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Welcome back to Important Toy News, the SYFY WIRE column that shows you all the best and coolest happenings in the world of amazing toys and collectibles for the week.
The world has taken a significant turn over the past week or so, as the police killing of George Floyd on May 25 has instigated a seismic shift. All across the country (and world), many who were already facing the dangers of the coronavirus are collectively voicing their anger and taking action to fight systemic racism — on social media, through peaceful protests, and by donating to causes that support Black Lives Matter.
And so this week, I want to highlight just some of the black community-owned toy stores and toy manufacturers for which you can show your support — both now and in the future.
Big thank you to Shoppe Black for being an amazing source for discovering some of these black community-owned businesses.
BLACK COMMUNITY-OWNED TOY STORES
Brown Toy Box is a wonderful subscription box service owned by company founder and CEO Terri-Nichelle Bradley. Each Culturally Curated box is built for your child's specific age group (and gender, if you wish) and comes with a variety of games, toys, and activities that adhere to STEAM/STEM methods of learning.
"Black children should be able to see themselves positively represented in any environment they experience regularly including their toy box, the media they consume, and their classroom," Brown Toy Box's mission statement explains. "We know if Black children are exposed, encouraged, and equipped to explore activities and later careers in STEAM as early learners, they will be more likely to later purse the majors in college and careers in the future."
The boxes cost about $34.99 each and can be ordered today from Brown Toy Box's website.
The Black Toy Store is an online store that describes itself as a "destination for hand-picked, curated collections of children's toys, games, books, and gifts that reflect the beauty and diversity of the African diaspora."
The Black Toy Store wants to provide items that allow black children to see themselves represented positively.
There are three main criteria that a toy needs to meet in order for The Black Toy store to carry it. Items must be "1. Black Owned: Products created by Black artists. 2. Black Toys: Dolls and action figures that reflect African heritage 3. Black Models: Product packaging and/or marketing that embraces Black children."
Prices vary depending on merchandise, but you can visit The Black Toy Store today to see all its merchandise.
Puzzle Huddle is a family-owned company that was founded in January 2018 by Matthew and Marnel Goins. According to the Puzzle Huddle website, the brand was created in the wake of the family's "frustration with the lack of diverse images shown on commercially produced puzzles."
Puzzles, the company states, "are a timeless toy and development tool for children. The time a child spends assembling a puzzle requires focus, problem-solving, discipline, and fine motor skills." Puzzle Huddle (rightfully) insists that by creating ethnically diverse imagery on its puzzles, children have the opportunity to be affirmed and the imaginary play then becomes very personal.
You can visit Puzzle Huddle today. Please note: The store is receiving a new inventory stock on June 9.
BLACK COMMUNITY TOY MANUFACTURERS
Herstory Doll is an 18-inch articulated play doll line, and according to creator and CEO Queen Cee (aka Queen Dollylama), it serves as "a reflection of diversity within kids of African Descent with different brown skin tones, more true facial features, and textured hair of different types."
Aesthetically and in terms of the elegant accessories that come with the dolls, they remind me of American Girl dolls. For pricing and ordering information, you can check out the Herstory Doll website today.
Izuki Dolls are beautiful and varied — seriously, the website has a really wonderful array of merchandise on it.
"Izuki Dolls come in different shades of brown with different kinky curly hair color and textures, representing the different shades of Black Beauty," the website explains. The dolls are breathtaking, but they're not all the company offers. You can also find plush dolls (like mermaids), pillows, towels, card games, apparel, and activity sheets.
Prices for the dolls are in the $70 range, and you can see all inventory on its website today.
Double Dutch Dolls, in its own words, "is a line of quality multi-cultural books, dolls, and accessories created to celebrate the beauty, experiences, and diversity of multi-cultural children." The doll line features a set of Sweet Valley High-inspired twins Kaila and Zaria, which was successfully crowdfunded via Kickstarter in 2014. Currently, the dolls are sold out (though we hope they're restocking soon!). However, the Double Dutch Dolls book series is still available for purchase.
For a kid born in the mid-'80s like me, who grew up reading tons of twins books, I have a soft spot for projects like this. The company very quickly responded to my email, and hopefully, it will have some of these dolls for you (and me!) to buy ASAP.
We're edging into the high collector fancy price range. And seriously, Trinity Design's beautiful dolls are all class.
Via Trinity, "As we celebrate black beauty through dolls we endeavor to produce high-quality collectibles that inspire, captivate and encourage young women and children to love the skin they're in."
The company began developing its doll line in 2001 as a simple tribute to the company owner's sorority. Production began in 2010 on the first doll, and as of this writing, 19 dolls have been designed. There are currently two dolls for sale and two available for preorder. You can see the doll designs and the company website here.