Spielwarenmesse: Play in the dark: the glow effect

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Mädchen spielt Astronautin im Dunkeln


Play in the dark: the glow effect

from Maria Costa

Children like to play anytime, anywhere, even when the lights are off and it is dark. This moment of the day hasn’t been overly exploited yet, but some toy companies are exploring how to innovate with toys that allow children to play in the dark. 

Turning the lights off and creating a relaxing time before going to bed does not mean children cannot enjoy some play time. In fact, they get really excited when the context for playing is different and unique from what they have been experiencing during the day.

Playing at night might also mean playing outside. There are also toys to play with in the street or in contact with nature when the sun sets. One of my favorites is the Washable Sidewalk Glow Chalk by Crayola, a creative game that fosters creativity while engaging kids to play outside even in the winter, when the days do not last long.

Glow in the dark

Quadrilla Space city by Hape
Hape: Quadrilla Space City

From dolls to constructions sets, “Glow in the dark” is a characteristic that is being considered in every category of toys. For instance, at the Spielwarenmesse® 2016, we were surprised by the product presented by Hape called Quadrilla, a building set with parts that glow in the dark and producing a wonderful effect. At the last fair, Geomag also presented a new set with pieces that glow when the light is turned off.

This trend is being adapted to several types of toys for example toy-accessories for little girls. Twisteez, a product by Revell, presents an option for children to decorate their hair with glow-in-the-dark accessories. Gel-a-Peel has a kit to design and create their own fashionable accessories with glow-in-the-dark gel tubes.


Light Stax
Light Stax

Some companies are adding lights to their traditional toys, converting them into innovative playthings for the night or darker lights. Of course, we all know the classic Lite Brite that has been around since 1967. Nowadays there are various toys to do constructions that have light, to name some good ones check the Light stax or Laser Pegs. These products are based on creating with little pieces, each one lighting up, so the whole construction has light. Others, such as Magformers have other kinds of sets, with pieces containing powerful LEDs allowing to light up some parts of the construction very brightly.

Magformers Neon LED Set

Dolls and collectables are also influenced by this trend. Glimmies de Giochi Preziosi are little fairies that shine bright in the dark, with their light turning off magically when the room light is on. Collectible toys that light up in different colors depending on the dolls’ emotions and mood.

For the home, I like the innovative Marco Light-Up Bath Toy design by Boon for Tomy, a toy that has a light that is activated by water. When the toy is set into water it lights up and when it is removed from the water the light turns off. This is like magic for children. And it is a toy that can be played in the bath with little light so the child can start relaxing for the night while having fun and being surprised.

Boon MARCO Light-Up Bath Toy

To play in the street, there are also wonderful new options. For instance the rollers and the scooter from the line Neon by Yvolution, with LEDS in their wheels which light up as soon as the child takes off.

Neon Flash Scooter

New playing scenarios

Innovative toys can be designed having in mind less common context of use. Children, and adults really enjoy the magic of playing in the dark. Some examples from the industry include glow in the dark toys or toys with lights such as LEDs. But we can even think beyond these two options and be very original with toys to play at night. The important thing to have in mind is that this is an increasing trend that promotes a new scenario for playing.

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Author of this article:

Maria Costa, AIJU

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