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The LEGO Super Friends Project

DSC_0258When the LEGO Friends line was introduced, it was met with mixed reviews. Many little girls loved it and LEGO builders liked the colors that were introduced with the line, but it was often derided for its more doll-like minifigures and its conformation to female stereotypes.  It was such discussions, and the desire to utilize the same figures in order to the break the stereotypes that they had been assigned, that led me to start the LEGO Super Friends Project.

I began the project surreptitiously by posing the question “Who is your favorite super heroine?” on my social networks. I took note of the characters people named and started creating a list on my white board, with the left side containing numbers for the days they were released on and the right side a list of potential characters to make. Once I began creating the custom minifigures, I made sure that each fit into the role of super heroine (as some people did request villains), that no character would be repeated in alternate costumes, and that I would release one per day for the entire month of July. I tried to vary the characters to appease to different audiences and keep things interesting for myself by using characters who were well known in the popular culture and those who were lesser known.

Once July 1 occurred, it was time to begin displaying my creations. I posted them to my Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, Instagram, Flickr, and Tumblr accounts in order to reach a wider and more varied audience. As the 31 days passed, I engaged with the audience and was able to keep finding new characters to do or particular variations of characters I was already planning to do.

Over the course of the 31 days of July, the characters I created and posted – in order – were:

  1. Supergirl
  2. Phoenix
  3. Black Widow
  4. Sue Storm
  5. Polaris
  6. Storm
  7. Batgirl
  8. Rogue
  9. Kitty Pryde
  10. Captain Marvel
  11. X-23
  12. Stargirl
  13. Zatanna
  14. Psylocke
  15. Wonder Woman
  16. Batwoman
  17. Mary Marvel
  18. Catwoman
  19. Scarlet Witch
  20. Spider-Woman
  21. Saturn Girl
  22. Dazzler
  23. Firestar
  24. Kabuki
  25. Hawkeye
  26. Black Cat
  27. Gamora
  28. Jubilee
  29. Black Canary
  30. Hit-Girl
  31. Raven

It was a lot of work to do, but I’m proud that I was able to create all 31 in 31. At times it was daunting to find characters to do or have them done in time, but I was able to have them all done and photographed before traveling to BrickFair at the end of the month, where they were on display.

Now that the LEGO Super Friends Project is completed, I have thought about the next steps. After talking to people who enjoyed the work over the course of the month, I’ve decided to continue the project, but in another format. It will no longer be daily due to the time commitments that required, so it will become weekly. It will also not only be super heroines, so it will give me a wider breadth of characters to work with – from villains to video game characters to male characters. The focus will still be challenging the stereotypes put forth by the Friends toys.

I will also be letting go of some of the figures I have already created. They will be appearing soon in my etsy store, but it also means that future characters may also be commissions (contact me at the link at the top of the page if you’d like to commission any characters that are not currently in the store).

For me, the project was a success. I was not only able to challenge the stereotypes put forth by the Friends line, but I was also able to open dialogs about those pink clichés and just reach out to fans of those heroes. I was also able to engage with some of the comic book creators and show them what can be done with their characters and LEGO Friends.

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  • the.littlehorn

    I really like this work and the idea that Friends are Super. This should garner some recognition from TLG or at least from the Friends of Friends..the designers. Wonder Woman was one of my heros..and your Friends version is awesome! Thanks. Chris S. the.littlehorn

    • Thanks. I’m glad you enjoy my work. New ones going online every Wednesday now.

  • estrus

    Awesome! Do you plan on any how-to articles so my daughter and I can attempt to customize some of her Friends? Info like what paint you used, how you made certain customizations, etc.

    • I hadn’t planned to do a how-to, but maybe I will with one of my upcoming creations.

      I mainly use Sharpie oil paint pens, but use Craft Smart satin acrylic paint for the flesh tones on the legs. All parts are official LEGO parts that aren’t modified, just painted – except capes which get trimmed based on the size of the character’s coat/vest.

      If you have any other questions, let me know and I’ll answer the best I can until I finally put it up.

      • Rumaikiyya

        PLEASE do a how-to. It’s so hard to find child appropriate superheroine dolls, and I would love to make a Supergirl, Batgirl, Spider Woman, and Squirrel Girl for my toddler (who loves those characters).

        • I love all of them too. Squirrel Girl is still on the whiteboard, but I couldn’t figure out a good way to do her tail. I’ll get to her eventually.

          And of course, you can always buy some of my creations at http://justjon.etsy.com 🙂

      • estrus

        Thanks for the tips! I paint wargaming miniatures and my daughter has taken an interest but they are way too detailed and small for her yet. These would be a great entry into customization since she already has duplicate Lego Friends. I’ll have to check the out Sharpie Oil markers, never heard of those.

        Thanks again for sharing these!

    • Oh, and Brasso to remove the paint from the figures.

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  • What a fantastic project, way to go!

    • Thanks. Glad you like my work.

  • Karen Masters

    Just showed these to my daughter (7) who loved DC Comics and Lego Friends. She surprised me by how many she recognised! 😉 Anyway she wanted to know how you did the Batgirl hat plus hair combo. Was that custom or a lego part you can buy? We might have a go at this with some of her duplicate Lego Friends, but we’ll see… she wants to make “Jade”. We’ll be looking out for the news ones each Wednesday.

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