4 min read



In order to explain to you what Stokken-Blokken is, I’m going to tell you a little story why it’s even here.

The origin story

“Yeah do it. Totally do it.”

“Yes. Amazing. You should do this. Seriously just do it.”

“Love it. Why don't you go and do it.”

This is what all the well intentioned and the well wishers said. People who had no experience in the toy industry or the making actual physical stuff industry. And I listened. It never went anywhere. I talked to some toy people and they were actually quite supportive and interested and then one of them asked, “Are you prepared for this to be your job? This one thing?”

The answer was not given, but from the roughly five years of inactivity and it, despite being for kids, which I have two of, sat on a shelf alone, packed and stuffed without care or concern.

Reasons I didn’t make a product

You might be wondering, to yourself “Wow, I get it simple, it is essentially replacing couch cushions with something you can inflate and more important deflate saving on storage but not on fun,” you might be right. Despite that I didn’t pursue it and If you're wondering why, let me list some of the reasons:

  1. I'm not considered a toy designer. I’m a software and service sort of guy, which to the cold, cruel world makes me absolutely incapable of anything else despite the idea or the drive or the love.
  2. Making money with toys if your name is not Mattel, Hasbro or Lego is next to impossible. It’s even more impossible when you’re a designer at the very bottom of the industry. This make things relatively pointless to actually pursue as a business venture.
  3. I can't be bothered to try and make things how you’re supposed to make them. This stuff is hard. I’m old. This makes my kids happy so job done. It will probably make your kid happy.

So there you are, why I’m not pursuing this as a for-profit thing and why it’s open source. Yes, that’s right, this is open source. The license is below. That means for non commercial purposes of course. I've made this open source because I don't intend for it to be market oriented anymore. I'm over that.

Stokken Blokken is inflatable, connectable blocks for active play for boys and girls 4-8 years.

Before asking what this is, ask what is better than building things out of snow? Basically nothing let me tell you. Except for maybe an easy to use, easy to pack up, inflatable building block that can build as big as the imagination can take it? You mean Jim a safe, creative and house friendly play system for girls and boys. Yes. And now you can do it yourself.

So here you go, this is it.

You go and get a thing made according to the dimensions above at a place that makes inflatables that is likely in China, and you blow them up and then your kids laugh at how red your face is while they connect them together and make little forts, walls, roof things, half-assed tunnels, etc.

Unboxing is amazing. Here is where a video should be with the hands and voice of some weird middle-aged guy describes opening and using a toy for the first time. You instead have these glamour product shots and my weird, middle-aged fingers typing at you telling you about this thing.

Each blokken (I guess this is what these things are called right?) is small. 21 x 20 x 3.5 cm small in fact.  If you’re awesome you can actually fold it back up to this size so you don’t have these huge inflatable things lying around your cramped flat. This was the point of it by the way.

Here’s the bit where I thought I was a total genius. A single blokken can fit in a standard (UK) letterbox. Winning.

You have to obviously unfold it.

Each blokken takes a non-smoking, middle-aged man of average to worsening health about 5 minutes to inflate manually. There are pumps for these sorts of things. It uses the same gauge as your average, run-of-the-mill pool floating thing.

It’s not rocket science. You connect the blokken once inflated. I searched high and low thinking “hold on a darn second here, this has to exist already.” Sure enough I couldn’t find anything. Anyhow, you can make things like this. Or probably even cooler.

There were also plans for some Augmented Reality applications, which mainly revolved around showing sharks and water or lava around wall-based configurations.

GitHub - jkosem/stokken-blokken
Contribute to jkosem/stokken-blokken development by creating an account on GitHub.