Polly has been a terrible influence on both Neal and myself. We have become Lego obsessives. Before Polly, while we both liked Lego, we didn’t really buy it. We had some from when we were kids, plus the Mindstorms sets I got while I was studying robotics, but that’s about it. We went to Legoland in Billund, Denmark, and LOVED it, but didn’t come home with piles of the stuff.
Things have changed. Not only have we bought Polly enough Duplo to build a giant house/zoo/farm/whatever she ever may fancy, but we’ve been getting the grown up stuff too. I wanted the Medieval Village set. There were some lovely Christmas sets. Lots of boats. Minifigure collections. WE GOT THEM ALL! Every time something new comes out, we’re all over it. It’s quite tragic really.
One thing I love about Lego is that it transcends gender. While some of the boxes of bits are pink, there aren’t really any “boy” and “girl” sets – they’re all pretty universal in their appeal. Neal slightly disagrees with me, and thinks that Police and Fire are a bit more “boy” than most of the other sets, but I’ll let that slide. Polly has a small Duplo fire station, by the way, but no Police. While some shops put Lego in a boy section, I blame retail for this, not Lego themselves.
However, I’m a little scared of next year’s sets. They do seem to be courting a more “girl” market all of a sudden. Firstly, they are launching a Friends series, which has mostly female characters, though the scenarios are not TOO offensively girl, not all of them anyway. It includes a couple of really nice sets – Olivia’s Inventors Workshop and the City Park Cafe, though some are a bit more girly girl than I tend to like – there’s a beauty parlour and several pet themed items, for example. Interestingly, this has highlighted to me that I think of pets as a girly thing, which is quite clearly garbage.
The first thing to notice about this Friends series is the new character pieces – these are not the traditional minifigures I know and love! They do appear to be compatible with other Lego sets, in terms of the foot spacing and hand grasp – although it’s not clear whether they can sit down in the same way the standard minifigures do. I’m in two minds about this – they do look nice, but are they further “othering” the girl sets? I mean, these could quite happily be unisex sets for the most part, should they really differentiate them more? Or perhaps the othering allows girls in where they may have otherwise been discouraged by their parents. The characters are now quite reminiscent of the newer Polly Pocket sets – perhaps this is the market they are aiming for? My last thought about the new characters is how skinny they are. If you look at the female minifigures, you will see that the colour and shading of the torso pieces implies a cut out for female hips, but the physical plastic piece is identical. There are now however skirt bases for some of the characters, instead of the legs. These skirts mean any skirt wearing female character can’t sit down. She is however taller than her male counterparts.
Halfhearted criticisms aside, I’d be gobsmacked if we don’t buy at least three of these sets next year.
In next year’s Duplo sets there are a couple of girly sets I quite like the look of – a “Pink Brick Box” which would make a nice Easter present, and Creative Cakes which Polly will enjoy – she loves blowing out candles (or at least pretending to), and it reminds her of her birthday (she makes us sing happy birthday again).
There are also more animal sets – we have lots of Zoo sets already for the animals, there are now several Safari sets with different animals in. Sadly, these will be must-buys – how could we deny Polly the leopard, ostrich, panda, white tiger, sealion, tortoise and hippo? We clearly have a problem…
I note on the Bricklink 2012 list four “Princess” sets, thus far with no images. I am truly scared of these. I would much prefer some dinosaurs instead.
I should note here that there are some non-Duplo dinosaur sets planned for 2012. These appear to be Jurassic Park-esque sets, as they include people and vehicles. Not the most historically accurate sets ever!