In a spirit of mischief but also with a genuine desire to further the debate about gender choices in toys for young children, I thought I would share with you the latest news from the Lego company.
If you have read my blog The danger [or not] of gender stereotyping in toys or Helen Lewis Hasteley's blog in the New Statesman: All I want for Christmas is… presents that aren’t bloody pink you will know that there are lots of strong views about whether or not we should - to generalise - be buying pink toys for girls and blue for boys.
Today I received one of those emails from amazon.co.uk designed to make me and other consumers spend any money I might have left after the holiday season. [Bad luck, not much in my case] News of new Lego products. A whole new set of pink Lego products. Here's the amazon blurb:
Welcome to Heartlake City and the world of LEGO Friends, a brand new range of construction sets and exciting mini-dolls for girls who love to build and play.
Centered around a beautiful, heart-shaped lake in the foothills of the Clearspring Mountains, Heartlake City is an amazing place to live where there is always something cool happening. It’s also the home to five special girls. Though they are best friends, each has their own personality and different hobbies.
Sound a bit yukky and stereotyping and all the other things we would probably agree that are not either politcally correct or desirable in the twenty first century? I am not sure how comfortable I am with this marketing BUT never the less I have a seven year old Granddaughter who I know would really love this and would play with it non-stop if it arrived on her birthday. And I feel [as a Grandmother and retired teacher] it would probably help with her spatial awareness when building the Butterfly Beauty Shop or Olivia's Tree House.
In an investigative mood and looking for balance I visited the Lego website to see what new toys for [presumably] boys had been announced. [January is the time when new toys are announced, merchandised and the big sell starts for the Christmas 2012 market]
So new for boys: Well Lego City has some new additions due for 2012. Would boys prefer these to Lego Friends? Undoubtedly. Would girls like Lego City? Well, yes I would think so, although the colours are predominantly blue and the subjects: police, fire services, forest patrol, helicopters, space vehicles could possibly be considered to be more masculine? Here's amazon blurb on one of the Lego City products the Mobile Police Unit:
Move to the action with the Mobile Police Unit!
Move the LEGO City Mobile Police Unit right into the action. As the detective monitors the control center, he alerts the police officer that the robber is escaping in a sports car with a bar of gold. Chase him down on the police motorcycle and put him in the mobile station’s prison.
BTW I loved the Lego City camper! Here's the amazon blurb:
It’s holiday season in LEGO City and the good times are ready to roll courtesy of the LEGO City Camper Van.
Go on a holiday to remember, visit the sea and indulge in a little surfing, then go for a long bike ride, followed by a spot of grilled fish for dinner. The perfect setting for a fantastic time had by all, pack up the Camper Van and hit the open road to see where it leads. Featuring a surfboard, bike and grill, the LEGO City Camper Van has a kitchen and sleeping area, a plasma TV, working doors and opens out fully to enhance and broaden scope of play. The LEGO City Camper Van also comes with two minifigures ready for the time of their lives as you take them on a real adventure. The perfect addition or even start to any LEGO collection, the Camper Van provides hours of entertainment and a whole range of road-trip scenarios just waiting to be built upon.
Of course there are lots of other 'sets': Harry Potter; Knights; Star Wars.
So I have said that I would probably buy one of my Granddaughters. And probably one of my Grandsons would enjoy one of the Lego City range. But the others? Well one Granddaughter would not like Lego at all, one Grandson already loves the Knights and Castles range and for the smallest one it is too soon to tell. But do we buy pink for the girls and blue for the boys? I'll leave that question hanging. But luckily for Other Half it isn't something he has to worry about, being colour blind, he just buys the toys they ask for!
NB: This is not an advert for Lego toys - again just using them as an example!
Photos courtesy of www.lego.com