Top positive review
205 people found this helpful
on January 11, 2012
This is an amazing set. Essentially, it's a dollhouse with 4 fully furnished rooms and an extensive front yard. Thankfully, it's a modular build, so you only need to build the legos in bag 1 first, then move on to the legos in bag 2, all the way through to bag 7. (Imagine going through all 695 pieces looking for the one piece described in the instructions!) Lego's anthropological research revealed that girls like to play as they're assembling their legos, so Lego made the Lego Friends into modular builds. Assembly is straightforward.
The house is mostly tan, white and lime, with pink roof pieces and some pink accent pieces. There are many, many accessories, which was delightful. I read that some Lego developers asked why the anthropological research found that girls wanted more accessories, like handbags, combs, etc., and in response, the researchers asked why boys needed a sword, dagger, shield, etc. (In the Ninjago Booster bonus set I got recently, a minifigurine came with 9 assorted weapons...). See the great article in Bloomsberg Businessweek on Lego's business strategy in targeting first boys, then girls, with their themed sets: [...]
The best review I've seen of this set is at Eurobricks[...]. You have to check out this review. It shows every brick included and goes into great detail on the furniture and rooms, so I won't go into the details.
Basically, this is an awesome set, and you can play at this for hours. As I wander around the girls' section at Toys R Us, I am vaguely repulsed by the aisles of pink barbies, skinny teenager dolls, pink dress up princess clothes, plastic kitchens and food, and fake taking-care-of-baby dolls and accessories. In comparison, the Lego Friends sets are much more creative and imaginative. Unlike the static dollhouses with the pre-printed furniture on the walls and static dolls (I saw several that were selling for $149 for boring, big, static dollhouses for barbie-sized dolls), this Lego set (much cheaper) can be taken apart, put together in different ways, rearranged, and I found myself reaching for my regular Lego blocks to put together new furniture and outdoor pieces. You can customize the minifigurines with the hair pieces and accessories from other minifigurines.
There are a few accessories that don't "snap" into place, like the cupcakes, hot dog, apple, cherries, lawnmower - but most of them do, and they're great. The figurines don't snap into a sitting position, but they do snap into a standing position. I actually like the minifigurines, they make the old ones look very blocky. If there's anything you don't like, you can take it apart, rearrange it, and even order new individual lego blocks from the lego.com pick a brick website.
I was very impressed by the creative use of the same lego elements - little 1x1 round pieces can be flowers, blender tops, lawnmower wheels, cupcakes, bushes and flowers, plant holders, doorknobs, lighting fixtures, shaker tops, bedding, lights, etc. Anyway, you get the point - just an ingenious use of common Lego elements. There's no stinting of legos here, the house is fully accessorized, fully furnished, and even outside the house, the landscape is very busy and fun.
The rooms can be put into different configurations, so they're not very solidly connected. You can easily change this by removing the smaller smooth pegged pieces and attaching them with the exposed regular lego pieces.
I know there is controversy among adults who don't like the fact that Lego is targeting girls with these themed sets, and insist that girls and boys should all play from the same basic Lego blocks like they did in the good old days (like the 1970's). Sure, Duplo is targeted towards boys and girls, and there are basic Lego building sets available, but from age 4/5 onwards, Lego deliberately targets boys with themed sets such as Alien Conquest (salvage crew fighting evil Atlantean minions), Pharoah Quest (archaeologist fighting evil Egyptian monsters), City (cops fighting evil robbers, firefighters fighting fires), Ninjago (ninjas fighting evil lord and skeletons), Hero Factory, Racers, Star Wars, etc. The Bloomsberg Businessweek article notes that since 2005, when Lego deliberately focused on the market for boys (after years of anthropological research on how boys play) to revive its brand, Lego has doubled its revenue and is now the hottest toy company in the boy segment. Just as there is a princess phase for girls, now people talk about a Lego phase for boys. Yet nobody seems to be complaining that Lego is deliberately targeting boys with gendered stereotypes of violence, monsters, fighting, conflict, competition, cars/ships/airplanes/boats, and weapons. In contrast, after four years of anthropological research on how girls play, the Lego Friends themed sets focus on cooperation between the main characters and is newly launched.
If you just want the lego experience, or have kids who like lego, or are thinking about buying a dollhouse for your child, this is the set to get. Like they say in the Bloomsberg article, Lego is known for developing "spatial, mathematical, and fine motor skills, and lets kids build almost anything they can imagine, often leading to hours of quiet, independent play."
There will be a summer release for further sets, and even an Advent Calendar for the holidays. If kids want to play with the Lego Friends sets, at least they're using their imagination and playing with Lego blocks. So don't be afraid of trying the Lego Friend sets out because of controversy by adults online. Try it out, and if you or your kids like it, just enjoy it.