Have you heard the buzz about GoldieBlox, the construction toy and book series about Goldie the (female) kid inventor?
If you haven’t I implore you to check out this video that might or might not cause fist pumping or tears, depending on your underlying mood:
GoldieBlox appeared as an idea on Kickstarter which is a funding program for creative projects. If you see an idea you like on Kickstarter you can pledge money to the project or invention, and if all the money necessary is raised then you get to be part of helping to build the idea from the ground up, which is pretty innotative in and of itself. The creator of GoldieBlox, Debbie Sterling, realized that as an engineer she was way outnumbered by the men- and while little girls can enjoy Legos just like their male peers, she thought a toy that appealed to girls interested in engineering might be appropriate.
image credit GoldieBlox
Sure, girls can play with blocks and Erecter sets and Lincoln Logs just like boys, but studies show that female students tend to excel in reading. Furthermore, studies show that girls tend to enjoy reading more than boys. So why not combine building with books to help engage young girls in the world of math, physics and engineering? This was Debbie’s idea, and after sinking her life savings and then some into prototypes she came to Kickstarter hoping to raise the funding she needed for 5000 GoldieBlox sets, the minimum order number from the manufacturer. As of October 18th, 2012, Goldieblox had raised $285,881 dollars- enough to fund the production of the first set of Goldieblox, which is currently in production. While it won’t be available in time for the 2012 holiday season, you can still order a set for the little girls in your life (with an estimated delivery of April, 2013). Debbie and her team are already working on the second set of toys and books so that Goldie & her gang can keep inventing.
We like the idea of GoldieBlox more than the recent “pink Legos” that debuted, in part because Legos already existed (as a fairly gender neutral toy in many people’s opinions) and GoldieBlox sets are more than just traditional boy toys colored pink to appeal to girls and increase sales. The appeal of GoldieBlox lies in the book + toy combination, bringing together both reading skills and STEM subjects (science, technology, enginereeing and math), in order to open up new horizons to kids with interests on either side of the subject spectrum. A recent New York Times op-ed piece argued that getting girls interested in STEM subjects at an early age is the foundation to a lifelong love of science, math and technology.
We figure Debbie must be onto something because the New York Times recently reported that thanks to Dads who are more involved than ever in holiday shopping, both toy stores and Barbie undergone a much-needed makeover in order to appeal to Dad’s childhood toy obsessions. The article states that according to Ann Marie Kehoe, vice president of toys for Walmart U.S., thanks to a Barbie construction toy product, construction toys aimed at girls will represent about 20 percent of the toy construction category by the end of this year, while last year there were just a handful of products.
I had a chance to chat with Debbie and I asked her how the idea to fundraise on Kickstarter began- as it turns out, it was one part necessity and one part trying to do away with the old-boys club:
Kickstarter has opened more doors for GoldieBlox than I ever could have imagined. I chose to launch on Kickstarter because it was very important for me to validate the product concept and collect feedback from consumers before going into production. The response has been overwhelming! I am getting so many great ideas from consumers that I will incorporate into the product moving forward. I also wanted to use Kickstarter as a platform to create some PR buzz before showing up at the NY Toy Fair in February, where I will launch to the wholesaler community. I snuck into the Toy Fair last February and was surprised to learn it is very much an “old boys club”. Most of the folks I talked to there told me that while “GoldieBlox” was a noble idea, it would be a huge uphill battle. They said that what “sells” are Bratz, princesses and dolls. By crowdfunding on Kickstarter, I’ve been able to show them what I believed deep down to be true: that parents want more for their daughters than that.
And where does Debbie hope to see Goldie go?
I want GoldieBlox to become the next American Girl brand. I’m developing the series of book+construction toys to explore all kinds of engineering principles. Book 1 is a belt drive, Book 2 is a parade float vehicle, Book 3 is a pulley-system elevator. In the future, Goldie will build circuits and even learn to code! We’ll work on different levels of complexity so that GoldieBlox can cater to different age ranges. We’re also introducing new characters with different ethnic backgrounds to add more diversity to the GoldieBlox line. I’ve been getting a lot of requests for GoldieBlox to cater to boys too, and while I think it already does, I am working on introducing male characters as well. Over time, I see GoldieBlox as a gender-neutral toy.
We here at the Curvy Girl Guide love to see toys and heroes for young women to admire and emulate as they grow up- and we think Debbie and Goldie fit the bill perfectly. Good luck ladies! We can’t wait to see where Goldie & her gang end up – but we hope to see more of her in living rooms and play rooms across the world.
Daisy is a lawyer married to a lawyer (insert lawyer jokes here) living in a small condo in a big city with a new baby and beagle. She breaks up the legal-speak by blogging about life in Chicago, which is filled with escapades of urban living. In the summer she enjoys patio dining and in the winter wonders what she was thinking when she moved here. You can read more from Daisy on her blog, Just Daisy.