LEGO, in a move designed to thrill parents and children alike, has announced that they will make available a new mini figurine, this one of a female scientist, actually created by a female scientist LEGO fan. The company has been looking for ways to capitalize on a growing market for girl’s toys, and a new interest that these girls are taking in LEGO.
In 2012, the toy block company released “LEGO Friends,” a girl focused line. While the line had many of the familiar LEGO hallmarks, the line was aggressively pink, with stereotypical girl activities like pool parties and horseback riding. A petition, made to the LEGO Ideas website, a fan site where fans of the building blocks can vote on new ideas. When an idea has 10,000 signatures, it is then presented to the LEGO board of directors who then vote on whether or not to make the sets or mini figures. The set, created by Dr. Ellen Kooijman, will be called “Research Institute”. Other sets considered along with Dr. Koojman’s were based on the film Back to the Future, the television show Adventure Time, and the video game The Legend of Zelda.
Female fans of the toy say this is a long time coming. LEGO has always seen as a boy’s toy, with most of the sets being focused on what are traditionally male interests. With the release of the new mini figure, girls now have a chance to see someone like them in a role that isn’t traditional.
Not only is this an important move for LEGO in its sales, the creation of a new female scientist mini figure also reflects a growing concern over girls involvement in aspects of science and technology. She noticed that the girl figurines conformed to a very rigid set of activities, and as a scientist herself, wanted to develop more. Her initial ideas consisted of a paleontologist, an astronomer, and a chemist, all of whom happen to be women. She says that this will help add diversity to the LEGO communities that children build, and will present an example to strive for.
LEGO’s gender oriented marketing has not been lost on its young consumers. In a YouTube post that went viral, a young girl asked why all the LEGO’s for girls had to be pink, when girls can like all different kinds of things. A 7-year-old girl name Charlotte Benjamin wrote LEGO a hand written letter, asking the company why there were so few girl characters. The young lady was disappointed that the boys got to go on adventures, when all the girls would do was lounge by the water.
By listening to their young consumers and creating the new female scientist mini figures, LEGO is taking a large step in encouraging young girls to get involved in science and technology. As these fields take on a new prominence in the 21st Century, LEGO recognizes that it is important to show girls that they can have careers in these fields as an important part of their development. The Research Institute set is hoped to be released by August.
By Bryan Levy