Sorry, Girls: Your Toy Blocks Cost More, Have Fewer Pieces

The first rule of toy marketing: if you want to sell something to girls, make it pink! And in the case of the Fisher-Price TRIO building blocks set on Amazon, make the girls’ product cost $8.50 more than the “standard” product, for no clear reason. Even though it contains fewer blocks.

Reader JC, shopping for toys on Amazon, discovered this weird discrepancy, and wrote in:

Why is Amazon selling this “boy version” of the same toy for $9 less than the identical (in fact slightly smaller) “girl version”?

We were gonna get a set for our daughter’s birthday, but now don’t know what to do.

Wait, except one of Fisher-Price’s promotional images shows a girl playing with the boys’ set. She must be stopped!


Our guess is there’s some kind of pricing algorithm at work here. However, the blocks in primary colors have a broader appeal and probably sell more units, so wouldn’t retail logic cause Amazon to price the pink set lower?

Toys R Us takes a more egalitarian approach to the product, calling the pink set simply “Pink,” and putting the same price on both products. Both sets are still cheaper at Amazon, but hey, egalitarianism! Maybe Toys R Us learned their lesson after the pink microscope controversy.

Fisher-Price TRIO Building Set with Storage [Amazon]
Fisher-Price TRIO Girls Building Set with storage [Amazon]
Fisher-Price TRIO Preschool Set – Building Set with Tub [Toys R Us]
Fisher-Price TRIO Pink Building Set with Storage [Toys R Us]

Science Toys “For Girls” Don’t Need As Much Power


Edit Your Comment

  1. chaesar says:

    it represents hurdles they’ll experience later in life, you can’t put a pricetag on lessons like this

  2. Coles_Law says:

    The list price for both sets is $19.99-Amazon just has a migger sale on the boys set right now.

    • Coles_Law says:

      Er, bigger. Although that typo could have been MUCH worse…

    • georgi55 says:

      Seriously this is not even news ticker worthy. List price is same. Block count wouldn’t matter if there were different blocks inside – some may be larger than others. Amazon’s price drop is most likely based on automatic algorithm and it does not even consider there is boy and girl version of the same product.

    • nonsane says:

      Bigger? please.

  3. rpm773 says:

    We were gonna get a set for our daughter’s birthday, but now don’t know what to do.

    Maybe cry yourself to sleep?

    • chaesar says:

      Really. Just get her what you want to get her. If you are smart enough to realize they charge more for a lesser “girl’s” version, maybe you could be smart enough to not condition her early in life with “girl” things. Blocks are blocks, right?

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I feel bad for kids whose parents are hung up on gender roles. If you teach your boy or girl that playing with blocks is fun, it won’t matter whether those blocks are pink or blue.

      • pawnblue says:

        I don’t know if that’s 100% true. My Aunt had 3 daughters (my cousins). All girly girls. Those girls grew up and had 7 girls themselves. That’s a lot of pink dolls and dresses. Finally my youngest cousin had her 4th child (the 8th grandkid), a boy.

        He’s only two, but as soon as he could choose, trucks were his favorite toy. I can remember her posting in facebook about how surprised she was that he would have a preference. She thought that non-stop exposure to pink dolls would lead to him preferring those toys. His older sisters would practically force him to play tea and dress up. He wanted to push trucks and trains around.

        It might not extend to color, but little boys have different toys than little girls for a reason. And it probably extends to color.

        • Stages says:

          My 2.5 year old daughter likes trucks and dolls equally, and in the same shopping trip she’ll ask for a pink bucket and a orange ball. We’ve never really pushed her to one kind of toy or another, and certainly not one color over another.

          I suspect the reason your cousin likes trucks is to differentiate himself from all the girls, not just because boys are “supposed” to like trucks. He’s likely thinking that since all his sisters like pink and tea parties, and he’s a boy, he’s supposed to like blue and trucks.

          • Sillyheart says:

            This. I was the same way as a kid, I wanted Tonkas and Barbies and my little brother and sister were the same way. Probably because my parents didn’t feel the need to have gender roles define play time, we were all quite happy to play house and have a tea party one minute, than war zone the next. I also have a cluster of cousins with several girls and one boy, and they were the same way growing up.

        • thisistobehelpful says:

          It has less to do with the color than the type of toy it was. If the girls had pink trucks around he would possibly play with those as much as blue trucks. Get more moving parts and you get the boys’ attentions.

      • mobiuschic42 says:

        Uh, not always true. My parents tried very hard to go the gender neutral route with my sister and me. She was cool with the “boys” stuff and I would play with it, sometimes, but given the choice, I would always go for the pink. (that sounds dirty; sorry :)

    • RayanneGraff says:

      Or buy the kid the cheaper set & ignore that stupid ‘pink is for girls’ bullshit.

  4. full.tang.halo says:

    “the blocks in primary colors have a broader appeal and probably sell more units, so wouldn’t retail logic cause Amazon to price the pink set lower?”

    No, the primary color blocks should and are less, cause they probably cost less to produce. If you are selling more CMY colored ones you can just run the production longer to produce more. When you go to make the “pink” blocks, you have to stop production, change color set, start up again, make sure you’re color saturation is correct, and probably more steps to doing a changeover.

    So you’re net cost per item is gonna go up. Is it that much, probably not, but when I bid jobs that require us to do more or different than normal work we charge more cause we aren’t able to do the job as quickly.

    • Tim says:

      And which plastic block factory do you work in?

      • full.tang.halo says:

        I actually work in general contracting/construction (yes business sucks). Materials in colors that aren’t big volume sellers cost more, and not just in the toy plastic brick department.

        It’s nothing more than supply and demand at work.

  5. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    This is basically another version of the Consumerist post about the >pink microscope having less power and a difference price.

    The only reason I can imagine for the sets having different numbers of blocks is that maybe the pink set doesn’t sell as well as the “boys” set and the company figures that the colors make them noninterchangable – like you wouldn’t give a boy pink blocks, and a girl the primary colored blocks – so it gets away with selling fewer pink block sets because the people buying them wouldn’t go with an alternative anyway.

    I grew up playing with the same primary colored blocks everyone else played with, so maybe that’s messed up my childhood in some way I’ll have to hash out with my psychiatrist.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      *different price. Lordy, I need my coffee.

    • NarcolepticGirl says:

      “We were gonna get a set for our daughter’s birthday, but now don’t know what to do.”


      • NarcolepticGirl says:

        sorry. didnt mean to post as reply.

        I was going to reply and say that I was trying to remember a similiar article – and you found it.

  6. cjdmi says:

    There’s nothing particularly boyish about the standard set. It is a little surprising that a pastel version of the set costs 50% more for a similar number of blocks, but it probably reflects the cost of producing a more niche product.

  7. flyingember says:

    since it seems that color is the issue for absolutely no reason buy the bigger set.

    did you know that at one time pink was a boys color? Light blue was deemed to be the color of the Virgin Mary and as such was a girl’s color.

    and before that, there’s wasn’t a specific color for boys or girls. you can thank marketing for that idea.

  8. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    Can anyone show me where they cost more? Besides the individual retailers price, that is. Amazon prices swing wildly in both directions, sometimes even daily, so this doesn’t surprise me. I’m guessing they don’t have one bleary eyed guy changing all the prices, but have an algorithm that does it based on tens if not hundreds of variables. Since the girls set is #20,000 in best sellers rank and the boys set is #1,700, I bet that has something to do with it as well. I have seen a DVD go from $20 one day to 15.99 to 9.99 in less than a week, only to shoot back up a week later.

  9. cete-of-badgers says:

    Just get her the larger set and buy her a pink shirt like the girl in the picture so she won’t have to be away from the color pink for more than 2 seconds of her girly girl girl life.

    • AI says:

      No kidding. Some parents with girls are annoying. Their sons can wear combinations of red, blue, green, etc you name it, but their girls are covered in head to toe pink. Pink rubber boots, pink sweat pants, pink t-shirt, pink jacket, pink gloves. Goddamn, way to teach your little girls to be a big walking vagina. I only partially blame Barbie marketing, it’s still the parents fault.

      • NarcolepticGirl says:

        Yeah, our generation of the family started having babies (my sister and my cousin). My cousin’s daughter is usually dressed in lime green/blues and she refuses to dress her up in all pink outfits. I probably would, too.

        • webweazel says:

          I don’t mind people who dress up BABIES in pink/blue. When they’re just little baby lumps, it’s sometimes hard to tell gender. A little clue is always helpful there.
          I think kids should be dressed in colors which are good for their complexion/haircolor. If you have a girl who looks absolutely glowing in green or blue, why stick her in pink to become a pekid glob? I never understood it, either. Boys can use red, green, blue, purple, yellow, orange, etc. Why do people stick their girls strictly in pink? Lack of imagination, I would assume.

      • kalaratri says:

        I am simultaneously grateful for and disgusted by all the hand-me-downs my family generously gave me for my infant daughter. I like pink but not on every single piece of clothing. We buy boys clothes for her when we do buy clothes so there is some variety.

      • pantheonoutcast says:

        I know someone who dresses her four-year old daughter like a princess all the time. And I don’t mean with shirts that say “Daddy’s Little Princess” – she does that too – I mean with tiaras and gowns. Even to go shopping. Everything in the kid’s room is covered in Disney princesses, she had a princess-themed b-day party, and, surprise, surprise, she’s started enrolling her in those beauty pageant things.

        She, and has husband, are failing to abide by Chris Rock’s #1 piece of parental advice – Keep her off the pole.

  10. JackieEggs says:

    If those are anything like Legos, get her something else…Ever step barefoot on one of those suckers?

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      Yes. It partly explains my Hobbit like foot callusii. I also swallowed more than a few.

  11. Floobtronics says:

    Supply & demand kids.

    More boys are going to prefer to play with these things. So, they’ll move more of the boy versions. That means, lower per unit costs to produce them, since after all, they are different. Yes, different colors means different. Color additives cost money, and when buying in smaller volume for the girl versions, those colors will inherently cost more.

    I don’t see a nefarious plot here, just supply & demand at work.

    • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

      Economics? In my Internet rage?

      Stop using logic here, sir/madam. This is about indignation!

      That said, I bet you’re right. Especially in a case where the store is almost entirely run by a computer, everything is likely to be decided by formulas whose inputs are mostly dependent on economic conditions.

      It is, however, much more fun to be upset. Rabble rabble rabble rabble!

    • valladolid says:

      +1 lol

  12. ShruggingGalt says:

    Pink bricks have lower lead and cadmium levels and thereby cost more to produce.

  13. odarkshineo says:

    at walmart this would be odd. at amazon who is mostly a re-distributor this is standard fare

  14. AI says:

    Toy block are toy blocks. They aren’t particularly male in the first place. Now pink toy blocks are exclusively female though, so they’re more of a specialty item, and therefore cost more. Just buy the normal toy blocks. Girls don’t need to be covered in pink all the damn time. There are other colours.

  15. jeff_the_snake says:

    what’s stopping little girls from playing with the boys set?

    • pantheonoutcast says:

      Manufactured outrage, righteous indignation, apparent parental confusion, and an archaic attachment to gender stereotypes.

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      They still stone for those kind of things. At least in my (red)neck of the woods.

      • fredrick says:

        What kind of kid doesn’t want a miniature jeep or barbie convertable to play with? Many of the products today are designed to appeal to both..

  16. pantheonoutcast says:

    “We were gonna get a set for our daughter’s birthday, but now don’t know what to do.”

    They’re plastic blocks. You stick them together and make things from them. Typically people purchase items based on their quality / entertainment value. If you can’t struggle out of this conundrum, methinks you are going to have larger issues raising your daughter in the future.

    • Beef Supreme says:


      If you can’t muddle your way through this brain-busting situation skip the blocks and start saving up for more important things like therapists.

  17. SarahMC says:

    You don’t know what to do, Reader JC? You buy her the “boy’s set,” because as you revealed, it’s better and less expensive. Just because it says it’s for boys doesn’t mean your kid can’t use it. You’d think this incident would have showed you that.

  18. VnlaThndr775 says:

    How funny, I just bought one of the pink ones last weekend for a friend’s daughter at Target on Clearance for $15. They had the blue ones there for $18 or so, not on Clearance. The pink ones were on the top shelf and quite dusty, so I figured they were on Clearance because they weren’t selling.

  19. strathmeyer says:

    “However, the blocks in primary colors have a broader appeal and probably sell more units, so wouldn’t retail logic cause Amazon to price the pink set lower?”

    Guess I need to start reading The Economist.

  20. Slashjc says:

    Hi, I’m JC, the tipster who raised this issue.

    Yes, of course we bought the cheaper primary color set for our daughter.

    We didn’t prefer the pink set because everything a girl owns has to be pink, as some think I meant. We’ve actually done our best to keep our daughter away from the “someday my prince will come” mindset of the whole Princess shtick. We buy/read her all kinds of books with strong female role models, like the story of Atalanta or a book called “Princess Knight.” But socialization happens despite our best efforts, from her friends, from school, wherever.

    We wanted the pink set, because knowing our daughter, it was the best way for her to think of the toy as “hers.” Her older brother is already quite skilled at building toys and plays with other sets we own all the time. We wanted to encourage our daughter to play with this toy and develop her own building/motor skills. Ultimately, we showed her the primary color set and asked if she’d like it, she said yes, and we bought it for her.

    Her birthday was yesterday. This morning, her older brother was monopolizing the building set and she was playing with a Strawberry Shortcake playset her grandfather bought for her.

    It smelled like strawberrries.


  21. kataisa says:

    Let’s ban the whole “pink is for girls blue is boys” concept and then we wouldn’t have these stupid problems.

  22. moofie says:

    So, because you assume that the primary colored blocks are not for girls, this is a problem?

  23. Telekinesis123 says:

    Well women get shafted then when their toddlers, men get it for the rest for their life.

  24. FrugalFreak says:

    Scrap wood cut to blocks & shapes, couple of dowels cut to pieces, a drill with slightly larger drill bit than dowel and one can of pink paint. Presto you’ve saved yourself $25 bucks.