Products with ‘STEAM’ educational element steal show at Asia’s largest toy fair in Hong Kong
- Discipline covering science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics has been a buzz word in city’s curriculum
Toys incorporating elements of science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics have stolen the show at Asia’s largest toy fair in Hong Kong, with manufacturers banking on innovation as the next market trend.
Exhibitors at the four-day Toys and Games Fair are focusing on products in the “STEAM” field amid pessimism over the ongoing truce in the US-China trade war, and rising competition from electronics and gadgets.
Among the items unveiled at Asia’s largest toy expo, which began on Monday, are products by Joy Rainbow International simulating how crystals are formed, or teaching budding archaeologists how to unearth dinosaur bones.
“STEAM toys are evergreen products and are gaining popularity in Hong Kong,” director Henry Ng Hon-wah said. “They are educational and a healthier choice for children than playing with smartphones.”
The toys were designed and developed in Hong Kong and mass-produced at the company’s factory in Dongguan, he said, adding that the items were affordable and would be sold for US$9.90 to US$19.90 (HK$156) in the United States.
The annual fair, which began on Monday at the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai, is into its 45th edition and hosts more than 2,100 exhibitors. It attracted 103,000 buyers from around the world last year.
STEAM has become a buzz word in Hong Kong education in the past year as schools start including it in the standard curriculum to prepare students for 21st-century careers that increasingly focus on technology.
Supporters of the trend see this as crucial for the city and in line with the HK$50 billion earmarked for IT development by Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor in her policy address last October.
Meanwhile, Shantou-based toymaker DoubleEagle Technology launched a lithium battery-powered robot, which is assembled from hundreds of pieces of Lego-like bricks and operated by remote control.
Similar products in the form of dinosaurs and trucks are also on show at the fair.
The company’s product manager Nick Yu Hongguang said their robot version inspired children to create and think, while training their dexterity in assembling the bricks.
He added that the company had set up a research and development unit in Nanshan, Shenzhen’s technology hub, to gain an edge on innovation and technology.
“We drew on technology talent in the area to help develop our new products,” Yu said. “STEAM products were popular with overseas markets last year, which doubled in sales from a year before.”
Such toys aside, Jiangsu-based Paragon Child Products came up with a glider device that kids can ride, modelled after a manta ray. Design director Gilbert Ng Hoi-pang said the toy, which costs US$149 in America, aimed to hone children’s manoeuvrability skills.