Toy Ad Vocabulary - What does it mean?

Posted by leMel42 
I think the gender-neutrality of Lego is a myth.

Back in the 1980s Lego had sets like realistic buildings of all kinds, including houses (which, in retrospect, were awesome), restaurants, resorts, etc. besides the eternal classics of police and fire stations. The vehicles were certainly less action-themed, too. I had a postal van, there were sets of bycycles (I also remember a bycycle shop), trees, the classic sets were build-anything-you-like, etc.

People can call that gender-neutral, but in fact what they are saying is "girls don't play with boy toys, they need playhouses etc.", which comes down to the same thing they are now decrying.

However, I wouldn't mind seeing sets that appeal to both genders. Duplo (and in the past, Fabuland) manages to do it, some of the old sets did it.
Why not propose a realistic nice old house in pastel colors (for that southern European look) that the boys can use for their spy adventure/haunted house fantasies and the girls for their roleplaying? Make the thing so that floors can be separated and rooms can be folded open so everything is nicely accessible, with working doors and windows and other rich details, and inhabitants with a story? Include alternate instructions for boys/girls, so that the slide for the kids' garden playground can double as the emergency escape route for Spy Agent X in a different assembly, or the master of the house can alternatively have a fast sports car or a stylish fable-like white coach pulled by horses.

Edit: Those sets actually look pretty fun, although the colors sometimes are a bit too candy-like:

[thebrickblogger.com]

That vet practice is...tempting.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/16/2011 11:52AM by thomas.
MSW
So, if Lego was super confident in their market research, then why are they only spending $40 million WORLDWIDE to market this new toy line to the other HALF of kids. They just made over a billion in sales (mostly boy toys) last year, and now they want to spend only 4% of that to target the OTHER HALF of kids...Sorry, I'm not convinced they have full confidence in their market research.




My 8 year old niece wants to be a doctor when she grows up. Last year she got gender-neutral Playmobil Hospital for Christmas: [www.amazon.com]

Conversely, the Lego City Hospital is just three rooms with a gender-bias focus on the vehicles: [www.amazon.com]

Which says "I'm a Hospital" to you? Where does doctor fit in with those words that the toy ad vocabulary use?



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 12/16/2011 02:21PM by MSW.


well it kept failing :x
thomas Wrote:
>
> Why not propose a realistic nice old house in
> pastel colors (for that southern European look)
> that the boys can use for their spy
> adventure/haunted house fantasies and the girls
> for their roleplaying? Make the thing so that
> floors can be separated and rooms can be folded
> open so everything is nicely accessible, with
> working doors and windows and other rich details,
> and inhabitants with a story?

This is EXACTLY what I'd like to see Lego do. Integrate the "for girls" concepts into the main line, emphasizing the storytelling potential of the current lineup and bringing in new kinds of stories that should appeal to all kids.

That wouldn't help with the other problem, though - that girls apparently hate the design of the standard minifig. The new female minifigs nearly match the standard ones in size, which is an interesting sign - perhaps we'll see more sculpted heads in other lines soon, or more "heroic" proportions on the knights and such. I wouldn't welcome that, because I love the standard Lego aesthetic, but it might be good for Lego marketability.


I like the new sets too. I'm planning to buy three of the smaller sets - the robot lab, the fashion design studio and the music whatever. (Actually, it depends on how much work they put into the accessories - if it turns out that stuff like the yardstick, chalkboard, piano keyboard, etc are all stickers, then there may be no point in buying the sets, since there aren't many unusual molded parts in there.)

-Paul Segal

"Oh, the anger is never far, never far." -SteveH
MSW Wrote:
>
> My 8 year old niece wants to be a doctor when she
> grows up. Last year she got gender-neutral
> Playmobil Hospital for Christmas:
> [www.amazon.com]
>
> Conversely, the Lego City Hospital is just three
> rooms with a gender-bias focus on the vehicles:
> [www.amazon.com]
>
> Which says "I'm a Hospital" to you? Where does
> doctor fit in with those words that the toy ad
> vocabulary use?

This is a really interesting comparison and I'm glad you brought it up. It shows the limitations of a lot of what Lego is putting out - even some of the biggest Lego playsets lack some trait that's very valuable to children's ability to role-play with their toys, a sort of universality. The Playmobil set is more dollhousey, but it's also more detailed, more vivid - it's a place a child's imagination can inhabit over and over again, through endless iterations of play. Lego sets are certainly capable of this - they're capable of almost anything another toy line can achieve, because they're Legos. Sometimes Lego sets do achieve that wide-open potential, but too often they're centered around a few key action features.

-Paul Segal

"Oh, the anger is never far, never far." -SteveH
asterphage Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
<snip>
> That wouldn't help with the other problem, though
> - that girls apparently hate the design of the
> standard minifig. The new female minifigs nearly
> match the standard ones in size, which is an
> interesting sign - perhaps we'll see more sculpted
> heads in other lines soon, or more "heroic"
> proportions on the knights and such. I wouldn't
> welcome that, because I love the standard Lego
> aesthetic, but it might be good for Lego
> marketability.
>
Now the standard Lego minifig women have always bored me, because they often are too stereotypically feminine (lipstick and long hair). What I wouldn't mind seeing is Lego going a step further than the Lego Friends figures, and resurrect the old Technic Man figures and make more variants on those in both genders. Those figures had nice articulation for the time (neck, elbows, wrists, shoulders, hips, knees, ankles, some joints ball-joints) and were also 'buildable'.

>
> I like the new sets too. I'm planning to buy three
> of the smaller sets - the robot lab, the fashion
> design studio and the music whatever. (Actually,
> it depends on how much work they put into the
> accessories - if it turns out that stuff like the
> yardstick, chalkboard, piano keyboard, etc are all
> stickers, then there may be no point in buying the
> sets, since there aren't many unusual molded parts
> in there.)

The line is out early in Europe (since the 15th) and you can find some set reviews on Eurobricks already. Printed parts.
thomas Wrote:
>
> The line is out early in Europe (since the 15th)
> and you can find some set reviews on Eurobricks
> already. Printed parts.

Yesssssssssssssssssss

-Paul Segal

"Oh, the anger is never far, never far." -SteveH
some related videos about the vidjya

[www.youtube.com]

i wouldn't level her up by beating up my own party


[www.youtube.com]

women are bossy
Sanjeev (Admin)
I know this meme is making its way around the web, but for those who may not have seen it, here it is...

Prepare for adorable:
[www.youtube.com]
asterphage Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> One common claim is that Lego's
> standard aesthetic is entirely gender-neutral.

Eh, I don't buy that for one second. Lego is definitely boy-oriented, though there's nothing to say that it couldn't be properly girl-oriented. But I'm not sure that tons of pink does the trick. Still, how is it any different than what other toy companies do?

As a longtime Lego fan, I can't say I'm much in favor of the minifigures or whatever they're calling them. Just not a part of the Lego aesthetic, which is a big part of the appeal to me. I just don't like the shape of these, since they don't appear to be very Lego to me. I wonder what market research says about the Playmobil toys? There are female figures, though they only vary slightly from the male figures.

More serious than thou
[www.genderremixer.com]
haha cool

-Paul Segal

"Oh, the anger is never far, never far." -SteveH
Indiana University study shows that media exposure decreases self-esteem in nonwhite children and girls of all races:
[newsinfo.iu.edu]

link via Veef

-Paul Segal

"Oh, the anger is never far, never far." -SteveH
asterphage Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Indiana University study shows that media exposure
> decreases self-esteem in nonwhite children and
> girls of all races:
> [newsinfo.iu.edu]
>
just grabbing this quote our of there:

"[producers say]...that programs have been progressive in their depictions of under-represented populations"

Showing more minority (ethnic, homosexual, anything!) actors on screen is not an improvement if the roles they play are not important or put them in a negative light (as these researchers are indeed pointing out). Also, women make up over 50% of humanity, they should not be under-represented in the first place.

It would be interesting to see whether blacks feel more valued and self-confident now that Barrack Obama is in office...

(Sorry I possibly offended anyone, fixed my post to clarify)



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/06/2012 05:37AM by thomas.
Sanjeev (Admin)
^^So much wrong with that post...but whatever. It's a good point.

Good article, Paul. Nothing we didn't already know, but it's always nice to have statistical backup.
thomas Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> asterphage Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
>
> It would be interesting to see whether African
> Americans feel more valued and self-confident now
> that Barrack Obama is in office...


Not just feelings or self-confidence, but literally, the day after he was elected, experimental test scores among blacks apparently shot up.

I was looking into this awhile back - there is in fact an Obama effect, and the clarity with which it manifests might surprise you...it surprised the hell out of me.

NYTimes:

Quote

"Now researchers have documented what they call an Obama effect, showing that a performance gap between African-Americans and whites on a 20-question test administered before Mr. Obama’s nomination all but disappeared when the exam was administered after his acceptance speech and again after the presidential election." *

Also, in my opinion, there's this even more interesting test, since they start with a pool of identical SAT scores:

Quote

"Researchers in the last decade assembled university students with identical SAT scores and administered tests to them, discovering that blacks performed significantly poorer when asked at the start to fill out a form identifying themselves by race. The researchers attributed those results to anxiety that caused them to tighten up during exams in which they risked confirming a racial stereotype." **

The test designs were very simple and straightforward, a hallmark of good experimentation, so the effect is def there. But the question of course, is what is actually happening, as other testing has shown that the mechanism is not easily getable. ***


-------------------------------------
*[www.nytimes.com]

** The idea was that the cycles wasted on that bit of cognitive meta processing was time taken away from problem solving for the test, resulting in a performance disadvantage for that group (the test was timed). One might then predict that a request for racial self-identification would have this effect on whichever cultural group had suffered social bias in a given population.

Also, teachers self-reported that black students' classroom performance improved (which I have a lot of issues with - full of holes that one). If true, it more likely represents a diminished bias on the part of the teachers themselves. We already know that student performance is highly externalized.

***[www.thedailybeast.com]
leMel42 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
<snip>
> ** The idea was that the cycles wasted on that bit
> of cognitive meta processing was time taken away
> from problem solving for the test, resulting in a
> performance disadvantage for that group (the test
> was timed). One might then predict that a request
> for racial self-identification would have this
> effect on whichever cultural group had suffered
> social bias in a given population.
>
Hasn't this already been proved for other groups of people? E.g. transsexuals can spend quite a bit of time wondering whether some kind of behaviour is typically male or typically female, so giving them the option to choose "neither" as a gender option before starting a test can sometimes significantly improve their results.

> Also, teachers self-reported that black students'
> classroom performance improved (which I have a lot
> of issues with - full of holes that one). If true,
> it more likely represents a diminished bias on the
> part of the teachers themselves. We already know
> that student performance is highly externalized.
>

There's research that indicates that white teachers tend to grade non-white pupils lower than white pupils. Likewise, if the teacher has a say in determining what kind of future education a child will receive, they tend to advise a lower level to non-whites if they are white themselves
As a professional educator I have to say what I have experienced in the classroom.

1.) Socio-economics is the second most important factor in student achievement. Harsh but true....


2.) Parent involvemnet is, in fact, THE MOST IMPORTANT factor in student achievement. If a parent doesn't take their child's education to be the most important thing in that child's life then the student will not value it either.

3.) Until someone spends time in a classroom full of 30-40 kids all year long I don't really listen to what they say about education. Yes even if they are a parent...I no it is a potentially offensive thing to say to a parent, but I spend at least 5 hour a week engaged in that kids education and another 10-15 planning for it...I dare say that is more than most parents....sorry if this offends...

4.) No public servant gets elected by standing in front of parents and telling them what is really wrong with education. They will tell parents that schools are failing because of the system and that it needs to be improved. The actual truth is different...
fel9 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> As a professional educator I have to say what I
> have experienced in the classroom.
>
> 1.) Socio-economics is the second most important
> factor in student achievement. Harsh but true....
>
>
> 2.) Parent involvemnet is, in fact, THE MOST
> IMPORTANT factor in student achievement. If a
> parent doesn't take their child's education to be
> the most important thing in that child's life then
> the student will not value it either.

100% agree, all the numbers point to this as well. Class size is the third proven metric, by the way.

To round out the problem as a whole, I would only add that teachers are underpaid, post-high school ed (both college and vocational) should have more subsidy, and corporations have devalued employee development as either risk (employees leave for better salaries) or waste (large unemployment pool causes corps to look for 'perfect' workers rather than train existing or adequate ones).


> 3.) Until someone spends time in a classroom full
> of 30-40 kids all year long I don't really listen
> to what they say about education. Yes even if they
> are a parent...I no it is a potentially offensive
> thing to say to a parent, but I spend at least 5
> hour a week engaged in that kids education and
> another 10-15 planning for it...I dare say that is
> more than most parents....sorry if this
> offends...

Well, I'm a parent, BUT don't forget, I spent a huge part of my life sitting in one of those chairs looking up at teachers both good and terrible. I hear where you're coming from, but don't discount my POV quite so flippantly

>
> 4.) No public servant gets elected by standing in
> front of parents and telling them what is really
> wrong with education. They will tell parents that
> schools are failing because of the system and that
> it needs to be improved. The actual truth is
> different...

This is so true it hurts, but then you have start thinking holistically about it, and we just don't seem to be capable of that kind of problem-solving.


thomas' final point on teacher counseling bias prompts a story I don't like to tell, I might regret this, but here goes...

My sophomore year, I had a guidance counselor try to remove me from my AP/CP/H classes because, as he explained it in our session, I "just didn't belong in those classes." He never gave a concrete reason. I was transferring in from a well-known private college prep school to a public high school in a good district (family move, military). My grades were good and I was fully qualified. His schedule for me was all shop classes, with PE, art, and remedial English. No math, no science. By running around like a fool, I managed to get the classes I needed to stay on track for college in spite of his efforts. He only succeeded with physics, which he replaced with metal shop. At least I learned how to weld, which is kind of cool.

At my insistence, I got moved to another school the next year (God bless my patient, sacrificing parents) where I had the chance to make up physics on my own by a UCB correspondence, thanks to another, more devoted teacher at a third school.

Believe me, as a normal self-doubting teenage kid I wasted a lot of cognitive cycles wondering if I was really as bad as he'd told me I was.

I wasn't - but he was. And possibly racist, but of course I can never know that. Fortunately there's still no social taboo on declaring someone an idiot: This one's for you, Mr. S.
Sanjeev (Admin)
leMel42 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Fortunately there's
> still no social taboo on declaring someone an
> idiot

True indeed.

And it's just heart-breaking to see case after case of good kids who don't make it because of such bullshit.

I probably sound dumb for stating something so obvious, but such aforementioned corporations run the government (see "Citizen's United")...and they simply don't NEED an educated proletariat. They can just as easily drain Chinese or Indian brains overseas...and pay 'em a fuckload less. So why should the politicians they pay good money for emphasize the importance of education???
leMel42 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>
> Well, I'm a parent, BUT don't forget, I spent a
> huge part of my life sitting in one of those
> chairs looking up at teachers both good and
> terrible. I hear where you're coming from, but
> don't discount my POV quite so flippantly

I don't discout the POV of the parents of my students, as a matter of fact I spend a lot of time trying to communicate with them. You would be amazed how often a parent does not want to talk to me...My statement was aimed more at the talking heads who think they do know something. Like the local and state politians who just raised class size for a third straight year here in GA...

I am trying really hard to stay off the soapbox...and I agree I should make more... :)
This is a good conversation, and there's a lot I'd love to add regarding the limitations/aspirations/successes/failures of public education, though with all the shenanigans in my department this year, the last thing I want to do is talk about it. Suffice to say that the only thing worse than dealing with a politician is dealing with senior faculty who act like wannabe-Game-of-Thrones-styled gangster politicos, but without any of the subtlety and wit.

Also, there's a BIG potential problem if you mistype Turnitin.com as Turntitin.com, as I accidentally did just now. The latter is NSFW...goes without saying.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 06/08/2012 04:11PM by gingaio.
There is a big lobby against student entitlement, and to be honest most students (especially those of the lower economic sort) need as much help as they can get...What I can't stand is a teacher who thinks that sheer years of service is enough to entitle them to their job. Which brings up teacher evaluation....

Oh Sanjeev's various Gods...can we just talk about toys...This is what I do for a living...Why the hell am I talking about it here...ugh....now where did I leave that Martini I just poured...?
The description clearly says this Optimus outfit is for G.I.R.L.S! : [www.toysrus.com]

This one for "Child" (added muscles): [www.toysrus.com]

This one for "Adult": [www.toysrus.com]

This one for those other, long haired, skirted, um.."Adults" : [www.toysrus.com]

And the infants (that's US! line up!) : [www.toysrus.com]

Teh whole fambly can get Optim-ized! Equality reigns!
leMel42 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
<snip>
>
> > 3.) Until someone spends time in a classroom
> full
> > of 30-40 kids all year long I don't really
> listen
> > to what they say about education. Yes even if
> they
> > are a parent...I no it is a potentially
> offensive
> > thing to say to a parent, but I spend at least
> 5
> > hour a week engaged in that kids education and
> > another 10-15 planning for it...I dare say that
> is
> > more than most parents....sorry if this
> > offends...
>
> Well, I'm a parent, BUT don't forget, I spent a
> huge part of my life sitting in one of those
> chairs looking up at teachers both good and
> terrible. I hear where you're coming from, but
> don't discount my POV quite so flippantly
>
I think I get where he's coming from. Both of my parents have been teachers at some point in their lives (and I have done some too), and preparing and correcting courses takes a lot of time. Expect to have an 8 hour day of official work, and at least another 4 hours a day additional work, sometimes working into the wee hours of the night. And the pay is shitty compared to the importance of education in people's lifes. I mean, it's really satisfying to teach people and see them learn and get better at things they once had trouble with, but the job is pretty exhausting, and you have to have done it yourself to realize just how much. Merely observing other people do it is not enough.

gingaio Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Suffice to say that the
> only thing worse than dealing with a politician is
> dealing with senior faculty who act like
> wannabe-Game-of-Thrones-styled gangster politicos,
> but without any of the subtlety and wit.
>
Sounds like some of the managers at the university I (used to) work at. Big mouth about freedom of speech/education/personal development, but if you say something they personally don't like apparently it is alright to piss over people. Blatantly.
[www.kickstarter.com]

What the hell even is this "engineering toy"?? A pegboard, a bunch of ribbon spools, and some animal figurines? I get that it's supposed to be expanded in the future with some other unspecified gimmicks, but as-is it seems to do a heck of a lot less than one of those gear boards.

-Paul Segal

"Oh, the anger is never far, never far." -SteveH
Sanjeev (Admin)
Well, it's all about the target age range, right? I'm not really familiar with existing peg board/gear toys like this (ostensibly more complex), but they seem more involved than Duplo blocks, right? So it's probably just targeting really young girls. I dunno...I kinda dig it.


-Paul Segal

"Oh, the anger is never far, never far." -SteveH



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/28/2012 05:47PM by asterphage.
Attachments:
open | download - A8yuV4BCMAAsW5v.jpg large.jpg (29.7 KB)
The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood nominates a Lego Friends set for their 2012 "Toys Oppressive And Destructive to Young Children" award... and a a Lego fan attempts to prove through comparison to Mega Bloks' Barbie line that, while the Lego toys may be stereotypical, other girls' toys are far, far worse, and are not even good toys, while the Lego sets at least retain Lego's strengths in terms of the basic building play pattern. The "Context" section of his article makes fine points about how Lego is doing far better than wholesale pandering to "what little girls like" stereotypes.

Those Mega Bloks Barbies, though... ugh.

-Paul Segal

"Oh, the anger is never far, never far." -SteveH
Came across this article and since it dealt with video games and products and media, felt it was at least tangential to this discussion:

[www.nytimes.com]
[family-room.ew.com]

Uh...hmm. Okay. I actually kinda love this bow design.

-Paul Segal

"Oh, the anger is never far, never far." -SteveH
Sanjeev (Admin)
Yeah, color palette and name notwithstanding, that's actually quite a bit nicer than the classic Nerf bow & arrow set...
mcfitch (Admin)
Do you think that has anything to do with The Hunger Games?
-Mason

------------------------------------------------------------------------
Matthewalt &quot;I actually kinda LIKE that approach! You know: let's make a TOY. Remember those? Products designed to be played with without breaking? DO YOU REMEMBER, LOVE?!&quot;
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