At first one might think The Extraordinaires a STEM education game (and certainly there was a lot of talk about STEM at Toy Fair). But really this new product from the inventors of Rory’s Story Cubes is meant to encourage imagination and exercise empathy.

The Extraordinaires Design Studio Deluxe comes in a plastic portfolio case with character cards, job cards, and a drawing pad. Players are supposed to design products that satisfy the need described on a selected job card, specifically for the person specified on a selected character card. For example, with one randomly chosen card of each type, the goal might be to design a source of light for a pirate.

Exercising empathy is made part of the task because with each character comes a bit of background information in the form of images of their life. The images convey something more of that character’s unique personality, as well as at least one limitation. For example, it turns out that the ninja is in a band and the pirate has only one hand.

The Extraordinaires Design Studio Deluxe is available now and comes with 225 design challenges for $40. An Inventions set has 36 challenges (18 new) but no and a smaller drawing pad for $20. The Buildings set also has no the smaller pad and is also $20 but does feature 36 entirely new challenges.

The Extraordinaires Design Studio

corrected 2/20/2015