I blogged last year about new LEGO sets due in 2012, a handful of which I knew nothing about but part of their name – “Princess”. I was not enthused. Given that much of their recent licencing came via Disney (for example Winnie The Pooh and Disney Pixar Cars), I suspected this was too.
More details have now been released, confirming my fear – here is a page from the 2012 catalogue (along with some enthusiastic commentary), but you can get a closer look at all four sets here. Cinderella’s Castle reminds me of the My Little Pony Dream Castle I had once upon a time, and I actually quite like the look of Snow White’s Cottage. The three different princess characters have a flouncy skirt that I’ve never seen in Duplo before. I can’t quite tell from the images how it works with the studs on the bricks and baseplates.
I’ve not said anything negative yet. The castle comes with a prince – thus the Disney Princess world has a gender balance the exact opposite of what I found in our LEGO minifigure collection.
Polly will not be getting these sets.
There’s something about Disney Princess as a whole that I find somewhat distasteful – it’s probably just that it’s so ubiquitous. I think the princess-as-aspiration-figure concept is harmful, and the stories are problematic. I’m not going to go into it here, but I do want Polly to know the stories – they are an important part of our culture and lore. Imagine not being able to answer a pub quiz question about Rapunzel! Horrifying thought.
I do feel disappointed that LEGO are releasing these, but as I’ve said before, if I liked 100% of the LEGO catalogue we’d be in trouble. My problem has never been with pink, or with princesses as such. My problem has always been about lack of choice – a colouring book being either Princess themed or Car themed, nothing just NORMAL KID STUFF themed. LEGO and Duplo at least continue to offer this choice. It’s just now a little larger.
We can quite happily get the panda and shape sorter instead.
Eh, she’ll know the stories. I will act them out with silly voices and faces and less binarism.
I’ve been trying to remember what stories there even are so I can tell them to her at bedtime. So far I’ve only told her about the three little pigs, and Goldilocks. The problem is that so many of the stories are a bit crap. Cinderella for example.
But actually the women are quite feisty in the traditional tales. A lot of the female protagonists are resourceful. And evil stepmothers aren’t, at least, passive.
Or you can find subversive variants to mix it up.” So the little girl took an automatic out of her basket and shot the wolf dead.” as James Thurber (50s American humorist) tells it… Or these ones recommended by a feminist dad:
http://www.buildingalibrary.com/picture-books/six-princess-books-for-parents-who-really-really-hate-princess-books/212 – I haven’t read any, but they sound so great I’m going to buy some for my five-year-old (son)!
Or did you mean the Disney versions? They are often crap. Our house rules for toys are: no Disney, no Barbie, no Thomas the Tank Engine.
I’ve got a couple of subversions of the princess stories, but realised when reading them to her that they don’t really make sense without knowing what they are based on!
Mmm, the princess thing. Is there any ambition offered to boys that’s as vacuous, pointless, and tacky as the princess thing? There are lots of roles for which you have to kill things, but then there are real-life, mostly male, roles where you do that. And kids do seem to have some kind of instinct for playing games about fighting, whereas – and I can’t find an analogy, because there isn’t anything that princesses actually *do*, is there?
I always imagine “footballer” is pretty vacuous, but that’s not even in the same league. Running? Skill? Being in a team? Pah!