It seems that large toy companies are taking their time in catching up with the 21st century. The toy industry continues to market toys as boys’ or girls’ without realizing that in today’s modern world, for example, girls like to play with cars just as much as boys like to play with an easy-bake oven. Mattel continues to design Barbie dolls that portray an unrealistic and potentially damaging view of the woman’s body. Crowdfunding has been a gateway to let the crowd speak for itself about how they want such an outmoded perspective to change. Designers and entrepreneurs have taken to sites like Kickstarter or CrowdtiltOpen to showcase the new concepts. The response has been overwhelming, demonstrating that people are no longer accepting the pre-established norms of what is a boy’s toy or a girl’s toy as well as how women are portrayed. Take for example the amazing Lammily Normal Barbie campaign: https://www.lammily.com/average-is-beautiful. Lammily designed a Barbie doll that is designed with realistic body proportions. The crowdfunding campaign’s goal was of $95,000 but ended with a bit more than half-a-million dollars.
IamElemental Action figure, https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/iamelemental/iamelemental-action-figures-for-girls, created by two talented and creative women from New York, showcases women as action figures, providing young girls with role models to look up to and to help them realise that they don’t need to be male to be a kickass superhero. On their Kickstarter page they describe their mission:“We set out to design a series of figures with healthier breast, waist and hip ratios; fierce, strong females worthy of an active, save-the-world storyline that fosters creativity in kids.” Their orignal goal was $35,000 but they ended up with a little over $150,000.
Big companies’ boy-marketed or girl-marketed strategies reflect an antiquated practice and are out-of-sync with what the consumers want and need. Kids are not and should not be defined by what large toy companies portray as being the appropriate kind of toy. Kids have fun with whatever toy they like to play with and this should not affect their gender images. Crowdfunding has been a gateway for these talented entrepreneurs to get the means necessary to jump-start their business as well as a path for the public to have their voices heard about what types of toys they want for their children, as well as how they should be marketed. Crowdfunding is not only a means for designers, makers and creators to make their dreams a reality, but it is also a way to empower the consumer. There is no way for toy corporations to deny that there is room for change and that a large number of its consumers want these changes to happen. Otherwise, how would you explain the huge success these campaigns have had But as long as these corporations take their time in realising and accepting the changes that are coming; it is providing a great space for young and innovative toy designers who are listening to what people want.
In what other industries to you think crowdfunding is becoming the vehicle for innovators getting ahead of big corporations?