In 2014 Clever Pack launched their patented “Clever Caps”—bottle caps, designed to be reused as Lego® compatible building blocks.
Over the years, we’ve seen a number of other products launched on this idea that a package might be reused as a toy.
In 2008 y water was launched in a tetrahedral bottle (designed by FuzeProject) to be reused as a polyhedral building toy. In 2012 Tube Toys were launched (designed by Oscar Diaz): “a series of vehicles to assemble where the packaging is also part of the product.”
Both of those toys/packages garnered considerable attention at the time of their launch, but neither remains on the market today. In 2010 y water dispensed with their celebrated bottle, relaunching with “throwback” Tetra-Paks in 2014. Tube Toys appear to have been discontinued.
All of which makes us wonder, can a successful package also be a toy? And if not, why not?
Holding numerous patents for the idea (the earliest filed in 2011) Clever Pack has received several awards for their appealing Lego® compatible bottle cap.
Naturágua BRINQ appears to be the first beverage brand to launch with clever capped bottles.
Let’s play? The Naturágua Toy is an invitation to play, creativity and learning. With colored lids that fit with each other and also with the building blocks on the market, the Toy allows the creation of various objects. Dive into the world of imagination!
Like “y water” the brand is getting attention for its packaging/building toys, but what about sales?
The product went on sale in September and the director of Naturágua, Aline Telles Chaves, said that its having the best possible impact.
“This package is provided for children and fortunately won immediate approval. We set up booths in malls, schools, and the enchantment of children with these caps is apparent,” says Aline.
The forecast now is that 10,000 bottles with Clever Caps are sold per month. To date, this target was not met.
… “It’s a fun and interesting product. The ideas, the colors and the ability to reuse attracted our attention,” says Aline.
Brazilians create bottle cap that turns piece of Lego
Alex de Paula, A TARDE, 11/21/2015
Will Naturágua BRINQ ultimately follow y water‘s lead, riding a wave of popular attention online, but ultimately abandoning the eco-toy concept in favor of a more conventional package?
It’s worth noting that Clever Pack has not put all their eggs into the one basket. While they’ve gotten the most attention for “Clever Caps” they hold several other patents for bottle caps that do not serve as toys.
Some have raised questions about the ecological benefits of Clever Caps and their usefulness as toys…
But do we actually need 87 billion new Lego-like blocks every year? Or even more, if these are sold globally? That might be the flaw in this otherwise adorable product.
“Yes, reuse is better than recycling. But that only works if you’re actually reducing the amount of material used in the first place—if you’re using that reuse to offset something that would have been produced otherwise,” says Susan Collins, president of the Container Recycling Institute, a nonprofit that studies the industry.
A typical household of three people would get 600 new blocks a year. “The possibility of these actually being used seems unlikely,” Collins adds. “Meanwhile, if the cap uses up more plastic as your normal light-weighed cap, it’s absolutely a step in the wrong direction.”
These Adorable Bottle Caps Turn Into Lego-Like Toys
Adele Peters, Fast Company, March 6, 2014
Another issue that I was wondering about is whether manufacturers, seeking to give their packaging a second life as a toy, might be also be inadvertently opting in to a whole added layer of product regulation.
Toy manufactures in the US are regulated by CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission). Beverage manufacturers are regulated by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). What do you suppose happens if your product is simultaneously food and a toy?
Combined packaging and plaything
WO 1995026309 A1
Inventor: William Nevil Heaton Johnson
Abstract: A lollipop head (10) is accommodated in a package comprising a unitary plastics box (12) in the form of a cube provided with retaining formations, some male, some female, whereby the box may be snap-fitted to other similar boxes and may thus form a respective part of a constructional toy.
William Nevil Heaton Johnson is also known as Dr. Willy Johnson.
Trademarks for two potential brand names were applied for —(“Ploppy” and “Cantoy”)— but his lollipop cube blocks do not seem to have ever been manufactured.
Interestingly, Dr. Willy Johnson has just recently come out with a bottle cap building block. (More about this later.)