LEGO Friends

The LEGO Friends line–find a sampling of the building kits offered at the end of this page–was created by Lego to encourage young girls–who prior to the launch accounted for approximately 10% of all builders–to start using Legos. The timing of the product launch coincides with increased interest, especially in the United States, of encouraging women to enter STEM (i.e., science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) disciplines.

The line had been critiqued by some, including by one of my colleagues and self-stylized Lego aficionado, of being too gendered because of the emphasis on a collection of female friends and over-use of traditional female colors (e.g., all shades of pink and purple; mixed with blues and whites). Lego, though, spent much time and money researching how girls interact with toys and what drives their decision making. Ultimately, much like GoldieBlox, they found that girls connect much more with toys they can interact with verbally, such as through storytelling.

Hence, the emphasis on developing story-based sets with the five friends–Stephanie, Olivia, Emma, Mia, and Andrea–makes perfect sense. The eponymous-named Netflix show adds to the integrated stories as children–males and females alike–can see the construction sets they are building brought to life.

Though purely anecdotal and small-sample sized, my daughter loves the few Lego Friends sets we personally own, and I find Olivia and Mia not only enjoying ice cream but also driving construction equipment and helping Thor save the day. I hope to continue adding Lego Friends products to our Lego collection and will update this page with personal reviews.

Note: Amazon links are affiliate-linked, meaning Learning to Stem receives a percentage of any sales purchased through the link.

Description
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Heartlake Hair Salon
The set comes with 318 pieces, including 2 minifigures (Emma and Natasha, the hair stylist). The building itself is designed to have an open back wall which allows young Lego builders to easily interact. Some of the more fun details include: scissors, sink, mirror, and wigs.
Heartlake Grand Hotel
This set comes with a whopping 1552 pieces, including 5 minifigures (Andrea, Stephanie, Olivia, and two hotel employees). Other than the size of the building kit itself, highlights include an operational vehicle (black taxi), pets, and dessert (lego-style). The multi-floor model and open-back allow for lots of storytelling interaction.
Heartake Shopping Mall
Perhaps as cliche as they come, the shopping mall is a perfect for the Lego Friends collection. This set does not disappoint with 1120 pieces with several standalone sections. It also contains two of the five friends: Stephanie and Emma, as well some fashion accessories. Mall cart, photo booth, and food court provide nice details to give builders a nice shopping experience.
Dolphin Cruiser
The Dolphin Crusier Building Set allows Lego builders to go on an ocean adventure with 3 minifugres and 612 pieces. The cruiser set includes lots of small details to delight builders; a snack bar, beds for cruisers, chaise lounges, picnic tables, and more. This set especially matches up well with LEGO Friends Netflix watchers.
Pop Star Tour Bus
The Pop Star Tour Bus Building Kit allows builders to unlock their inner diva and travel in style. With almost 700 pieces (682), this set is sure to keep everyone busy for awhile. 3 minifigures--including Stephanie and Mia--allow for lots of interactivity. You can even slide the bus doors open!
Adventure Camp Tree House
Stephanie and Emma go climbing, tire swinging, and bridge balancing in this 726 piece set. Fun outdoor accessories--helmets, flags, and fishing rods--and indoor accessories--books, saucepans, cups, lamps, and food--keep this set entertaining. Also, unlike common animals included in other sets, this one includes an eagle and fox.