I picked up a few of the new LEGO Friends sets. They're the new line of sets that are designed to appeal to little girls in the 5-12 year old range. There are new figures but the rest of the parts are the same old pieces. Of course some of them are in pretty new colors and shades and that's the appeal for many builders. Some of my favorite colors are the softer colors, the pastel colors, like sand green, dark tan, medium blue and medium flesh. I also use a lot of tan, red, black, green and reddish brown. I don't use the pinks, oranges and purples very much, and I could do without more lime green, but now I can easily add some colors to my collection and have new choices for color combinations.
There are 12 colors, including white, plus 2 types of clear pieces in the set. It says 45 pieces on the box but there are 49 including the extra bits. The price is $5.99 at the LEGO Store. They were the same price in Target which has them away from the LEGO aisle in the girl's section. There are 14 sets in the first wave. I might get them all eventually but I'm cherry picking the ones that have the most interesting bits and pieces first. I do like that medium blue 1x1 brick used for the milk carton but I like props and accessories for the minifigs. There are some pink bits and pieces that might come in handy but there aren't enough of them to be anything but accents as this point. Really, what am I going to do with a couple of azure blue wall panels? Who knows, someday a need might pop up, and I'll be ready to rock that azure blue.
Why they call it an outdoor bakery? I guess I don't know. Are there no health codes in Heartlake City, no winter? The LEGO website describes it as a garden party so who knows what that's about. I'm probably not looking at the set from a little girl's POV anyway. They're less concerned with walls at that age and more about what people are doing. Little kids like playing with figures, making little stories for them to play out, and the props and accessories help flesh out the roll playing. All the characters in the sets seem to have an activity or job like most boy sets do but I think they have a bit more of a backstory. I was given a 12 page brochure about the series when I was at the LEGO store a couple of weeks ago. It talks about the girls and their town Heartlake City. You can read more about them at the LEGO site. Unlike the boy geared sets there are a lot less cars, only 2 of the 14 sets have vehicles, something that would be reversed if they were aimed at boys. As someone who has far too many tires, that's a good thing.
In 3930 Stephanie has her bakery. That's a nice simple cake design with the 2x2 round brick with the grills and the purple ring on the white umbrella is kind of nice. I think the little girl figures are cute. They are taller than a minifig but not any taller than a standard minifig in a dress. The hands and feet connect the same ways a minifigs would. The heads have wigs that are interchangeable with the minifig accessories but the neck is thinner and the hole in the bottom of the head would not take the pin from the torso of the standard minifig. All told this set is pretty much the same as a small set in an established theme. A figure with a few props and accessories.
There's a certain, I think, small amount of hating going on for the sets and the figures, both in the media and fan sites. Nannan mentions the new pastel colors in a piece on The Brothers Brick and some of the comments are fairly interesting and varied and mostly positive. Here are some comments on the "pink is for girls" color theme. and some of them are negative. Here's a blog post that I think misses the point on the sets, some of the comments reflect other views. Here's Geek Dad from Wired. He's got a more balanced look at the sets. This post has some of the most common sense writing about the theme that I have found so far. Wait, here's another good piece from BrickShow.
I think it's pretty likely that there are plenty of little girls who like the pink frilly stuff and there are less of the little girls who like more boy accented stuff to play with. Then there's that whole Princess phase that seems to consume them. I only know one little 5 year old girl, she loves pink things, and I don't think she's atypical. Everyone I have talked to about them in person has seemed to like the sets but they are all adults who are interested in the variety and potential of interesting colors.From hanging out at Brickmania and GMLTC on several weekends I can see there just aren't as many girls that come to the open houses. Look at the adult community. Hardly any gals there. LEGO's past attempts to appeal to girls, Belville most recently, have not been so popular. If you hang out at the LEGO store enough you just don't see a lot of little girls buying LEGO. The staff there corroborates that. I don't think there are easy answers here , everyone will have some opinion, but I think the sets are innocuous. Hell they're down right cute. If the sets sell well that might indicate some girls like them and if they do poorly I can get some stuff on clearance. We shall see, huh.