As the holidays approach, I’m doing a series of reviews and giveaways for brands I believe in—all from indie companies that have girls’ best interests at heart. Today, I’d like to share Go! Go! Sports Girls with you.
Go! Go! Sports Girls is an award-winning line of plush dolls created by my colleague Jodi Norgaard (a member of the Brave Girls Alliance) for girls ages 3 to 12. Like the Lottie Dolls I reviewed previously, Go! Go! Sports girls dolls are age appropriate. They are not sexualized. They wear apparel that is appropriate for the sport they play, and their body type is that of a child—not an adult.
Norgaard explains that this is the result of her conscious choices. “After shopping for a doll for my 9 year old daughter and finding only those with belly baring clothing, high heels and make up,” she says, “I fueled my frustration into creating Go! Go! Sports Girls, to encourage healthy and active play over fashion and body image.”
So far, the company offers nine dolls, each of which has an interest in a particular sport. The sports represented are:
As you can see from the illustrations above, eight of the nine Go! Go! Sports Girls dolls have light skin, while one has dark skin and appears to be African-American. Given how diverse girls in the USA are today, I’d love to see additional racially diverse dolls in the next release. (I asked Norgaard about this, and she said, “I would love to add more diverse dolls in the future, and if all goes well, this will happen!”)
In the meantime, it’s worth noting that the dolls have terrific, richly textured yarn hair. I think their hair makes them racially ambiguous in a positive way: Girls from various backgrounds might see more of themselves in these dolls than in fashion dolls with their smooth, straight hair.
Here’s another view of their luscious yarn hair:
I convened my “kid test team”—my son T, age 5, and his friend E, age 4—to check out the Go! Go! Sports Girls dolls. (T is usually all about trucks and cars, but when his girl friends come over, he will play dolls with enthusiasm.) E’s mom, Jess, who is a science teacher, also explored the dolls with us.
The kids were enthusiastic to open the box. T was initially dubious: “They don’t look fun because they’re gigantic,” he said.
But he warmed up to the dolls pretty quickly. When the kids saw that the dolls were wearing backpacks, they were eager to see what was inside. The miniature towels, balls, and baseball bat delighted them. When I asked the kids how they liked these little things, they nodded happily and said, “Good!”
The balls (and the bat) are also plush, so they didn’t roll well for the kids; but E had fun re-packing her girl’s backpack and imagining what her day might be like. She declared, “She has to go to school before she can go to sports.” Later, E’s doll was lying on the floor while T’s was jumping around. T asked, “What are you doing?” E replied, matter-of-fact: “It’s nap time at school.”
Later, the kids decided that the dolls were going swimming, so they stripped them down. It was tricky to get their clothing off, though—they needed help from me and Jess. And somehow, it seemed even harder to dress them up again. (The velcro closures on their outfits kept catching on the fabric that the dolls are made of.)
Jess found the writing on the dolls’ stomachs a bit unappealing. “I don’t like the look of that,” she said. She also had three wishes: 1) for the company to create a football-playing doll; 2) for a better construction on the backpacks (E’s came undone and had to be re-tied); and 3) for jerseys to be sold separately, in case the dolls wanted to try out different sports. (Great idea!)
As moms, Jess and I both loved the body shape on these dolls. They are such a healthy antidote to the extreme thinness promoted by dolls like Barbie and Monster High. And I love the fact that the emphasis of these dolls is on what they can do—on their capacity for strong, healthy physical activity—rather than on fashion and shopping.
Also noteworthy: Beginning in spring of 2014, six of the Go! Go! Sports Girls will come in a “Read & Play” set, with a 32-page book about each doll. Last week, all six of the Read & Play sets won the highest award in the toy industry, the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio’s Platinum Award. I have been sent advanced copies of the books to review, and I look forward to sharing my thoughts on them with you soon!
SUMMARY: I’m delighted to see plush dolls that:
- Place the emphasis on girls doing things with their bodies, rather than just being pretty.
- No makeup. No revealing clothing. They’re not a vehicle for selling all kinds of accessories.
- Support girls who have an interest in sports—it’s nice for girls to have a doll that shares their interests.
- Might nudge girls who may not yet have an interest in sports to identify with the idea.
Taken as a whole, this makes Go! Go! Sports Girls a brand I believe in, and I’m glad to be able to share them with you.
GIVEAWAY: Would you like a Go! Go! Sports Girls doll, too? Enter below to win by 11:59 p.m. EST, Friday, December 13! Three winners will be selected; each winner will be given one Go! Go! Sports Girl doll of his or her choice from those that are in stock at Dream Big Toy Company (note that basketball girl Taye is sold out). This raffle is open to residents of the continental U.S.A., and the prizes will be sent to the winners by Dream Big Toy Company.
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