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Set name: Emma

Number: 3132

Theme: SCALA

Year: 1999

RRP: I don't know


Lots of pictures under the cut!




At the time of its launch in 1997, Scala was Lego's most expensive endeavor ever - and that's really remarkable. Not only because the core concept - a line of dolls and dollhouses to match Mattel's Barbie - had next to nothing to do with the building toys the brand is defined by. What I find far stranger is that, despite this investment, nobody seems to remember the line. It can't have been that much of a failure, though - it lasted until 2001. Four years may not be great for a line that was supposed to usher in a new system of play for Lego, but it sure isn't bad considering the lifespans of contemporary Lego themes like, you know, Rock Raiders.


Maybe Scala fell under the radar when Galidor (and, heck, Bionicle) came along and provided an even more convenient target for the Lego community to laugh at.  but either way, I'm here to shed some light on this bizarre effort of Lego's to expand into the "girl's toys" market. Let's get started, shall we? 




When I got the box in the mail, I assumed the previous owner had left out a lot of the inner packaging. Turns out I was right, but only just.  Apparently they were actually packaged like this, with the ugly corrugated cardboard framing the figure. I can't imagine that made them an attractive purchase. 




The back looks much nicer! We've got a picture of Emma, and all the included accessories laid out on the side. There isn't a ton, but as far as I know this is pretty standard (if not deluxe) for Barbie-type figures.




A little box on the bottom helpfully informs us of the recommended age range. In contrast to the standard image Lego used with cartoon boy, this has a weirdly more realistic person that has Girl Eyes and lipstick, because boys can look however but girls have beauty standards to live up to. sigh




Emma herself is looking pretty snazzy in that getup. The stripe-ed shirt is a sort of onesie-type deal, and then she's got the floral print skirt (complete with Scala logo design) and the sweater thingie with the tie. It's very 90s and I dig it.




Unfortunately, her face falls a bit into the uncanny valley. The eyes are printed and the rest is molded, and the result is just kind of unsettling. It's not quite as bad as the Belville figures, but between this and the modern Star Wars buildable figures I guess there's a reason Lego sticks to the abstracted forms of minifigures.




Emma has a few accessories to chose from. Two sets of heels (the molds are identical, just the colors are different), a bracelet, and some cool, cool trans red shades. I want those shades.




The bracelet is oversized on her wrist, but to be honest that makes it cooler. That is a Lego stud there, works just like you'd expect a stud to work.


To my surprise, the side of the box suggested another use for this piece:



ZZs2mVP.png a hairband! This is actually pretty clever and lego-y. It also solved the problem my Emma had with some very, very frizzy hair.




The shades unfortunately don't sit on her forehead very well, but they slot over the eyes alright. Still looks kind of creepy, though.




Also included is this 4x4 plate. I had expected this to be a standard Lego plate, but as it turns out it is specially made for the Scala line. They continue the four-petaled flower motif and even have Scala written on the studs just to emphasize the separation from the standard system.




The holes in the base of the heels accept the studs. This is pretty smart, but unfortunately the connection isn't as strong as would probably be best. With Emma mounted on the base, the shoes will frequently want to start tipping out of the connection, sending her toppling over. It's not a huge issue, but it does make posing a little more tricky than it otherwise would be.




The feet slip into the shoes without much trouble. It's a snug fit, so there's no worry that they'll fall off. 




My Emma has a bit of a busted knee. The joint is noticeably looser, but it hasn't hindered me too much. As you can see, the joints are more or less set up like the click-joints we would see introduced with Galidor a few years later - just without the clicking part. This makes Emma pretty darn poseable. It's hard to get the arms in certain positions (I couldn't fold them in front of her, for example) but you can still do some fun stuff:






the ol' razzle dazzle



karate or something



gunhaver (aka yes the hands hold bar-sized objects)



I was expecting the base to be necessary for Emma to stand up, but to my surprise she can stand just fine on her own! Problematically this doesn't hold true if you remove the heels (her feet are pre-bent for them) but from what I understand this is still a cut above what Barbies of the time could do. Good on Lego for that, at least.




You might imagine Scala figures to be Barbie-sized. Turns out they're actually a lot smaller! 




This isn't an atrocious set. It isn't even a bad set. It's cardinal sin is that it isn't a building toy, but I'm willing to be forgiving there, because I find the weird stuff Lego did in the 90s to be cool and interesting even if it wasn't successful and probably strayed from what the brand should have been. So if you ask me, this gets a solid nice lego set out of 10. The face is weird but the clothes are rad and 90s and the bracelet is also a hairband. What more could you really ask for?




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Quisoves Potoo


So yeah, for some reason I had the idea to make that photo into a cheesy 70's movie-poster. It didn't quite come out that way, but what the heck. I've already spent an inordinate amount of time on the thing.






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I feel like I could make use of that bracelet.


I really like how you can compare their 90's girl-focused endeavours with their modern ones - the difference is striking in terms of building and interest.

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