I can safely say I prefer mini-dolls to minifigures, that's my preference and I'll stick by my word. However, I think the way the LEGO group is capitalizing on these figures is completely ridiculous. There's many obvious problems that noone seems to be addressing, but since most mini doll fans are little girls how could they? So here I am acting on their behalf. I'm going to break this blog into different parts, but be aware that I might bring up points again as I'm horrible with organization. :P
- 1 Lack of interesting figures
- 2 Repeat of parts, no repeat of others
- 3 Similar new prints over interesting ones
- 4 Less characters than "boys" themes
- 5 Lack of constituency
- 6 Doubling up
- 7 Where's the diversity?
- 8 Books and exclusive stuff
- 9 Conclusion
- 10 2017 update
Lack of interesting figures
Say what you will about City but if they need a "specialized" minifigure they'll supply. Scientists, LEGO store employees, coffee shop workers, nurses, fireman, citizens, policemen, robbers, hazmat suits. You name the job and the set and they'll make a suitable figure for it. Friends on the other hand does not do this. I mean sure 2013 was great, but what about this years summer wave? Nearly everything in this wave is reused, Andrea does finally get the flat skirt and Matthew cropped trousers. We also got five new torsos, tan jodhpurs and green jodhpurs. But honestly given the sets I'm really disappointed. 41124 Heartlake Puppy Daycare doesn't have an employee outfit, it's just Andrea and Mia in casual clothes...Andrea's looks a bit too fancy though. I don't think it's a wise idea to wear a necklace to a dog kennel :P We still don't have a farmer in 41126 Heartlake Horse Riding Club or even an adult. Sophie reuses a teenage torso yet again...and so does the new "teacher" Iva. Mia and Olivia share a horse riding torso. :S The only new characters we got in this wave were in LEGO store exclusive sets and not one if them is worthwhile. :/
My favourite example though is: We have no clown, mime, fortune teller or even a decent looking employee at the Amusment Park, nothing. I guess we have hot dog Nate, which is great but that's only one set. I'm not saying all sets need to have exclusive characters, I'd happily take this as the amusement park lineup:
- Arcade-Andrea, gamer shirt, her flat blue skirt and white shoes
- Space Ride-Olivia, a space themed shirt, her existing blue skirt
- Hot Dog Van-Stephanie, Nate, both as they came
- Bumper Cars-Employee Ben, Casual Mia, in her amusement park top and light blue skirt
- Roller coaster-Employee Hank, Clown, Magician Mia, Emma (with new torso, possibly even Andrea's from 41124)
That's only a new employee torso (as seen on Hank and Miss Terry from the video game), a new torso for Andrea and Emma, and three new pieces for a clown. I think the above list would be much more interesting and you can still get all the girls in their casual outfits. What's better is all of these parts par the Clown and mabye the Employee torso (unless we continue with this amazing sub theme) could easily be used again.
It's not like we don't get new minifigure pieces all the time, for example 70590 Airjitzu Battle Grounds has eleven exclusive minifigure pieces, would it really be much more expensive to give each of the friends an amusement park torso? Even worse the girls have the same camp torsos! I mean really? I mean was it really too hard to produce an extra two? Especially since they can easily be reused again, heck Mia's and Emma's hoodie is already appearing in other sets.
Not only do they not make new interesting figures I don't think they capitalize on the ones they made. As I stated before this summer wave Mia and Olivia share horse riding torsos, why can't one use Katharina's? Kids get two different torsos which ads new (kids now probably don't have Katharina) and LEGO doesn't have to make new prints. It makes zero sense to me. :S Its not like they don't bring parts from years ago back, just look at 70591 Kryptarium Prison Breakout.
I take little pride in having an exclusive or "rare" mini-dolls such as Katharina or Magician Mia, because of the little amount of customization there is currently. I don't see why girls younger than me shouldn't have the opportunity to get these figures too and expand their customization options.
Repeat of parts, no repeat of others
Look I know it's completely ridiculous to expect each character in Friends to have a new face, I get that. But is it to much to ask to have the five Friends have their faces as exclusives? Why can't Iva have Rapunzel's new face or one of Emily's instead of Emma's? It just seems weird to me that they reuse the main characters faces and not other character's. Most little girls will already have at least two duplicates of each of the Friends' faces, why must we get repeats on secondary characters in addition?
Speaking of faces, were still missing a bunch of obvious stuff. Most notably we still don't have a face with glasses besides Ms. Stevens, we still have no hazel eyes or grey face (Olivia's and Mia have amber eyes). At this point I think we should really be getting alternative shades of blue and green eyes, not be waiting for them to finish giving out the basic colours.
Another example would be the fact that nearly all Friends mini-dolls have the same hairpiece. Matthew, Julian, Andrew and Ben all use the same hairpiece, as do Peter, David, Robert and Nate why?! There's so many male minifigure hairpieces and the majority of them look fine on mini-dolls so what's the problem with having different ones? I mean your only giving little girls more customization options! The same goes with Susan and Charlotte, surly one of them could've used the short minifigure ponytail piece and then a City minifigure could've got their hair?
Why do they keep torsos exclusive too? I mean Stephanie's regular torso appears in three sets this year alone, while her top from Stephanie's Pet Patrol is still exclusive four years later... Iva could've really been upgraded if she borrowed from one of the Friends' mothers or Ms. Stevens' closet.
Similar new prints over interesting ones
Does Cinderella really need three dress prints and does Rapunzel need two? I mean could one of those prints not have been sacrificed to give Belle a hazel eyed face, or Elsa a face with a smirk or Merida one without lipstick? :S
Do we really need another casual top for Olivia in Space Ride, then a space themed shirt? Did Livi and Andrea really need new pop star tops and over skirts in 41135 Livi's Pop Star House instead of a different character or possibly pajamas? There's so many Friends sets that should use casual torsos (a customer at the café, Olivia's ice cream bike ect.) so LEGO can use casual torsos there but when the opportunity arises why do they make another casual torso instead of an interesting one? I'd love to see Olivia in her labcoat or Emma in pajamas and I'd imagine most girls would too.
Less characters than "boys" themes
While I'm sure this is a cost issue, though I'm pretty sure mini-dolls don't cost three times as much. The advent calanders seem to agree with this fact, as there's a 3:1 ratio on the amount of minifigures you get to mini-dolls! Why not give us a Santa minidoll anyway? Are the girls from Heartlake supposed to be naughty or something? :/ It seems bizarre especially since Star Wars which is a galaxy that doesn't even celebrate Christmas (though I'm sure they don't celebrate Light Day anymore...) has every Tom, Dick and Harry cosplaying as him.
Elvendale seems to be completely empty, only having nine residents released to date, which was over the course of 18 sets! 70224 Tiger's Mobile Command alone has six figures which is more than half of the released Elves mini-dolls, even including Emily.
While I don't think every set needs more characters for example 41104 Pop Star Dressing Room and 41173 Elvendale School of Dragons are fine as they are. Some sets like 41176 The Secret Marketplace look completely ridiculous with the number they received though, there's three shops and only two employees...which are both animals and animals in Elves don't even talk! Heck one is Azari's pet fox...eh, what? Did he have a secret business when she was out with Emily?! The characters in the set didn't even have to be exclusive, all Elves has to do is create a few new pieces and rotate them around to make new characters, Jasmine's, Sira's and Rapunzel's faces can be starting points.
A huge example would be the fact that whoever makes those Friends animations for LEGO has to make up their own characters (Tanya, Lacy, [[Mr. Mayor ]], Jacob) ect. as LEGO doesn't make enough characters in the sets. If adults can't come up with stories using the existing characters why should kids be made do it? Heck at least put them in sets down the line as your repeatedly using these made up characters. The only character who appeared in the show first that we have is Ben, who had like a line in Dolphin Cruise.
There's also no consistency in themes. 41075 The Elves' Treetop Hideaway features 3 mini-dolls and the more expensive 41176 The Secret Marketplace features two. You could say "Oh it features animals instead" but then why would something like the Amusment Park Roller Coaster only feature four figures while Summer Riding Camp features four figures, three horses and a hedgehog? :/
Lack of constituency
While I'm going on mini-dolls, whoever is control of the media at the Friends/Elves section needs some help for example Ragana's LEGO.com description forgot all about Dusti.
Anyway back to constituency mini-dolls:
- Anna, Charlotte, Maggie and Susan all have more "curves" in both ways then other female adults such as Theresa, Sophie, Marie, Naya. What makes things weirder is Marie, Sophie and Theresa all had the same torso (in a different colour in Marie's case) so why not use that? Someone pointed out in the comments that not all women are curvy, but I don't think LEGO's trying to make a political statement here rather than the fact curvier torsos are more expensive.
- Daniel has a small nose compared to the other adult male mini-dolls which have bigger noses. I don't mind the fact he's not as bulky as Peter and Luis as he's a pilot why would he have to be bulky?
- Naya has been shown to be both an adult and a teenager in sets. Why can't they just use Danielle?
- In the LEGO Friends character enclyopedia, they we're confused on what face Naya had. It's not like she got a new face either, she got Olivia's instead of Mia's. :/
- Teenage Elves male mini-dolls have bigger noses than the boys of the same age from Friends.
Here's a trend that needs to stop, or at least be limited. Elves is obsessed with the fact that two main characters can be seen in a set together. This is fine in Ninjago as its usually with others, but in Elves they're usually alone. Like I said before I'm not saying we need to have an exclusive character in each set, even six new pieces that they could rotate around to create new characters. They already have a great generic face print with Sira.
Also I don't get why they repeat pairs. I don't think it's fair on children (forgot me, I collect all the sets. Children don't have the money to) if they get two large Elves sets (41175 Fire Dragon's Lava Cave and 41179 Queen Dragon's Rescue) they get two Emily's and two Azari's. Surly Farran could've been used instead of Azari or Emily in one of those sets? That's €125 where I live and it just seems mean on LEGO's part.
Friends is beginning to do this now to, I don't mind them doing it in sub themes so we can get all five Friends. But why must they do it normally? :S 41126 Heartlake Horse Riding Club could've easily had two new characters and a Friend, but instead we only get Stephanie and Mia. Same goes for 41124 Heartlake Puppy Daycare which features Andrea and Mia instead of a new employee or customer character.
Look in theory it's a great idea you don't need to collect all the sets to get all the characters, but then where's the reward figure wise for people who do collect all the sets? It's even difficult to customize and create your own characters with the lack of options.
Where's the diversity?
Mini-dolls have only been made into two skin colours (Light Nougat and Medium Nougat) despite LEGO's colour palette having an additional two (Nougat and Reddish Brown). 2015 was the obvious year to introduce these with the introduction of Elves and Jasmine, but nope Jasmine sported an impressive tan in the sets and Elves had four white people and a light brown girl again. :/ I'm not even sure if they're handling diversity with two skin tones well as is I mean out of the ten Friends "extra" characters we had this year only Matthew wasn't white and last year, only Matthew, Susan and Kate weren't white. :/ There's been no additional prints to the darker toned faces no glasses, no freckles, no nothing.
Where's the male friend? Here's a question I want a serious answer to, why don't we have a male main character in Friends? I mean Nexo Knights has Macy, Legends of Chima had Eris, BIONICLE had Gali, heck even Elves has Farran! Ninjago has shown with Nya and Lloyd main characters can be added later on so why can't Friends get a boy? I'd imagine it would only make the theme less embarrassing for young boys to buy. Is it too much to ask for a boy to be added to the line up to add diversity, teach girls you can be besties with a boy and save young boys for embarrassment? Or at least lower it? I know adding a male character won't solve everything but I imagine it will at least help some feel more comfortable.
Oh we really need children! All the Friends besides Stephanie have been shown to have younger siblings so why can't we get them? It's been five years and rather than doing weird new dress moulds why not make shorter legs? I'd imagine little girls would love this as they could then create their families. Also I think the current minifigure baby mould would work fine in a mini doll set, just in a skin tone and with a new head mould.
Face wise I brought up the lack of eye colours and glasses earlier, but also it be nice to see braces.
Hair wise we really need shorter haired girls, surly Laurie could've used Ms. Stevens' hair? Also more hair colours would be appreciated, warm gold is the closest to mine. ;) Though in all seriousness there's a lot of colours LEGO has in its palette that must become mini doll hair colours (Medium Nougat and Dark Orange most notably).
I've heard a few people talk about adding different body types to mini-dolls but I'm not sure how that would work.
Books and exclusive stuff
Here's another thing I really don't get. The Friends books don't get exclusive characters while minifigures ones do. Olivia in a lab coat, Mia in a new bikini, heck someone wearing an "I love books" torso would be better than nothing. Why does the Nexo Knights and Ninjago Character Enclyopedias deserve exclusive figures and Friends doesn't? They're all "Big Bang" themes! I mean Merlock is an exclusive character in a Nexo Knights book would it really be that awkward to make a teacher/someone from the video game or show the exclusive character in the book?
So I hope this didn't come across really bitter as I do really love the Friends and Elves themes and it just seems a shame at how they're how dealing the mini-dolls for them compared to minifigure themes like: Ninjago, Nexo Knights and Legends of Chima. Obviously making exclusive characters and torsos is pointless and won't solve anything. What I would like to see would be an increase in characters when needed, more new characters with different looks (skin, eye colour, glasses, freckles ect.), exclusive mini dolls when we get exclusive mini figures and less doubling up outside Juniors.
When we heard these would probably have mini dolls I was upset as I felt that all these years of collecting minidolls would be met with nothing. On the plus side I guessed we would get much more characters, but honestly I probably would've been less enthusiastic about buying the sets. Anyway the minifigure rumor turned out to be wrong and we got mini dolls anyway. I was shocked to see the quality of them! Literally every character is exclusive to their set. Every figure has brand new arm, face, leg and torso printing. We now have angry faces! More smirks too! Oh and masks! Every character besides Steve and Lena have new hair moulds and even they get new colours for existing moulds. Anna's bob like hair is back, in flame yellowish orange! A new mini doll hair colour! Harley is also the first female to get a tan hairpiece too.
Despite all this initial excitement you have to ask yourself why? Why now? Why does Supergirl need a new face over Belle? Surly Stephanie's face would fit her fine, better than Elsa or Merida anyway.
I'd argue numbers are still a problem too. Since the theme has superheroes in it, all the sets have villains in them. So instead of making them mini dolls (for the most part) we have this brick built things called kryptomites. The little creatures don't look particularly threatning, mini-dolls dwarf them for peat's sake! Are we really supposed to believe they're supposed to fear them? :S Elves' goblin solution is much better and despite being smaller, they at least look very impressive when you collect a few. For the kryptomites to be the least bit intimidating you need them all. :/ Strangely enough, the first season of the show didn't have any villains. So we didn't even need the kryptomites in the first place, but in fairness to the designers it was a nice effort.
41233 Lashina Tank and 41232 Super Hero High are the two sets with mini doll villains. 41233 is the only set with an animal, Krypto and he looks splendid. I wonder will we see the combination of a villain and a super pet more if this set sells well?
41232 Super Hero High definitely suffers the most from lack of other characters. There's no male student, no teachers or any facility. We get stickers of Waller and Quilt, but they hardly count. Personally I was hoping we'd get a female student, villain, a male student and Grodd (reusing his big fig mould, but in a teachery redesign). I think giving us two female students was a mistake, I was hoping they'd leave Ivy here and put Supergirl with Batgirl in the jet. Heck, why not put Supergirl in both and save Ivy for the summer wave?
I have no idea why they got rid of the Princess title, sure all the sets now aren't Disney Princess, but they're offshoots at least. Palace Pets, Frozen and Moana wouldn't exist without the Disney Princess brand. If anything I think removing the Princess is a bad thing, we'll probably never get Pocahontas or Tiana now. Hopefully we can get Mulan to coincide with the live action 2018 movie, but otherwise she's unlikely too.
It will be curious to see if we'll ever get a non Princess themed set here. Alice and Tinkerbell would be popular amongst girls and Alice's set could have various pastel colours and wacky builds.
There's two new mini-doll characters in Elves (Sophie Jones and the Goblin King), both have four new pieces. All of the Elves get new outfits as well and this time they only appear in a single set each.