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peak bubble sales time. Retailers begin selling bubble products in the spring, with Easter being a huge sales opportunity, and by the Fourth of July consumers are hard-pressed to find bubble toys on store shelves. Most bubble manufacturers deem this selling period too early and not long enough. While Easter is generally a great time to sell bubble products because consumers are looking for toys to put in Easter baskets and the nicer weather puts people in the mood for outdoor activities, an early Easter—say, in March—doesn’t really rake in the sales. “Easter was really early in 2008 and the economy was just starting to hit the rocks a little bit,” says Little Kids’ Engle. “And the weather last year… [across] so much of the country there was still snow on the ground, so that tended to have an effect [on sales].” Having a longer selling period throughout the summer would at least give manufacturers a chance to make up on missed sales by giving consumers a chance to find the bubble toys they didn’t buy when it was still winter. But manufacturers understand that taking bubble toys off the shelves mid-summer is what retailers have to do in order to be ready for back-to-school and fall. “We’re in the month of July and bubble toys are hard to find at retail and, yet, there are still several months of prime bubble-playing season across the country and consumers have virtually no options in buying bubble toys,” says Imperial’s Thompson. “It’s frustrating. [Retailers] have to get ready for back-to-school and it’s their selling calendar, but in terms of consumer buying and consumer play pattern, they’re playing with bubbles now.” Even after summer ends, there are some bubble toys that can be played with inside, especially when inside a classroom. Steve Spangler, CEO/founder of Steve Spangler Science, says that bubbles can be educational. His company looks at bubbles as tools to help kids understand chemistry concepts. “Everybody blows a bubble. Everybody dips a wand into bubble solution and starts it from there,” Spangler says. “We start it very differently because, as a teacher, I can use the fascination of a bubble to teach a tremendous amount of chemistry and I can teach it at a second grade level and [kids] don’t realize how much they’re learning but they’re going to carry that information forever.”

The Other Side of Bubbles

Steve Spangler Science produces a variety of educational, but fun, bubble kits that allow kids to make square bubbles and even hold bubbles in their hands.

Spangler wants kids to understand the science behind making bubble solution, encouraging them to experiment with water, dish soap, and glycerin until they come up with a recipe that works for them. From there, the fun continues as Steve Spangler Science kits show kids how to make square bubbles, bubbles that you can hold in your hand, and bubbles that contain fog. The company is working on a new bouncing bubbles kit. Because bubbles carry such a huge fascination with kids, using bubbles as a starting point to get kids excited about science seems a logical step. “Science education has become an extracurricular activity,” Spangler says. “Parents are realizing that unless we spend more time with our kids, they are losing their ability to wonder and ask questions and discover and explore.” No matter what kind of bubble toy parents buy for their kids, the important thing is that bubble toys are a great way for parents and kids to spend time together. Especially in these economic times, a low-cost toy that everyone in the family can play with for hours will really stand out to consumers. “Bubbles are inexpensive and have a lot of play value,” says Mark Weppner, director of Fisher-Price consumer products. “People are going back to classic and simple things. They just want the magic of bubbles.”

AUGUST 2009 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT 23

Profile for aNb Media

Toys & Family Entertainment, August 2009  

Toys & Family Entertainment is a monthly magazine showcasing the hottest trends in the toy and family entertainment business.

Toys & Family Entertainment, August 2009  

Toys & Family Entertainment is a monthly magazine showcasing the hottest trends in the toy and family entertainment business.

Profile for anbmedia