Saturday, December 6, 2014

Lego Friends Emma's Karate Class 41002 and the minidolls

When the Friends line launched in 2012, there was a bit of controversy that accompanied the release of the toy line. The line was slammed for being overly attentive to a caricature of what it meant to be a toy since it appeared so heavily laden with the "It's a girl's line so pour on the PINK and put it in the pink aisle!" Enough time has gone by that hopefully people realize that there are some gems in this lineup, one of which I am reviewing below that is now out of production.

For me, it had always seemed that Lego was one of those toy brands that really ignored all except the main fact that ANYONE could enjoy building and playing with just about any set. Even if the theme was not one of your liking. Boy, girl, father, mother, whatever... it's all about creating either the object of the instructions, or not.

Now I will admit, that if I'd not happened across this set as a Target online return, that happened to be on an endcap shelf where the clearance items were, with a sticker on it that had the returned price of $2.98 on it, I might have not picked it up.

This set is pretty nifty if I do say so myself. (Inset) The set has 97 pieces in it, of which 93 are used in the instructions as part of the build. You get 5 extra bricks and accessories.
Or maybe I would have.

See, first, I noticed that there were swords, and some sort of helm, and then what appeared to be Japanese Kanji on a wall part...
It was purple and pink dammit, but the set still looked cool!
So I picked it up, because two things stuck out to me. First, come on, It's a LEGO set on clearance to boot! This collector isn't going to pass that up! (I had no idea this had been discontinued until I wrote this review).
For being compared to Mattel's Barbie line, I can't say I remember Barbie ever having swords in her wide range of fashion accessories.
Second, it was (sadly) the first time I'd seen a girl centric deemed product that was put out by LEGO that actually had a character with a bit of a tomboy streak to her from the way she was being presented.

So I picked up a few other things to review for Tenacious Toys later next week, and this set, and went home to check out what all the hub bub was about.
Two polybags and a slim instruction booklet were all that were in the box.
The set has 97 pieces in it, so I knew it was not going to be super time intensive on build time. It does come with a good variety of various bricks.
(Top Left) The minidoll (that's right, not a minifig) was bagged out separately. (Top Right) The colors in this set are leaning towards the pastel side of the spectrum. Muted to a degree but still very colorful. (Bottom) The instructions are your standard Lego fare, clean and easy to follow, with colors used to mimic the rest of the packaging palette. 
Price point wise, this set was in variance from $12 to $15 depending on where you bought it when it was still on store shelves. I'll be honest, it is a cool set for the collector, but I think I would have had to REALLY had nothing else I had wanted to spend money on before I would have bought this. There's a bit of replay value I guess. Some parents on the Lego website left reviews about the small nature of the set versus what was paid for it.
The bonsai tree in the front is a cool aspect, but I really like the trophy and sword display shelf unit.
The minidoll figure size is an odd thing. This is not the first time Lego has broken the scale line for the characters that occupy some of the internally developed sets they put out.

But this is the first time that the sizes are not that off from the scale of the modern standard minifigs. 
"Bring it shorty!" "En garde, mademoiselle!"

I didn't think her Kendo helmet would fit at first.
As a collector, this is a nice break from the norm in the Friends lineup. It's kind of a shame that it's out of production, as I think this sort of direction has a lot of potential outside of what storyline is in place for the group of Emma and her friends.
I want to thank the designer that came up with this set, because a brunette with two katanas and just a touch of Anime inspired eyes is never a bad thing. Even in Lego form!
So as it turns out, I was not the only one that realized that these minidolls have yet unleashed potential that could reverberate not only through the young girls they cater to, but in universal appeal, because someone somewhere was going to do something like this...
"In July of this year, freelance developer Jon Lazar decided to put together a LEGO Friends project that “utilize the same figures in order to the break the stereotypes that they had been assigned.” He asked people on different social networks about their favorite superheroines and then selected a small group of them—mostly Marvel comic characters, interestingly— transform into modified LEGO Friend minifigs." -
That is the most awesome lineup of customs ever. If you want to read his reasons behind it, go here to

And this format might just become a long standing one with the one - two punch of a Frozen themed castle...

Parents, prepare to hand over your wallets.
...and then this new line based on Fairies, which has a twinge of Legend of Zelda/Windwaker like appeal mixed with some sort of long forgotten 80's cartoon aesthetic right out of the Pirates of Darkwater.

I like this set a lot, and some of the others I've gotten a chance to see look amazing.
For a product line so readily dismissed, it shows what Lego was able to accomplish in turn around by listening to it's fan base, understanding trends, and doing ACTUAL market research. After the initial backlash, this line is now one of the flagship sellers. I'd be surprised if it's not featured in some way in one of the two upcoming Lego films (Lego Movie 2 or the Batman Lego Movie).

That's all for this particular update. It was one I'd not thought I would have done because I did the unthinkable and judged something by it's cover.

Until next time, cherish the good things in life, keep your hobbies and interests alive, and be kind to your fellow beings. - Mario, the Rogue Hobbyist.
Stats Rating/Information
Item Lego Friends Emma's Karate Class 41002
Made by Lego
Rarity Uncommon - Has been discontinued. Started trending on Pintrest heavily.
Classification Modern - Released in 2014
Condition Excellent - Found as an online return on clearance, but brand new in package.
Procured Target in Kansas City
Worth $14 (starting to rise on the secondary market now)
Investment $3
Further Research
Trivia & Fun Facts "Belleville" is the now fairly forgotten 1994 Lego theme release (that most people screaming about Friends being controversial probably overlooked), that was the direct predecessor to the current Lego Friends line. The overall look of the Belleville assortment was WAY more akin to Barbie and other pink aisle sort of toy lines.

Even earlier than these two were girl directed lines such as Paradisia and in the early 70's there was one literally titled Lego Homemaker. 

1 comment:

  1. one of which I am reviewing below that is now out of production. lego friends