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Lego gets sales boost from girl-friendly toy series

By KATE STANTON, UPI.com
Lego gets sales boost from girl-friendly toy series
(LEGO)

Boy customers made up 90 percent of Lego sales until last year, when girls helped the Danish company boost sales by 25 percent.

The reason?

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MarketWatch reported Wednesday that Lego Friends, a pink block-based product line geared toward girls, accounted for 25 percent of the company's customer base in 2012. According to a Lego press release, Lego Friends are flying off the shelves so fast that the toy-makers have had trouble keeping up with demand.

"We entered 2012 with high expectations for 'Lego Friends' but also with a lot of anxiety as we have historically never been very successful attracting girls to our play offers," Lego said in a statement. "That is why it has been amazing to experience the enthusiastic welcome, which consumers have given the new range, as well as know that we through 'Lego Friends' have managed to introduce Lego play to millions of girls who had never received a Lego product before."

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The Lego Friends line features five friends -- Mia, Emma, Andrea, Stephanie and Olivia -- who have tree houses, pink-and-purple tinted pet salons, speedboats and outdoor bakeries.

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But Lego Friends' stereotypically feminine color scheme and Polly Pocket-like settings has some critics, who say that the line's softer themes reinforce traditional gender roles.

In a meeting last year, members of SPARK, which stands for Sexualization Protest, Action, Resistance, Knowledge, petitioned Lego to add "a broader variety of interests and hobbies" to their Friends line. Bailey Shoemaker Richard, of SPARK, said afterward that the company seemed to be "heading in a direction that doesn’t limit girls to traditionally or strictly gendered roles."

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“I’d still love to see better integration of these lines with the Lego lines as a whole, for example by having more girls in all of their ads and showing boys playing with the Friends line, but as a first step, this seems positive,” she added.

Lego said in a statement that they worked with girls to develop the products.

"The girls we talked to let us understand that they really wanted a Lego offering that mirrors what the boys experience, but in a way that fulfills their unique desire for redesign and details and combined with realistic themes in community and friendship," said Nanna Gundum, a Lego Friends development VP.

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Other companies are moving toward gender-neutral toys, like Hasbro's Easy-Bake Oven, which is set to offer black-and-silver versions this year.

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