Like most moms this time of year I’ve been on the hunt for quality toys for my kids — my daughter is 7 and my son is 5. My son has no shortage of cool toy requests. But I find my daughter struggling with what to put on her list to Santa. (Can you imagine? A kid struggling with stuff to want?) Outside of the awesome paint set from the Met and some books, her list is pretty lame: a toy spa pedicure set and American Girl doll pets, clothes, and accessories. These are sweet and all, but I think she’s even recognizing what they are … boring. Girls toys usually are.
At Parents, every summer our editors comb through thousands of new toys for kids for our Best Toys of the Year guide that comes out every November. And every year we struggle with one category: Toys for girls age 6 and up — even in 2013, they are either all about dolls or fashion and beauty. If they are cool and clever they are also usually pink. I’m fine with the pink; it’s the cool and clever that is lacking. In fact, I think the pink can help — it’s the gateway to get girls interested (and eventually hopefully the pink can disappear). The problem is that «boys’ toys» (or just toys, period) are marketed so strongly to boys that girls are turned off. Leaving them with dolls and five billion bead kits. Girls need cool toys that are marketed to them — toys that challenge them, inspire them, and allow them to think in creative ways while also being FUN. That was the thought process behind the hit toy of the season, The GoldieBlox, whose video about girls’ toys — and the larger message of girls in engineering — has gone viral. If you haven’t watched it, you must.
As a mom, this video reached me on a level so deep that I was crying on the train this morning watching it. And it’s the happiest video ever! The twist on the Beastie Boys song rocks!!! (I’m just weird.) Anyway. The point here is that even this toy isn’t so great. The video is awesome. The message is empowering. But the toy … well, it’s just not that interesting. We considered it for Toys of the Year because we loved the message, but the actual toy was a bust. I’m thrilled though that this small company is doing so well because maybe they’ll have the resources to make next year’s line truly groundbreaking for girls. I’m waiting for that. In the meantime, these are the girls’ toys that are great. I’m sure there are more. Please, add to my list!
Super Art Studio
Georello Kaleido Games
Cra-Z-Art Lite Brix Light Up sets
Nancy B’s Science Club Moonscope
Legos and Lego Friends (yes, even though it’s pink; truth is girls like pink)
Rainbow Loom (as if you didn’t know this one)
For how we select our toys of the year, watch this video: