A prototype is a preliminary model of something. Projects that offer physical products need to show backers documentation of a working prototype. This gallery features photos, videos, and other visual documentation that will give backers a sense of what’s been accomplished so far and what’s left to do. Though the development process can vary for each project, these are the stages we typically see:
Proof of Concept
Explorations that test ideas and functionality.
Demonstrates the functionality of the final product, but looks different.
Looks like the final product, but is not functional.
Appearance and function match the final product, but is made with different manufacturing methods.
Appearance, function, and manufacturing methods match the final product.
Join the Toy Revolution
In July of 2013, I released a series of images depicting what a female fashion doll might look like according to the proportions of the average 19-year-old woman.
It didn't take long for the images to go viral, garnering the attention of such notable media outlets as the Huffington Post, Today, Time, L.A. Times, BuzzFeed, Upworthy, and CNN, to name a few. I received over 100 emails from parents and grandparents asking me, “where can we get a doll like this?”
I knew something had to be done in response to the requests I was getting. So, in March of 2014, I launched a successful crowdfunding campaign which saw 13,621 people preorder over 19,000 first-edition Lammily dolls, the first of its kind to be made according to realistic body proportions.
The following months saw over 45,000 dolls distributed to parents and kids in 62 countries. Soon after came the subsequent launch of the dolls gendered kin, the male version (modelled after the average 19-year-old man), and with it the message that self-esteem and body issues are not gender-specific, but can affect both females and males.
More and more diverse toys began to similarly crop up from sympathetic toy companies capitalizing on the body-positive shift in the industry. Time and Wharton have suggested that Lammily influenced Mattel to come out with their dolls with three different body types.
How this all began as a single crowdfunding campaign helped me set the tone for my mission: to effect massive change, using crowdfunding.
This time, let's bring back the wheelchair!
Today, I'm setting my sights on bringing back an element of the toy industry which once was, but now is no more. Wheelchair accessories for fashion dolls were discontinued back in 1997. The information on why it's not available is sparse -- there's an unconfirmed report asserting that the toy wheelchair could not fit into the fashion doll's "house". My gut feeling tells me that toy manufacturer's need to see market demand for a fashion doll toy wheelchair in order to bring it back to market. So I thought, if we could prove the toy industry wrong with the first Lammily doll, we can do it again with an amazing wheelchair toy.
I set out on designing a prototype wheelchair with the capacity to fit most fashion dolls currently on the market (including but not limited to Disney Princess dolls, Barbie, Monster High and, of course, Lammily dolls).
It's the only toy wheelchair fitted for fashion dolls on the market, designed with adjustable leg rests so that it fits your doll just right, just like a real chair.
Because the wheelchair comes in parts, kids can take full ownership of their chair as they learn the mechanics of assembly (a process taking no longer than five minutes).
Each First Edition Lammily Wheelchair toy will come inside a one-of-a-kind collectable packaging, beautifully illustrated by my mom, Yelena Lamm. Below is the packaging from one of our Lammily dolls. The wheelchair packaging will be just as unique and beautiful.
What impact can a toy wheelchair have?
While I knew that a toy wheelchair could make toys inclusive, it was only in my mind as an abstract idea, I wanted to see the impact it can have. So I visited Sami Wimberli in Dallas, Texas, who runs Ayita Wheelchair Dance, which specializes in providing dance lessons to children who use wheelchairs. Ayita Wheelchair Dance has been featured on ABC News, NBC, HuffingtonPost, Today, BuzzFeed, Cosmopolitan, and more.
The idea behind the dance studio began with Sami's own daughter, Maylie, who soon had her friends involved and the class grew from there.
I watched from the sidelines as the kids at Ayita commanded the spotlight, dancing and laughing, not confined to their chairs but freed by them. These kids have a safe space here, an environment in which they can feel unbridled by judgement they might otherwise feel the effects of on a daily basis.
Sami said that she's never seen a wheelchair for fashion dolls. She also mentioned that the wheelchairs made for the American Girl doll line come with casts included, reflecting the assumption that wheelchair users are "hurt" or "defective" in some way.
The big moment of truth for this little chair came as Sami presented the wheelchair to her students.
The kids absolutely LOVED playing with this wheelchair!
Seeing this positive reaction from the children for myself, seeing them rejoice at this new accessible alternative for their dolls for the very first time... It's a moment I'll keep with me for the rest of my life, like many I've experienced along my journey with Lammily.
It's the same feeling I got when I saw kids reacting to the very first Lammily doll back in 2014. It is unspeakably humbling and rewarding to see the things you visualize in your mind take a tangible form and interact with the world, affecting lives right in front of your eyes.
Changing the world, one wheelchair toy at a time...
Sami had mentioned importantly that wheelchairs, prosthetics and other adaptive equipment can be very difficult for certain families to acquire in other countries, due to limited availability and, by extension, high cost.
That's why I met with my friend, Ksenia Gonchar, head of the Big Dreams Children's Foundation, which provides prosthetics and other adaptive equipment to orphaned children internationally.
I talked to Ksenia about some of the incredible work her foundation has done:
One of the foundation's missions is to show their kids that that the world is a loving and caring place, which is why it takes them on field trips to the United States...
Such incredible work deserves recognition, which is why, when the wheelchairs are in retail (in store and online, off of Kickstarter) Lammily will be donating 5% of all proceeds from each wheelchair sold to the Big Dreams Foundation and to Ayita Wheelchair Dance.
On the plane back from Dallas, my head was swimming with inspiring thoughts...
What if a wheelchair accessory was as commonplace as a dress in the doll aisle?
How would it affect an entire generations mentality, what would it mean to a child in a wheelchair to see this encouraging, positive imagery tied to physical disability growing up?
What if encouraging childrens' differences could help reinforce the idea that what sets us apart from each other is what makes us unique, and beautiful, and cool?
I’ve seen how we can use crowdfunding to single handedly start a movement.
Now I’m asking for your support again so that we can bring back the wheelchair to life.
Lammily would like to extend a very special thank you to Ksenia Gonchar, Sami Wimberli and the students of Ayita Dance for their time, to Louis Barr for his superior videography, to Yelana Lamm for her design work, and to Rebecca Kara for her craft projects which formed the basis for a fashion doll wheelchair.
We have some awesome rewards for you to choose from!
Aside from the wheelchair itself, you can get the wheelchair with your choice of either the Traveler Lammily doll (the world's first realistically proportioned fashion doll), the Photographer Lammily doll, and/or the Animal Rescuer Lammily doll (the world's first realistically proportioned male fashion doll).
You also have the option of getting the special "Your Name on Packaging Reward" which puts your name or organization name, on the back of the packaging and gets you 10 Lammily Wheelchairs as well.
Risks and challenges
A 3D printed prototype of the wheelchairs prototype has been made, and all files are ready to be sent to the manufacturer for tooling.
Plastic building kits have also been generated by the manufacturer, so our challenge at hand will be to ensure that the separate pieces of the accessory fit together smoothly, and can be taken apart just as easily.
Just two years ago, in 2014, we auspiciously crowdfunded and released the world's very first, and highly demanded, realistically proportioned fashion doll.
Since then, we've been kept busy with the successful launch of our Photographer doll, and have recently announced the exciting, newly drafted male version, Animal Rescuer doll, which backers are due to receive this month!
I need your help to continue to make dreams a reality! Together, there is nothing we can't achieve.