistics, Munchy. Thanks for posting!

..9 of 9 have a portable gaming device? Nice. :P

I think if LEGO were to try and create some more gender neutral sets, their best bet would be to sart in the "Town" theme (As much as I would like to see medieval civilian sets, strating in Town seems a better route). There are plenty of options in the way of shops (A pet shop would probably be a hot seller).

Thanks again for all of the great responses. I had quite a nice read.

~Amanda
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Postby Munchy » Thu Jun 26, 2008 7:14 pm

Lamanda2 wrote:A pet shop would probably be a hot seller



That's a fantastic idea! We already have mini-fig sized kittens and birds. Make a couple more molds for say a bunny (not the Belville one - too big) and a puppy (not Belville). Put in a Mommy-fig and a girl-fig with a new style hair (pig-tails maybe) and you're rockin! The opportunity for impulse sets is huge with this as well.

Don't tell me all those AFOL's wouldn't buy multiples of this set as well (I would!)


Good call Lamanda2!


You could do a farm set next with "official" sheep, cows and assorted critters...
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Postby castlebuilder100 » Thu Jun 26, 2008 7:28 pm

Munchy wrote:
Lamanda2 wrote:A pet shop would probably be a hot seller

That's a fantastic idea! We already have mini-fig sized kittens and birds. Make a couple more molds for say a bunny (not the Belville one - too big) and a puppy (not Belville). Put in a Mommy-fig and a girl-fig with a new style hair (pig-tails maybe) and you're rockin! The opportunity for impulse sets is huge with this as well.


I also have to say to say that this is a great idea. I would definately get one.
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