About this idea
The idea behind Black Star Toys is to provide high quality, unique hand-painted and sculpted resin figures inspired by African American culture and meant to inspire creativity and joy in African American boys and girls. We envision creating a line of 7 inch resin (plastic) toys which will be available both completely painted, and as blank canvases complete with child safe paints, and polymer clay which children can use to customize their toys. This would give children the opportunity to create the hero they want to be in the comfort of their own homes. I also want to maintain child engagement with our toys once they are purchased. Here I plan to create and provide accessories in the form of toy headdresses, and/or masks that symbolize the "spirit" of African-American historical figures ie. Ella Baker, James Baldwin, Malcolm X etc. As an educator I also know the value of modeling a behavior or skill for students. To this end I envision creating a professionally filmed video series that accompanies our toy line and includes helpful lessons on painting, a "Great Black Artist" guest appearances and discussions.
I believe that we would be helping to solve the problem of a lack of variety and diversity of positive African-American role models, specifically for African-American boys, by creating a toy figure that is aspirational and inspirational. Not only are we making a difference in the lives of African American children, but we are also solving the problem of a lack of creativity in toys for young boys by making a toy that is both creative and fun. Too often, the toys that are marketed to African American children are either white-washed versions of popular culture or they are overtly violent. This is not only damaging to the self-esteem of African American children, but it also does not reflect the rich history and culture of the African American community.
African American made toys created by African American designers offer a much-needed counter message to the one that African American children are constantly bombarded with. These toys are designed to reflect the rich history and culture of the African American community and to promote fun, creativity, and self-exploration.
What I'll do with $5,000
The 5x5 Grant will be utilized to fund the initial production of toy figures. This includes the costs of materials (Clay sculpting materials, resin, paint & primer), manufacturing (creating the figures, production molds & casting, and painting), shipping, marketing, and overhead. The materials for this product will cost $10 per unit. The manufacturing cost will be $16 per unit. The shipping cost will be $5per unit. The marketing budget is $1000. The overhead costs are $400 per month.
The total cost of goods sold will be $35 per unit. The artist’s profit margin will be 50%.
About Melvin Butler
My name is Melvin Butler. I am African American, 46 years old and the father of three wonderful children. I am a visual artist and toy maker who grew up in Camden, New Jersey. I am also a self-taught virtual content creator, specializing in art education and curriculum design. I have over fifteen years of teaching experience in Visual Arts and Art History. In addition to teaching experience, I am also a person with BiPolar Disorder II and depression. I know first-hand the challenges of mental illness and growing up in a dangerous city. Despite all of the challenges, I have a great desire to spread joy to others. I can do this by creating toys for children who have grown up in similar circumstances.