Listen Lego, we need to talk. We’ve known each other for a long time, right? What’s it been, maybe 36 years now? I feel, as your friend, that I have to sit you down and explain some things to you. And I’m only saying this because I love you, I mean I really truly love you. But I think maybe you’ve been hanging out with the wrong people, Lego. I don’t know who the heck you’ve been talking to, but they’ve got some wacky ideas on what kids want to see in the toy aisle.
I’ve loved you since I was a kid, Lego. Forget about your little sister Duplo, when I was a kid we skipped right to the “real bricks” at like age four. And back when I was first slinging bricks this was your ad campaign.
Fantastic. Awesome. I loved it. I loved you.
I know there were a few years here and there when we didn’t get together that often, Lego. But I did bring you along when I moved into my first apartment. Turns out my boyfriend remembered you from when he had hung out with you back when he was a kid. The three of us spent plenty of quality hours together, sitting on the floor building elaborate castles. The things you do when there’s no cable TV, right?
Being an adult didn’t stop me from bringing you home from the store from time to time, and over the years you helped my boyfriend pick me out an awesome Christmas present or two. When we eventually got married we, of course, made space for you in our new home. And when our household expanded to include one kid, and then two, I was pretty eager to introduce our daughters to you.
But here’s where we ran into some problems, Lego, because sometime between when my daughter was born and the day when she was old enough to hang out with you without this mom having to worry about choking hazards, you introduced the Lego Friends line, and I was baffled, mystified.
Lego, why did you feel you had to change to attract girls? I mean, when I was a young girl I loved you just fine the way you were, and I’m pretty certain my own kids would feel the same. When I was a kid I wanted more of those translucent window pieces and the little doors with the knobs that opened. Those were awesome. My current wishlist involves more castle pieces, winches, drawbridges, and maybe some neat arched bits… I never asked for pink and lavender bricks, or lipstick, or a hairbrush, or cake (and, by the way, not one of those last three items belongs in the back of a newsvan).
But you know, I was willing to overlook the whole Lego Friends thing, because I love you Lego, and while I think you’re going about it all wrong, I get that you are trying to appeal to a certain market. It’s sure as heck not for me, but ok, sure someone out there must want this stuff. I’ll turn a blind eye, I won’t say anything. I’ll just keep buying your other cool sets and pretend the Friends line doesn’t exist.
But then Lego, you crossed a line. And I’m telling you this because I love you Lego, I really do. However, I think you’ve been getting up to some seriously misguided stuff in the past little while, and as your friend I need to step up and tell you. Like that whole “Beauty Tips” for seven year olds thing, What the heck were you thinking? Girls in the five to twelve year old range do not need “beauty tips” from anyone, and they certainly don’t need to find them in a magazine that ought to be devoted to helping my kid be creative and build cool things. Heck Lego, I still have some of your old newsletters from when I was a kid, tucked away in my closet. I remember getting my mom to take photos of my latest creation so I could send it in and hope and pray it might make your letter column. You were pretty cool back then, Lego. You certainly managed to keep my interest well into double digit years, and all without suggesting what kind of hair style my face type requires. Go figure.
And now you’ve got this Lego Elves line. For me it was love/hate at first sight, I mean I hate the idea of pink sets (okay they’re lavender) that are marketed just to girls, but standing in the aisle at the toy store, staring at the boxes, I had to admit that some of those Elves sets look pretty interesting. I have a hard time arguing against tree fort type things, and that’s one pretty cool looking ship. My fairy loving eldest daughter, who I’ve been happy to say has been totally indifferent to the Lego Friends line thus far, was intrigued. She ended up getting two sets for her birthday as gifts from relatives. And it’s neat, it’s clever, it’s fun. It’s everything I expect from you Lego. Except what the heck is with the hairbrushes?
I mean the “magical bakery” set is pretty goofy, and I find myself wondering why the otherwise pretty cool “adventure ship” set has to include a “galley kitchen”, let alone the bright pink hairbrush. What is with this obsession with hairbrushes, Lego? And what’s with the cooking theme? Did you sit down with some misguided group of marketing guys and sit there scratching your heads wondering “Gee guys, what do girls like? Wait, I know!! Girls like to cook!” I mean I’m looking at the Ninjago sets and there is nary a kitchen in sight. Oh look, you made a boat for the Ninjas too. Cool. Let’s see, the description reads:
“Destiny’s Bounty features a retractable handle for easy flying, 4 lever-operated adjustable sails, 2 triple-stud-shooting cannons with ammunition, storage compartments with a crowbar and Katana, rotating dual flick harpoon shooter with engine transformation function, opening roof, detailed interior, Aeroblade, detachable roof element including Nya’s foldout workshop with hidden air bike and assorted tools, bucket, pirate hat with feather, cup, treasure chest with golden teapot, rat, cheese element, and golden Ninja blades and decorative elements.”
Okay, so let me get this straight, Lego, the “girl” boat includes a hairbrush and a skillet, and the “boy” set comes with tools and weapons?
Today Lego, my eight year old daughter made this crazy set up with all her new Elves pieces, mixed in with all the regular bricks she already owned. At the top of her look-out tower perched an elf, with pink hairbrush prominently displayed next to her. I had to ask what the hairbrush was doing there, and I laughed so hard when my girl told me it was a “poking tool” for defending the tower, because, as she explained, these Elves are all warriors, but for some reason Lego didn’t put any weapons in their box. So hey Lego, my eight year old wants to know why her elves have hairbrushes instead of longswords. You got an answer for her? Because I sure don’t. She also wants to know why the Lego friends had such skinny necks, and think they would be much cooler if you could put “real” Lego heads on them sometimes.
I love those glossy catalogues you send me a few times a year, Lego. My five year old likes to take a pen and circle all the sets she is wishing for (She’s more interested in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Technic sets than the Disney Princess stuff, in case you were wondering). I sat and looked at the lovely catalogue you sent me in the mail last month, and when I got to the page with the Elves stuff on it I looked at the sets and thought well maybe they’re not so bad. I want to love your Elves. They are so almost amazingly cool, and I am trying to have an open mind here… But then I read the description for “Naida’s Spa Secret”, and I may have dropped an F bomb or two. I mean what the ever loving heck, Lego. The description reads “Pamper yourself at Lego Elves Naida’s Spa Secret with Naida mini-doll, dolphin, spa bath, waterfall shower, a day bed and beauty creams.”
Okay Lego, listen closely here, I am absolutely certain that my eight year old daughter doesn’t care about spas. I highly suspect she doesn’t even know what a spa is. She certainly doesn’t want beauty creams in her Lego sets. There is enough crappy media being pushed in her face trying to tell her that being skinny, sexy and beautiful is the end all be all of being female. She’s going to have to worry about that crap soon enough, but not now, not at eight, and not in a freaking Lego set. Explain it to me slowly Lego, I am dying to hear the answer to this one. Why on earth do elves need beauty cream?
You know, when my daughter first opened up that Elves set last week I took a look at the instruction booklet, I read the comic, and I followed the suggestion to visit the Elves section of your website. I assume sooner or later my daughter is going to ask to check out the website, so I figured I’d do some advance scouting. When it comes to being a mom, I’m sneaky like that.
I’ll let that whole thing where all the Elves talk like simple minded valley girls slide. Instead, I want to know why is there an entire animated webisode, and an accompanying quiz, where the storyline is focused on “Is it a crush or not?” I’ve got to tell you the um.. reassuring message that it should always be “BFFs before BFs.” didn’t make it any more palatable to me.
I’m going to say this one more time, Lego you are a building toy. A pretty darn good building toy. A toy I have loved for well over thirty years. A toy I still want to play with. A toy I want to share with my kids. Do you know what I as a female want from your toy sets, Lego? Creativity, adventure, imagination, and fun. Maybe, now and then, something that is a little challenging to put together. I wouldn’t mind the occasional cool building idea, but mostly I’m up to coming up with my own unique layouts, and so are my kids. You know what I absolutely do not want from you Lego? Beauty tips. Magical day spas. Hints on how to tell if a boy likes you or not.
Seriously, I’m telling you this as a friend. I feel that as a building toy you are uniquely and distinctly unqualified to be doling out beauty and relationship advice. Knock it off. Ditch the girly marketing attempts. They make you look like a bozo. Get back to doing what you do best Lego, helping me make really cool castles, and rocket ships, and cities, and secret ninja lairs. I’ll be here waiting when you come to your senses. Until then, I think I’ll be keeping my cash in my wallet and satiating my building urge with all those pieces I’ve already picked up over the years.