Monday, March 10th, 2008
Ecotronic Wind-up Toys: Beeping without Batteries
Russimco, a UK toy company, has launched a series of wind-up toys under the name Ecotronic. The Big Idea is that these electronic toys eliminate the need for toxic batteries, and also ship in paper packaging devoid of tape, metal ties and other stuff we don’t need in our landfills.
Check out two of its offerings for young children…
The Eco Phone lights up and makes noise after you power it by shaking it.
It could be a nifty toy, depending on how much beep you get for your brawn. And, whether your toddler can shake it adequately, or if he’s running to you every two minutes beckoning for his toy to be fixed.
When my daughter began mimicking Mom and Dad’s phone use, her toy phone didn’t require batteries and she used her mouth to make her own beeping noises. Still, an electronic shake phone is kind of cool, right?
Next, there is the Eco Duck…
This duck a bit more tricky. He has lights and sounds, but you have to wind a hand crank on his bottom.
Conspicuously unexplained on the company’s website is whether this toy that looks like a rubber duck is actually intended for the water (if he’s not, how long does he last after junior brings him into the tub?).
And also, what’s fun about a duck implanted with buttons?
These toys launched this year and are making the circuit at retailer toy fairs. Due to their originating in the United Kingdom, chances are we may not see them in the US for a while. (The company didn’t respond to my inquiry. I’d love to run an Eco Phone through its paces.)
So, whatcha think? Are these toys environmentally friendly, not friendly enough, cool, or hokey?
Update: Aha! Ecotronic’s PR film contacted me with a few answers…
That’s right! Eco Duck is a pull-string toy. Push his buttons and he plays nursery rhymes. Photos will be added to the website soon that reveal this important little detail.
Here’s a doosie… Each toy "comes with a unique code on its box, which when entered into a
dedicated website, gives parents access to the individual safety certification
of the toy and also all the facts and figures they need on the
environmental impact â€” from production to shop and beyond."
And we’ll be receiving review samples to run through their paces. So, go ahead and post your questions about the Eco Phone and Eco Duck (and any of the other toys) and I’ll flush them out in the reviews.