Wednesday, June 13, 2012

What does a girl have to do

to be made into a LEGO mini-fig?

I assumed that the whole hullabaloo over LEGO Friends this past winter would have spurred someone to think carefully before releasing the Lord of the Rings play sets. Apparently I have too much faith in people's intelligence.

I get that some girls like the curvy pink characters, as well as the tiny hairdryers and magazines that come with these play sets. My daughter Emma even bought two of the smaller Friends sets with her allowance money. They've got some neat parts. She's not thrilled that the figures' legs don't move independently, but surmises that's because the legs are so spindly, they'd break too easily. Hmm. Is that a purposeful message? Don't tax yourselves, girls; you might break.

I don't see a problem with marketing girly-girl sets to those who like them. Emma is crazy about her Littlest Pet Shop sets and her collection of Squinkies. Both my daughters used their own money to purchase a bunch of those motorized hamsters, but they didn't just buy the pink sparkly hamsters. No, my daughters bought a bunch of the green, grey, blue & black Kung Fu hamsters, as well. They bought battle armor to go on all the hamsters, even the sparkly ones. I think the pinkest, sparkliest hamster is in fact the supreme villain of Hamsterville. They've also shelled out their own money for several LEGO Ninjago sets and a few Alien Conquest sets. (Last I heard, the aliens were preparing to attack the Heartlake City beauty shop and demand free seaweed wraps.) Between gifts and their own money, Pen and Em garnered the entire Harry Potter collection this past winter. So when the new LEGO catalog arrived and my girls saw Frodo and the ring on the front, they couldn't find the Sharpies fast enough. A few minutes later?

"Hey! Where's Arwen?"
Then, "what? There's no Galadriel?"
Finally, "no Eowyn? You've gotta be kidding me!"

They slide the first page of the LOTR spread in front of me and jab at the characters. Emma starts tallying everything up. "Look! There's Eomer! There are Mordor orcs and Moria orcs."

"They made the cave troll," Penelope interrupts.

 "There's five different Uruk-hai. They made two Ringwraiths, but left out Eowyn! I mean, don't they even know that she KILLS the WITCH KING!?"

At this point, Penelope shouts, "I am no man! Yahhhhhhhh!" and drives an imaginary sword into an imaginary Witch King's head.

Okay, maybe I'm remembering that wrong. Maybe that was me.

Hang on, I tell them. Let's not panic. Maybe they're only releasing sets for the first movie right now. That's got to be it, right? I mean, I don't see Minas Tirith, Isengard, or the Black Gate. But neither do I see an elven kingdom or an Amon Hen set.

However, there are sets for Helm's Deep (Two Towers) and Shelob (Return of the King). Plus, Arwen and Galadriel were onscreen in Fellowship, and could technically be included in the Weathertop and Moria sets.

I flip through the catalog and see Ann Lee and a vampyre bride. I note that Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy and Black Widow are included in the appropriate sets, but simply can't count the Wonder Woman keychain as an action figure. The Kingdom and Town sets each include a few women. Finally, in the Star Wars spread, I find two Princess Leia figures but no Queen Amidala.

I understand that these sets were built predominately with boys in mind. At nine, my daughters are already jaded enough to know that female figures will be few and far between, but really, LEGO? No Eowyn?

I can imagine the strategy sessions.

I mean, what did the women in the story do, really? Assuming we're only working off the movies, let's take inventory.

We can ignore Arwen because she was pretty useless, right? She only outran a posse of nine ringwraiths to get Frodo into elf territory. She only convinced her father to reforge the shards of Narsil, then trek all the way out to Dunharrow and present Anduril to Aragorn. A minor character. Aragorn might have gotten Frodo to safety without her and Elrond might have thought of reforging the sword on his own. Plus, she disobeyed her father and almost died because she was in love with a guy who had a great job waiting for him, but was more content to roam around and play tortured soul.  So, okay. Leave out Arwen.

Galadriel didn't do very much, either. True, she gave the Fellowship shelter after they escaped Moria. She did that cool telepathy thing and gave Frodo some guidance. She sent the Fellowship on their way with all those nifty little gifts that came in handy later. Remember the elvish rope that helped Sam and Frodo get down the cliff? And the Phial that Frodo and Sam used to fight Shelob? What about those amazing cloaks that hid them from the soldiers outside the Black Gate? Nah. I'm sure everything would have worked out just smashingly without all that stuff. Plus, all the telepathy did was freak everyone out, and it's not as if Frodo didn't already know that the ring was overcoming Boromir. And when Frodo offers her the ring and she had to fight its power? Seriously, how did that not wake up the entire city? That was totally unrealistic. We can skip Galadriel.

Eowyn is a tough one. She did kill the Witch King, after all. But do we really want to hold her up as an example to impressionable young girls? I mean, Eowyn balks at every order she's given. She doesn't want to lead the women and children to safety when the Warg riders attack. She doesn't want to stay in the caves with them during the battle of Helm's Deep. She obeys both orders, but you can tell she's only doing it because she doesn't see a way out. Then, she follows the Rohirrim to Dunharrow. (It's tradition for the women of the court to see the men off to battle. Shyeah. Like anybody fell for that.) She actually hides her hair in a helmet and tags along to Minas Tirith. Can you believe the gall? Do we really want to teach girls to be so headstrong? She gets away with it, too! Aragorn heals her and then she gets all lovey-dovey with Faramir. We can't have boys thinking it's okay for girls to behave this way, all brave and independent. We certainly can't have girls thinking that if they hold true to themselves and follow their heart, they'll be happy and maybe even find someone they love. No, we need to keep our girls pining away for the ones they can't have, like Aragorn, and then promise them to creeps like Grima. If Eowyn had spent more time learning her feminine duties, she would have been a better cook, too. Did you see the stew she served on the road to Helm's Deep? And she expected the men to fight after eating it? (Rohan calls Time-Out! We need to use the privvy. Why don't you tell your orcs to take a break, Lurtz? We may be awhile...) No, no, no. We need to nip this in the bud. Eowyn's out.

I see.

Some people might boycott LEGO because they left these three women -- awesome, strong, kick-ass women -- out of their Lord of the Rings play sets. Me and my daughters? We're headed to the LEGO store to build our own Eowyn, Galadriel, and Arwen.

Take that, LEGO!


  1. Thanks for the fun post! Penelope shouting, "I am no man!" cracked me up.

    I bet your Eowyn won't be curvy and purple and come with her own cell phone. I hope the girly LEGO sets totally flop.

    LEGO is huge in our house. I think Ron Weasley's head is on some Star Wars alien's body and the hoops from the quidditch set are being used as the hoops in a Mayan ball court at the moment.

    Hope all is well with you!

  2. Hi, Addlepated,

    Our Eowyn is definitely not curvy and purple -- check out the pic above! We did get a bit excited when we finally found a cute green peasant-style torso that looked promising as an off-the-battlefield outfit. Then we turned it over and took in the painted-on cleavage. It was a little too pirate-wench for our purpose. ;-)

    The faces we found were the double-sided kind. Galadriel's looks sufficiently freaky for when she's fighting off the ring, and Eowyn's other side has a frightened look that will work for when she faces the Nazgul.