So, a slight departure from my usual builds today. I’ve been thinking a lot about scale in Lego, and how the rise of the minifig has created something of a standard. I was aware of the Friends theme (especially all those delicious colours) and knew they had figures (called mini dolls), but I had no idea of their size. I popped into the local toy shop to grab one in a polybag, they didn’t have one, and I thought it might be interesting to look at a “some kid in my kid’s class’s birthday” price range set from the Friends theme. Hence I am now the owner of “Stephanie’s Friendship Cakes”.
The Friends theme is another TLG pitch to girls. The general history of Lego and girls is that early sets were presumably aimed at girls and boys (it was common for the box art to include boys and girls playing with Lego). Then in the 90’s sets got very gendered for a while. That’s been wound back a bit, but there must still be market research saying TLG needed to address this market better. Their (very successful) current approach to this is the Friends theme. A bit more depth on this.
A couple of points jump out straight away. about this set. Firstly the collection of small builds rather than a main large model and a couple of ancillaries. Secondly, no baseplate. Baseplates are somewhat rarer than they used to be, but a set with lots of little bits does seem to call out for it.
The narrative here is that Stephanie is making some cakes. Perhaps it’s the rabbit’s birthday. She’s probably going to sit down and have some with her anyway. Stephanie owns a mixer (but is also hand mixing something as well, and an oven and a stop top. There’s a lovely rotating cake dish with a cover to keep the flies out, and she takes hand hygiene like super-serious with a delightful sink with gold plated taps.
It’s easy to make fun of Stephanie the uber-blond West Coast 10 year old with eye make-up, but in this price range I could also have snagged a set with Olivia (brunette), Emma (dark hair, has a crush on Matthew), Mia (redhead), or Andrea (dark skinned, and only sometimes straightens her hair). It’s likely Stephanie is dying her hair anyway – her eyebrows are much darker.
The builds were straightforward (pin the bow on the rabbit etc), as I think you’d want for this market – I’m assuming that the build is not the main point, it’s the playability. And I’d say this set has that for little kids. You’ve got all the gear for Stephanie to cook up a sugary storm. I was gob smacked by the number of spare parts in such a small set, but this makes a lot of sense for play. For example if Stephanie wants to make a vegan cupcake for Mia.
One thing Stephanie taught me was that her hand is stud sized. In the build she ends up holding a cupcake on a 1×1 plate that she’s adding whipped cream to. Her hand is jammed into the anti-stud underneath the plate. I immediately tried the same with a regular mini-figure and it works just as well. Thanks Stephanie!