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The best girls' toy ever? Or more of the same?

Posted by Joanna Weiss  November 25, 2013 03:12 PM

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Has any toy ever won and lost so much goodwill, so fast, as Goldie Blox? The pink and purple building toy was a national sensation because of its viral ad: a Rube Goldberg extravaganza, to a bastardized version of the Beastie Boys' "Girls." Then the Beastie Boys pointed out that the song was used without permission. Goldie Blox sued them preemptively, lost its good vibes, and backed down. Here's a new version of the ad, with boring music:

The Beastie Boys episode was really a distraction from bigger questions about Goldie Blox: Is this the holy-grail toy that will get more girls interested in science, or a clever way to tap into marketing trends? Is it the end of princess toys, or more of the same? We've compiled some reviews. Tell us where you stand, and whether you've already bought the toy for someone on your list. Add a comment, or tweet us @BostonComment.

How girls really use it

Heather Hopp-Bruce, @thebabysucks
The Baby Sucks

Having your princess, and eating it too

Thumbnail image for Rebecca Hains mug.pngGoldieBlox claims to be anti-princess. It depicts girls who declare they are not princesses and who want to learn interesting new things, and it offers their toy as a solution; but then it turns around and offers girls a ?princess parade? toy to play with. And while it seems everyone has seen the new GoldieBlox advertisement, almost nobody realizes that the ad itself is for a princess-themed toy! (Every time someone has shared the ad with me, I?ve asked if they knew this; the answer has been a uniform and surprised-sounding ?No.?) So GoldieBlox is having it both ways: appealing to parents with anti-princess rhetoric and then, in stores, selling girls on a princess-themed toy.
Rebecca Hains, @RCHains
Salem State University professor, author, "Growing Up With Girl Power"

Every little bit helps

jane martinson.jpgWith so much research suggesting that engineering and computer science - two fields becoming more and more important in our digital age - are increasingly male dominated, any effort should be welcomed. A report from the National Science Foundation in America found that 18.2% of computer science degrees were awarded to women in 2010 compared with 29.6% in 1991, while 18.4% of engineering graduates were women in 2010 compared with 15.5% 19 years earlier.
When girls as young as eight start saying that building and construction isn't for them, a toy that shows that they can make cool stuff too can't be a bad idea, can it?
Jane Martinson, @janemartinson
The Guardian

Infinite possibilities?

My first problem with GoldieBlox is that it reinforces the idea that girls are different and need different toys...My second problem with GoldieBlox is that it?s really a very limited toy. Give a kid a bucket of Legos, a set of Lincoln Logs, a model train with re-configurable track, and the kids provide their own narrative story. Or not. ?. I?m just not buying it that a set of ?Storybook, 5 animal figurines, 1 pegboard, 5 wheels, 10 axles, 5 blocks, 5 washers, 1 crank, 1 ribbon? really does have ?unlimited building possibilities? as it happens.
Michelle L. Oyen, Reader in Bioengineering, Cambridge University
Re-Imagining Engineering

A mom-blog review

By reading the book, following the prompts, and using the pegboard and pieces, the player is able to create a star?and learn about important engineering concepts in the process. Terrific!?What did my ten year old daughter think of it? ?I think the kit is very good for girls. I think it?s fun to figure out how to work [the project]. I think the pieces are fun to share, because they?re easy to share with others and are easy to take all around with you. I also like, with the book, how there are patterns on the back of some of the pages; it looks just like you?re making it, so you can count the dots and see where to put the pieces...I like how they did drawings for the book and how Goldie played with the pieces, like when she looked like a superhero while standing on the axles."
Patti Bukowski

The final analysis

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