Lego, What Have You Done?

LegoOh Lego, Lego, Lego, my favourite toy when I was a child – EVERY child’s favourite toy, or all the ones I knew anyway. Oh Lego what’s happened? Why don’t you like girls anymore?

Oops… sorry everyone, I went to write my blog and found myself writing to Lego instead! Sorry, I’ll go on with this week’s post. So, half-term and I found myself in Brighton, which is a place I only ever seem to go in school holidays when it’s packed, and I was there to do one of my favourite things, shopping for books. Just doing my bit to stop Waterstones going the same way as HMV. And I had no children with me because they were all doing stuff which meant I wasn’t needed during the day, but couldn’t go off on holiday either.

So I went to Brighton – haven’t been there for ages – and found myself walking past the Lego shop. The LEGO sh…. What?? It’s not there anymore! It’s closed down!! I did that comedy thing of walking past smiling blandly and suddenly, half way to Waterstones..  Whaa…? What..? and walked back to check. Yup, not there. Whitewashed windows. The shop where my children had all spent so many happy moments. And I felt.. and I couldn’t ignore this… GLAD. My bland smile turned into a not very pleasant expression of something like evil triumph. Oh GOOD. Hope you’re going down, Lego. And then, catching this reaction in myself (it was quite subtle)… overwhelming sadness mixed with anger and frustration.

Oh Lego, when did it all start to go wrong? When I was a child we boys and girls would sit down together and build fantastic houses and castles, and play and fight and argue and build, and sometimes throw bricks at each other. Whole families used to do that. Up north anyway. When did you start differentiating so starkly between Lego for boys and Lego for girls? Was it with the Star Wars thing? Did that go to your heads?

Oops, sorry, did it again. It’s just that seeing the (ex) Lego shop made me remember how my children got a new Lego set EVERY Christmas, EVERY birthday. Christmas Day would be three boys and one girl sitting on the floor surrounded by a sea of small plastic bricks, all the children concentrated, focused, sometimes frustrated, working it out, helping each other, getting in each other’s way, admiring what the others had made, gasping.

We loved you so much Lego! We parents trusted your brand, it stood for quality. It meant fun, challenging, imaginative, educational. The Harry Potter sets were fine, Lego, all my kids loved them, but after that nothing. Nothing for my little girl that is. She carried on with the Lego habit, she was drawn to the fairy carriages and princesses of course, and got those sets, but she wasn’t excited about them anymore. They weren’t CHALLENGING, Lego! They didn’t have enough play value. She couldn’t break them apart and make new models of her own invention. They only had a few bits you had to stick together and THAT WAS IT! Done. You sold her short. You promised her Lego and you delivered Playmobil. We already have that. And the boys stopped being impressed with what she’d made!! And my children stopped playing with Lego together. Do you see what you did there Lego?

Sorry again. I keep trying to write my blog and I end up ranting to Lego. But after the non-Lego shop experience I was talking to someone I know who works in the toy industry, and she was saying that Lego are now vigorously promoting the new ‘Friends’ Lego range for girls. And all the toy shops have to go along with it, but they are all shaking their heads and saying Lego are now making ‘relationship toys’ for girls and ‘building toys’ for boys, and now it is very difficult to find any building toy aimed at girls that is in any way challenging or educational, because it’s Lego that have the clout and get stocked in our toy shops.

And now the last straw Lego!! I just found out that this weekend you are running a promotion in the Sun newspaper!! You are promoting your product in a publication which represents women as bland objects with no brains, just bodies! Did you know, Lego, that a worryingly large percentage of our young girls see ‘glamour’ modelling as the number one choice of career, and that it is the Sun who helped to create and still promotes this ‘career option’?  Do you realise that through the efforts of this newspaper a whole generation of young women thinks selling their bodies is a normal job? Are you in league with the Sun, Lego? Do you dumb down our girls so that they lose their critical thinking skills enough to be easy prey for those who tell them that standing in just their pants is a viable career option?

Ok, ok, I’ve gone too far now. I know once you start thinking in terms of conspiracies it’s a sign you’re going a bit mad, I know, so I’ll stop. I’ll calm down a bit first and then get that letter off to Lego, and I’ll make it polite, don’t worry. And then I’ll put it behind me and next week I’ll get back to writing useful posts for parents I promise.

Here’s their email though: Emma.Owen@LEGO.com

5 Responses

  1. anon
    | Reply

    Hmmm… afraid the store has just moved to new premises on the lower mall of the shopping centre…

  2. Debby
    | Reply

    Heard a radio interview about Lego for girls becoming more popular because of the “Friends” range. Incidentally don’t you think that the ELC went the same way years ago; blue for boys and pink for girls? Also sorry to spoil the illusion but the Lego shop hasn’t shut down – it moved into a new shop in the Churchill shopping centre.

  3. Helen
    | Reply

    I think Lego have sold our girls short too. The new Friends range is appealing and it’s fun and you can see why its been such a hit, but it’s just that next to the comparative boys’ sets for the same age it comes across as a teeny bit insulting to girls’ intelligence and abilities… I know lots of other children’s brands are very gender-specific and I don’t like that either – I think it limits both girls and boys. I’m disappointed in Lego because I feel they didn’t have to go down this route. They have the clout and they have the design talent and they could have come up with something less stereotypical but still interesting for girls, instead of adding to the sea of pink already out there. And I don’t think the Sun is an appropriate place to promote any children’s products.

  4. that family feeling
    | Reply

    This is something that would incense me as well. Our sons and our daughter equally like to play with Lego – regardless of its colour or image. It’s sad to think that it’s 2013 and we still live in a world dominated by gendered toys and even gendered hobbies – yes – apparently, according to my 7 year-old boy, horse riding is not cool because ‘it’s for girls’! What is this nonsense? Where did that come from? And I totally agree with you re: the Sun – it’s not an appropriate place to promote anything to/for children!

  5. Jen
    | Reply

    At least Lego do sell ‘brick packs’ online but yeah the packs are really annoying!!! If I ever buy Lego for my kids/friends kids’/family then I will certainly be buying the packs of ‘bricks’. And The Sun advertising is just shameful. Thank you for expressing how I feel about pretty much all of this.

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