The 10 Best Solar Toys
This wiki has been updated 17 times since it was first published in February of 2018. The solar toys on our list give parents the best of both worlds: they get your kids away from their screens and are also learning tools, as they teach everything from problem-solving skills in the STEM fields to the possibilities of renewable energy. Of course, they are also highly entertaining. We've ranked them here by their educational potential, ease of use and assembly, and fun in action. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
May 29, 2020:
As solar technology gets better, it will be applied to more and more toys, a process that made a lot of our previous list obsolete. Specifically, I'm talking about the handful of figurines with bobbling heads whose motion was initiated by the same photo-sensitive technology that's been powering solar calculators for decades. Ultimately, these aren't really even toys, so they were sent away to make room for items that are much more fun.
Among those new additions you'll find the Thames & Kosmos Mechanics, which is a versatile purchase good for kids who get bored with a single toy quickly, as it can be reconfigured into 20 different items. That process can be difficult, however, as once its pieces are together it takes some force to get them apart, so expect to get called in to help at some point.
Another addition comes from a reliable name in the sciences with the National Geographic Space Explorers Kit. In fact, you'll see that a lot of solar toys end up having something to do with space, where solar power has been deployed successfully for a long time. The Ciro STEM Kit is another great example of a space-themed kit, but I can't figure out why a selection of implements designed after classic space exploration devices — the shuttle, space station, and moon buggy — would include a weaponized robot. It sends an odd message to kids who will hopefully use their STEM education to not go out and colonize space.
Fat Brain Balloon Instead of relying on photovoltaic cells to charge an internal battery, this fun inflatable is designed to heat up in direct sunlight, transferring that energy to the air inside and expanding it to the point where it will float effortlessly above your kids' heads. It's surprisingly engaging for something so simple, and it offers a little physics lesson at the same time. fatbraintoys.com