December 19, 2012

Legos are for Boys, Apparently

My sister and I had those big boxes of legos and k’necks growing up. They came with instructional booklets on how to build twenty to thirty different things. After building everything at least half a dozen times, we started coming up with our own designs. We built race cars to launch from the top at the stairs. At first the goal was to have the car that remained the most intact and go the furthest, but it quickly devolved to whose car could break apart the most.

We must have thought we were boys.

Domingo and I were in the toy isle at Target and noticed that the toy that is the basis of so many child hood memories is not the same. Gone are the generic kids with large instructional booklets in favor of very specialized kits, and they’re no longer gender neutral.

Boy legos are for building and exploring new worlds: the wild west, dinosaurs, space travel and deep ocean adventures. What could be cooler than building your space station, and then visiting the National Air and Space Museum? Or building your deep ocean explorer and seeing the sharks in the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Legos are a great learning tool in their own right, building toys promote spacial awareness, but you can build on the interests sparked by those kits for all kinds of opportunities to learn.

Girl legos are pastel. You can build beauty parlors and bakeries. Where do you go from there? Good job with the bakery, Nicki, now let’s make some cupcakes? I love to bake, and I hope my daughter enjoys baking with me as well. I also like pink, and pastels, but that doesn’t mean I want Nicki to be awash in pink things. I hope she dreams of space travel, or exploring the ocean in her own submarine one day. Why should she be regulated to little plastic figures with budding breasts, and focus her attention on beauty and food?

I don’t fault Legos for this ‘girl legos’ design, it’s a response to consumer demand. If they didn’t sell, stores would stop carrying them and manufactures would stop making them. And the good news is there is a consumer shift. Swedish toy manufacture produced a gender neutral catalog, and while there was a backlash to the catalog, Metal recently announced they’re making a Barbie construction set. Although, I’m sure it’s primary color will be pink.

In the mean time, this consumer has made a decision: Nicki will be playing with boy legos too.

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