Kids love superheroes. Especially Marvel superheroes, and in particular the Incredible Hulk–who is the most popular Avenger among both boys and girls, ages four to six. That’s according to Bethany Koby, the CEO and cofounder of the children’s tech toy company Tech Will Save Us, which recently inked a multiyear partnership with Disney to integrate the company’s popular characters into TWSU’s toys. The first product of that collaboration launches today, just in time for the new Avengers movie in April.
Unsurprisingly, the Hulk is central to the kit, which is based on TWSU’s popular products based on dough that conducts electricity. Kids learn about how circuits work by building a wall out of the dough and making a dough fist; then, when they smash the fist into the wall, the kit makes a smashing sound. Little does the child know they’ve just learned the fundamentals of how a switch works. Now they can move on to more complex projects, like building a switch into a house that Hulk has to smash to rescue someone trapped inside. Two other missions about Iron Man’s arc reactor and Captain America’s shield teach kids about circuits and resistance.
TWSU chose these characters because they appealed to both genders. “The fist is a big part of why kids like Hulk,” Koby says. “Hulk smashes s***, it’s funny. It was less about gender.”
Because the kit is for kids between four and six, when they’re not making a lot of decisions about what toys they play with, the Marvel tie-in is a way to expose them to STEM education–and also convince their parents.
“If we can meet a kid who’s never done anything with STEM before, who doesn’t do it in school, whose parents don’t know what it is, but we know that they like the Incredible Hulk, and now they’ve made a circuit, and now they think it’s fun and now they know what electricity does, and oh, if it does that can it do other things?” Koby says. “And a parent sees their success–can that spark something that helps [parents] to have a much broader perspective of what [their child] can do?”
The partnership lets TWSU tap into stories kids already love. While that will help bring STEM to more kids and families, it will also help TWSU to sell a whole lot more kits. “With superheroes we cannot only reach wider groups of kids because they love superheroes, but retailers that really want to get these kinds of properties into the hands of more families,” Koby says.
The company is already in a total of 4,000 stores worldwide and just closed a $4.3 million worth of Series A funding. Koby views the partnership with Disney as the next big step for the company; future kits will be pegged to big Disney movie releases or other events. The tiny toy startup is going corporate.