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58 Responses

  1. Chuchundra
    Chuchundra December 19, 2011 at 2:59 pm |

    My three year-old daughter calls her collection of Fisher Price figures “Mans”, whether they’re men, women, superheroes, faeries or barnyard animals.

  2. Andie
    Andie December 19, 2011 at 3:03 pm |

    I think my girls just refer to them as dolls, whether it’s ‘my barbie doll’ or ‘my Sabertooth doll’

  3. Computer Soldier Porygon
    Computer Soldier Porygon December 19, 2011 at 3:27 pm |

    We called them ‘guys’

  4. Computer Soldier Porygon
    Computer Soldier Porygon December 19, 2011 at 3:28 pm |

    And I’m also from the southeastern bit of these United States

  5. librarygoose
    librarygoose December 19, 2011 at 3:37 pm |

    My nieces toys are all just “babies” no matter if they are doll or action figures. Except her Spider Man (Spider Men?, Spider Mans?), they’re special and get to be a grown ups.

  6. Florence
    Florence December 19, 2011 at 3:44 pm |

    They’re all “guys” in the Midwest.

  7. Florence
    Florence December 19, 2011 at 3:46 pm |

    Ooh, did you GUYS (see what I did there?) catch the news on the new LEGO line targeted for girls?

  8. librarygoose
    librarygoose December 19, 2011 at 3:52 pm |

    Florence: Ooh, did you GUYS (see what I did there?) catch the news on the new LEGO line targeted for girls?

    Yes *scowls*

  9. Jackie
    Jackie December 19, 2011 at 4:08 pm |

    Yeah, action figures were always “guys” in my family. “My guys will verse (read: go versus) your guys”. I’m from Canada.

  10. librarygoose
    librarygoose December 19, 2011 at 4:14 pm |

    With the above noted exception of my favorite princess butterfly, my brother and I just called them guys. Everyone I knew when I was young just called them guys. This is the eastern US.

  11. DP
    DP December 19, 2011 at 4:18 pm |

    Guys vs. guys for sure. Dudes caught on later I think.

    I suppose in the future, little hipster children will play with their action figures saying “Come at me bro”

  12. Stephanie
    Stephanie December 19, 2011 at 4:20 pm |

    Legos “for girls” aren’t necessary. My daughter is getting some of the alien invasion Legos this Christmas, her request. She’s the builder of my kids so far, and my sisters and I also played tons with Legos.

    I loathe the unnecessarily gendered toys out there. The pink telescope and microscope in the science section of the toy store are particular peeves of mine. When kids like science, they aren’t usually that concerned with the color of the toy, just that it works.

  13. Comrade Kevin
    Comrade Kevin December 19, 2011 at 4:37 pm |

    Aw, man. I had one of those Cabbage Patch Kids, too. It quickly became misshapen and without qualifying features. As late as a few years ago it could still be found at my parent’s house.

    Goes to show you what happens with trends. Eventually you’re just old news.

  14. Chataya
    Chataya December 19, 2011 at 5:34 pm |

    I call my action figures “dudes.” Southern US here.

    But my “dudes” are a bunch of six-limbed, world-devouring, intergalactic horrors, so I’m not entirely sure they have gender to begin with.

    Apparently when I was little, I referred to toys I really liked as either “Batman” (gender-neutral, I liked to put capes on my dolls) or “Dinorawr” (animal toys, regardless of species).

  15. Chataya
    Chataya December 19, 2011 at 5:36 pm |

    That was a link fail. The link is supposed to be for the “dudes.”

  16. Kathy
    Kathy December 19, 2011 at 5:58 pm |

    I just called action figures “toys,” while I called Barbie et al. “dolls.” (Ergo, She-Ra was a “toy” not a doll.) Pretty telling for someone who’s parents gave her a variety of toys without exclusively labeling them “boy” and “girl” toys. The dudes vs guys things is new to me.

  17. Sarah
    Sarah December 19, 2011 at 9:20 pm |

    Stephanie:
    Legos “for girls” aren’t necessary.

    Agreed entirely.

    That having been said, Legos for people (boys and girls) who like dollhouses and ponies more than cars and spaceships is a good thing. Those people also need to experience building and engineering, and I do not see giving them the chance to explore it in an arena they are familiar with as a bad thing.

    This article describes what I’m talking about

  18. stonebiscuit
    stonebiscuit December 19, 2011 at 9:40 pm |

    Growing up in Cleveland, we had GI Joes, which were the actual honest-to-goodness GI Joe figures (of which there were very few), and then guys, which meant all the other similar actiony figure toys. And the Stay-Puffed Marshmallow Man.

  19. J
    J December 19, 2011 at 11:14 pm |

    [derail]
    Even as a socialist (albeit, heavily inspired by david schweikart), I find even the slightest whining about “teh consumerism” totally annoying. Look, a car ad will not turn you into a mindless freaking zombie. Ad agencies do find ways to manipulate you into thinking cars are your manhood or something, but people playing Angry Birds on their iPhones are not corporate zombies or that. If I want to buy a blowjob dispenser, it’s not because I’m “entranced by electronic hallucinations”.
    [/derail]

  20. Bunny
    Bunny December 20, 2011 at 1:40 am |

    I went to Hamleys with the MIL, little SIL and some young nieces and nephews earlier in the year. The gender segregation was awful. I mean, I put up with it in most toy shops, but fully a 1/4 of the girl’s floor of this TOY SHOP was taken up by dubiously-named children’s salon Tantrum.

    Because that’s what a kid wants when they get one of the one-or-two visits to Hamleys they might experience in their entire childhood. A haircut.

    And even if they might want a touch of pampering, there is a Tantrum salon on Kings Road. London visits are a daytrip involving more travelling across the city than actual experiences at destinations anyway, no reason not to just go there.

  21. Brian Schlosser
    Brian Schlosser December 20, 2011 at 3:07 am |

    Ditto on “guys” for action figures. Northern Kentucky, born and raised.

    Though there was a period when they were all “hemen”

    I was (and am) a total LEGO nut, and minifigs were always referred to as “people”, as in “Lets use this Crossfire game to knock over a line of LEGO people!”

  22. Bonn
    Bonn December 20, 2011 at 3:53 am |

    Definitely “guys,” and I’m from the midwest.

    I really can’t stand the way toys are gendered. Yes, I had some of the pretty pizza shop-and-ice cream parlor types of Legos. I also had space stations and stuff like that. In the end they all get tossed in the same bucket, and sometimes space men need pizza and ice cream.

    Barbies and other dolls got integrated into action figure play. The only problem I really had with action figures was the lack of attractive female figures, as most were downright UGLEE. The guys always looked like whatever guy they were supposed to be, and the female characters looked … kind of like the sculptors had never seen a woman before, much less the character. And then there was the … uh … lack. I mean, I liked X-Men and there are tons of female characters, but at the time I played with those the only ones you could find were Storm and a very misshapen Rogue that got recalled due to being ugly (or something like that–I forget). I hope they’ve made some more (and better-looking ones) since then.

    Also, action figures with enough joints can totes ride a My Little Pony.

  23. Andie
    Andie December 20, 2011 at 9:00 am |

    Bonn: Barbies and other dolls got integrated into action figure play.

    I remember as a kid, between my best friend and I, we only had one Ken doll, so our Barbies always ended up ‘dating’ her brother’s WWF dolls. Which was fun, as they only had the one pose, and were about three inches shorter than Barbie.

  24. Bess
    Bess December 20, 2011 at 9:38 am |

    Apologies for being slightly off-topic…

    The new lego for girls really bothers me. Sarah, it’s not all “aliens and cars.” There is a ton of basic city lego, and has been for years. I guess the new pink and ponies sets may introduce girls to lego that wouldn’t have gone for it otherwise, but it seems pretty light on actual building. They just look like any other stereotypical girl toy – ponies, spas, shopping. Lego could certainly do more to attract girls (for example, having more than one female character in a set), but I think this swings too far in that direction. The thing I really appreciated about lego when I was a kid was that you could take a girl head and put it on any body. Bam! Female fire-fighter! Female knight! Female astronaut! You can’t do that with these new sets.

    When I was a kid, I loved lego. I remember when I hit about age 10, they released the Paradiso (or something like that) sets. These came in pink boxes, and were all pastels. Obviously meant for girls. And that was when I realized regular lego was considered a toy for boys, and not me. I had those sets, and they complemented my other ones. But from then on, I hated going down the lego aisle because I felt like I didn’t belong there. If there were boys down there, I wouldn’t go. Looking back, that makes me so sad, because the gendering of toys has just gotten worse.

  25. Li
    Li December 20, 2011 at 10:47 am |

    What’s so sad about pinkified Lego is how regressive it is compared to 30 year old ads from the same company. (Sadly, no transcript at that link).

    I mean, take a look at that little girl and tell me that isn’t the most heartwarming thing ever. Naawwwww.

  26. Mickie
    Mickie December 20, 2011 at 11:32 am |

    FWIW, most of the toy stores in NYC group toys by a mix of categories, brand names or themes (LEGO, Barbie, Disney, video games, anything Harry Potter, books, ride-on toys, stuffed animals, etc.) but these end up being gender-typed anyway because it’s assumed that the Barbie section is for girls only. But the stuffed animal section or the LEGO and building section seem to be fairly gender-neutral. I would guess that if the Disney reps pay for an aisle just for itself, all the Disney stuff goes there.

  27. Florence
    Florence December 20, 2011 at 11:40 am |

    Bess: The new lego for girls really bothers me. Sarah, it’s not all “aliens and cars.” There is a ton of basic city lego, and has been for years. I guess the new pink and ponies sets may introduce girls to lego that wouldn’t have gone for it otherwise, but it seems pretty light on actual building. They just look like any other stereotypical girl toy – ponies, spas, shopping. Lego could certainly do more to attract girls (for example, having more than one female character in a set), but I think this swings too far in that direction. The thing I really appreciated about lego when I was a kid was that you could take a girl head and put it on any body. Bam! Female fire-fighter! Female knight! Female astronaut! You can’t do that with these new sets.

    Mmm, I’m conflicted about this.

    On the one hand, there’s a lot of talk about how girls “should” play and the kinds of toys that “should” be available for girls, and on the other hand, we can honor that the little girls reported this type of play as what they desired from Lego. I’m concerned that there is a backlash against respecting “female culture”, for lack of a better word. Like cooking and going to the beach are inherently less honorable than wanting to play with or ride in machines. We’ve got this cultural thing where activities and desires that are coded male are inherently considered better than activities and desires that are coded female. Apparently the City line didn’t resonate with little girls. (It does with me. Can someone buy me the Emporium set? KTHX.)

    But specifically, like you, while I can deal with all the “girl stuff”, I hate that the new minifigs aren’t compatible with the old, boxy minifigs. I’ve got a few thousand Legos around my house from my boy, and I have no problem shelling out money for additional “girl” Legos if that means my little girl will play with them. But it sucks that this new “girl Lego” minifig shite mimics the fashion/beauty emphasis that is aimed at girls.

    I’m not against it, necessarily. I’m a mean, nasty, fat, feminist who played with Barbies (and Legos!) until long after it would have been socially acceptable (and if you laid out a Barbie and clothes with one of those little hairbrushes on the floor, you’d have to distract me with something shinier to get me away from it), but Lego always provided a nice break from the other beauty-obsessed stuff. I can get down with the role-playing and story-telling type of play, and I typically don’t care if it’s robots or princesses as long as it isn’t desire-obsessed, but it seems that there aren’t a lot of non-beauty-aspirational choices for little girls to choose from.

  28. Florence
    Florence December 20, 2011 at 11:42 am |

    Li: What’s so sad about pinkified Lego is how regressive it is compared to 30 year old ads from the same company. (Sadly, no transcript at that link).

    I mean, take a look at that little girl and tell me that isn’t the most heartwarming thing ever. Naawwwww.

    OMG, that is the BEST.

    It made me well up. I ain’t ashamed.

  29. Florence
    Florence December 20, 2011 at 11:48 am |

    Caperton: The last time our family moved, a lot of our furniture showed up late, and we took advantage of all that open floor space to lay out every baseplate we had and make the awesomest awesome Lego city ever to awesome. And the “girly” ice cream parlors, bakeries, and pretty house sets came in real handy, because what’s a city without an ice cream parlor, a bakery, and some pretty houses? Also, ponies, but that was because… well, ponies. So your minifigs (whom I think we called “dudes”) could take a lovely carriage ride through downtown to pick up something from the three-story office building (with functioning elevator) to take to the airport, and when the furniture came and we had to take the whole thing down I close to cried, and now after thinking about it I want to rebuild that city so bad and am considering removing all of our living room furniture.

    In short: “ponies.”

    Okay, after this I’m going to stop commenting, but at my friend’s house, we had a Barbie city layout that easily took up 50 square feet. The Barbie dream house was the primary hub, but then we built several other dwellings for our Barbies to go to, including a garage where Barbie (aka “Whitley”? I don’t know either) kept all of her cars (and I remember a pink bus?), several stores, the inevitable ice cream parlor, and what was essentially a S/M dungeon, because our barbies were really into getting it on, but were oddly mean about it.

    So whoever says girl-play doesn’t involve engineering can suck it.

  30. Bess
    Bess December 20, 2011 at 2:28 pm |

    I understand what you mean, Florence. I don’t want to bash “girl” culture and toys. There is definitely a problem with thinking that toys designed for girls are inherently worse than boy toys (something I’ve realized I have done since I was a child myself, and still have to pay attention to now). But when I look around at the girl toys and see how the majority of them are pink and sparkly and about shopping, looking pretty, or being a mommy, that is a problem. These lego sets reinforce that. If the minifigs were the same as regular lego, and could be integrated with the other sets, I don’t think it would be as much of a problem for me.

    Yes, I’m really hung up on the lego thing.

  31. Florence
    Florence December 20, 2011 at 4:50 pm |

    Caperton: That’s what gets me. How am I supposed to reproduce the Acropolis all in Legos if suddenly my caryatids are different sizes?

    And shapes! The only good thing is that the hair is interchangeable, which means that there are a lot of Spidermen that are about to get sweet mullets.

  32. stonebiscuit
    stonebiscuit December 20, 2011 at 5:08 pm |

    Bess:

    WhenIwasakid,Ilovedlego.IrememberwhenIhitaboutage10,theyreleasedtheParadiso(orsomethinglikethat)sets.Thesecameinpinkboxes,andwereallpastels.Obviouslymeantforgirls.AndthatwaswhenIrealizedregularlegowasconsideredatoyforboys,andnotme.

    On the other hand, the Paradiso sets are what started my LEGO obsession. I was given a set in a (gendered!) classroom gift exchange in 2nd or 3rd grade. From then on there was no stopping me.

  33. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. December 20, 2011 at 5:27 pm |

    Ummm….I think we need a Lego sponsored feministe event. Preferably in a large warehouse with an infinite supply of legos.

  34. PeggyLuWho
    PeggyLuWho December 20, 2011 at 7:02 pm |

    Kristen J.:
    Ummm….I think we need a Lego sponsored feministe event. Preferably in a large warehouse with an infinite supply of legos.

    And an infinite supply of beer. Beer fueled Lego sesh sounds awesome.

  35. MozInOz
    MozInOz December 20, 2011 at 8:19 pm |

    Kristen J.: I think we need a Lego sponsored feministe event. Preferably in a large warehouse with an infinite supply of legos.

    You might have to visit LegoLand to arrange that. But it would be very cool. Right now Lego is going through a bit of a discussion about whether online Lego communities count as Lego User Groups (because there are benefits to being recognised). Just in case you are thinking of taking that idea seriously.

    FWIW, my take is that this is a huge step forward from Lego Paradiso, because the figures are so close to minifig size and so everything will pretty much work together. Lego City has also been getting bigger, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the new figure become dominant across the board – old Lego City had 4 stud wide vehicles, now they’re more often 6 studs.

    The big difference I see is that there’s a whole storyline tied up, because that’s what girls actually seem to want. If you’re asking why Lego doesn’t just force girls to want standard Lego… um, because they can’t? Catering to the market that is actually there rather than what “should” be is essential if they want to make a profit. And they do. But you’ll note they have not actually stopped making standard Lego, or banned girls from playing with it. I’m happy that we have a new Lego series that’s not more war and aggression, or just another movie tie-in.

  36. archie
    archie December 20, 2011 at 10:51 pm |

    I confess to total disinterest in action figure play while I was growing up…guys, dudes, whatevs. But now, I’m looking for a doll house for my 3 year old boy and it’s well, unsurprising, that every doll house I’ve seen is a heavily gendered production. Not that he minds – I think he just likes the soft colors. Indeed when we took him lego shopping with his older brother a while back, he went straight for the pink box.

  37. outrageandsprinkles
    outrageandsprinkles December 21, 2011 at 1:12 am |

    When I was a kid, my Grandma had a spare room where she kept a doll house and some random toys for when me and my cousin would visit. Me and my (boy) cousin would take the collection of little dolls and action figures and play in the (delightfully not pink or purple) doll house together. Gender was not on my mind at the time, but it’s nice to look back on those times and not have memories of gendered play or accusations of “girl toys”.

  38. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie December 21, 2011 at 1:41 am |

    I haven’t noticed a “pink area” and a “blue area” in big toy stores. More like a smallish pink area for girls, and the rest of the store for boys.

  39. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie December 21, 2011 at 1:53 am |

    Legos are educational:

  40. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. December 21, 2011 at 1:56 am |

    outrageandsprinkles: Me and my (boy) cousin would take the collection of little dolls and action figures and play in the (delightfully not pink or purple) doll house together. Gender was not on my mind at the time, but it’s nice to look back on those times and not have memories of gendered play or accusations of “girl toys”.

    Reminds me of my bf kids. All four of them play together. In their house there are no “girl toys” or “boy toys” in part because even if you do give the girls a “girl toy” the youngest son will be happily playing with it in 2 minutes and there is no toy a boy would get that the girls won’t appropriate. (How she managed to make four kids *happily* share their toys I will never know. She’s a genius.) There is an adorable picture of the two middle children a girl (6) and a boy (4) playing baseball in the backyard in both wearing their t ball uniforms, pink red sox helmets (courtesy of Uncle Mr. Kristen), and pink tutus. Cutest.Thing.Ever.

  41. Henry
    Henry December 21, 2011 at 3:49 am |

    They actually color the areas of the store pink and blue – who does this? We shopped at Kaybee when I was a tot, guess being poor has it’s benefits, and they always organized their toys by type not society preferred end-user. e.g. model trains were in the same isle as Legos and building blocks and the erector (snickers) sets (stuff you build crap with), all the stuffed animals/dolls etc. were in another isle, toy vehicles in yet another, stuff that could hurt you (remote controled aircraft, chemistry sets and model rockets) in yet another. I think Kaybee had it pretty well laid out. About the only “gendered” division was that G.I Joe had it’s own display case/area.

  42. Bess
    Bess December 21, 2011 at 8:49 am |

    Feminist lego with beer?! Sign me up! I will bring baked goods.

  43. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie December 21, 2011 at 10:17 am |

    Dang, trying again.

    http://www.the bricktestament.com

  44. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie December 21, 2011 at 10:18 am |

    I suck at linking. Sorry for derail which is no longer even funny!

  45. Florence
    Florence December 21, 2011 at 10:43 am |

    archie: oryline tied up, because that’s what girls actually seem to want. If you’re asking why Lego doesn’t just force girls to want standard Lego… um, because they can’t? Catering to the market that is actually there rat

    Try educational stores, as in, stores aimed at classroom teachers. They tend to have non-gender specific play toys made from wood and enamel. Also look into the homemade market. If you get on Craigslist or start googling, there are wood workers who gladly do this stuff for a fee.

  46. Florence
    Florence December 21, 2011 at 10:44 am |

    Well, I totally quoted the wrong comment there. That comment was aimed at Archie in #39.

  47. debbie
    debbie December 21, 2011 at 11:52 am |

    Chuchundra:
    Mythreeyear-olddaughtercallshercollectionofFisherPricefigures“Mans”,whetherthey’remen,women,superheroes,faeriesorbarnyardanimals.

    My mother delights in telling people that I called them all “pousons” because I couldn’t say “persons” or “people.” And I called rainbows “bindows.” I think I had a problem with “r” as a child….

  48. Mike Crichton
    Mike Crichton December 22, 2011 at 5:08 pm |

    Bess: The new lego for girls really bothers me…. it seems pretty light on actual building.

    Unfortunately, neither bricklink nor brickset have parts lists up for them yet, but looking at them they seem to have the same number of parts as other lego sets. I think you might be thrown off by the slightly different scale, compared to most Town sets. They’re definitely much better at using _actual_ bricks instead of BURPS or BAWPS (Big Ugly Rock/Wall Pieces) than either Belville or Scala were. Not perfect, but a step in the right direction.

  49. WestEndGirl
    WestEndGirl December 22, 2011 at 7:59 pm |

    Ok, slight derail, but in honour of the season.
    Behold the giant Lego Xmas tree! It’s 33ft tall, has balls on it and made entirely of Lego. (and I got to place a brick on the bark part as I finish work in the evenings and the lovely artists were working on it of a night, squee!)

  50. WestEndGirl
    WestEndGirl December 22, 2011 at 8:00 pm |
  51. WestEndGirl
    WestEndGirl December 22, 2011 at 8:02 pm |

    Ok, now I’m just getting annoyed. Grrr.

    Ta-bleeing-da already!

  52. archie
    archie December 22, 2011 at 10:59 pm |

    Oh hey Florence thanks for the tip. We are actually pretty crafty in my family (Archie is short for “architect” not Archibald) and we have been able to locate many fun and educational wooden kits (think Steve Carrell in Dinner with Schmucks…) What I wanted to point out was that the explicit gender messaging around dollhouses we’ve seen in toy stores is lost on my 3 year old. He’s cool with pink. For him, it’s just a warm, rosy, soft color – innocent and un-freighted. I’ll worry more when he starts to understand the message being delivered.

  53. Hina
    Hina December 26, 2011 at 12:18 am |

    I would love to see a lego set that has a boy figure in the kitchen, shopping at the mall and working as a builder.

  54. Mike Crichton
    Mike Crichton January 10, 2012 at 11:35 pm |

    For anyone still interested, there’s a set review for the largest one here. If you peruse those pictures, you’ll see that there’s just as much build complexity in this set as there is in the similarly priced Forest Police Station. You can complain about the gendering, but saying the sets have been dumbed down is just inaccurate.

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