Niya From 'The Toy Box' Is More Than Just A Doll

Jeff Neira/ABC

Several series have tried — and failed — to replicate the magic of Shark Tank over the years. However, ABC, the network on which Shark Tank first premiered and continues to air, has a new reality series that just might equal or surpass that show's fun. The Toy Box makes its series premiere on Friday, April 7 at 8 p.m. ET, and it'll feature the new toy creations of passionate inventors from all across the country. One of the products to be featured in the premiere episode of The Toy Box is the Niya doll. This toy is so cute and inspiring, you'll definitely want to know if you can buy Niya now.

But Niya's creator won't just be hoping to impress viewers at home with her toy; there's also a competition at hand on The Toy Box. In each episode, inventors will present their toy concepts to a group of mentors that includes Dylan's Candy Bar owner Dylan Lauren, toy guru Jim Silver, and Pixar creative director of consumer products Jen Tan. If the experts give the toy the thumbs up, it goes on to face a panel of tough, no-nonsense judges, aka a bunch of kids you've probably seen on TV before. The judges decide which toys will move on to the finals with one inventor eventually taking home the grand prize of having his or her toy made by Mattel and exclusively sold at Toys "R" US.

The Niya doll will be just one of five toys featured in Friday night's premiere episode of The Toy Box, so does it have what it takes to grab the judges' attention and make it far in the competition? Well, we'll have to wait and see how the Niya doll fares on The Toy Box, but once you get to know a little bit more about the product, you definitely won't forget it.

It's More Than Just A Doll

Jeff Neira/ABC

The Niya doll is described as "a multicultural doll collection who sings and speaks in multiple languages," according to ABC. Photos from The Toy Box, like the one above, show Niya as the adorable leader of this group of dolls celebrating diversity, acceptance, and friendship.

Niya Has A Very Personal Backstory

Darla Davenport-Powell came up with the idea for the Niya doll in an effort to combat a problem that many parents and children still face today. The inspiration came to her when she and her husband went shopping for books and dolls that looked like their daughter, Niya. "We searched high and low to find books and toys that reflected our culture and came up with nothing," Davenport-Powell describes on the official Niya doll's website. "All that was out there at the time were white dolls dipped in chocolate with straight hair. It was also easier to find a needle in a haystack than a children’s book featuring a positive African-American family.”

Niya Is Not What She Used To Be

Jeff Neira/ABC

It appears that Niya has gotten a bit of a makeover since her appearance on The Toy Box. She is now more of a soft, plush sort of doll with ponytails, rosy cheeks, and her name written across her long-sleeve peplum top, according to Niya's website. It's through the company's official website that you will eventually be able to pre-order and purchase the new Niya doll for $24.99 plus fees. With Niya having undergone quite the transformation, I can only imagine that the entrepreneur behind the doll must have gotten some pretty interesting feedback on The Toy Box.

You Can Have Fun With Niya & Friends Now

Jeff Neira/ABC

The Niya doll itself may not be quite ready for purchase just yet, but you can buy the "We Are Friends" song on CD for $1.99, the full-color illustrated book about Niya's adventures with her friends also called We Are Friends for $19.99, or order the CD and book bundle for $20.99. You can also download the "We Are Friends" song for $0.99 on iTunes. Clearly, there are lots of ways to get the full Niya experience.

You've Seen Niya On TV Before

Davenport-Powell, previously appeared on another TV show all about inventing, American Inventor. She was a finalist in Season 1 of the show, and she received $50,000 and a ton of resources to take the Niya doll to the next level. It was on this show that Davenport-Powell expanded her company and gave Niya six multicultural friends. Here's hoping that The Toy Box gives Niya and her friends an even bigger boost.

Niya's Creator Is As Inspirational As The Doll

Jeff Neira/ABC

As you can see, Davenport-Powell is a go-getter from way back. Hailing from Columbia, South Carolina, Davenport-Powell has been working on the Niya concept since 1984 when she self-published the Here Comes Niya book with audio tape, and then she manufactured the multilingual Niya doll in 1991, according to the company's website. As previously mentioned, she has since refined and expanded the Niya doll product line.

In addition to growing her company, Davenport-Powell has worked as a teacher and adjunct professor at Drexel University, according to her LinkedIn profile. She also founded the non-profit, the I AM ENUF Foundation, which "helps young people discover their innate beauty, unique gifts and natural brilliance through mentoring and other educational programs," according to Niya's website.

Here's hoping that a visit to The Toy Box helps Davenport-Powell make even more of her dreams come true.