I used to have this awesome Lego set.
It sat on my bottom shelf for many happy years. But this story does not have a happy beginning. One Christmas morning in the early 1990s, something went terribly wrong.
Perhaps in the previous month of screaming at toy commercials I had forgotten to actually write a Christmas list. Perhaps I had misplaced my faith in the psychic powers of Santa Claus. But whatever happened, the present I opened on Christmas was not the one I wanted.
Knowing it would be a full year before I got another toy anywhere near as good, I drowned my sorrows in some hot cocoa and probably took down a gingerbread house.
By the time I remembered the Lego, the entire set had been put together by my nerdiest cousin.
Suddenly jealous of MY toy, I carried the whole thing into my room and started playing out of pure stubbornness.
There was much to be done in this little Lego universe. The first thing I did was depose their leader with a ritualistic beheading. Then I replaced him with an interim leader of my own choosing.
The set had some kind of vague underwater mining theme, the long-forgotten Aquaraiders. I’d never had a Lego set as big or complex as this. The ladyfig’s head had come from a windsurfing set whose accessories were an umbrella and a tea table.
Despite my pessimism, I soon discovered all sorts of wonders.
Yes, My Little Undersea Mine (TM) was not the idyllic paradise it first appeared to be. Soon a scout returned from a recon mission, and things took a turn for the worse.
And with that, Lego had made itself a lifelong fan. Hell, I bought a Lego VW Bus yesterday.
Which brings me to this:
By now, a lot of people have weighed in on the “Lego for Girls” thing better than me. But as a little girl who unknowingly played with “Boy Lego,” I just have a couple of observations about the new ‘Lego Friends.’
1) The minifigs look totally different and probably couldn’t actually be friends.
2) The pieces are a different color palette and wouldn’t mix that well with other sets.
3) Some of the sets have a lot of pieces, but where’s the room for creativity?
My point is this: There are no shortage of plastic, barely-poseable dress-up dolls aimed at young girls. But Lego always had the promise of letting you create something totally original using only what was in front of you.
Countless young girls will play with these “girls only” sets and not ever know what they’re missing.
And as a former sea captain and occasional shark whisperer, I’m glad I was a kid in 1993 and not today. Otherwise things may have turned out differently.
It’s probably the difference between “Best Friends 4 Life!” and “Lifelong Fan.” Just sayin.’
Edit: I just found out Mom kept my Lego. Here’s Captain Erin, back at the helm. And holding a knife.