Today was quite a big day for me as I was in hospital for my interim checkup. I have really appreciated all the lovely personal messages of support I have received since relaunching the site in the wake of my leukaemia diagnosis and subsequent chemotherapy treatment. It’s strange how being diagnosed with a serious illness can change a person in such a big way and whilst I have to work at being a ‘better’ person I think I’m slowly getting there. Although I’m not out the woods yet the results so far look good and hopefully in a couple of months I’ll be able to use the magic words ‘in remission’.
Thanks again everyone for your continued support, the LEGO community is full of so many great people, many of whom I now call friends.
When the LEGO Friends theme was released in 2012 with a $40 million global marketing push there was an immediate backlash against LEGO from the worldwide media and certain areas of our community, some collectors and hobbyists believed that there was no need for a separate theme designed and created specifically for girls whilst others claimed that this had already been tried in the past with the Belville range resulting in varied success.
The purpose of this article however is not to go into the finer points of the Friends argument as there are lots of articles that have covered this. Instead I’d like to take a closer look at the Friends range and ignore any stereotyping that may or not exist and here’s why…..
As a comic creator, finding interesting building interiors that are well detailed to use as backdrops is a constant struggle. I love the fantastic details contained within the modular series but with a limited range of these sets there are only so many scenes that can be photographed inside a town hall, department store or French restaurant. Having recently viewed some outstanding reviews of Friends sets on YouTube I thought it was about time I took the plunge.
So what did I discover? Friends sets are crammed with details and accessories which make comic design so much better and with the explosion of the Lego community online it’s so easy for me to read a review or watch a YouTube video before deciding if a set would be of value to me for my comics.
I’ve also discovered a couple of interesting ways to keep costs down. There is a market on Ebay for the minidolls and so by selling them I can recover some of the set costs especially as I have no interest in collecting them. I have even seen some sets on Ebay that already have the minidolls removed and picking these up are much cheaper to buy than complete set from retail stores.
Having used a couple of Friends sets now I really like the new look of my comic, by having a nice array of bright and/or pastel colours the comic clearly has a much brighter look. Below is an example from one of the scenes from a recent episode of my comic, I’m sure you’ll agree that the backdrop looks much better than a white or dark blueish grey wall.
Whilst discussing this topic amongst fellow AFOL’S (Adult fans of LEGO) I’ve definitely seen a change in attitude towards the Friends range now that we are into our second full year of set releases. It seems clear that TLG (The Lego Group) are focused on this range for the long term and are providing a new and varied selection of parts in a new and exciting pallete of colours and AFOLs seem to appreciate this, many of these new elements are even filtering into other ranges including Creator and City. Some AFOL’S are even creating MOC’s (My own Creation) using Friends elements, a perfect example being the rebuild of iconic set 10182 – Cafe Corner using Friends elements.
This years ‘must have’ set, Mia’s Lemonade Stand is a clear example of the growing popularity of Friends outside its targeted ‘female’ group. This set is like gold dust in my area and whilst some may claim that this is down to its great ‘part out’ value only, I’m not convinced. It would be interesting to see how many AFOL’s now have the ‘cool mint green’ coloured scooter in their collection.
Finally, If you’re still not convinced you may be interested to know that Friends won the prestigious ‘Toy of the Year’ award for best toy in 2013.
So, have I convinced you to forget the stereotyping and give Friends a go? Perhaps you’ve already purchased some of the Friends range, If not they’re well worth a look, if nothing else you’ll be able to expand your collection with some new and exciting elements in a fantastic range of colours. Until LEGO City start releasing more detailed sets then I’ll definitely be picking up more of the Friends theme.
I feel quite embarrassed posting this as I’m not sure that 1 single set constitutes a haul. With the new release of Superhero sets finally hitting shelves in the UK I picked up the smallest in the range, set 76010 Batman: The Penguin Faceoff. It contains 136 parts and 2 minifigures and retails for £11.99, it shouldn’t take too long to put together so expect a full review soon.