Adventurous Tales, Poetry, Reviews, Brain Rambles and Assorted Nonsense.
If you read this often you’ll know that I delight in hunting down Lego bargains. Partly that’s because Lego is insanely expensive, especially compared to the US – I frequently see the exact same numbers on price labels, except with sterling instead of dollars. That’s hurtful, although I can’t dispute that there’s huge value in Lego, I’m not convinced that an extra fifth is appropriate. Partly it’s because I genuinely love it when I’ve paid less.
Tesco has been good to me of late. It’s where we usually find the next series of Lego minifigures first, and has been the source of many reduced items. I still haven’t opened the Attack on Weathertop set (or my Jabba’s Palace) which I feel demonstrates awesome self-control; I’m waiting for the perfect building day… So imagine my delight when I checked out a bargain advertised on Hot UK Deals (which despite the frequent arsehole flaming often has good Lego notifications on it) and found they had reduced the £10 Lego Friends sets by 75%, plus the mini set bags and a handful of the weird Lego Chima sets by the same. Joy. Joy. Joy. Well worth the frantic dash between work and going to improv jam on Thursday. I acquired an heap.
I’ve admired the Lego Friends sets for a while. I did get the mini animal bags a while ago because they’re dinky little sets with a good number of bits. I wish I’d got more at Tesco because they’re packed with lovely blues, golds, greens and mustard yellows. There are a bunch of the light sabre handles / telescope pieces and more greenery is always welcome. Mind you, I don’t know what use I would have for dozens of squirrels and turtles. At 75p they presented superb value for brick and the more I think about it the more I’m kicking myself.
I picked up four of the formerly £10 Friends sets and while I am of course judging the value for money based on the crazy £2.50 per box I got them for, there are a surprising number of bits per box. Check out those gorgeous purple curtains in the magic set – you can almost taste the velvet. The vanishing bunny trick is neatly accomplished.
I know the Lego Friends stuff is aimed at girls, which I find a little sad. Are girls really so well instructed in gender bias that they won’t even look at toys without pinks and ponies? Evidently Lego have decided so, as the minifigures that come with these are very different from our usual bricky pals. The overlarge head and curved body are very familiar from the mutant Barbie and all the rip-offs since. They don’t have enormously deformed breasts which is probably a mercy.
I don’t know if they’ve released any male figures yet, which might be cool. It’s odd, especially because of late Lego has released far more clearly female characters, although the bias is still very much for male figures. I think it’s disappointing that Lego have had to market to boys and girls separately. From a brief review of some literature available about gender interests at early ages it’s very unclear what kids are naturally drawn to, or where their parents’ biases are already interfering in their choices. Maybe I just want my nieces to be into robots and monsters.
The Lego Friends sets feel quite different to other Lego sets and have lots of accessories, as well as the aforementioned awesome new colours. It seems closer to fulfilling Playmobil’s intention of having toys for almost every human endeavour. And that’s the bit that pisses me off I think – that the activities in Lego Friends (ponies, holiday camp, cafe/restaurant) are female aspirations whereas police, aliens and franchises are for boys. Grumble grumble.
I’m really looking forwards to using the colours as highlights in other designs. I’ve also seen the new Friends heads used in exoskeleton / space suit / EVA builds, adding a more human face into the construction – very cool. So these are the sets I got – pony worship, magician, Kendo practice (girly? I’m confused by the gender roles Lego promotes) and dog training.
Lego Friends is clearly awesome and not just for girls, just like all Lego is clearly brilliant and all should play. I think the designs, and the different box shape (smaller, more efficient with more sides) probably deter young boys. Certainly the incredible look of scorn I got from a six year old when I was buying them suggested that. My also buying Chima stuff seemed to mollify the brat however. More on Chima another time…