Lego Friends, a new range of the iconic Danish construction toy explicitly aimed at young girls, will feature five Bratz-esque 'mini-dolls', each with their own personalities, names and interests, such as animals, performing arts, invention and design.
The action will take place in the excruciatingly named 'Heartlake City', with sets representing downtown, the suburbs, the beach, camping grounds and mountains. The range will launch on Boxing Day in the UK, Bloomberg Businessweek reports.
When this particular member of the CNET UK team was a little girl, those yellow mini-figures and their multi-coloured bricks, along with other building toys such as K'Nex and Meccano, were the source of many hours of construction-related joy -- so is this shameless pandering to the doll-loving demographic really necessary? We think not.
Lego has released an astonishing 545 different building sets over the last year, and is also rumoured to be heading to the big screen sometime next year, but it's a saddening thought that its focus on 'masculine' sets such as Star Wars and Indiana Jones has prevented girls from developing an interest in the toy.
Previous attempts to win over young girls, with ranges such as Lego Belville and Lego Clikits, have been largely unsuccessful, and so this latest endeavour seems unnecessary and desperate. Not every set in the range is an abysmal patriarchal stereotype, however, with this Friend enjoying herself in a workshop. (We would kill for that cute robot, by the way.)
Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, Lego CEO, offered a different take on the range, arguing that it would "breathe fresh air into a toy category filled mostly with pre-fabricated play experiences for girls".
We're not convinced though -- while many of the recent ranges have been related to franchises popular with young boys, at its heart Lego has always had a distinct appeal which offers something unique to all children, regardless of gender.
Are we right? Is this latest attempt by Lego to win a place in the toy boxes of little girls a shamelessly patronising pursuit, or a shrewd marketing move? Let us know in the comments below or on our unisex Facebook page.
Image credit: Geekologie