Howtoons booth at Play Fair
San Francisco-based science/technology/engineering/art/math (STEAM) subscription kit supplier Howtoons Kits came to last weekend’s Play Fair toy and pop culture event at New York’s Javits Center with an array of its STEAM product, all falling under its “Unbox imagination” slogan.
And “Howtoons,” noted marketing director Amy McPoland, is also the answer to the company’s promotional question, “What do you get when you combine an inventor, comic book creator and toy designer?” That’s because Howtoons’ founders are in fact an inventor, comic book creator and toy designer whose project kits, aimed at kids ages seven-to-12, are geared toward helping them develop intuition about how the world works by building real-world creations.
The kits, which have been available via subscription since last year but can also be purchased individually, evolved out of a pair of Howtoons comic books incorporating instruction manual, graphic novel and STEAM design in showing youngsters how to make things out of ordinary household items. Subscribers get a new kit for $24.99 per month, each box containing everything needed to complete the project, including construction materials and a comic book with assembly instructions and educational information.
For example, the Howtoons--The Rock ‘n Issue/Ukulele comic accompanying the Ukulele Kit offers safety tips to go with the instructions for putting together the cardboard ukulele parts and hardware (screws, eye bolts, strings) in the box, as well as its stand. The comic then shows how the uke works, how to tune it and how to play it, and also features an interview with musician/ukulele maker Mike DaSilva and instructions on making a flute out of a turkey baster.
Howtoons Ukulele Kit
“Howtoons uses a visual story to stimulate imagination,” said McPoland. “Besides everything you need, it gives the science behind what you’re making. So the ukulele kit tells you about sound, frequency and amplitude, and teaches you how to play simple songs, too.”
The Ukulele Kit came out last spring and was prominently displayed at Play Fair, as was the bat-shaped mobile Bat Mobile--out in September in time for Halloween. The other kits released so far are Marshmallow Shooter/Stomp Rocket Kit, Paper Airplane Kit, Toolbox/String Art Kit, Gami-Bot Kit, Rubber Band Car Kit, Bubbles Kit, Let’s Go Fly a Kite Kit and Hippo Sanctuary Kit.
Coming out this month is Balista Kit—for making a medieval shooter contraption—and Kalimba Kit. Also available are “Class Kits” supplying enough materials for 16 students. These include Art of Flight Kit, Science of Bubbles Kit, Origami Robots Kit and Stomp Rocket Force Kit.