Every toy category must change with the times and science toys are no different. One look at the toys in this category shows that manufacturers have been working continuously to keep abreast of the most current trends in science and consumer interest. “Everyone is searching for what’s up and what’s popular,” says Steve Spangler, president of Steve Spangler Science. The popular trend right now, according to a number of manufacturers, is nature and the environment. “People are still looking for green and earth-conscious or earth-friendly products,” says Esther Novis, president of The Young Scientists Club.
Elenco has seen great success with its Snap Circuits Green kits. Walter Larsen, president of Elenco, has noted that science kits featuring solar power have been doing extremely well thanks to the rising interest in alternative energy sources. “The answers to all the questions we have about the environment are in science,” says Grant Cleveland, president and CEO of DuneCraft. “All the interest in popular media is bringing that to the limelight.” Since many science toys are purchased for children by parents and grandparents, the concerns of the older generation play a large role in what sells. “Every parent and grandparent wants their own little Johnny or Susie to be more informed and be the smartest kid in school,” says Larsen.
The focus on green and environmentally conscious products has also brought one of the classic themes of science to the forefront of the category—nature and animals. Uncle Milton’s RC Tarantula has done extremely well and the company is expanding on the concept with the new Tarantula Planet line. Young Scientists Club is re-packaging its Dig Real Fossil line, which features real animal fossils. Hexbug continues to be successful with robotic toys that mimic the movements of real bugs. DuneCraft is refreshing its microterrarium line and continuing to add new sets that teach children about nature and plants. “The study of animals remains high in terms of interest when it comes to science,” says Frank Adler, president of Uncle Milton, which was purchased by Transom Capital Group in June.
While nature and green technology may be the hot thing in science now, manufacturers continue to look ahead for what may be coming around the corner. Whatever it is, the category shows no signs of lagging behind. “Science is everywhere we look,” says Aaron Tibbs, vice-president of sales at SmartLab. “Parents are always going to want toys that can teach children as well as entertain.” Just as science marches on, so do science toys.
Elenco’s Snap Circuits Green takes the classic Elenco Snap Circuits playset and adds alternative energy sources, such as wind power and solar power.
The Young Scientists Club:
The Young Scientists Club will be introducing two new Magic Schoolbus Kits—Electricity and Volcanos.
Uncle Milton’s Tarantula Planet series teaches kids about tarantulas with audio-sensitive tarantulas, each with a different theme and accessories.
The Hydrodome from DuneCraft teaches users about growing with hydroponics. DuneCraft will introduce a new venus flytrap version this year.
The You Track It Weather Lab teaches kids how to predict weather on their own and track phenomena such as rain, clouds, wind, and more.
Hexbug will continue to develop new products for the Hexbug line, including expanded Hexbug Nano Habitats for the Hexbug Nano line.