February 6 – 18, 2012

The Third Great WoB Extravaganza may be over, but the Murder Game is just beginning.  Also, the banner is very, very pink.

There will be no Rant this week, as I just spent all day on an airplane and would like to go to sleep now, please.


23 thoughts on “February 6 – 18, 2012

  1. It might just be me but who is this person that Casey and Marie talking to? (and no this was not me passive aggressively hinting that you should update the character page, although this sentence might be.)

  2. I DO need to update the character page. However, that particular character was invented expressly for this strip; you’ve never seen her before.

  3. Blackwolf3: absolutely. A Murder Game without out-of-control screaming is not a Murder Game at all. My Murder Game strips may seem exaggerated, but they’re really not. During the Murder Game, certain Junior Fellows lose all perspective on reality.

  4. Of the Murder Game? Impossible, I would imagine. The best MG moments happen organically; if you tried to film MG shenanigans, you would probably end up with a lot of boring footage while the awesome stuff happened a few corridors away.

  5. I had to look at the actual Lego sets on their websites and… they are not bad. They suffer from the same problems that most recent Lego has suffered from, which is that they are not create-and-build kits but set-up-and-play kits (there is no good way to use the pieces to build other things), but other than that it’s not too bad. Yes, there is a beauty shop, but there is also a cool tree house and a veterinarian and a ‘science’ lab. And the Legos themselves are not uniformly pink. It would be nicer, though, if the characters included some boys (don’t these girls have baby brothers, or something?). Also the top of the website here:
    looks like a pre-teen version of Desperate Housewives, which is a bit of a turn off. But I could see buying this for a daughter of mine if I had one. Of course, much better is simply a big big bucket of plain blocks in many colours, but Lego has abandoned that years and years ago.

  6. Emily: actually, if you go to the Lego site and look really, really hard, you’ll find this page hiding amidst all the “themes.” Lego does still do the Big Boxes o’ Bricks; you just have to find them (which admittedly isn’t easy).

    What bothers me is less the simple fact that Lego Friends exists (though the Desperate Housewives thing really puts me off) than Lego’s assumption that the base product interests boys only. If you build it they will come, Lego; i.e., if you advertise only to boys, only boys will use your product. Back at the beginning, Lego included boys AND girls in its ads. Of course, back at the beginning, Lego didn’t really do themes, or not so pervasively. When I look at Lego’s products page, I find myself thinking, “You have thirty-five ‘themes’ on this page, including just the plain bricks, and only ONE of these themes is worthy of being marketed to girls?” The Harry Potter bricks are for boys? The Spongebog Squarepants bricks are for boys? The PLAIN BRICKS are for boys? I beg your ever-loving pardon? I LOVED Lego when I was a kid. Where’s your acknowledgement that not all girls want to grow up to go to the beauty shop with their BFFs in preparation for their roles as wives and mothers? Good lord.

    Why not just include girls in your regular ads, acknowledging that they may actually be interested in the other thirty-four product categories? Why not have a few “girly” categories (including some that–oh, I don’t know–allow girls to imagine ACTUAL ADVENTURES) that can be INTEGRATED with the other sets? Lego Friends doesn’t even use the regular Lego Minifigs. Make a few female minifigs, for crying out loud! Is that really so difficult? I think the prevalence of themes is pretty stupid, but hey: if you’re going to go the theme route, do a few themes that involve male AND female minifigs, then advertise them to both boys and girls. Are you afraid that if you show girls playing with Harry Potter Lego, you’ll drive the boys away? What the hell is wrong with our society that we have instilled in boys such a sense of shame about “playing with girl toys” and “reading girl books”?

    I’m sorry, but this does kind of get on my nerves. And erwaro, the crack about the monkeys is from a Jonathan Coulton song about a mad scientist / supervillain type worried that he has used too many monkeys in the half-pony, half-monkey monster he has made his true love.

  7. Ah. That makes more sense. Although I would be inclined to think that the solution there is more ponies, not fewer monkeys. Or maybe a bigger pony. Frankly, I’m having a hard time mentally working with the idea of a half-pony, half-monkey monster. I mean, that sounds *really adorable* for a monster. Is is centaur-esque?

  8. OK, I see your points. I have not seen any Lego advertisement recently, so would not know who they were advertising to. I knew you could still buy plain blocks… I notice that the pictures of kids playing with the plain block sets include both girls and boys (and there are pink sets as well, ).

    I suppose the prevalence of themed sets is not surprising. Themed toys probably do sell better.

    Now I want some Lego to play with!

  9. To be fair, the sets look pretty decent (apart from the weird figures instead of minifigs). At least Lego is not repeating the mistakes it made about 10 years ago, when every set consisted of roughly 3 pieces that had no alternative use whatsoever.

    So believe it or not, but this is an improvement over Belleville: http://brickset.com/browse/themes/?theme=Belville

    I agree, though, that this would’ve worked better with ordinary minifigs. Like the paradisa sets from back in the day: http://brickset.com/browse/themes/?theme=Town&subtheme=Paradisa

  10. Wow…those Belleville sets look HORRIBLE. The Paradisa sets also seem a bit thin, though at least they could be used with other bricks.

    It astounds me that the Lego people can’t simply see what a great toy they have and promote it for its best quality: the fact that the bricks can be used to build ANYTHING. Screw the themes. If you want to sell the product to girls, run commercials showing girls building stuff. Or are the marketers afraid that ads like that would scare away the little boys? Does everything really have to be so strictly segregated by gender?

  11. I don’t see why people are complaining about this, if you want to get your girls space Lego, buy a space Lego set, but there are some who DO like this kind of set, so let ’em be.

  12. Mercury: I’ll be addressing this objection in tomorrow’s Rant (which I finished at about the same time as you posted, actually). I do want to explain my objections more clearly (and it’s also worth pointing out that I don’t agree in EVERY respect with EVERY opinion my characters express. Barbara does tend to go really, really overboard about most things). It’s not so much that the Lego Friends line exists that bothers me; as you say, some girls like this sort of thing. It’s that the other lines are marketed exclusively to boys. Lego is operating on the base assumption that it produces a toy that will naturally interest only boys. Conversely, by marketing Lego Friends exclusively to girls, it reinforces the shame many boys feel when they are accused of playing with “girly toys.” Why can’t a little boy like pink and enjoy pretending to chill with his BFFs in the beauty shop?

    At any rate, I’ll go into more detail in the Rant. Stay tuned.

  13. Not gonna lie, I totally had a purple Lego house and some kind of Lego mall. I think they wee knock-off Legos, though. And I would have probably built whatever I was handed, given my equal love for Lincoln logs.

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