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Lego Friends - New Lego Sets for Girls!

Lego Friends Lego Sets

Young girls can let their imaginations soar with Lego Friends designed with young girls in mind.

Young girls can let their imaginations soar with Lego Friends designed with young girls in mind.

Lego Friends sets for girls

A few years ago, Lego set out to discover how girls play differently than boys, not only to boost the bottom line of the somewhat ailing Lego toy company, but to fulfill its generations-old mission - "toys for girls and for boys."

The result, Lego Friends -- a girl-themed Lego set that comes with newly styled Lego characters more appealing to girls, as well as pastel pieces never before produced by Lego. Unexpectedly, Lego has also created a bit of a Lego-for-girls controversy!


Lego - After the toddler years

During the toddler years, both girls and boys play equally with the larger Duplo Lego bricks, but that no longer is the case around the age of five. Most of the more intricate Lego sets tend to be boy-themed.

Walk in any Lego store or down the Lego aisle of any major retailer and you will see Lego Star Wars sets, Lego Harry Potter sets, and other Lego toys designed with boys in mind. In fact, Lego sets are often found in the toy section for boys in most retailers.

It's not that girls can't play with these Lego sets. They do. But the fact of the matter is that these types of Lego themes do not necessarily appeal to girls, especially the "princess" crowd, or their parents for that matter.


Lego watched how girls play

Lego Group Chief Executive Officer Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, parent of two boys and two girls, witnessed how boys and girls play differently firsthand in his own home. In a Businessweek article he states,

I have two wonderful daughters next to my two sons, and they are in a very narrow age range, 4 to 10, so I have a little home study. They all love to build, but certainly they play in very different ways.

Knudstorp followed up his own casual observations with research focused on how girls play. The research literally involved watching kids in Germany, Korea, the U.K. and the U.S. play with toys for months.

The results show that girls do in fact love to build, but they favor role-play, and build differently than boys. Boys' building techniques tend to be more linear, racing-against the clock. Girls tend to build, then stop to incorporate storytelling and role-play, rearrange, and role-play again. These are observations that most parents of young girls can attest.


Lego Friends: Behind the Scenes

Lego Friends - designed to appeal to the way girls play

Lego Friends still of course involves building; it's just that this Lego theme is designed to appeal to the way girls ages 6-12 play, what Lego witnessed in its research. Armed with an understanding that a girl's playing style often involves role-play, Lego redesigned the character figures, and colors as well.

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Lego Friends differs from the typical Lego sets:

  • Lego Friends sets are packaged in multiple bags. Recall that girls mix building and storytelling. By packaging the buildings into multiple bags there is no need to build all at once the way a boy does. Girls can build a portion then storytell, build some more, and so on.

  • Lego Friends has newly designed characters. In all there are twenty-nine "ladyfigs," five of which are key characters with their own stories and lives centered in Heartlake City. Lego did not do this on a whim of course. Their anthropological study clearly showed that boys mostly play with the characters in the third person, whereas girls "became" the character.

  • Lego Friends comes in six new colors, including pink and purple -- colors often appealing to the five and up "princess" girls.


Heartlake Vet


City Park Cafe

Lego Friends characters - five friends, many Lego sets

The Lego Friends theme is centered around five imaginary friends living in Heartlake City. The "ladyfigs" are different than the usual boxy "minifigs" found in the traditional Lego sets targeted to boys. Noticeably, the ladyfigs have legs in place of the brick-shaped bottom, are more life-like, have interchangeable hair and are fully functional.

Meet the five friends:

Mia loves animals, being green, and playing sports with friends. Lego Friends sets with Mia include:

  • Heartlake Vet
  • Mia's Puppy House
  • Heartlake Dog Show

Olivia loves inventing things, building things and hanging out with friends. Lego Friends sets with Olivia include:

  • Olivia's House
  • Olivia's Tree House
  • Olivia's Inventor's Workshop

Stephanie loves planning parties, her pet bunny, Daisy, and Coco (her dog). Lego Friends sets with Stephanie include:

  • Stephanie's Cool Convertible
  • Stephanie's Outdoor Bakery
  • Stephanie's Pet Patrol

Emma loves drawing, fashion and giving her friends makeovers. Lego Friends sets with Emma include:

  • Butterfly Beauty Shop
  • Emma's Splash Pool
  • Emma's Design School

Andrea loves music, singing and dancing with her friends. Lego Friends sets with Andrea include:

  • City Park Cafe
  • Andrea's Stage


Are Lego Friends Controversial in Your Opinion?

The controversy with Lego sets for girls

The introduction of Lego Friends for girls is not without controversy. Some groups, fanning the flames of the "girl Lego controversy," claim that the figures are curvier and that the theme is centered around the characters hanging out at the beauty shop, cafe and pool.

Personally, I find this small backlash utterly ridiculous! Playing with Legos has actually been shown to improve both spatial and mathematical skills. And if creating a Lego theme with storylines and colors keeps girls playing with Lego bricks beyond the toddler years, then these girls also stand to benefit educationally.

Additionally, Lego has given the Lego Friends very worthwhile professions and interests, including: veterinarian, inventor, chef, fashion designer and musician. Personally, I think girls can relate more to these activities than to sorcerers and pirates.

Lego Friends for girls most certainly will inspire girls to not only build and construct, but to use their imaginations while doing so!


Will Lego Friends for girls payoff for Lego?

Admittedly, Lego has had several misses in the past when it comes to appealing to girls. But this time around, Lego is optimistically confident that Lego Friends will be a hit with young girls.

Afterall, Lego successfully turned around their products for boys based on an understanding of how boys play. The errant trend had been to "dumb-down" toys based on the belief that boys had a short attention span, but their research showed otherwise, and so their products and bottom line followed suit.

In fact, Lego sales improved 105% and U.S. sales topped the one billion dollar mark for the first time. Lego Friends for girls may turn out to help Lego finally fulfill its mission of providing "toys for girls and for boys."


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Jedediah on March 27, 2012:

Hi every one. I think this new theme will be a great hit with girls. I do think its weird why people are objecting the theme. I have to write an essay on the topic of the new lego friends so I have learned a lot about the issues. Some parents don't want their daughter(s) to be girlish and others just don't like the way its presented to kids. I herd one person say that they disliked the theme because of that Lego is saying the them is for girls! Anyway I think the controversial issues are silly and think the theme is cool. (the cupcakes would be great for my Lego towns!)

barry on March 05, 2012:

Don't like them as they are not compatible with traditional minfigs (lego men\women). They missed the point of what caused lego to go broke. They started making parts for a fixed purpose rather than being interchangeable. It's the infinite combinations you can make from parts and you use your imagination which got them back on track. They went back to a reduced core of parts. What lego always didn't have was interchangeable girl parts. There are very few female hairstyles,hats, accessories. The arms need to be interchangable and the square legs changed to a dress/skirt/shorts part. Girls like to dress the figures to suit as they role play more than build to fix instructions. These new figures look like they brought polly pockets from china and threw them in.

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on February 26, 2012:

Mariah - Lego Friends are really cute. You should keep them in mind for a birthday or holiday gift from big sister.

Mariah on February 26, 2012:

My little sister would love this!

Shele on February 21, 2012:

you have to stop lego friends is a cute idea for young girls. you are being so silly. who cares if lego comes out with a girl series!! stop, just stop!

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on February 21, 2012:

I guess the best idea is to have a good mixture of available toys and games that all kids might enjoy, be it in the classroom or at home. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts, pstraubie48.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on February 21, 2012:

This is very interesting. I have not noticed this new take on legos...will look when I go to Target again. I had legos in my classroom for years. And during a free time when it was free choice as many girls played with them as boys. Now I wonder had I had these newer ones would even more girls have used them. I will have to ask my friends if they are using them. Glad you shared this.

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on February 07, 2012:

Angela - Thanks for taking the time to share your opinion. Hopefully, Lego will come out with some more complex sets designed for girls as you describe. This would be a wonderful and welcome addition to their line of Legos for girls. I think the Lego Friends are perhaps meant to compete more with Polly Pocket type of toys, which is good but certainly not enough for a lot of girls. I think Lego could apply the same principles they learned from their studies to more intricate kits, in the meantime at least they are capturing a segment of the market which they may have lost altogether.

Angela on February 06, 2012:

Lego friends is a joke. My daughter is seven and loves legos. She builds all the city legos. Police station, pizza store and more. I was so frustrated with Lego because they made nothing for girls over 5 or 6. Now they come out with this crap. Who were the minds behind this? It would be perfect if it had more pieces, making it challenging. What, girls can’t do complex work? Give the boys 500 pieces per box (or building) but only give the girls 20 pieces to put together. Do they think girls are more interested in color, style, and play and not the challenge that 300+ small pieces would encourage them to use their brains and build something wonderful and fun? Give me a break.

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on January 29, 2012:

Hi Erin. I couldn't agree with you more. My daughter played with Legos a lot because her older brother had tons of them, many received as gifts. Had she not had an older brother we most likely would not have had the more intricate Lego sets in the house.

The new Lego Friends will turn this around, making them a great gift or toy to buy a young girl. And since the theme and colors of them may be more attractive to many young girls, this will help them gain some of the building and instruction-following skills that most other toys for girls in this age range are lacking. It's just another option and options are nice to have.

Thanks for your great, thoughtful comment. on January 29, 2012:

So I am reading article after article re: The LEGO Friends line for girls and the controversy it is causing. Here is this mom's take on it, though.

The thing is, some girls WONT play with LEGOs because they are already seen as a boy toy by the time they are 4 or 5. I can tell you that the majority of gifts my boys receive are LEGOs. My niece and goddaughter get dolls (Barbie, Bratz, Zoobles, etc.). Girls are getting the nurturing element and pretend play, without the skills of building and following detailed instructions. The LEGO Friends line has a little more pink with people with more features which will appeal to more girls than the ones who currently play with LEGOs, allowing more girls to gain the skills that are building blocks for math and logic.

I see this as a positive addition to the LEGO line and WOULD purchase it for my goddaughter who doesn't play with normal LEGOs. My niece, though, does enjoy the Harry Potter sets. ;)

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on January 07, 2012:

Hi Tracy. I was also intrigued by the different play styles between boys and girls. Having had a boy and girl myself, I can say I witnessed similar behaviors as the study concluded. But even though different play styles existed, they didn't necessarily play with different toys.

That is quite interesting about the problems with gender specific toys you mentioned and children's perceptions. I really don't think there will ever be a solution to please everyone. Perhaps it would be best for parents to have all types of toys and just let their children choose. Families with both boys and girls wind up with this ideal mixture.

But I can't help and wonder, is the issue with the toys, or more with the packaging; advertising; store placement into girl and boy toy aisles; and parent/society expectations? Food for thought!

Thanks for sharing your viewpoint.

Tracy Lynn Conway from Virginia, USA on January 07, 2012:

I had to stop by and see what you were up to in your writing lab. Great hub! You have given so much information about all the aspects of these Lego Friends. I especially loved the backstory about the Father and how he noticed the difference in play styles between his sons and daughters. I don't know the full details of the controversy about these Lego Friends but I do know there is a lot of talk among psychologists about the problems with gender specific toys in general since they are inherently limiting for children's perceptions about what they can and can't be. Ideally toys and clothing for children would be more gender neutral but sadly this is less marketable for toy and clothing companies. Maybe one day there will be gender specific food too. Keep up the well written and researched hubs!

~voted up, awesome, useful and interesting~

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on January 03, 2012:

Sunshine625 - Legos certainly one of the best and most versatile toys there is, but I bet my daughter would be disappointed to get them for her 18th birthday, but I'm sure she would be happy to play with them with the kids she babysits for. :)

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on January 03, 2012:

Age 18 isn't to old for legos! They are for ages 5-95!! :)

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on January 03, 2012:

Your nieces will love these new lego sets, truthfornow. Not only are they fun to build and put together, but then they have a lot of really cute pieces - cupcakes, pets, wagons, etc. that you can see in the photographs. Thanks for your comment.

Marie Hurt from New Orleans, LA on January 02, 2012:

I love legos. These are cool. Looking forward to seeing them on the shelves. Great gifts for my nieces, one of which is a princess and would love these. Thanks for the information.

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on January 02, 2012:

Thanks Sunshine. Lego Friends for girls just appeared on store shelves on January 1 in the U.S. and a few days earlier in the U.K. I just got the photos tonight. They really are cute.

Unfortunately for me my daughter is now almost 18, otherwise I would buy these in a heartbeat. I loved playing with Legos! And we still have all our Legos and a huge bucket full of the dozens of Lego sets my son had. Lego is a classic and I'm sure your granddaughter will love these.

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on January 02, 2012:

How fun I didn't know about this new line of Legos! I need to look into these for my granddaughter we love megablocks I know she'll enjoy the girl legos! By the way there is a new theme park in Orlando called ..... LegoLand! I bet your kids would love it!! Great hub!!

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on December 27, 2011:

Express10 - Lego makes a quality product. They use a more expensive plastic than their competitors making Legos cost more than the competition like Mega Blok. However, Legos stay together really well and should last for generations. I know we still have some around from when I was a kid, and I have kept my children's Legos too.

H C Palting from East Coast on December 27, 2011:

I had to use the old fashioned ones...still have them decades later.

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on December 27, 2011:

Danette - There are some toys my kids had that I have kept, as well, including Legos, Lincoln Logs, wooden blocks, Thomas trains, puzzles, and the like. Some toys never go out of style.

I think the Lego Friends is a great addition to the Lego sets since I imagine that a lot of families with girls don't have the more intricate Lego sets since most existing ones are geared towards boys. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Danette Watt from Illinois on December 27, 2011:

Interesting and the first I heard of these new Lego Friends. My 2 boys, now 27 and 20, played with Legos all the time (and also started out with Duplos). We had so many over the years, I still have some in my attic.

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on December 27, 2011:

Hi Cindy. I think the characters are really cute too. I also like all the little "accessories" like the food, money, pets, etc. And all the little pieces and building is really good for developing fine motor skills.

As far as the controversy goes, I think some people feel that the Lego Friends for girls are trying to fit girls into stereotypical roles. I don't think they like the idea that these girls would be at a salon or pool or cafe. Well, if they would look more closely, these girls also work as vets, musicians, and inventors. Trust me, I would love to be a vet and then hang out at a pool after a long day!

Anyway, someone always has to find something wrong, but quite frankly they should "pick their fight" with another toy company. And now that I think about it, why aren't they concerned that the boys play with Lego sets that some may think are stereotypical male/aggressive roles? Oh well. Like you said, you can't please everyone.

Thanks for your comment.

Cindy Murdoch from Texas on December 27, 2011:

Hi, ktrapp! I really love the colors, and I think the characters are so cute. I don't see why there had to be some kind of controversy, but I guess you can never please everyone.

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on December 27, 2011:

Carmen - I absolutely would have bought the new Lego Friends for my daughter if they had them years ago. I would have loved them myself, as I have always loved Legos and always enjoyed playing with them with my kids. As a matter of fact, I was always the one trying to "snatch" and "hord" just the right pieces and colors for my buildings.

The Lego Friends, designed with the way many girls play in mind, do add a whole new element of fun to a classic toy.

Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

Carmen Beth on December 27, 2011:

I think that Lego has been lagging behind in designing their products specially for girls. Anyway, Lego Friends looks fantastic, and I'm sure if it had been marketed a few years back, I would have been in love with it. My friends (both boys and girls) and I used to be huge fans of Lego, even into our preteens. And we loved to build houses in all sorts of designs, which we would share around. The boys weren't particular with colors, unlike us girls. Perhaps houses were the only things we look forward to constructing, but none of us grew up to become architects : )

Lego Friends definitely will take "lego fun" to a new level. Thanks for sharing about it. Will be sure to check these out when the younger ones have them.

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on December 26, 2011:

Thanks Kris. I agree; it is an interesting direction for Lego. My son and daughter are both college-aged now, but they both always played with Legos. We had the basic colorful ones when they were younger (red, blue, yellow) and then my son had tons of the Lego sets (pirates, cowboys, etc.) that he often got as gifts, stocking stuffers or in Easter baskets.

But there was never an equivalent for my daughter. It looks like Lego may have succeeded in filling this void. I think the new Lego Friends look really cute, especially for the younger girls - sort of a cross between Legos and Polly Pockets. I am anxious to get some more photos posted as soon as the new sets are available in stores. It will be interesting to see how this all works out for The Lego Group. Thanks for your comment.

Kris Heeter from Indiana on December 26, 2011:

Interesting hub and an interesting marketing direction for Lego company!

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