Tag Archives: Friends

The LEGO Friends line launched in 2012 has certainly generated its share of discussion and even controversy. But whether you’re here because you want to read our reviews of the LEGO Friends sets or because you want to see what else LEGO fans are building with the new figures and LEGO parts, you’ll find a whole lot to like about LEGO Friends here on The Brothers Brick.

Bad Hare Day

Galaktek makes great use of the part-separator in his recent model Bad Hare Day. According to the builder, “The Heartlake pets aren’t sure what this “war” thing is (can you eat it?), but they’re eager to help. Betsy Bunny has joined the Heartlake Air Force as an auxiliary in her Recon Skimmer, leaping past enemy lines to gather intelligence. Because of the open cockpit, Betsy has named her craft the Bad Hare Day. I can’t make this stuff up.

Bunny's Recon Skimmer (aka Bad Hare Day)

The time went too quickly, constant reader, and we find ourselves at the end of another weekend. Thanks for your continued support of Friday Night Fights and all the models posted over the last 72 hours, your comments make a difference, not only to the fighters but to all the builders whose work is featured on the Brother-Ship. See you next weekend.

It’s exactly what she wants it to be

A few years ago, while I was still living in the UK, my neighbour Jon and I took Becca, his six-year old daughter, to see LEGOLAND Windsor. I had spent way too much money at their shop during their Christmas shopping a few months before and had ended up getting two annual passes, as well as several discount vouchers through shopping at LEGO on-line. Furthermore, while I had been to the park several times before, this was never when it was actually open to the general public.

It was fun to see the park in operation and all the children and parents enjoying themselves, but two things stood out to me: girls like pink (and Dora the Explorer) and girls do get what LEGO is about if they are presented with it. The former was driven home to me when we were in an outdoor play area. Becca ran off to play with the other kids. I said to Jon: `don’t worry, we’ll find her. We’ll just have to keep an eye out for a little girl wearing a pink coat and a Dora the Explorer backpack’. We looked around, somewhat oafishly. Almost all the little girls were wearing pink coats and Dora the Explorer backpacks! The latter became clear in one of the indoor play areas, where parents and their children could build small cars and race them down wooden slopes. After having retrieved Becca, we spent at least an hour there. She loved every minute of it and so did we.

As I’m sure many of you know, LEGO’s girl-friendly Friends-line has been very successful, despite the toy being criticised for supposedly reinforcing girly stereotypes. Yes, the sets have pink and purple elements (girls like pink) and it does have cutesy figures, but ultimately it’s about getting girls to build and play with LEGO (and girls do get LEGO if they are presented with it). I think LEGO has expressed this very well in a new magazine ad, posted on flickr recently by LegoMyMamma.

LEGO Friends magazine ad 2013

I love how the ad captures the spirit of the old advertisement of a girl holding up her LEGO model and clearly makes the point: critics be damned, it’s exactly what she wants it to be.

I realise, of course, that the quality of the MOC and photography may not be quite up to our usual standards and that not all girls like pink.

Review: Friends 41002 Emma’s Karate Class [Plus Bonus material!]

On a whim, I picked up 41002 Emma’s Karate Class. I’m so very not disappointed. I already have a particular fondness for the Friends line to start out with, so this shouldn’t be a surprise.

Anyway, this is a brief review for what is a small set. Overall, I really like the parts selection. The models are pretty simple and nothing really spectacular.

I’m not sold on the model with the screen. I get that the colors are to fit the overall scheme, but it just doesn’t work for me. Again, though, the parts. That glass is printed with that design.

I’m far more fond of the stand with the sword and display items on it. The tree’s cute, too. There are plenty of extra pieces.

Beyond this set, I picked up the polybag sets Squirrel’s Tree House and Turtle’s Little Oasis as well. These are too adorable. I mean, look at them!

I’m far happier with the design of these little models. The parts are great (of course!) and the squirrel and turtle elicit squeals of glee for their cuteness.

All are currently available on both the LEGO Shop and Amazon.com. Definitely go for the squirrel and turtle, though, since they’re marked to retire soon and make way for the next wave of pets for Heartlake City.

Paranormal Diorama

Millie McKenzie, better known to most viewers as Leda Kat, takes one of the best moments from the otherwise forgettable 2011 film Paranormal Activity 3 and translates it into an eye-catching LEGO diorama. I realize this model doesn’t exactly qualify as new (it was posted 12-5-12), but I just recently discovered it and I’m willing to gamble that many of you missed it too. Leda has a large catalog of great models, so be sure and click through her photostream if you have the time.

Paranormal Activity 3

FriendsBricks wishes you a Happy Valentine’s Day as well. [News]

We recently received a press release from the administrators of a new LEGO fan community dedicated to the popular new theme, LEGO Friends. The site is called FriendsBricks.

Happy Valentine's Day!

We are a worldwide community of Friends fans: Our members are AFOLs, TFOLs, Parents, Sisters and Brothers — some seasoned LEGO fans & builders, and some newly discovering the love of building through Friends bricks. Our core purpose is sharing creations, reviews & news. Since the January 1st, 2012 launch of LEGO Friends, Heartlake City life has been inspiring us. Stop by www.FriendsBricks.com and join in the Friendship!

If you are a fan of LEGO Friends you should go check it out!

LEGO Friends 3189 Heartlake Stables + Brandenburg Gate on sale

Amazon.com has discounted 3189 Heartlake Stables by more than 30%, down $15.99 from $49.99 (thus you pay only $34).

Amazon also has 21011 Brandenburg Gate (or as FBTB calls it, a sand green cheese battle pack) on sale for $22.97, down 34% from $34.99 (you save $12.02).

All Jan 2013 LEGO sets now available – Arkham, Chima, TMNT, Friends... [News]

Continuing our post-holiday LEGO news catchup, this is just a quick reminder that all the January 2013 LEGO sets are now available from the LEGO Shop online.

Highlights include the new LEGO Batman set 10937 Arkham Asylum Breakout.

10937 Arkham Asylum

The rest of the 2013 LEGO Super Heroes sets are also online now, including new Spider-Man and other Batman sets.

The new LEGO Train set 10233 Horizon Express is out.


The full range of LEGO Legends of Chima sets are also available, and you can get a free Ewar’s Acro-Fighter with any $75 purchase.


iconicon icon icon iconicon

The complete list of Legends of Chima sets:

(For behind-the-scenes technical reasons, that list took me forever, so we’ll just give you banner links from here on out.)

The LEGO Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sets were released a little early elsewhere, but they’re now on LEGO.com as well.

LEGO Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Finally (for today), LEGO Friends gets a complete refresh for 2013 with (count ’em) eleven new sets.

LEGO Friends

New LEGO Friends blog – Heartlake Friends [News]

Our friend Ace (from FBTB) and his family have just launched a new website dedicated to LEGO Friends called Heartlake Friends.

Heartlake Friends

Here’s what Ace has to say in the announcement on FBTB:

The goal of Heartlake Friends is to take an unbiased position to look past the noise of any perceived controversy and celebrate all the positive aspects and outcomes from LEGO Friends. Me being an adult male, I’m not exactly the target audience for the line, so this is where my wife steps in. She’ll be managing the content and together with our three year old daughter, we hope to make a compelling blog that you’ll want to visit and maybe even share with us your thoughts and stories on your experiences with LEGO Friends.

To get things started, Heartlake Friends is hosting a contest, for which the deadline has just been extended to Sunday, January 6. So, head on over to HeartlakeFriends.com to check out the news, reviews, and more.

The first year of LEGO Friends – worst toy of the year?

LEGO Friends logoA year ago today, we shared LEGO’s official announcement about their new Friends line. You may recall that images had leaked a few days earlier, and there was already massive controversy swirling all over the web.

The hubbub centered around the very idea (the nerve!) of “pink LEGO” or “LEGO for girls.” Critics suggested that LEGO was reinforcing gender stereotypes and that the sets had been dumbed down for girls, lacking the normal construction-based play common to all other LEGO sets. After our initial shock at the new “mini-dolls,” adult fans of LEGO (AFOLs) generally responded positively, even if we haven’t embraced LEGO Friends as deeply as the latest UCS Star Wars or modular building sets.

The late Heather Braaten summarized the initial AFOL consensus nicely, in a comment on our original post:

I think this is as close as LEGO has ever been to getting it right when it comes to targeting the young female demographic. Appeal to the people who buy the toy for their little girls by making them appear girly and cute and then sneak in the universal appeal of being able to create whatever your imagination desires – whether it’s pink and frilly or a mecha robot that just happens to be purple. I’m not a big fan of the “doll” fig but I think that’s the sentimental side of me speaking. My little girl will probably adore it. Just as long as she builds, I’m a happy camper.

By now, multiple waves of the actual LEGO Friends sets have been out for nearly a year, but the controversy really hasn’t abated. One organization even included LEGO Friends in their list of worst toys of 2012. Really?

As infrequently as I bring up politics, long-time readers of this blog will already know that my personal politics lean rather far to the left. I’m not shy about calling social injustice when I see it, and I’ve posted about marriage equality, pacifism, racism, and so on. Whether you agree with my particular viewpoint or not, I suspect my “progressive credentials” here in the LEGO fan community are not really in question. But I also take issue with unthinking, reactionary opinions from either end of the political spectrum.

Unfortunately, I think that much of the negative criticism surrounding LEGO Friends has been of the unthinking, reactionary sort, and it deserves a good debunking.

Parent and LEGO fan Ty Keltner responded to some of the criticism during a talk at BrickCon in October:

New York Times parenting blogger KJ Dell’Antonia responded specifically to the “worst toy” accusations, saying:

The Lego Friends Butterfly Beauty Shop … remains a noncommercial building toy that promotes an understanding of spatial relationships and calls into play fine motor skills, problem solving and creativity. The fact that it does so by providing the material to build a beauty shop (and then, once that’s done, any number of small square houses that differ from the ordinary Lego house only in their color) shouldn’t be any more “destructive and oppressive” to youth of either sex than the boxes upon boxes of Legos [sic] offering more stereotypically masculine battleships and superheroes.

David Pickett over at Thinking Brickly doesn’t necessarily disagree with some of the critics, but takes on the claims that LEGO Friends sets are dumbed-down (“juniorized” to use AFOL-speak) in terms of construction complexity, and that the women and girls of Heartlake City have been locked in gender stereotypes. David’s post is particularly interesting as it compares LEGO Friends to the new Barbie “construction” sets.

I’ll readily admit that LEGO Friends sets really aren’t my thing — I’ve bought a few to see what the fuss was about, and picked up a few more for parts in interesting colors. I’ll also agree with Ms. Dell’Antonia that these sets don’t do a whole lot to change existing gender roles among children. But is that really the LEGO Group’s responsibility? Like David, I have a lot more problem with LEGO’s marketing today than I do with their core set designs.

Remember this beautiful ad from 1981?

What it is is beautiful

This classic ad demonstrated a clear understanding of gender-neutral childhood development, and contrasts strongly with the gender-locked advertising for today’s play themes — Ninjago, Star Wars, and even LEGO City — that I encounter in LEGO’s TV commercials and in print. When was the last time you saw a girl playing with a LEGO bus or recycling truck in a LEGO ad? I certainly haven’t (though I’ll admit to being outside the target demographic, so it’s possible I may have missed it, and I do love the Build Together campaign).

Despite the advertising industry falling over itself praising LEGO’s latest “creative” ads (more often than not a leaked sample or test ad from an agency bidding on the LEGO Group’s business, and not an actual ad you’ll ever see LEGO use), I believe that the real advertising that children and parents see does reinforce gender stereotypes and traditional gender roles. I’d love to see LEGO City and Creator in particular marketed as often to girls as to boys.

For example, 3368 Space Centericon includes a female astronaut, while the new 60003 Fire Emergency includes a female firefighter.

And yet, the female astronaut in Space Center is the one in all the pictures wearing the opaque helmet, so you’d never know — again, a distinction between a gender-balanced set design and the marketing for the set.

Do LEGO Friends sets include colors that many little girls are attracted to? Undoubtedly. Do the jobs that Mia, Olivia, Andrea, Emma, and the other LEGO Friends characters perform in Heartlake City reflect the wish-fulfillment of the average 8-year-old? Presumably (I wouldn’t know). Nevertheless, I believe that the actual set designs across the full range of the LEGO Friends line do no more and no less harm to the progress of the human race than any other LEGO sets.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments…