New LEGO superhero sets feature 3x as many male as female minifigs

Here’s the announcement on LEGO’s Facebook page:
The rumors are true! We are teaming up with DC Comics and Marvel to bring new super hero sets including characters like Batman, Superman, Iron Man, The Hulk, and many others! What hero are you most excited for?

On bricksuperheroes.com, you can see also see photos of Green Lantern, the Joker, Nightwing, Lex Luthor. Superhero sets also include: Robin, the Riddler, Killer, Mr. Freeze, Scarecrow, Bruce Wayne, Mr. Freeze’s Henchman, Bane and Twoface. The females I can find are Wonder Woman, Catwoman, Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, and Hawkgirl. That’s 17 male characters to 5 female ones. Please let me know if you find anymore!

At least there are 5 females, and I would advocate buying these for your kids, but I am so annoyed with LEGO for its hyper-sexist Friends sets that I can’t support this company.

20 thoughts on “New LEGO superhero sets feature 3x as many male as female minifigs

  1. I think your confirmation bias is showing. The chicken and egg argument is pointless. It doesn’t matter which came first. All companies that sell products on the massive scale that Lego manages need market research. There are simply too many risks to success and profit to allow unfettered experiments. So when the research shows that parents buy the toys, that those parents make decisions based partly if not mostly on their own biases, that girls and boys report different play goals and desires when asked… What would you have the company who receives that info do? Ignore it?
    To expect Lego to act nimbly and change course to correct the bias you perceive is to ignore some basic truths about the world. Lego is not a small speedboat, but a huge ship steered slowly. Lego cannot lead consumers out of biased mindsets that they are not ready to abandon. Lego can offer choices and respond to sales and other customer reactions.
    For a company so protective of its reputatio and market position, Lego has actually been doing more than most in attempts to correct years of biased toy making.
    Check the distribution of male and female figures in the collectible minifgures series line. Those are pretty well balanced with, for example, male and female: surfers, skaters, aliens, mermaid (merman), Vikings, punk/rocker, Egyptian, etc. For those who want a different gender character, swapping parts is, of course, encouraged.
    The superhero lines (Marvel and DC) have featured more female characters than many lines of superhero action figures.
    I hope that those who still see Lego falling short of gender neutrality will write calm, well-composed letters making reasonable suggestions. Request more female figures, such as Galadriel, Eowyn, and female hobbits for the Lord of the Rings Lego sets. Suggest female add-on packages for male dominated themes. This would be less risky and allow a gauge for interest in minifgures such as female space troopers, monster hunters, etc.
    Hopefully, there will also be more male characters in the Lego Friends line. Why shouldn’t a boy want those sets if he enjoys more dollhouse and community style play rather than cowboys vs aliens shoot em up scenarios?
    Incremental critique followed by gradual product changes is really, after all, the only way any of these goals will actually be met. Shouting, actually or figuratively, about how an entire line of toys is a sexist failure… Well, don’t we all know that is the easiest criticism for everyone to ignore?!?!

  2. a company would be extremely unlikely to use an old story and keep really racist elements from it, which would be absolutely the right approach.

    in some instances, white characters are made to be from different backgrounds to reflect a more diverse society. again absolutely right

    so why keep to the original story in these cases? just because that’s how something was originally doesn’t mean it’s right to keep it that way now

    • While I agree that in some cases it’s acceptable to make such changes, our blanket statement that it is “absolutely the right approach” is just hubris. There are many reasons to faithfully present the original rather than shamelessly rewriting history! Just because you find history objectionable doesn’t make it right to change it now.

  3. There are girl characters in Seuss, movie makers simply choose to ignore them! Or they inject sexism that wasn’t originally there, as in The Lorax. There are good, well-known stories about girls that could be made into movies, but unfortunately not as many comic book heroines, (although my daughter seconded Raven, Lightning Lass, and Triplicate Girl).

    Lego doesn’t generally create characters, just takes recognizable ones and turns them into products. I suppose, if they can create the Friends line they could make up a girl superhero, or base a toy around a more obscure one, but they are pretty much limiting their selection to characters from movies and tv shows, and sadly there aren’t many female characters there. It’s a frustrating cycle, no female characters…because there are no female characters.

    • Hi Lesley,

      There are some females in Seuss but WAY more males. LEGO created characters, it made up all the personalities for its Friends line. I absolutely agree about the frustrating cycle.

      MM

  4. My daughter is 11 and loves Legos. She is very architecturally inclined and usually builds other things out of her sets that she gets. I don’t believe that Lego has created a hyper-sexist set in the Friends line. Are you saying this because they have a beauty shop or cupcake stand? Those are not just female dominated jobs anymore and so what if they were? They also have the set of Olivia’s workshop where she is a scientist in a laboratory. Explain how that is sexist? Lego has such a draw to both kids and moreso to aduts nowadays. I don’t think my 11 year old is worrying about whether the Lego company is being sexist or not. Their toys are mainly designed for children up to around 12 years old. Let kids be kids, they grow up too fast anyway these days. If they want to have a girlie house and sell cupcakes while at the same time have Darth Vader over for tea- all the better, I say!

    • Hi Megan,

      These sets have hardly anything to build. The TV ad is all about going to the stylist and the cafe, not about building either. LEGO’s ads, packaging, placement in stores, and magazines are gendered as well. It’s pretty impossible to split girls and boys this way without catering to stereotypes which LEGO does.

      MM

    • If the Friends WERE next to Darth Vader and Star Wars toys, I would agree with you. But they aren’t. The “girl” toys are more and more segregated, and the girl aisles tend to have all the art ,music, and “nurturing” toys whereas the boy aisles have combat , exploration, and science. It’s nice that Friends includes a girl scientist, but why do they have to describe her equipment as “accessories” and give them a pink/purple color scheme? And why, if you search the Lego online “Girls” category do you only find the Friends stuff? Why even have a “girl” cateogry? Doesn’t that exclude those boys who might want to make cupcakes?

      Lego has aggressively marketed to boys over the past decade, with more and more boy combat and “action” toys: Ninajo, Star Wars, racing sets, and commercials that featured boys only. Then suddenly they realized they were losing half their audience, but instead of going back to inclusive toys and marketing, they decided to hyper segregate the genders even further. Good luck trying to find magic or astronomy or race cars or rock collecting next to that Friends display: you will likely find lots of dress up, fake lipstick, shopping tools, and Bratz dolls.

  5. With all respect, as a male feminist (discount my opinion at leisure) I think the idea of rewriting or ignoring original stories simply because they didn’t feature a balance of male-female leads or ‘strong’ women roles is silly.

    Also, as a LOTR fan, there were many strong female roles, there are a plethora of elven women leaders to choose from, and if you want to nerd out the Silmarillion has even more.

    • Keithmobrien,

      Its the dominance of these stories that is the problem. In spite of the ‘eleven’ roles (which I cant confirm) the males are key in this series. It is the quest of a male, his key sidekick is a male, the wizard is male, and the major villains are male as well.

      MM

      MM

      • Thats actually ‘elven’ not ‘eleven’… as in elfs?
        lol fail.
        The reason that they are all male is because how many females were wizards or heros or villains, especially in the 30’s…
        If you are really so upset by it why dont you go back in time and kill Tolkien for making a ‘sexist’ work.

        • Hi Claran,

          You’ve written several comments on my blog and you are becoming super annoying. I don’t want to kill Tolkein. His work is genius. In 2012, I want more representations of female characters in Hollywood, toys, clothing, and book stores.

          MM

          • That is a laudable goal. More well-written female characters should be included in movies, and tv, and books, and toys. They should be included in new stories created with current ethos. While I have no objection to removing overtly racist or sexist elements from current depictions of older works… I find the argument that a male author was sexist because his work didn’t include enough female lead characters very unpersuasive. I wouldn’t think sprinkling female characters into such works as Treasure Island or The Hobbit was anything but disrespectful of the original work. Pirates of the Carribean and other current works are the appropriate venue for what you are suggesting.

  6. Well if they have Green Arrow they should have Black Canary, Other potentials include Supergirl, Batgirl, Huntress, Zatana, Vixen, Power Girl, Mary Marvel (alongside Captain Marvel and Captain Marvel Jr), Starfire, Raven, Wonder Girl, Donna Troy, Katana, Star Sapphire, Jessie Quick, Jade, Stargirl, Artemis, Ms. Martian, Terra, Saturn Girl, Lightning Lass, Triplicate Girl, Dawnstar and many more.

    GoGirl is another company altogether.

    And if you wanna go after the comics, do a vs Harley Quinn before and After the reboot relaunch 52. Her classic costume as instituted in Batman: The Animated Series and used in the Lego here:

    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-ZmTvVyVGUTE/TfJKpQNKhKI/AAAAAAAAAew/2SSYa00b174/s1600/HQ_BT_2.jpg

    versus the super skanky remake as seen here:

    http://unsubject.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/dc_reboot_suicide_squad.jpg

  7. I’m sure someone’s pointed this out to you already, but the image posted here actually contains another female character: Harley Quinn, from Batman (the clown on the far right). Doesn’t really change the game, it’s still more dudes to chicks, but just to be accurate.

  8. In defense of LEGO (can’t believe I’m saying that!) this is a problem with comic book superheroes in general. My daughter has long lamented the dearth of superheroines! They exist, but few have the market recognition of Wonder Woman.

    HawkGirl is a pretty cool character, our favorite from the Super Friends. I’m glad they included her at least. There’s a terrific teen superhero called GoGirl; I’d love to see her in LEGO, but she’s probably too obscure, http://www.popimage.com/gogirl/gogirl.htm or http://www.darkhorse.com/Books/11-933/GoGirl-TPB

    • Hi Lesley,

      The original stories featuring boys is often the justification for sexism for movies and products in 2012: Tintin, De. Seuss, The Lord of the Rings, on and on. Are we just going to recycle old stories for decades to come? Or are we going to create and highlight female characters? Iprefer the latter.

      MM

      • Why are you so grumpy… most of those are atleast 60 years old… if you are so angry that there are not enough female characters why dont you write a book, im sure it will be ‘amazing’.
        And speaking of recycling stories, they have actually stayed pretty much the same because they are classics, and their classics because there good, a version of Lord of the Rings where they were all woman would probably end up as p**n.

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