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5 Incredibly Cool Crowdfunding Campaigns that Might Redeem Your Father’s Day Procrastination

Mars Research Facility DesignMars Research Facility Design
A Mars Research Facility, as envisioned by Mars City Design entrant Matthew Jennings.Mars City Design/Matthew Jennings

You’ve done it again—it’s Father’s Day, and you’ve got nothing to offer the man who gave you life than an affectionate phone call. But what if you could tell him his gift was on its way . . . sometime? A crowdfunding pledge is the perfect last-minute (or last-second) present—thoughtful, unexpected, and fun, with a side-order of delayed gratification.

Don’t delude yourself. Dad’s no dummy, so he may suspect that you dawdled. But the rewards from these active campaigns are cool enough to still net you more Good Kid points than you probably deserve.

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For Spacey Dads: Design a City on Mars

Mars City Design is an L.A.-based organization aimed at designing sustainable cities for Mars colonization. Each year, they run a design competition to gather innovative ideas about colonizing the red planet, and in September, a coterie of adventurous minds from NASA, Carnegie Mellon, and MIT will gather at USC to recognize and collaborate with this year’s winners.

Guests at the workshop will also include Andy Weir, author of The Martian, and Buzz Aldrin, the second human to walk on the moon.

And you can send your dad! A $150 pledge gets a one-day admission to the workshop, and the chance to meet the design teams. For $500, he can hang out for a full week (travel and lodging not included).


For Future Dads: Break the Electric Land Speed Record

Venture Automobiles has been working for years to build a fully-electric car capable of hitting 400 mph. It’s a noble leap into the electric age, and they’re reaching out for public support. For around $100, dad gets a Venturi t-shirt, and the warm feeling that your love for him has been transformed into pure, zero-carbon velocity.


For Fit Dads: A Personal Trainer That Might Take Over the World

The Vi is billed as the first Artificial Intelligence Personal Trainer. It incorporates bio-sensing ear buds with automatic workout planning and monitoring, adjusts Dad’s workout to his goals, and responds to voice commands to play music or even send text messages. Macworld has called it “a fitbit, Amazon Echo, and a pair of Beats rolled into one product,” and you can get Dad one for $199.



For Foodie Dads: A Chef’s Knife that’s A Work of Art

The Bulat is a truly lustworthy knife for anyone who’s ever so much as sliced an onion—but it’s also an embodiment of what’s best about crowdfunding. It has a hardwood handle with a subtle palm-hugging curve and a high-carbon folded steel blade. But its creators are vocal about subverting the high-markup knife retail market, and at $100, the Bulat costs around half as much as anything comparably eye-catching from Shun or Wusthof.

For more on crowdfunding, watch our video:

For Geek Dads: An Excuse to Pretend He’s a Wizard

Crowdfunding has been the key component to a huge resurgence in the market for tabletop board games, and Massive Darkness epitomizes the trend. It’s a so-called “dungeon crawler,” a box full of map tiles and dice that will let up to 6 players take on the roles of barbarians, elves, and dwarves, out to smash down doors and collect sweet, sweet loot.

The game’s publisher is CoolMiniOrNot, which has a sterling track record for quality and reliability, has run some of the most successful Kickstarters of all time, and will throw in a bunch of stretch-goal freebies with your $120 pledge.