Jesus, Legos have gotten expensive.
Half the time when I venture out of the house it’s to get food or my medication, which means most of my trips are to the grocery store or Target. Because I often forget what time the pills are going to be slung or they have to refill a refill, we end up browsing. I like looking at Ponies and Mister E likes looking at the Lego section. He has this dream where we’re able to get a bunch of Legos and make magical things out of them (or at least Millennium Falcons), which I do not begrudge him because I’ve always wanted to build a dollhouse. Not to put dolls in, to decorate in interesting ways. Screw the little thing looking like a Laura Ashley showroom, I want to make a tiny version of Dexter’s kill room.
What I have a problem with is what I think of as a dumbing-down of Legos. Once upon a time, you could just buy a big box of them and spend hours trying to form a thousand plastic shards into something vaguely resembling a car or castle. Now everything has to be branded and half-premade so you know it’s the Millennium Falcon. That’s just lazy, son. Plenty of people have made Death Stars out of regular Legos, it just takes a lot longer. Paying three times the price for half the sense of accomplishment makes sense to some people, but not to me.
When I was a wee’un, half the fun was making the castle. I don’t think I would have spent quite as much time out of my parents’ hair if the roof had already been made for me. Then again, maybe parents are the ones to blame for this whole nonsense because I would always ask The Dad for help when I got stuck or couldn’t figure out which piece went where. Maybe this is all an elaborate plot to keep kids quiet and they see the almost $50 price tag on a single box of Lego and think it’s a good investment.
There’s another troubling thing about Lego these days. It’s not just the sticker shock from the Star Wars and Harry Potter Legos, either. Girl Legos are especially troubling, at least to me. Slapping a bunch of pastel colors on the blocks is nauseating to me, but that’s just because I’m not into those. No, what bothers me is the fact that they’ve changed the figurines in an attempt to “feminize” Legos.
It’s being labeled as a way to make Legos more “accessible” to girls, but what it’s really doing is furthering the whole gendered marketing thing. It’s obviously too hard to market a non-gender-specific toy to both boys and girls, so they’ve made the process simpler by color coding them so everyone knows their place. And if a little girl wants the brown and blue Legos and a boy wants the pink and purple Legos, then it’s easy to tell which one is going to turn out gay. Right? Sure, it’s hyperbole. It’s also the way some people think.
Legos are for everyone. They always have been. They were one of the only toys that all of us kids could play with together and not have to hear people tell us we should get back to our Easy-Bake Ovens or ThunderCats (both of which I loved). Now that there are gender-oriented Legos, there’s a divide in place that was never there before. Girls to the left, boys to the right. Now that Legos cost as much as an Xbox game, a lot of kids might not be able to play with them because they’re too expensive. It’s a mess and there’s no way to make any of it better without scrapping the system and starting over. Maybe we should forget the whole thing and give everyone Playmobil toys. Did you know they make veterinarian figure that is specifically a cat vet? Seriously, bottle, cat tree and everything. It rocks.
One of these days I’m going to be able to buy Mister E a box of Legos and I’ll let him go into the office and just build himself silly. As for parents, I just hope they keep in mind that when they’re trying to decide if they should buy the “girls'” Lego set or the “boys'” Lego set that they all hurt the same when they step on a corner piece in the dark and make their purchase accordingly.