If you have children, you know that they have boundless amounts of energy. It only makes sense to use this energy to power toys, and Zen Design Group has come up with a line of toys that does just that. These "environmentally friendly," kid-powered SEE Toys will be available online September 15.
SEE Toys has created five different kid-powered toys: Dyancar, Dynatiger, Dynafly, Dynashark, and Dynadolphin. SEE stands for safety, ecology, and economy, and all of the toys are designed for children five years and older. SEE Toys are powered by a dynamo, which is a power-generating motor; children energize by turning a crank. The dynamo charges the rechargeable batteries that make the unbreakable LED lights and sounds emit from the toy. According to Sun Yu, president of Zen Design Group, "The introduction of self-sustainable SEE Toys carries an important message of responsible living to our youth."
Our family tested the Dynafly, which my daughter affectionately called "Buggy." Buggy positively reinforces children with laughing noises when they turn the crank. My six-year-old daughter was so fascinated by this, that we have been unable to truly test the dynamo and batteries to see how long the toy will play before needing a crank. She insisted we take Buggy on a six-hour drive to San Francisco, and the toy held her fascination for the entire drive there and back; however, once we arrived home, Buggy was abandoned for more interactive, creative toys. It doesn’t take long for a six-year-old to get tired of a toy that only lights up and makes noises, even if it is kid-powered. The wings, legs, and antennae are bendable, but this was not enough to sustain my daughter’s attention beyond the car trip. In contrast, I think my three-year-old son would be fascinated by the Dynacar and play with it for many years.
SEE Toys claims to be "The First Environmentally Friendly, Kid-Powered Toy Line," but I question this claim. It is true that the toys do not require disposable (recyclable) batteries that account for 72,000 tons of landfill waste in the United States each year; however, the toys are made from plastic and are manufactured in China. The information provided by SEE Toys did not state whether this plastic comes new materials or is made with post consumer recycled plastic. I applaud Zen Design Group’s efforts; however, I think that it would be more interesting to see a dynamo-powered toy that children will play with for many years, especially when targeting children ages five and up. How about a dynamo-powered ipod or musical keyboard?
In my opinion, just putting a dynamo in a toy does not make it environmentally friendly, especially if it does not sustain the interest of children over time. Many toys end up in landfills just for this reason, and I still believe the most environmentally friendly toys are made from renewable materials, are open-ended, and grow with a child’s imagination. Now that my daughter has lost interest in Buggy, her father can’t wait to take it apart and see how it works. Wouldn’t it be grand if there were kits available for children to make their own dynamo-powered toys? The possiblities are endless, and I thank SEE Toys for moving the toy industry in the right direction. We now have a really cool, dynamo-powered bug flashlight for when our hydro goes down.