The Lego company has been a raging success with little boys for generations. It seems just recently that Lego realized they were leaving an entire fifty percent of their sales market untapped – girls! I don’t know how long it took them to figure this out. Only over the past couple of years have I noticed Legos in the girls’ section of the toy department – they have released an entire series called Lego Friends. They have done this up right. Instead of anonymous spacemen, or hunters, or whatever other little men they have for the boys’ sets, each of the little girl’s characters has a name, like Andrea or Tina, and a distinctive look. This allows the girls to identify with one or more characters by appearance or by interest. For example, a little girl may identify with a character who is a horse groomer, or who has the same name as the Lego owner. The colors of the buildings, for the most part, are pink or purple, with a little baby blue thrown in. There are flowers and cute little kittens and puppies and froggies and ladybugs everywhere. Almost every set includes at least one little animal for the awwwww factor. They do have little cars and campers (reminiscent of the Barbie vehicles we all know and love). They have cafes and horse stables and veterinarian’s offices and bakeries and tree houses, all kinds of things that little girls like to participate in. They also have the all important stickers to decorate things with, mostly little hearts and bugs and butterflies and such.
We now own at least six of these sets. Put together, they create an entire town with a cutesy little name, which I do not remember right now. I keep buying them for her because I like to watch her follow the instructions and put them together. I think it is good for her visual-spatial abilities. She is rabid about not taking them apart. Some kids rip them up as soon as they are done with them and mix the pieces all up and the sets are never put back together again. Amanda is adamant that the sets stay just as made in the instructions and they not be allowed to deteriorate at all. I have to admire this.
We made an epic trip to the new Legoland in Atlanta a few weeks back. They had rides, all kinds of creatures and characters made out of Legos, areas for each type of Lego and an area where you can build and test crash Lego vehicles on a long steep racing hill. My husband lingered over that area and had to build a test vehicle. So did I. So did A. Hers fared the best when it crashed into the area at the bottom. The coolest thing in Legoland was a complete scale model of Atlanta made out of Legos, with all the well-known landmarks, lights, and power. It was so neat! These guys really have a racket going on with these Lego things. I must say the Lego Friends area for girls was pretty pathetic and they definitely need to do some work on that. All they had to build in that area were giant Lego cupcakes, and there was no sign of the loveable little people or animal characters that their building sets are known for. Maybe the little girls steal them. I don’t know. Of course they had an enormous gift shop that you had to walk through to get out of the building. They had tiny little Legos all the way through their most giant, expensive Lego set, which we were told was the Star Wars Death Star, and which cost about five hundred dollars. We of course had to buy A a small Lego Friends set, which she promptly proceded to build in the hotel room that night.
One of the families in our neighborhood has started up a business called Bricks for Kidz. They are not allowed to use the word Lego, but all they have are a huge collection of Legos, used for learning exercises at the schools (they made a model of the Eiffel Tower at my daughter’s school) and for parties where the kids are each allowed to make something and take it home. I’m not sure how the business will do in a small town, but if they have gotten themselves into the schools, maybe they will do all right.
On the whole, I really like Legos. I tried to buy them for my daughter before they had the Lego Friends, but she was not interested. Once those Lego Friends came out though, boy, was she ever into them. Great marketing, Lego corporation! I think Legos promote creativity, and where you build the sets according to the instructions, I think they promote visual-spatial learning. So expensive though they may be, and full though our house may be, I plan to continue to buy my daughter Lego sets as long as she is interested in them.