When I was a young kid, by far, the best toy I had was dented and dinged and in craptastic shape. It was a popcorn can- one of those giant holiday ones that my dad had received as bakshish from a vendor- sans popcorn and filled with legos. It was the great equalizer. It was the toy my dad and I could play without quibbling (the man would not, for love or money, wedge onto a tiny chair and play tea party). It was the toy my guy friends- and I had plenty of little boys as friends- and I could agree on, when the weather was too lousy to be in the pool and we had driven my mother insane with fort building. It was the toy that could let me pretend I was anywhere, could do anything, be any one.
Lego has changed quite a bit since I was a kid- themes and special pieces and licensing and whatnot. For all of my original grumbling, though, that the themed sets didn’t give as much scope for imagination, Sean has pretty much disabused me of that notion (see: General Grievous and his 6-not-4 arms, his unmet need for tea and crumpets, and that being the true cause of his fall to the dark side. I swear to you, I could not make this stuff up if I tried). And so yes, I’m sure a kid could use next year’s new line to pretend to be whatever they want. Sure maybe Kai from Ninjago has a huge backstory too, and surely some kids go off plan.
But but but.
I cannot help but feel shivved in the back by Lego. Seriously, guys? You think that little-girl-wench would have played with Legos more if only they had breasts, hips, stories about how they dream of being a singer in Hollywood while they mop floors at a diner, and have special brick colors in pastels? You think it needs to be a safely named line- Lego Friends- instead of the more adventurous Pirates, Kingdoms, or Ninjago, to compare to similar non-licensed IP lines? Do you really think so little of me as a female?
Maybe. Maybe I was over reacting to this new line. So when the catalog arrived today, I casually walked into Sean’s room and showed him. Absolute confusion washed across his face.
“Those don’t even look like legos. Who would want to play with them?”
“Well, read what it says. Who do you think they’re trying to get to buy them?”
After a minute, utter disgust registered. “Girls. And that’s lame. Because if a girl got that as a set instead of something cool, she’d not like Lego any more. And it’s not fair they treat girls like they’re stupid and can’t play with pirates and Star Wars.”
Dear Lego Company: when an 8 year old boy, who hates all things pink, tells you you’re screwing up your marketing to girls and your core business mission and message, you’re screwing up big time.