Tonight is the boys' Christmas concert at school--Mr. D will attend since I'll be AT MY BOOK LAUNCH PARTY IN STEVENS POINT. Anyway, I'll sit in on the dress rehearsal, which, as my sons helpfully pointed out, is NOT the same thing as the evening performance, but there you have it. They don't seem terribly impressed by my reason for missing the concert.
It's all about LEGOS here lately. By lately I mean for the past year. My children have almost exclusively asked for Lego kits for Christmas. Mr. T has a hankering for the Old School Star Wars kits which are wicked pricey and hard to find, Mr. B and Mr. G are kicking it Clone Wars and Ninjago-style. Mr. D and I think we should buy stock in Lego Corp. because Lord knows we spend enough on their products. Star Wars! Ninjago! Pirates!
This morning we rehashed that conversation and I mused yet again to Mr. D, "And they haven't even begun to effectively tap the GIRL market yet. I mean, it's all for boys, their product lines. But Legos are huge and believe me, there are plenty of girls who like them now, but imagine if they developed lines exclusively for girls."
Mr. D looked at me like I'm crazy (which happens more often than you might imagine) and said, "They're BUILDING toys. Girls don't like to BUILD."
I replied, "Baloney-Salami. I was a girl and I loved to build. In fact, I spent more time BUILDING houses and mansions and towns for my Barbie dolls than I spent actually PLAYING dolls. I loved building toys--this old farm set my dad had as a kid, tinker toys, blocks, dollhouses. Sadly, most building toys are geared to boys, but I'm telling you, girls like to build."
It's true. Look at all the women you know who like to make things--crafting is a form of building. It's creative but it's also productive. Knitting a sweater, stamping an album, nailing together a birdhouse--the beauty of BUILDING is the satisfaction of looking at your final product. I truly believe girls both need and would enjoy toys that incorporate both.
Look at the wild success of Webkins. How many of those beanbag critters were sold because of the code that gained access to a virtual world where kids could build their own house and manage their own affairs? A form of building. My kids' favorite thing to play lately is Lego Universe because it's a virtual world where they BUILD their properties, create their characters, and design their characters' paths.
Kids want to interact with their toys and the lamest toys are the ones with a limited script (I'm talking to the likes of you, Tickle Me Elmo). The best toys are the ones that work at the mercy of a kid's imagination. Now these Lego kits the boys want for Christmas come with instructions, but once they're built, they get shuffled around and engage in all kinds of dramatic warfare. And then the boys build NEW space shuttles and rockets and weapons using random Lego parts, constantly interchanging the dynamics of their play.
More importantly, kids enjoy feeling the pride of looking at a finished product that they assembled themselves. So many toys rob them of this experience--what pride is there in dressing a doll? Almost none. What pride is there in rolling a car? Almost none. But building a track? Assembling a house/castle/spaceship? Creating a city? Piecing together an outfit/weapon/vehicle from scratch? Significantly more. I've got 3 kids who'd prefer to have blank paper and markers than a coloring page because they have Big Ideas to express. I don't think my kids are unique--I truly believe every kid has the potential to imagine and create--IF they're given the right toys and tools to employ their imagination and creativity.
For all these reasons I believe there is huge untapped potential for the girl market in Legos. Then I went online this morning to read the news and found this. Which I immediately sent to Mr. D with a request that I get stock in Lego Corp. for Christmas because by golly, it's about to happen! For all of the money Lego poured in to gaining the rights to and developing product lines for Pirates of the Caribbean and Harry Potter and Star Wars, I argue they can spend a pittance on some of the popular girl brands and gain traction. Imagine an American Girl-themed Lego world. Think of it! The perfect trifecta of education, creativity and positive identity development in a single toy line!
Spill it, reader. Are you with me? Do girls like to build? And more importantly, do you see a market for girl-themed Legos*?
I'm off to practice my reading for tonight.
* I know there's a missed opportunity here for exploring the whole gender dynamic of toys and branding and so forth, but for Pete's sake, people, I have 3 boys and a BOOK LAUNCH PARTY TONIGHT, so we're just not going there, okay?