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Chick brick

I have played with Lego bricks since childhood, and have passed them on to my son.

It was fun to build helicopters and spaceships from bricks but, when I grew up, I learned that fiddling with Lego built spatial sense (essential in geometry, the most detested mathematics subject in high school).

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But in the past, Lego was considered a toy for boys. When I told my ninang that I wanted Lego for Christmas, she said, “But you’re a girl! I already got you a Barbie.”

So imagine my delight, albeit 20 years too late, to learn that Lego has finally come to its senses and started Lego Friends for girls.

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For instance, in Olivia’s House (for girls aged 6-10), roof tiles are pink, walls have floral patterns, the garden has a swing with canopy. I never envisioned Lego characters to have different hairstyles. Olivia also has outfits in different designs and various accessories.

Girls, who traditionally love role play, will fall in love with Olivia’s House, with its attractive yet functional furniture, and thoughtful detailing. But they have to construct it first, certainly a more fun way of playing house than buying something ready-made.

Global research

Lego Friends won in March the coveted 2012 Australian Toy of the Year Award in Melbourne. Now all ninangs can give Lego as gifts without hesitation.

Research done by Lego five years ago showed that in the United States, only 9 percent of households with Lego reported that its primary user was a girl. Other countries reflected a similar situation.

Lego did focus groups with 3,500 girls and their mothers across the world to make the toys more engaging for them.

“The Lego Group is globally known for its cocreation philosophy to ensure that we deliver the best possible products and experiences,” says Mads Nipper, executive vice president for marketing of Lego Group in their website. “We have a long history of listening very carefully to the opinions and requests of our consumers, just as we are listening to the conversation that is currently taking place about Lego Friends.

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“We heard very clear requests from moms and girls for more details and interior building, a brighter color palette, a more realistic figure, role play opportunities and a story line that they would find interesting.

“Lego Friends was made with the goal of inspiring more girls than we currently serve to try their hand at building and experience the pride of accomplishment that Lego play fosters.”

In 2008, Patrick Pesengco and his family were given the opportunity to distribute Lego in the Philippines, with a Singaporean group referred to them by a family friend.

“We decided to pursue this as we believe Lego is more than just a toy,” Pesengco says. “It is a tool to equip kids and adults, boys or girls, aged 2 to 100, how to be imaginative and creative. For example, there are 915 million ways to build using just six Lego bricks.

“Lego can be part of building the foundation to enhance innovation, important in the present time. Innovation is basically utilizing the same information most people have access to, and creating and making opportunities from that same info, things that other people haven’t thought of. That is what Lego play does. I have been playing with Lego since childhood. Our parents did not scrimp on items that were educational.”

Philippine map

In August 2011, Lego Philippines partnered with the Department of Tourism to promote domestic travel. Pesengco and his team commissioned several enthusiasts to construct a 3-D Philippine map, with historical sites, out of Lego bricks.

Imagine a gigantic map of our country, with the Rice Terraces, Mayon Volcano, Chocolate Hills, Moro vintas, even SM Mall of Asia (where the launch was held), done out of Lego.

Right now, the Lego map is on a national tour, stopping at different SM malls around the Philippines. “Our goal is to show Lego as stimulating creativity through love of country [and to promote] the various landmarks we have,” Pesengco says.

To parents (and godparents) who wonder what toys will be most beneficial for kids, Pesengco says, “Invest in toys that promote continuous learning, playability, reusability and quality. If you can appreciate these benefits, then Lego, though it commands a premium price, is value for money. We have fans in their 30s or 40s who still have their sets from when they were kids and are still building and having fun with Lego. They are now sharing their building experience with their own children.”

Pesengco says, “I feel inspired and fulfilled [to be among] those who promote Lego. In a small way, we are helping Filipino kids be imaginative, which hopefully [will] help our national competitiveness in the future.”

E-mail the author at [email protected]

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TAGS: Education, Lego, Lego bricks, toys
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