Fuck you, Lego

After a petition signed by thousands of customers asking LEGO to build a female scientist series, after LEGO’s own contest winner was a female scientist toy, and after that toy was actually created and then sold out, news breaks that LEGO’s Research Institute is, in fact, a limited edition. That’s right, after just two weeks on the market, the female scientists will no longer be sold by major retailers at a competitive price.

LEGOS-master180

The female scientists are banished to become collector’s items.

The New York Times reports:

Within days of its appearance early this month, the Research Institute — a paleontologist, an astronomer and a chemist — sold out on Lego’s website and will not be available at major retailers, including Target and Walmart.

 

Toys “R” Us did carry the line, but according to associates reached by telephone at two of its New York stores, it sold out at those locations as well.

A Toys “R” Us spokeswoman, Kathleen Waugh, said in an email that it would be available in about a week at the company’s Times Square and F.A.O. Schwarz stores.

Lego said the set was manufactured as a limited edition, meaning it was not mass-produced. The true enthusiast can still buy the Research Institute at Amazon.com, however, but for about three times its $19.99 retail price.

So instead of launching a major marketing campaign for the scientists, the way they did for Friends, for example, showing non-stop ads on TV and creating mini-movies featuring the figs all over the internet, these scientists will be hidden from kidworld. The figs won’t be seen on T-shirts, shoes sold at Stride Rite, lunchboxes or cereal boxes. There is no upcoming blockbuster movie where a chemist, astronomer, and paleontologist are a team of brilliant, brave heroes fighting evil. No, instead, LEGO’s female scientists are destined to a similar fate as female superheroes, possible to find if parents scour the internet, but missing from your children’s daily life, not present in stores that sell kids’ clothing, books, and toys, a venue where our children will mostly likely have to settle for slave Leia

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or girls who hang out at the cafe or beauty salon.

Cafe

Almost since I started this blog, I’ve been writing about the ridiculously sexist stereotypes marketed to kids by LEGO. The problem for me is I see so much potential in this toy. It’s a great toy, but it’s so limited in what it creates. I’ve blogged about LEGO’s great gender inclusive ad from the early 80s,

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about how it’s challenging for LEGO to make sets with females when movies like “Star Wars” and “Lord of the Rings” don’t feature females, the Minority Feisty in LEGO’s own movie, I posted a letter sent to me by 14 year old girl complaining to the company that got 10,000 hits in hours on my site; I’ve written about sexism for Jezebel, I’ve been on Fox News and Huffington Post Live, and I’ve spent countless hours advocating through social media to put powerful and diverse female heroes in toys. I have three daughters who I’d love to buy these kinds of LEGO toys for, and I keep thinking the company is going to get it and change. It’s such an obvious win-win: LEGO makes money, kids get toys that don’t teach them gender stereotypes. But this latest move retracting a sold out toy, a toy that won a popular contest and was also driven by a petition with so many signatures is too much for me. I’m sick of LEGO opting to let social media gender equality advocates do their marketing for them. I’m not getting anything out of this relationship. Yes, you met with us once, but now I feel teased, manipulated, lied to, and dumped. I have nothing left to write but fuck you, LEGO, or, better said in the words of my eleven year old daughter’s idol, the great poet of break ups, Taylor Swift, we are never, ever getting back together.

Swift’s lyrics:

I remember when we broke up the first time
Saying, “This is it, I’ve had enough,” ’cause like
We hadn’t seen each other in a month
When you said you needed space. (What?)
Then you come around again and say
“Baby, I miss you and I swear I’m gonna change, trust me.”
Remember how that lasted for a day?
I say, “I hate you,” we break up, you call me, “I love you.”Ooh, we called it off again last night
But ooh, this time I’m telling you, I’m telling youWe are never ever ever getting back together,
We are never ever ever getting back together,
You go talk to your friends, talk to my friends, talk to me
But we are never ever ever ever getting back togetherLike, ever…I’m really gonna miss you picking fights
And me falling for it screaming that I’m right
And you would hide away and find your peace of mind
With some indie record that’s much cooler than mineOoh, you called me up again tonight
But ooh, this time I’m telling you, I’m telling youWe are never, ever, ever getting back together
We are never, ever, ever getting back together
You go talk to your friends, talk to my friends, talk to me (talk to me)
But we are never ever ever ever getting back togetherOoh, yeah, ooh yeah, ooh yeah
Oh oh ohI used to think that we were forever ever
And I used to say, “Never say never…”
Uggg… so he calls me up and he’s like, “I still love you,”
And I’m like… “I just… I mean this is exhausting, you know, like,
We are never getting back together. Like, ever”No!We are never ever ever getting back together
We are never ever ever getting back together
You go talk to your friends, talk to my friends, talk to me
But we are never ever ever ever getting back togetherWe, ooh, getting back together, ohhh,
We, ooh, getting back togetherYou go talk to your friends, talk to my friends, talk to me (talk to me)
But we are never ever ever ever getting back together

91 thoughts on “Fuck you, Lego

  1. Wow lots of comments here!
    I agree that there quite some potential left for more female characters.
    The way you argue still is … one-sided.

    As some people already mentioned you can just swap the LEGO parts. That’s the general idea behind how they have been designed. And right up from the start there have been female characters included (though the only way to tell have been the hair and maybe a skirt ^.^).

    One reason why there are more “men-minifigures” is that LEGO customers are mostly men, though of course there’s also a big part of female customers.

    It’s like with Barby or other toys that have (mostly) been made for girls. It’s true that there is KEN and nowadays ther might be even more plastic boyfriends for Barby and whatever new characters there are today, but I’ve never seen an argument starting like yours about “Barby”.
    “Fuck you BARBY!” because you don’t appeal to boys and men as you appeal to girls… and you’re not even trying! Well I hope you get my point.
    (And there are not changeable bodyparts concerning barby…)

    There is nothing wrong about LEGO designing a lot of their toys for boys as they are the main target group. Since LEGO is a company of course they want to grow even more and they produce more LEGO that is more appealing to girls.
    But yeah that LEGO seems to be FRIENDS and DISNEY PRINCESS and stuff like that more than more gender neutral LEGO-Sets. (I’d say that LEGO City for example is pretty gender neutral nowadays. I personally didn’t like to have too many girl-minifigures amongst mine when I was younger so those never have been in my favor and I think that the possibility to exchange parts to make them “female” is a good solution to appeal to everybody equaly without losing your main customers).

    And again… I never heard anybody complain about LEGO FRIENDS not including enough strong male characters. Why is that?

    You article is way too feminist (what equals extremist what equals stupid).
    You didn’t do your background research about LEGO before posting this, neither did you do your background research about Star Wars.
    LEGO came up with some themes that have a franchise behind them, like star wars. So they cannot just come up with characters that have never been included.
    You show us Princess Leia (A STRONG FEMALE CHARACTER!) trying to show us how LEGO is being all sexist about it.
    But IN TRUTH it has been the other way around if you look up why Princess Leia actually did wear that custom. It has been the actor who wanted a custom showing more of her body as she thought that her womanhood should be shown.
    Wearing that custom she shows that she is proud of her body and of her being a woman. The character itself is a strong character, just like wonderwoman or supergirl etc.
    Sex sells and that’s why not only female characters but also male characters are dressed in “sexy” outfits. If you cannot accept that it’s okay but you have no right to go all crazy about it and scream “SEXISM!!!” all the time. Sexism is a word I can no longer stand. If it pleases people they use it, but in another context there has never been any sexism included.

    You might call it standing up for women but I call it being oversensitive.
    If you have nothing better to do than complaining about how LEGO is not yet dominated by female characters and women-minifigures and that there is not your 50% 50% balance that should be there because you feel it is sexist then there doesn’t seem to be anything better to do.

    When I start a swordfight with my daughter she loves it as does my boy. But my girls likes to be a princess and a Jediknight and a pirate and lots more.
    But my boy just never seems to enjoy the thought of being a princess… If anybody is discriminated when it comes to “equality” it doesn’t seem to be the girls.

    Instead of going all crazy about smaller amounts of female LEGO minifigures you should start working on encouraging boys more to life up to whatever they want to do instead of leaving them inside of their roles while girls are free to life up to whatever they want.

    My girl still prefers the FRIENDS Series and she goes all nuts about Disney Princess no matter how much I encourage her in other sets. Because she WANTS those and she does not so much want the others. I have learned to accept that (though I would have prefered the parisian restaurant or lots of other sets… and I still have problems to accept that there are not swordfights included in LEGO FRIENDS… but there are none and my girl doesn’t seem to want them).

    My boy on the other hand is not so much into the friends theme but from time to time you can watch them play together and it doesn’t seem to be a big deal to them to mix all the themes and LEGOs.
    If my girls wants a minifigure to be female she just takes another head or sometimes only other hair. (The Friend theme hair fits on the normal LEGO heads!).

    In conclusion I would like to say that:
    1. You should stop acting all crazy about sexism that does not exist the way you say it does.
    2. You don’t seem to know much about LEGO or about the themes but you liked to use it as peg for your feminist nonesense. That’s my main problem about it. You take whatever you want without caring and try to get your point through with putting the story together the way it helps your story. That’s just not right. My kids enjoy LEGO and my wife and I ware both LEGO enthusiast (or Adult Fan Of LEGO = AFOL).
    LEGO was a great idea and it is a great joy to many people. Including men, women and whatever else there might be. LEGO could establish itself and just became the biggest toy manufacturer. That’s because it does appeal to that many people.
    If you have a good idea that people want to spend moeny for go for it! But stop slate whatever does not satisfy your need for more female empowerment.
    3. You should get your background information together before writing a pseudo-critical article. Posting a picture of Leia in that context is just not befitting.
    People will always have different opinions and behaviour and will like to wear different clothes etc. Accept it or not but stop making such a fuzz about it.

    I did accept that my girl wants Lego Friends and you should start to accept that most of the girls seem to be happy about what LEGO offers them.
    Tell me true how would you like to change it? 50% 50% do we really need to go that path? Do you also wish to change the Barby collection because you feel it is sexist?
    If I don’t like a LEGO Set I do not buy it. And believe me there are a lot of them! It’s sad that the LEGO cuusoo/ideas set has only been out for such a short time but there will be others and more female minifigures. So if you feel the need to get some more female minifigures just get yourself the right sets. Sorry that there are no female stormtroopers in the star wars sets and not enough female knights in the lego castle sets. Even the pirate sets seem to be male dominated… sorry about that too! If we come to construction workers and trains and western… you got me there! But when I look in my history books I don’t see too many female knights or cowboys or pirates mentioned. Even construction workers are mostly male (yep there are a few female…. as there are a few female lego minifigures!)
    But what you want is not a nice toy for children but what exactly? The new adventures of strong female characters theme? I tell you something: Why not? Design a nice set and put it online for people to vote for it and you might get lucky and LEGO might publish it.
    Here is the link: https://ideas.lego.com/
    I already gave you the idea, if want to come up with a nice design and put some work into it your welcome. But people like you prefer to talk bad about whatever they like but when it comes to doing real work they prefer to do nothing at all.
    If I had to design a Set for you I would call it the Crazy feminist Set. Girls will be too young to understand it though and might start playing with them either way giving them a nice piece of cake and cupcakes… Are there any male characters included in the crazy feminist set? well obviously but only mean characters of course. Still might be that girls end up with them as “heroes” who rescue the princess. or they just enjoy themselves with a nice cupcake.
    BECAUSE KIDS ARE NOT SEXIST and don’t care about it.

  2. Hi! Your post inspired me to write to Lego and complain. I got this response. Make of it what you will. Love your work, (as far as I have read).

    Dear Madam,

    Thank you for your mail. It’s always nice and good to get feedback and we will pass your comments forward to the relevant department. As for the Research Institute, it is definitely coming back in stock, however we do not have a specific date for it as of yet. The best thing is really to keep an eye on our website, where everything is always advertised first.

    Actually we do have some other female figures in our sets. Just to name a few: the pilot of 60013’s helicopter, the forklift driver of 60020, the police officer of 850617,the ambulance driver of 4429,the forest police officer of 4440, one of our Monster Fighter adventurers, the fire-fighter of 60003, 850618 or 60004, the construction worker of 60026, and the driver of our fast train, the Horizon express….. are all women! And are all doing some pretty awesome and exciting jobs J

    We try to stay true to the story of the licensed sets that we create, and you will find that we have included several female comic characters in our ensembles (examples: Harley Quinn appears in three sets:7886, 10937 and 6857 ; Wonder Woman appears in 6862; Poison Ivy appears in 10937, 6860 and 7785; Black widow appears in 6869; Catwoman appears in 6858 and 7779)

    There are loads of cool tiny yellow role models in our sets, and the beauty of LEGO toys means that YOU can make even more! Just swap a head on one of your burglars and there you go! You can even design the minifigures of your dreams from head to toe by using our parts order systems, Pick A Brick and Bricks & Pieces.

    Hope this gives you and your daughter a clearer idea what we have available at the moment.
    Kind regards

    Tapio
    LEGO® Service

  3. It could be better, but Lego does have female characters in other sets. Last year’s City Advent calendar came with female firefighters and other characters.

    Yes, the Lego Ideas line are limited edition sets. But I think this set has social importance that transcends that policy. There’s nothing stopping Lego from making it a permanent set, especially given the popularity.

    Though, I’m not sure why the author only sees slave Leia, I have several sets with Leia minifigs where she’s not in the slave outfit. Maybe the others have sold out, or maybe because the Jabba set is popular right now. I don’t know.

    I agree, female representation in Lego is well under what it should be. And I agree with the author in that the Friends’ line doesn’t count – those are not minifigs, and the colour schemes definitely say “this is ‘different’ Lego.” In many stores, they’re even shelved with the dolls, and not the rest of the lego.

    The author has an excellent point in that Lego has fallen into the trap of mimicking Hollywood for not just licensed lines, but their own lines as well. They need more female “leads” than Hollywood. There’s plenty of demand for it, from both boys and girls.

    • HI Gustav,

      You want to see something disturbing? Just after I wrote this post breaking up with the LEGO, an interview came out with the CEO of LEGO where he said there was no reason to make more females, movies don’t have equal females! Like that’s his justification, everything is great in Hollywood and great at LEGO. Hasn’t he ever heard of the Bechdel test? It really makes me think there is no point in reasoning with this company, here is the quote and link: Lego CEO Jørgen Vig Knudstorp: “I don’t buy this premise that the number of minifigures needs to be an equal amount to be gender neutral,” he said. “Nobody makes artistic products like that, nobody makes a movie and says there has to be equal numbers of men and women.”

  4. Why not just put a female head on a regular scientist body? Or just a feminine haircut on a generic head? The sort of prescriptive representation you’re looking for in Lego minifigs goes against the whole build-what-you-want ethos that is the whole point of Lego blocks. If I take the head off the Leia minifig, give the head to a pirate minifig (swapping the hair out with a tricorner hat), put the hair on a gas station attendant minifig, and put an Islander head w/ headdress on the Leia body, I’m halfway to my own female version of The Village People. And if your response is “well, they weren’t packaged that way,” I would say that they were packaged with the ability to have body parts swapped out in that manner, and that this sort of creative modification is pretty much the whole point of Lego. Dissatisfied with the female characters they give you? Make your own.

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  6. This article makes me frustrated with Lego, I used to play with Legos as a kid with my sister and she got this set that was pink and had horses but at least it required you to put it together like most sets back in the early 90’s it came in a lot of pieces and she and I also had a lot of fun building weird things from all the different sets we had mashed together; towers and ships, islands and so on.

    One of my favorite Lego people was actually a girl, I swapped the female hair onto a sunglasses wearing Lego head at some point and I made her ride around in a spaceship I built and my sister liked to pull all the heads off the Lego people and stick them on the brick walls signifying some kind of freaky island place where people would eat you, and we played some weird combination of play battles and house at the same time.

    I guess what I’m getting at is when I look back at playing with Legos I like to think of them as toys anyone can enjoy and play with and I’m disappointed at the new girl Lego sets I think they are lazy, my sister barely touched the pink Lego set anyhow after it was built she just wanted the horses and people out of it – I think we both would have loved to play with this set had it come out when we were both children it’s a shame they don’t make more sets like this with female Legos that have interesting jobs for girls and boys to enjoy.

    • Hi Jake,

      Thanks for your comment. A male friend of mine pointed out that in his sets, when he was a kid, he and his friends always incorporated the female figs into their narratives because there were female figs. Now there aren’t hardly any so males play with male toys and females, maybe get to play with female toys. Gender segregation leads to stereotypes, its awful.

      Margot

  7. So, Princess Leia being enslaved is “sexist” Umm, didn’t she choke Jabba the Hutt with those chains in Return of the Jedi? And I remember several strong female characters in Lord of the Rings?

    • Hi Kevin,

      Leia killing Jabba is a part of the story, she is sold with a chain and a not strangled Jabba and that image of her, in her bikini with a chain, is everywhere. Its difficult to find other images of Leia in stores. That narrative has gotten so twisted that in the NYT best-seller “Vaer’s Little Princess” the teenage Leia choose to wear the slave outfit as her act of rebellion. The Leia doll is also sold in this outfit http://reelgirl.com/2014/06/slut-shaming-princess-leia-or-protecting-childhood-from-adult-sexuality/

      As far as Lord of the Rings, like most movies, there is a tiny minority of strong females, I call these characters Minority Feisty, they exist, but in most often in a minimal ratio compared to male characters.

      Margot

      • Here’s the big problem I have with your site and your thinking in general. Yes, it is true that there are far more male characters in most action films than females (romantic comedies, dramas, and other films are far more balanced). You can’t just conclude that all of this is due to sexism for three important reasons.

        1. Hollywood wants to make money. If women really wanted to see more action movies with female leads then they would buy tickets and go. This just hasn’t happened. The receipts for “Lara Croft” simply don’t come close to “Star Wars,”LOTR” or most other superhero films.

        2. The idea of a woman physically challenging a man is just ridiculous for many women and men to accept. It is a biological reality that women are not as strong as men. I can accept someone like Arnold Schwarzenegger beating up a room full of guys (when he was young), but it is a little hard to see Jennifer Lawrence or Zoe Saldana doing this.

        3. There is a huge difference between what women say they want and what they actually respond to. Many women will say that they are tired of men dominating everything, but they find dominant men in movies and books very attractive. Two years ago, women were indulging in a book (soon to be movie) called “50 shades of Grey.” Even in our modern society, women still fantasize about a man who is dominant (in more ways than one), confident, and in control.

        • Hi Kevin,

          1. Movies that star women do make money. “Catching Fire” was the biggest moneymaker of 2013.

          2. The idea of a woman challenging a man is ridiculous, but the idea of a man flying, turning invisible, heat ray vision, that’s all totally plausible? It’s amazing to me how people argue “realism” when its convenient.

          3. Power is complicated. The media recycles on perception again and again. Everyone likes competence, to see someone do something and do it well. I’ve never read 50 Shades, I heard the writing sucks.

        • I’m a woman, and:

          1. I love action movies. That being said, the Lara Croft movie sucked so no one watched it. :shrug: Kill Bill is one of my favorites (it did really well in theaters + I own it) and one of my favorite movies ever is The Matrix, featuring awesomely bad ass Trinity (That also did well in theaters). That’s just 2 very popular movies featuring kick ass women, and there are many more.

          2. I don’t watch action movies for realism, do you? But since you went there: http://youtu.be/zg-_hiFKdsU
          http://youtu.be/Z5p3kCUn5Gc

          There’s many other examples but you get the idea, I’m sure.

          3. 50 Shades of Grey is well known to be very shittily written Twilight fanfic with the serial numbers scraped off (not that there’s anything wrong with fanfic). I refuse to read crap, but many people don’t have the same problem do they? If I wanted to read about BDSM that would not be the book I would choose.

          :)

  8. I am disappointed in Lego for making the scientist line limited. But there are ways around the lack of female characters. After all, a lot of the characters come apart. You can mix and match the characters into whatever you want them to be. We need to play with our children and teach them they can be what they wants to be.

    We did get a nice off brand brick build veterinary office for my daughter, she loves it.

    Article is a good read. I read through some of the other comments and will be on the look out for some of the other toys mentioned as alternatives.

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  10. Teach your daughter to grow up and make female based toys that are science, math, engineering and construction based. She can make her own line and sell them to Mattel or Fisher Price or whomever she wants when she’s successful. Show her how to patent her ideas or send her to the show Shark Tank and let the world see both of your ideas NOW! Don’t give up. I was made my son wanted an Easy Bake oven and it was pink. Really the top chefs of the world are male! I wrote to them (can’t remember now who puts out the oven it was 15 yrs ago) and they made it look like a mad scientist oven with horrible recipes that my son didn’t like. So we bought the girls ingredients to use in the oven for the boys. So dumb…boys don’t eat brownies! Feeling your pain!

    • “Teach your daughter to grow up and make female based toys that are science, math, engineering and construction based.”

      This doesn’t actually give her or other girls toys to play with NOW, especially since it’s incredibly unlikely that she’ll actually be able to sell them to a big toy company. And what if she doesn’t want to be a toy designer? It’s a specific skill set.

      “Really the top chefs of the world are male!”

      Only because of centuries of massive sexism in professional cooking going back to the court of Louis XV. Go educate yourself before you say these things.

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  13. I am male, I buy lego, and I am annoyed that there are a lack of female figures. All the ones I have are either super heroes or Wyldstar from the Lego Movie. I was hoping to purchase this female scientist set myself. I cant afford “special collections” of Lego either.

  14. The reason it’s important to have actual female characters that aren’t smurfettes, in actual common sets instead of collector sets, and in shows, is because some of us cannot afford these special toys.

    I can turn on pretty much any show on netflix and my son will see a range of role models. we can go to even the cheapest store, and he still has lots of active stuff, directed at him, and available.
    but my daughter.? It takes a ton of effort just to find stuff thats not totally degrading, or so gender limited its ridiculous. From TV shows to toys, it’s a fight just to find toys that aren’t all about white boys, or boys in general.

    low income people can’t buy a bunch of legos to switch them, if we get any at all. all we get are the media images, so it would be great if they weren’t so unbalanced. I solve the problem by limiting toys, because we can’t afford them anyway. We avoid TV, and spend most days outside on bikes and such.

    and still, this crap sleaze its way in. and by crap, I mean males as the only true humans, and women as a sidekick if at all.

    • Why not both WHAT? Nobody is saying “don’t make the stereotypically feminine toys,” we’re saying “don’t make ONLY the stereotypically feminine toys”.

  15. I am saddened by the fact that, because it was a fan created thing, the female scientist range was limited edition. I was annoyed by the lack of female figures as a child, and feel toys in general are too gender stereotyped. It isn’t just Lego that does this, but as a leader in the toymarket it should be leading the way not shoving girls into dumb categories and stupid beauty salons. Yes some girls like that, but all of them should be given a chance to see their gender as capable of more.

  16. Keep fighting the good fight. I cannot believe how much ire the simple suggestion to introduce female characters draws in this day and age. I had a similar experience trying to discuss LEGO Ninjago. “I don’t have a problem with cartoons aimed at boys vs girls,” was one response, failing to address what exactly the problem would be in having female characters in fiction that appeals to boys. Is it that it would fail to let them know that white males are the only ones who matter? I’m not sure, but as the mother of boys, it’s really frustrating to me. I want my boys to have good role models for who they should be in the world, and also good role models of how they should treat people. As you point out, the advertising is so pervasive that even kids who don’t watch or buy the show/toy in question are still absorbing its message.

      • Nobody wants misogynist slurs from men, either, but here you are.

        It doesn’t matter who you’re talking about, or how little you like her, or how righteous and justified you feel, calling women “bitchy” is misogynist. Acting as though you have the right to decide how realistic a portrayal of women is is misogynist. Presuming to speak with authority on media portrayals of women WHILE WOMEN ARE TALKING ABOUT IT is either a) astonishingly tone-deaf; or (and considering your use of “bitchy,” infinitely more likely) b) misogynist.

        Rolling up to reply to a thread about institutional sexism and casually reiterating the terms of our oppression like we needed reminding is ALSO misogynist, by the way.

        Please don’t reply to this. Just go away and think about what you said and why you felt it needed to be here at the end of such a heartbreaking article, like a cherry bomb on a poison sundae.

        Never buying Lego again.

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  18. I didn’t know there is a Princess Leia in chains in the Lego-world. Thanks for closing that knowledge-gap :-)
    When I was a kid, we had no figures, only the bricks. Made it easier, maybe…
    Liked the article!

  19. Two things, 1. if you dont like it, don’t buy it.. 2. there are plenty of female mini figs around in other sets, there are torso’s, hair & heads a plenty… MAKE YOUR OWN… its what the rest of us do!

    Just because its not on the box, doesnt mean its not there. The best part about Lego is its creativity, you know, that imagination thing you used to have. Maybe you have dulled it down a little with alcohol or perhaps cynicism because of your misguided perceptions.

    Worry about the real things in life.. by the way, your title says its all, it spells out exactly the kind of person you are.. My glass if half full, yours clearly is not!

    • Hi Dan M,

      People write “Don’t buy it” to me all the time. My kids– and all kids– see this stuff everywhere they go, these images make up their world. Even if I don’t take my kids to yet another movie where the male is the protag, they see the poster, the T-shirts, the games etc. Yes, you can create stuff and I do all the time, but its challenging where there is not a single female mascot on a children’s cereal box and so many females that do exist are princesses.

      Margot

    • You are right that the best part of Lego is creativity. But look at the stuff that Lego markets to girls. There is little room for creativity with them. Look at the cafe picture she posted. The cafe looks like it is only 4 Lego blocks. What else could be built with that? The best part of Lego is creativity, but Lego seems to think that this is only possessed by boys, and that girls are vapid creatures who just want to play dress up and have their nails done.

      As for your attack on her personally, that is definitely not cool. She has had bad experience with Lego over the years (see the articles she linked), and has gotten to a point where she is fed up. And at some point all that’s left to say is “Fuck You”

    • How about taking your own advice? If you don’t like the article, don’t complain about it, just go make your own.

      Hmm? Oh, suddenly it doesn’t work that way, and public criticism is a vital part of social discourse if its YOU doing it?

      Interesting.

    • Hi Robin,

      The whole message is cryptic:

      “On August 1st, LEGO Ideas launched two sets: #21109 Exo Suit and #21110 Research Institute. Currently, both sets have sold through their initial stock and are back-ordered. This means that more sets are on the way, so we hope you will be able to secure these and other special sets from LEGO Ideas”

      And leads me, once again, to quote Taylor Swift:

      Then you come around again and say
      “Baby, I miss you and I swear I’m gonna change, trust me.”
      Remember how that lasted for a day?
      I say, “I hate you,” we break up, you call me
      I’m telling you we are never ever ever getting back together,
      We are never ever ever getting back together”

      If supply and demand determined LEGO sets, they would be totally different than they currently are. I fear, instead, stereotypes/ male dominated Hollywood determine LEGO sets.

      Margot

    • Hi Chester,

      I get that a lot, people telling me I’m wasting my time for pointing out how kidword trains the next generation to expect and accept a world where females go missing.

      Margot

    • Time spent trying to make the world a place where our kids can grow up thinking women are human beings !!!even though they aren’t men!!! isn’t “free time,” its “parenting.” This isn’t rocket science, here. Its a lot more important, and you can’t just get another military grant if you screw up and your kid blows up in a tactically exciting way.

      Your dismissal of the ACTUAL harm these attitudes cause is – shocking, I know – the result of being raised to think sexism is a woman’s problem, and subsequently no big deal. That idea is wrong and bad, and I hope further contributions to discussions of institutional misogyny will be better informed.

      Look for me in the future.

      • Hi jort-timer syndrome,

        Great comment, love how you say this:

        “Your dismissal of the ACTUAL harm these attitudes cause is – shocking, I know – the result of being raised to think sexism is a woman’s problem, and subsequently no big deal.”

        Margot

  20. What the…? I don’t get this.

    I played with Legos my whole childhood. Not *once* did I cry about the lack of females, or pink blocks, or whatever. I loved it as is, and used my imagination and had fun…. I never needed a woman Lego scientist for me to believe I could be one when I grew up! And I will make sure my daughter feels the same way.

    You want a female scientist/hero/whatever? Switch the heads! Or just the hair even. There ya go. Problem solved. Lego is great.

    • How about we don’t put the entire onus on the people who aren’t represented to represent themselves in their homes? How about we don’t go the route of expecting Sister Suffragette to hide her politics in the form of Tupperware parties and alcoholic cough syrup? How about we support the marginalized for once?

  21. Thank you for writing this. I have another example of how Lego pissed me off: My daughters want anything Lego and anything Wonder Woman. To get a set with Wonder Woman you can buy the Superman vs. Power Armor Lex. Which we did. Power Armor Lex has a Kriptonite powered suit, so you’d think that Wonder Woman would be coming in to save the day, but no. On the box and description she’s been captured and it is up to Superman. Wonder Woman as hostage? Barf, Lego.

    I am a female scientist, and I wanted this set for my kids.

  22. Even my 6 year old daughter throws her hands up when she sees ‘girl’ Lego. I want a plane not a pet shop she has told me. We check out the blue side of the toy store on a regular basis, and are left wondering why only the boys are race car drivers, heroes, and pirates. I don’t think she is the only one.

  23. Actually, the complaint shouldn’t be that it was a limited edition, the complaint should be how low of a run Lego made. There are plenty of the Ectomobile sets (an absolutely incredible set that my 8 year old daughter had fun building (along with my 4.5 year old son)) at my local Toys R Us, and I was easily able to buy the Delorean long after it was initially sold.

    I really did want to buy this scientist set for my daughter, but I am not giving up on Lego. I am disappointed, but I am not giving up on Lego, they are too important a toy to be done with.

  24. Seriously? It’s Cuusoo. The Cuusoo winner is *always* limited edition. Try finding a Delorean or Ecto-1 on store shelves still. The terms of the contest are quite clear.

    • Hi Rachel,

      So you’re basically saying we’re all idiots for hyping this contest all over the internet while it was happening, for Tweeting and Facebooking the winner, for telling everyone, look, YAY LEGO, you made female scientists. Maybe you’re right, we are idiots. And once again, I’m done with LEGO.

      Margot

  25. Goldie Blox is small but growing! They are the hope for decent construction toys! I like to give Goldie Blox instead of Legos to the kids I know.

  26. You… really don’t understand how CUUSO/Lego Ideas works, do you?

    ALL sets produced under this fan-submitted model are always limited editions. They’ll do two production runs at most, with the Minecraft set being the lone exception. (Which was submitted by Mojang, the company that owns the IP, and has a player base of millions, and looks like it’ll be expanded into its own line, but I’m getting off-topic.) Most serious fans knew the set was going to be limited, and it’s part of the reason these sets sold out so fast. I put my order in August 1st at midnight because I knew it was a limited run. I imagine lots of other people did the same.

    Other CUUSO/Ideas sets have been treated the same way. The Curiosity Rover sold out in hours, and Lego didn’t make any more after a second run, and they’re out of stock on the Exo-Suit, which sold out much faster than the Research Institute, no word on how many more of those they’ll make.

    I don’t know why Lego does limited editions for the fan-submitted stuff, but that’s their established business model. Some marketing executive could probably give you an extensive power-point presentation as to why they do it that way. (Probably the limited run drives sales velocity, or something.) Maybe their models are wrong, or maybe they know a whole lot more about making and selling toys than you or I do. Who knows?

    You expected a huge media blitz to promote the set? Webisodes and t-shirts? They never do that for CUUSO/Ideas sets. It’s not a line. It’s just one set. It was always going to be just one limited-edition set. Some folks round the blogosphere or in the news were holding the Research Institute as some sort of panacea for Lego’s gender issue, but Lego never made that claim themselves.

    All Lego offers you for female representation is Slave Leia? You’re being awfully disingenuous. You could get Slave Leia if you chose to spend $120.00 to buy Jabba’s Sail Barge. More likely you’d buy a much cheaper set that had Wyldstyle from the Lego Movie or Eris from the Chima line, and they’re hardly the only options available. Granted, there’s a major Smurfette Principle at work in the boys’ lines, but please don’t pretend Slave Leia is all that there is.

    Lego certainly has problems with gender stereotyping, but a lot it has to do with gender segregation in the toy stores, with boys’ and girls’ toys put in totally different sections. Lego has been making the gender-neutral Creator line for ages, but the stores will place them in the boys’ section because the boxes aren’t pink. The Friends boxes *are* pink, so they do get placed in the girl’s section, where girls can see them and ask their parents for them. And, unlike every other attempt Lego has made to market to girls, the Friends line has been successful. In fact, it’s been one of the most successful lines in Lego’s history. So it’s a mixed bag. Friends are getting more and more girls to play with Lego, thus getting the proven benefits of increased spacial awareness, etc., but at the expense of reinforcing a lot of existing gender stereotypes.

    Granted, I think Lego could do a lot more than are. And I realize you can’t use profit-making to excuse yourself from all social responsibility. Particularly since Lego is so huge, and is in such good financial shape at the moment, I agree they need to have pressure put on them to be more inclusive. But they’ve also been taking baby-steps forward in a lot of ways. Eris from Chima is a huge improvement from Nya in Ninjago, both in her prominence and the number of sets she comes in, although any other female character in that line tend to be single-set only, and still lag way behind the number of unique male characters, so the Smurfette principle is still in place, but it’s still an improvement. Likewise, it isn’t true that Lego Friends don’t have jobs or don’t go on adventures. Maybe it was when that letter was written, but if you check Lego’s site right now, you’ll see a number of sets that show them at jobs, and the summer 2014 line is “Jungle Adventures,” which has them doing animal rescue in the jungle. Also, if you want a science kit, you can find one in the science room in Friends Heartlake High. A minifig female scientist (along with a minifig female super-agent) can be found in the Ultra Agents Mission HQ set. I’ll admit that’s a $100.00 set, but since you were willing to use a $120.00 set as a negative example, I think I’m being more than fair here.

    I agree that Lego can do more on the gender equality front, and needs to, but getting really furious over a Lego Ideas set being a limited edition is kind of like throwing a fit at a McDonald’s drive-in window because they don’t serve McNuggets after ten PM. It’s a marketing decision that is not a raised middle finger to you personally or to the entire female gender. It’s just how Lego always produces CUUSO/Ideas fan submissions, and nothing more than that.

    • Hi Mark,

      Thanks so much for the mansplaining. I’ll respond to your issues:

      “You… really don’t understand how CUUSO/Lego Ideas works, do you?

      ALL sets produced under this fan-submitted model are always limited editions. They’ll do two production runs at most, with the Minecraft set being the lone exception. (Which was submitted by Mojang, the company that owns the IP, and has a player base of millions, and looks like it’ll be expanded into its own line, but I’m getting off-topic.) Most serious fans knew the set was going to be limited, and it’s part of the reason these sets sold out so fast. I put my order in August 1st at midnight because I knew it was a limited run. I imagine lots of other people did the same.”

      I’ve responded to similar comments on my Facebook page. I get that collectors know what to do and how to respond. Most kids don’t and most parents don’t, and this is what my blog is about. The scientists figures are destined to be collector’s items. I don’t care that other CUUSO/ Lego are also collecors items. I care that kids don’t see powerful female figs on shelves, in stores and LEGO does nothing to remedy the gender stereotyping.

      You keep mansplaining this same issue for more paragraphs:

      “You expected a huge media blitz to promote the set? Webisodes and t-shirts? They never do that for CUUSO/Ideas sets. It’s not a line. It’s just one set. It was always going to be just one limited-edition set. Some folks round the blogosphere or in the news were holding the Research Institute as some sort of panacea for Lego’s gender issue, but Lego never made that claim themselves.”

      Your repeated point is like when people tell me, “the girl had to die in the story because if she didn’t, the whole plot wouldn’t make sense,” or “Of course there are mostly females in the Hobbit (and therfore LEGO sets) that’s how J. R.R. Tolkien wrote it.” Your logical, rational, knowledgable explainations about why girls must go missing again and again are bullshit. LEGO claims, again and again, that its gender stereotypes are giving the people what they want. This is not true. WE want more. WE want something different. LEGO again and again, doesn’t acknowledge that, give powerful females the attention they deserve.

      “All Lego offers you for female representation is Slave Leia? You’re being awfully disingenuous. You could get Slave Leia if you chose to spend $120.00 to buy Jabba’s Sail Barge. More likely you’d buy a much cheaper set that had Wyldstyle from the Lego Movie or Eris from the Chima line, and they’re hardly the only options available. Granted, there’s a major Smurfette Principle at work in the boys’ lines, but please don’t pretend Slave Leia is all that there is.”

      When I go to the store with my child, all I see is Slave Leia. We ask the worker for Leia and that is what we get, that is the set they show us. AS I wrote in my blog, it is possible to find other females when I specifically search through the internet, but kids are not exposed to these females as they go throughout their day. Without the movies, marketing, and narratives, kids are less likely to want to play with alternative toys http://reelgirl.com/2013/11/if-a-stormtrooper-had-no-epic-would-he-exist/

      The only LEGO set to find a team of females or several females and not the Minority Feisty are the Friends line.

      I’ve written several blogs about the problem with Friends and won’t repeat it all here, check out the blog and you’ll find them. Promoting gender stereotypes with dumbed down sets doesnt help girls or boys. They have added a couple sets that you mention which is better than none. The gender segregation in Target etc is something LEGO fits in with way too perfectly. It’s awful.

      Margot

      • ‘mansplaining’?

        I had forgotten for a moment why the modern feminist movement annoys me so. Thanks for reminding me.

        • Hi applejuices,

          All over the internet, men write to feminists, correcting and explaining why the sexism they experience doesn’t exist and doesn’t matter, typically beginning their long explanations with intro’s like Mark’s: “You… really don’t understand how CUUSO/Lego Ideas works, do you?” And then, the wisdom and the real truth!

          Margot

          • Yes! Margot, thank you! I LOVE this term.
            Mansplaining v. Explaining by a man to a woman, who feels that she’s being treated differently because she’s a woman, that really she just doesn’t understand basic concepts of business, relationships, daily life, etc.

  27. Pingback: Wednesday Links: Part 2: The Return | Gerry Canavan

  28. It never bothered me that there weren’t many girl toys in Legos, or other “boys” toys. I played with them anyway. In fact I liked playing with Legos and cars much more than barbies.

  29. Pingback: Links: Wednesday, August 27th | Love in the Margins

  30. What this move says to me is this: Even though Lego “gave in” to popular request, the company clearly views female scientists as an aberration, something that is an outside case compared to the male standard. Female scientists are “special,” therefore, they don’t get to be in the regular lineup because that doesn’t reflect Lego’s view of the world (how it is, and possibly how they think it should be…)

    It’s really disappointing — but there are alternatives to those tiny, pain-inducing parts on the floor! Playmobil is great for imaginative play if you want representational action figure type things. Sets like Magnaformers and Zoob emphasize real engineering and science skills. Kids now have access to tons of different kinds of toys, not just what’s carried at Target or Toys R Us.

    • It shows no such thing. It shows that this set, like all previous Cuusoo winners, is a limited-edition item. It’s no more showing that female scientists are an aberration than the Ghostbusters franchise or the Curiosity Rover are.

      • Hi Rachel,

        Please see my response to Mark, below. There is always a rational and logical reason why females go missing. I’m done with hearing it from LEGO.

        Margot

        • Right. As only a casual Lego household, what I see is what’s on the shelves or recommended on Amazon. There was a large social rally around this particular special edition. To ignore that, to treat this as any other limited edition seems at the very least really out of touch with what many parents and children (vocally, emphatically) want.

  31. You seemed to have missed that they actually released 4 female minifigures during this this LEGO Ideas campaign. One of the astronauts in the Exo Suit set is a woman.

  32. Ugh, I remember growing up frustrated that there weren’t any girl pirates in my brothers’ lego sets. And I loved the little figures and tiny parrots. It’s so freaking frustrating!!! My daughter likes pink and I’m fine with that, but I’m sure to buy her cars other so-called “boy” toys because it just isn’t right that the only imaginative play she’s encouraged to do is the mundane lady crap I do all the time (beauty salon, cafe). She’s not into hanging out at cafes; she’s an active kid! Why push her into that? My daughter should be represented by a little star wars avatar of a girl jedi NOT wearing a dang slave bikini with an x-wing, damn it! I am still hoping with the next movie that J.J. Abrams delivers.

  33. Great and very informative article, and that’s coming from a guy…Only thing (If I had a daughter) I do think I’d try to shift her music taste away from Taylor Swift who seems just as manufactured by men, and even more soulless than a Lego figure. Show her some Grace Slick or Siouxsie Sioux, now those are real women :D

  34. Pingback: All those people giving Lego the benefit of the doubt?

    • I know it may sound difficult, but try getting rid of commercial TV in your house. Our boys haven’t regularly seen commercial TV (meaning commercials aimed at kids) in more than 7 years (we never subscribed to cable TV when we moved into our house—our older son was 3 at the time and our younger son hadn’t been born yet), and they never harass us to buy them toys. Occasionally they’ll ask to see a movie they saw a billboard for, or to buy mobile apps for their tablets. (I think we buy about 2-3 apps per year. The kids are pretty thrifty about getting the most value out of their games.) But they aren’t exposed to the constant onslaught of TV commercials, and so they haven’t been taught consumerism.

      • Yeah we don’t have a TV either. Never have. But we do interact with other people and their kids have piles of stuff and then my kids wants the same piles of stuff that they have. We don’t play video games either (apps) I do need to mention all the single parents here, who sometimes use Tv as their only break. You just don’t know what other peoples situations.

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