While I applaud Lego's effort I have mixed feelings about their result. It looks a lot better than most of their previous efforts, though, like others, it has a little bit of "the easy way out" feel (though I'm sure a ton of work went into it).
The thing that struck me first was that the new figures would be a different size & configuration than the current figures. While the basic reason for this, that girls see themselves in the figures while boys are more 3rd person, seems sound, I really don't like how this makes sets for boys and girls less compatible. It'd be great to see a spectrum of sets from boy focused to girl focused, with a lot of gender neutral in the middle, but this move makes that difficult. I agree that the best part about legos is being able to dump all the sets into one bucket and make whatever you want, & this impedes that.
Just this past weekend I was in a mall and noticed there was a new Lego store. I went in, saw that you could make a custom figure for purchase from a bin of parts, and decided to make a couple for my brother and his fiance (they had a Lego advent calendar last year). It wasn't too hard to make one that looked remarkably like my brother, but when it got to his fiance it was quite a challenge. They had a few different hairstyles and faces to choose from, but for the torso and legs it was almost totally guy skewed. I ended up giving her overalls, which she doesn't even wear (if only she was a policewoman or doctor). It seemed like there was a lot of low hanging fruit to better suite girls within the current framework. And speaking of policewoman - all it previously took to make that police uniform go on a girl was to change the head - easy for a girl to be anything she wanted. Now will girls see all the traditional figures as masculine and not believe they can be made into women?
But in all fairness, as the NY Times article Generatewhatsnext linked said, maybe "... we've reached the point where girls see blocks in primary colors and think they're not for them." So maybe a radical change was necessary (though I'm not quite convinced).
Also, looking at the sets at http://thebrickblogger.com/2011/10/2012 ... -pictures/
they look quite simple. As the originally linked BusinessWeek article noted, building complex models gives a sense of accomplishment. Why not offer that to girls?