Deconstructing Lego is a blog that analyzes Lego sets under a variety of lenses, sometimes comparing similar sets from different years or creating a story based around a set or analyzing the implicit message that a set creates.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

4642: Fishing Boat

In this post I will focus primarily on the 2011 set 4642:  Fishing Boat, touching on the gender roles exhibited by this set (and other LEGO sets and advertisements), along with how this set compares to previous offerings.

This was a set that I instantly wanted to own as soon as I saw it.  I love sets with boats that actually float, like this one.  That may be due to the fact that two of the first sets that I ever owned are floating boats that were very similar to this model.  The first is the 1989 DUPLO set 2643:  Fishing Boat.

A simple but adorable set.  Similar to the 2011 set in that there are two people fishing (note the fish in the dinghy).  But 4642:  Fishing Boat is incredibly similar to a set released two decades earlier, 4011:  Cabin Cruiser in 1991.

Still one of my favorite sets.  Note the fishing pole, shark, and design of the boat in each set.  There are only minor differences.  Upon closer examination, both contain a small cabin (note the windshield on the deck of each.

As we have seen with many LEGO sets there are sometimes only a few small differences between sets released decades apart.  What I really want to focus on, however, is the father-son relationship we see in all three sets.

With the 1991 set it could be suggested that these are simply two men.  However, due to the common trope of a father and son fishing together, I argue that there is definitely a father and son.  Just look at the attire of the two.

One is dressed like a captain, with the appropriate shirt and hat, while the other is wearing a cap and a striped shirt, much like any young person.  In the 2011 set it is even more obvious due to the inclusion of the 'short legs' that were originally released with Harry Potter sets for the Gringotts goblins.

Note the short blue legs and cap.  Both sets include imagery of the two fishing together, father and son.

What is really interesting is that this father-son bonding ties directly into recent LEGO marketing.  Take a look at this ad from late 2010.  

LEGO is very clearly marketing towards fathers that want a toy that they can build with their son, or at least, a toy that establishes a father-son relationship.  They may not be able to take their son fishing, but they can give their son a LEGO set that emulates that experience somewhat explicitly.  Which I guess brings up the issue of why LEGO never produces sets that includes only females, or a mother-daughter duo.

But the overall lack of women in LEGO sets is another topic for another day.  For now, it's interesting to note how LEGO is directly going after this father-son demographic.