Recently, a (male) friend sent me a petition on Facebook for the change.org “Female Mini-figure Set” project. It called for the general public to support a female mini-figure set to be added to the Lego range with characters such as an astronomer and paleontologist.
When you hit your local department store and consider the enormous variety of Lego products directly catering to boys with recognisable themes that go beyond the Lego range itself – Star Wars, Monster Fighters, Ninjagu and the Lone Ranger, you have to wonder where the kick-arse superheroes are for our girls.
Gender-neutral Lego sets are still on offer and my daughters would no doubt enjoy the Star Wars collection (Princess Leia is represented after all), but the range is clearly marketed to boys with a distinct dearth of plasticised oestrogen.
It has always bugged me, this apparent gender stereotyping in Lego and other major brands. I’m a geek/maths nerd, let’s get that out of the way nice and early, and my eldest daughter is showing a real inclination towards comic books and geek-related toys and games. She happily (and rather voraciously) reads her “Alice Miranda” and “Rainbow Fairies” books, but when she sits down to write and illustrate her comics, her female characters are all superheroes that conquer new universes and single-handedly stop tornadoes in their tracks. There is a real disconnect.
I actually quite like the Lego Friends range with their horsey, pop star and gardening themes. They are colourful, inoffensive and non-violent and are my go-to birthday gift for my daughter’s friends. Introduction of the Friends range has clearly worked for Lego – the collection was released in 2012 and sales of Lego for girls skyrocketed that same year. Lego has since announced that by the end of 2013, they will be introducing more female mini-figures to the Lego collection.
But what does that mean? More characters in the Friends range, catering to the soft-hearted and home-loving Princess or Equestrian of the family? Or will Lego introduce the female mini-figs that change.org are calling for? I think the Female Mini-figure Set Project is a brilliant start and would trigger the chipping away of traditional girly “roles” represented in Lego, but I think Lego can go so much further than that.
Lego is one of those fabulous products that both genders get so much out of, from both a construction and a pretend play perspective. I remember tinkering with Lego well into my early teens. But I don’t want my daughters to be relegated to the garden, stables or the karaoke bar (although their geeky, exhibitionist parents have certainly been guilty of the latter). I want them to believe they can conquer the world (infinity and beyond!) I want their pop culture role models to have brilliant superpowers, ninja athleticism and brilliant minds.
It doesn’t have to be aggressive. It just has to be strong.
What do you think? Would you like to see an all-girl Lego Superhero range?