I’d like to bet that all the best engineers started with a few Lego bricks in the nursery.
This past Labor Day weekend my kids and I took a trip to the LEGO Store in downtown Bellevue, Washington. Sadly, I had to warn my daughter—as I always do—that “there’s probably not going to be much for you.”
Historically, the LEGO Store has been a barren wasteland for girls of all ages, a boy-center extravaganza of monster trucks, pirate ships and action figures—with maybe a token “unisex” zoo set—all done in the traditional primary colors.
But this visit was different.
While my son struggled to find anything of interest, my daughter frantically scribbled down items for her birthday wish list: Heartlake Flying Club, Heartlake Vet, Olivia’s Tree House… the list went on and on. In fact, one entire wall of the store was dedicated to LEGO Friends, a pastel-colored line aimed at girls between the ages of five and nine.
LEGO’s “girls” collection has come a long way in a short time, evolving from the 40-piece splash pool and girl-band sets (yawn) to the extravagant 300-plus-piece Adventure Camper.
And LEGO Group is raking in the profits.
The Danish toymaker—which has eight percent of the global toy market—reported late last month what it called “exceptional” financial gains, with a 41.7 percent jump in operating profits during the first half of 2012.
LEGO also announced it will be recruiting 1,000 new employees this year.
Sales have done particularly well in the United States, where they are up 23 percent. In Europe sales are up 10 percent, according to the company. This is pretty impressive by anyone’s standards, especially given the recent downturn in the toy market.
LEGO Friends has undoubtedly been the strong force behind LEGO’s recent profit gains. The line has been an “astonishing” success, according to CEO Joergen Vig Knudstorp.
Looks like LEGO finally realized that girls like to build too. You just have to give them slightly different subject matter (and better colors).