Saturday, January 7, 2012

Is LEGO for Girls a Stereotype too far?

The first female minifigure, those 4-centimeter people with the yellow heads, to appear in the January 2012 LEGO catalogue is a doctor ably holding up the back end of a stretcher with her male colleague in a new ambulance set.

Unfortunately, she doesn’t show up until page 12 of the catalogue, after dozens upon dozens of male ninjas, firefighters and all manner of villains. This is the paradox of LEGO for parents, especially parents of girls.

Lego, the famous Danish toy maker could provide an oasis from the anachronistic gender stereotypes so rampant these days, especially in its City line, where women might be employed in all sorts of capacities, as they are in real life and yet the fantasy lines such as Ninjago, Kingdoms, Hero Factory, and of course, Star Wars, are relentlessly male, with the rare exception of Princess Leia.

According to a recent article in Bloomberg Businessweek, focusing on boys was a specific business decision to get the LEGO Group out of a major financial crisis back in 2004 when they were losing $1 million a day. The strategy worked so well that revenues increased by 105% from 2006 to 2010, and sales in the U.S. topped $1 billion for the first time last year.

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