Goldie Blox Does What LEGO Friends Wishes It Could, Gets Girls’ Building Toys Right

Goldie Blox“Every girl you know is so much more than a princess.” 

I heard that line from Debbie Sterling, the inventor and CEO of Goldie Blox, a new construction toy designed to get girls interested in engineering. And when Debbie said the bit about being more than a princess, I was sold. I completely and utterly bought in to her product and her premise of designing toys for girls that recognizes the differences in how girls play, but still creates a toy that helps defy stereotypes and further growth.

Personally, I have a lot of experience with a little girl who is more than a princess. My daughter loves much of the girly toys that you expect 4-year-old girls to love, like Barbies and baby dolls. She is also obsessed with superheroes. She just started getting in to LEGO Friends, much to my chagrin. She’s always been interested in building, sorting, and problem-solving. I have long complained that princess toys aren’t the problem, the lack of alternatives are. I have to admit that it kind of feels like Debbie Sterling and I were on the same wave length.

Sterling’s personal story is one that many moms are going to respect and understand. Growing up, she was immersed in princess culture and “girly toys.” Her parents thought that their little girl would grow up to be an actress . Instead, she went to Stanford and studied engineering. Then after being frustrated at the lack of female representation in her field, she decided to use her talents creating the toy that she wished she had as a child.

That’s how we got Goldie Blox. The premise is a simple one: it’s a book about the adventures of Goldie and her friends who solve problems and go on adventures. Then, there’s a tool kit so that kids can build a simple machine right along with Goldie’s story. By combining the character-based story and the spatial play, Goldie Blox hope to appeal to a wider range of young girls. And the decision to bring these two play aspects together wasn’t a hunch, it was the result of plenty of research.

There are so many nuances to GoldieBlox that make it appealing to girls. The stories relate to girls’ lives and the contraptions that Goldie builds always have a purpose: to help her friends. This taps into girls’ innate play pattern of making sure everybody is happy in the end. The building pieces themselves are designed to mimic common household objects, which girls are more inclined to engage with because of familiarity. The set has lots of soft textures and curved edges, which girls prefer.

This product really was designed with girls in mind. It’s more than just slapping a different color on a traditional boys’ toy. It’s more than changing the scene from a pirate ship to a hair salon. (Cough, LEGO, Cough.) It is a girls’ engineering toy.

In case you couldn’t tell, I’m excited about this little start-up. I will completely admit that I’ve already made a purchase on Goldie Blox’s Kickstarter, which you can do as well! I feel like moms have been hoping for more options for their daughters for quite a while now. And amazing people like Debbie Sterling, as well as Limor Fried, another engineer who designed her own LEGO set for girls minus the jacuzzi and ice cream shop, are answering that call for diversity.

Check out the video for Goldie Blox. Then go ahead and place an order for all the little girls you know who love princesses, but want a little something more. I’m asking that you do this for purely selfish reasons. I really want Goldie Blox to hit their goal and go into production soon. My daughter’s birthday is in February.

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    • kathleen

      I realize my comment may be unpopular (vote me down as you please!) but I am still pretty wary of the whole separate-but-equal approach to feminizing ‘boy toys.’ As far as construction or engineering toys go, my daughters played with primary-colored workbenches and Lego sets (as well as their city sets and themed sets) and with play tools. They also had a play kitchen and a Playmobil dollhouse (although they mostly played with animals in the house) and they went through a Barbie phase and they had umpty-million stuffed toys. And this is entirely anecdotal and NOT credible support…but I do think a lot of what children play with is based on what their parents think is valuable or is important.

      The studies that you linked to do not, upon first perusal, particularly support the claims being made by Debbie Sterling. The first study, which is 15 years old, is not available in text form. This is unfortunate, since it seems to indicate that girls need stories that are relational and have happy endings. I question the idea that boys do not….

      The second study actually found the following:

      “One of our goals was to assess whether the gender stereotype of a toy would influence the children’s play behaviours….From a total of 59 toys, 14 were classified as male toys…17 were considered neutral… and 28 were categorised as female toys. Note that half the female stereotyped tpys were play material from the kitchen/food area….Contrary to our predictions, gorls did not play with predominantly female stereotyped toys…half the top ten toys for girls were those classified as neutral. In other words, the toys that kept the girls’ attention the longest were neutral stereotyped toys, followed by the male stereotyped toys, and the female stereotyped toys.”

      Now, this is a 300+-page study, and it is far more complex than the paragraph above. But it would seem to indicate, based on these findings, that girls are more inclined to spend time playing with non-feminine toys. So why must these engineering toys be gender-styled and -colored? I suppose the answer lies somewhere in the attitudes and perceptions of the buying audience — some parents shy away from non-gendered toys and feel it is more appropriate to provide their daughters with girl-colored things and their boys with boy-colored things. Thus leading, I suppose, to young women ending up being given pink tool kits…? (http://www.lowes.com/ProductDisplay?partNumber=170754-16878-54019&langId=-1&storeId=10151&productId=3338500&catalogId=10051&cmRelshp=rel&rel=nofollow&cId=PDIO1)

      The third link leads to a study (again, really long) that deals not with gender preference but with age preference — what do children prefer to play with at various ages and how complex is the play. The noun used most frequently in the study is ‘children,’ and they do not seem to break it down by gender.

      While I am not necessarily disputing Ms. Sterling’s claims, I am not sure that these are the best studies to use to support them. I also wonder whether the people she is marketing these toys to is not the children but the parents. If to the children, then why use soft pinks and blues and yellows? The study she cites indicates that the female children played with female stereotyped toys for the shortest period of time…which mean that perhaps they aren’t inclined to avoid ‘boy’ colors, or ‘neutral’ colors, such as primary colors.

      So yes, I’ve made a long critique of this based initially on my distaste for making ‘girl’ toys in one color spectrum and ‘boy’ toys in another. But what the studies revealed does not appear sufficient to support the creator’s rationale for making the toys. If someone wants to offer me more evidence, please do. I will be reading the second study more thoroughly….

      • kathleen

        ‘girls,’ not ‘gorls,’ and ‘toys’ rather than ‘tpys.’ Sorry.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Carmen-Finnigan/841528248 Carmen Finnigan

      What is with the pink and the puppies. Where are the space aliens and robots?

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    • KazaD

      These toys are not aimed at the little girls, they are aimed at their mothers, who are, after all, the ones who purchase them.

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    • Bitzy_Baby

      Fellow mompreneur success!

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