February 16, 2016
We checked out the new “Invention Mansion,” the product Sterling calls the “anti-dollhouse” and the top secret project she and her team were working on all last year. The play set features more than 300 pieces that girls can reconfigure in hundreds of different ways like turning ladders into bridges and doors into platforms. And it features a “Hacker Hideaway” where the characters Goldie and Ruby and code and create.
Walking the show with Debbie was especially cool because we saw so many of the toys that have followed in the footsteps of GoldieBlox and Debbie’s Kickstarter campaign. Back when she first came up with the idea for GoldieBlox, the tech toy section at Toy Fair was a wasteland, Sterling told us. Now she points out, nearly every booth features STEM, robots and a lot of the products are centered around girls.
“I think I knew that there was such a huge gap when I started GoldieBlox that it seemed like a no-brainer. I think we have helped validate the market,” she says with a smile.
And as the category rapidly grows, the Toy Industry Association, which sponsors the trade show, predicts STEAM toys (those that reinforce science, tech, engineering, the arts and math) will be among the top sellers next holiday season. On our walk around the exhibit hall, we especially liked Tinkineer and its maker kits for children aged 10 and up called “Marbelocity.” The sets introduce kids and adults to physics and engineering principles through Rube Goldberg-like machines and a graphic novella featuring the characters known as “Tinkineers.” And if your daughter likes to make movies on her mobile device, check out Stikbots. They are action figures that mimic human movements to be used with an app that teaches kids how to make stop motion animated movies and includes a community for them to share their creations. Finally, we saw lots of female action figures with all kinds of empowering messages including I Am Elemental, a collection of heroines started by two moms in 2014. The toys promote virtues like courage and wisdom and are intended to
re-cast the traditional female action figure into a strong, smart leading role in children’s imaginary play.