The latest science and discovery sets employ nontoxic and environment-friendly materials.
China suppliers of science and discovery kits are intensifying measures to meet overseas product requirements with the implementation of most 2009/48/EC provisions in July. Compliant manufacturers see this as an opportunity to edge out rivals.
|Xiamen Yangtse's excavation kit has polyresin dinosaurs embedded in an egg-shaped clay form.|
The new directive narrows the definition and scope of toys. It also restricts the use of 11 additional heavy metals, and limits 66 aromatic compounds that may cause allergies.
Moreover, the EU guideline stresses the need for certification from third-party testing institutions. Most science and discovery kit manufacturers, however, have been practicing this prior to the ruling.
In addition, the US is planning to set a lower lead limit, down to 100ppm from the previous 300. Other countries such as Japan, Brazil and India are updating or drafting new safety standards as well.
To ensure compliance, science and discovery kit providers are employing nontoxic and odorless ABS for most plastic parts. Health-friendly polyresin and pottery clay are adopted in excavation sets. Meanwhile, DIY assembly projects employ snap pieces rather than screws to prevent choking.
Apart from human safety, makers consider environmental welfare. Recent planting models use vermiculite, which is a clean mineral substitute for regular soil. The latter may carry invasive species that can potentially damage the natural flora and fauna of a foreign area. Moreover, some suppliers such as Fuzhou Xingchun Premium Mfg Co. Ltd now boast phytosanitary certificates.
Despite increased efforts to meet standards, however, many companies struggle to keep abreast of frequent changes. Aside from having to re-examine releases, companies must spend for costlier nontoxic materials, and new testing fees and warning labels. Those that cannot comply sometimes target less stringent markets such as South America, the Middle East and Africa.
The majority of science and discovery kits from China cover solar energy, biology, electricity and archaeology. Most cater to at least 5-year-old children, although the first are usually for 8-year-old users and require adult supervision.
Sun-powered sets include ABS parts, solar panels and wiring. Some are equipped with batteries to enable play even in darker environments. Many DIY versions are assembled into vehicles, animals and electronic gadgets.
The mainstream biology products are planting kits. All the seeds and other growing material are packed into airtight tin, glass, plastic or clay containers. Some may include mini gardening tools. Fuzhou Xingchun offers 75 types of flora ranging from vegetables to fruits and flowers. Clients may also request certain species. A can with eight to 10 seeds is generally $1.
Snap circuit kits are the most common toys for teaching how electricity works. Among the components are wiring and resistors, which are assembled on plastic boards to create the inner mechanism of various gadgets. Sets from Teacher Wang Hong Kong Industrial Co. Ltd form more than 19,000 voltage paths. The popular end-designs are lamps, fans, doorbells and radios.
Energy converted to electricity may come from a hand crank, batteries, magnets or water. Prices are determined by the raw materials and the product complexity. Models start at $3 and reach $25.
Meanwhile, excavation kits are the best-sellers in the archaeology category. Children are meant to dig out a figure embedded inside a plaster or clay block, dinosaur egg or pyramid. The popular hidden objects are fish, insects, fossils, prehistoric animals and mummies. Releases featuring Chinese terra cotta warriors, and ancient coins and weapons are currently on the rise.
The buried item is usually made of smooth and odorless oxidized polyresin and can be whole or in pieces. Sets that have the latter come with glue. Brushes and chisels are the other accessories. Upscale kits may contain paint. Excavation models range from $0.50 to $3, with intermediate designs between $1.10 and $2.
Science and discovery kit prices increased 5 percent during the past quarter amid rising production costs. ABS rates climbed 8 percent YoY. Resultantly, quotes will likely be augmented 5 to 10 percent in the next six months.
Teacher Wang Hong Kong Industrial Co. Ltd
Teacher Wang Hong Kong Industrial Co. Ltd
Note: This article "Safer science & discovery kits boost makers' competitiveness" was originally published by Global Sources, a leading business-to-business media company and a primary facilitator of trade with China manufacturers and India suppliers, providing essential sourcing information to volume buyers through our e-magazines, trade shows and industry research.
All price quotes in this report are in US dollars unless otherwise specified. FOB prices were provided by the companies interviewed only as reference prices at the time of interview and may have changed.
Disclaimer: All product images are provided by the companies interviewed and are for reference purposes only. Those product images featuring products with trademarks, brand names or logos are not intended for sale. We, our affiliates, and our affiliates' respective directors, officers, employees, representatives, agents or contractors, do not accept and will not have any responsibility or liability for product images (or any part thereof) which infringe on any intellectual property or other rights of a third party.