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.
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