Who is allowed to play with LEGO?

WP_20140314_006A couple of months ago, I received a press release about LEGO’s “NEW Enchanting Disney Princess Range”. I admit I groaned because the LEGO Friends range is so gendered and obviously so is the whole Disney Princess phenomenon, but Joe had been asking me for a Frozen playset so I read on.

And I read this “Combining fantasy role-play with construction, fans will be swept away into familiar tales of fantasy, dreams, heroism and magic whilst finding plenty of inspiration for building their very own fairytales.” Okay.

WP_20140314_011And then this: “Allowing girls aged five to 12 years to build and play out stories from their favourite fairytales…”

Girls. Not “fans”. Girls. And “allowing” them to play? Because they’re not allowed to play with other LEGO? Seriously now? But also, um, Joe is a boy. And Joe, I knew, would love this. Is he not “allowed” to play with it?

So I replied to the press release asking why they felt the need to explicitly state that it’s for girls. They replied with “A large proportion of Disney Princess fans are girls however boys are obviously more than welcome to play with the sets too.” Great! So why not stick with “fans”? Why specifically say “girls”? Why not say that the toys for, oh, I don’t know, “children”?

I asked them this too. They didn’t reply, but they did send me one of the sets, which was very nice of them. And Joe loves it. Yes, even though he’s a boy and so not officially “allowed” to play with it.

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2 thoughts on “Who is allowed to play with LEGO?

  1. I hated the gender stereotyping of this stuff too and my two (girls) played with all the sets, particularly the Harry Potter, Starwars, stuff aimed at boys! We also used it for maths whilst we home educated (great for sorting, classification, charts, counting, sets and the four rules…etc) and all sorts of other activities! We also let them use it under three years old! So we didn’t ever stay within the prescribed usage. I’m with you – think outside what’s written on the box!

  2. I agree that Lego need to rethink the “girls only” gender branding on these kits. Although the Disney Princess kits will typically appeal to girls there will be boys that also want to play with them, just as their are girls that want to play with the Star Wars kits that typically appeal to boys.

    However I think Lego deserve credit for getting those girls that might previously only have played with Barbies or Polly Pocket sets playing with construction kits. Studies have shown that playing with construction kits can help children to develop visuospatial skills some of which are linked to higher mathematical achievement.

    I’ve wrote about this issue in relation to the backlash against the Lego Friends range on page 4 of this essay. http://homepage.ntlworld.com/j.emmett/COOLnotCUTE/FIGHTERSandFASHIONISTAS.pdf

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