Entries in Lego (3)


Lego Friends Triples Sales Despite Feminist Critique

Amazon(NEW YORK) -- While toymaker LEGO was criticized for perpetuating gender stereotypes with its LEGO Friends toy sets for girls earlier this year, the Danish company has said the controversy may have helped triple sales to girls.

Beginning late last year, the media picked up a maelstrom of criticism that LEGO Friends toy sets for girls – with shapely female figures and playsets like the Butterfly Beauty Shop – reinforced the idea that women should focus on their looks.

At the end of 2011, of the total number of LEGO sets purchased in the U.S., only 9 percent of them were for girls. The company now says its first half year of LEGO Friends availability “has been very successful in recruiting more girls to the LEGO building experience, dramatically increasing that number.” Now, 27 percent of LEGO sets purchased in the U.S. are for girls.

“Our goal with LEGO Friends is to engage more girls in the positive benefits of construction play,” said Michael McNally, brand relations director, LEGO Systems, Inc. in a statement to ABC News.

The LEGO Group is a privately held company based in Billund, Denmark.

In criticizing LEGO Friends, one U.S. organization, SPARK, which stands for Sexualization Protest, Action, Resistance, Knowledge, started a petition on in December 2011, asking the company to return its marketing strategy to focus on both boys and girls.

Members of SPARK met with McNally and other Lego executives in April to present a report and provide suggestions to LEGO.

“SPARK has approached our critique of LEGO from a place of long-time admiration and disappointment, rather than one of anger,” the group said.  “Despite that, the media loves a good brawl and has portrayed SPARK as an angry feminist group out to get the LEGO Friends banned because we hate pink. This has not been the case, however, and we made sure that the LEGO representatives were aware that our criticism is based on wanting the best for girls, as well as the LEGO company.”

McNally called it a “very productive meeting, and both parties walked away feeling good about the LEGO Group commitment to creative play options for all children.”

Among the suggestions were to include more girls in LEGO advertising and LEGO characters, only 13 percent of which are females, according to SPARK.  The group suggested the company incorporate more boys in advertising for LEGO friends.

“Many of the things that we discussed are things that we already had in progress or were planning to do, such as more female mini-figures in other LEGO themes, a broader variety of interests and hobbies reflected in LEGO Friends sets and the addition of male characters to the collection,” McNally told ABC News.

He said the company’s 2013 products “will reflect how much of this was already in progress.”

Bailey Shoemaker Richard, SPARK team coordinator, said she is “thrilled” the company is “heading in a direction that doesn’t limit girls to traditionally or strictly gendered roles,” like homemaking and baking, “and giving girls a broader range of options.”

“I’d still love to see better integration of these lines with the LEGO lines as a whole, for example by having more girls in all of their ads and showing boys playing with the Friends line, but as a first step, this seems positive,” she said.

McNally said, “LEGO Friends is one of the most extensively tested concepts in our company history, with four years of research done with thousands of girls and their moms around the world. We learned a lot about why more girls were not finding LEGO building to be more compelling and exciting, and we infused those insights to the line to create the collection that we heard very clearly would be more interesting for girls.”

He added, “The reaction from families who have tried LEGO Friends has been fantastic,” receiving “hundreds of thousands of emails and phone calls from parents, grandparents and children sharing their thanks and enthusiasm for the collection.”

The company has heard feedback describing how children using LEGO Friends have a “new-found interest in building” and go on to explore with other LEGO toy sets.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Cops: Alleged Lego Scammer Sold 2,100 Boxes Through Website

Vladimir Weiss/Bloomberg via Getty Images(SANTA CLARA, Calif.) -- The California software exec arrested for allegedly switching bar codes on high priced Lego sets resold them online through "TomsBrickyard," a site so popular with Lego buyers that they rated his service "excellent."

Thomas Langenbach, who was the vice president of SAP Labs Integration and Certification Center in Palo Alto, was arrested on May 8 outside a Mountain View Target store.

Police say he used a home computer and printer -- and lots of Legos -- to amass a small fortune reselling the toys.

"Believe it or not this will be our first tech exec in a Lego case," Police Chief Scott Vermeer told ABC News.

Lagenbach, who lives in a gated multi-million dollar home in San Carlos, Calif., is free on $10,000 bail, but has refused to comment.

Police said that Lagenbach, 47, was repeatedly captured on store surveillance video with expensive Lego sets in his cart at retail stores.  Detectives said he did something called a "ticket switch," changing the price by allegedly putting his own barcode stickers on boxes so he could pay less.  He then resold the sets through the TomsBrickyard website, according to police. 

Prosecutors said he sold 2,100 Lego items for roughly $30,000 over the last year.  Police are investigating to determine how many of those sets were obtained through fraudulent bar codes.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Software Exec Charged in Lego Barcode Scam

BananaStock/Thinkstock(SANTA CLARA, Calif.) -- A Silicon Valley executive has been charged with four felony counts of second degree burglary after allegedly creating his own barcodes and placing them on Lego toys at Target stores to get major discounts.

Thomas Langenbach, 47, was arraigned Tuesday in Santa Clara County Court, but did not enter a plea.

The vice president of SAP Labs Integration and Certification Center allegedly stole from Target stores around his San Carlos home and then sold the items on eBay.  Each of the four counts represents the number of confirmed visits to Target stores where theft allegedly occurred.

When authorities searched his home they found hundreds of boxes of unopened Legos.  The volume and the types suggest it was not for personal use, according to Supervising Deputy District Attorney Cindy Hendrickson.

Hendrickson is not sure why Langenbach would go to such great lengths.

“It’s a bit of a head scratcher, the complexity of the crime and the amount of resources needed to commit the crime leave you scratching your head,” she said.  ”Mr. Langenbach is a VP of a successful company, living in a nice home and making money gainfully and in his free time creating false barcodes and going into Target stores and stealing Legos.”

Also present in the house were packaging materials consistent with the information provided by eBay that Langenbach sold 2,100 items and made $30,000, Hendrickson said.  Legos boxes, depending on the size, range in price from $15 to $279.

Target stores often count popular items before and after closing in an effort to prevent theft.  In April, Loss Prevention noticed the price of Legos in stock didn’t match store receipt records and began an inventory check.

After investigators sifted through sales records and footage they found Langenbach purchasing the toys at a much lower price, according to Hendrickson.  Investigators also realized he used a credit or debit card once and were able to get his name.

The investigation led to a search on Ebay and that is when they came across Langenbach’s year old account where he was selling Legos, police said.

A flyer with Langenbach’s picture was then circulated at Target stores to Loss Prevention teams.  When Langenbach walked into a Target store in Mountain View, Calif., on May 8, the loss prevention team immediately placed him under surveillance.   That is when they noticed him placing bar codes on several items, but only buying one at a discounted price, authorities said.  Once outside, Langenbach was arrested by Mountain View police.

Hendrickson said the investigation is still ongoing and Langenbach may be charged with another count of burglary at a Target store in the neighboring San Mateo County.  She added that Langenbach had three more preprinted barcodes in his pocket when he was arrested and another 32 in his car.

If convicted, he could face up to five years in prison.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio