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Who made Kinetic Sand?

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There’s something truly special in kinetic sand that makes it what it is today. It looks like normal sand, but lo, and behold! it flows and moves by itself, yet it could also be easily molded and decorated. And yes, it’s not wet!

How did that happen while scratching your head in disbelief? That’s why kids and adults couldn’t take their hands off them.

It is made of 98% real sand and the secret lies in the remaining 2% with a special, non-toxic polymer. Kinetic Sand won’t dry out, won’t leave residue on hands, and is easy to clean up.

It’s a cool toy activity that just looks like fun but it’s more than meets the eye. This flexible and moving sand is designed to aid young developing minds. The unique properties of Kinetic Sand help develop fine motor skills, enable sensory development, and assist in cognitive development. It’s also used as a great tool for therapy for sensory and special needs kids.

What’s the top-secret remaining 2% of this 98% sand invention?  It is polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), which is also one of the key ingredients in Silly Putty, not to mention McDonald's Chicken McNuggets and french fries.

Very interesting and what is Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS)? It is also known as dimethylpolysiloxane or dimethicone that belongs to a group of polymeric organosilicon compounds that are popularly referred to as silicones. PDMS is the most widely used silicon-based organic polymer and is particularly known for its unusual rheological or flow properties.

But who started it all? And who made kinetic sand?

It all begun when Swedish prospective development engineers Jonas Modell and Staffan Thuresson met during the zeroing at Halmstad University in the fall of 1991. Back then, the two planned to start companies right after graduation. Three years later, they started developing products together and waiting to find their solid product idea to build and start with.

As fate dictated upon, it wasn't long before they found their idea, partly by chance. Staffan uttered that they just happened to be in the right place and at the right time. The challenge started with mixing sea sand with different binders to find the result they wanted.

After several tests of mediocre quality, they found the right mix. They created a material with the same moldable properties as wet sand. Stuck with the benefits that it held together, tolerated being moved, and neither dried out nor degraded. This is the beginning of Delta Sand.

Soon a collaboration began there and Jonas and Staffan were in charge of the production and Betapedagog for the sale. The consulting business was laid on ice. They had found their product idea. It became a success at international fair and they had the opportunity to exhibit at the world's largest toy fair, as new entrepreneurs.

The idea they started is now fully developed to a malleable play material, which could be used for educational purposes with a wet sand feel and look that bind together.

Finally, it was officially launched and they even hired a sand sculptor that created great works in the booth and it was a success. Delta sand was something new, says Staffan. And the toy industry loves new and innovative toys.

The orders started coming in from Europe, then to North America and Asia. After having signed agreements with distributors in several countries, they built up production in Sweden.

After ten years of educational foundation, the following ten years became educational. They already had steady sales of SEK 4-5 million per year but it did not put the owner duo to rest. In addition to developing the range, they also asked how the business could become better.

They opted for a new strategy, which was launched in 2005 and involved one
breakpoint. Instead of selling in their name, they chose to become a subcontractor to various licensees. Largest was the Canadian giant Spin Master and as a result of their advertising campaigns around the world.

Another milestone happened that year. American Jeffrey Barnett came across a Swedish product called Deltasand, which felt like wet sand but was completely dry. The fine-motor skill potential of playing with Deltasand got Barnett thinking about its potential to help children with problem-solving skills, and it also could be used by occupational therapists working with children with special needs.

Barnett, who then was developing a way to help engage children, was intrigued by the Swedish company but thought chances were small that he would stand a chance as he was just starting with his business to get off the ground. As the universe was on his side, he had an encounter with Jonas Modell, the inventor of Deltasand, while waiting for an elevator in New Orleans. It was one lucky day for him that led to one thing to another, and that changed everything. Barnett helped start Delta of North America, LLC.

A year after,  Barnett met David McCloskey at an occupational therapy conference in Colorado. McCloskey, who then was in a turning point in his life with a career change, had begun a toy company that focused on building and construction sets. The two became fast friends and decided to work together in 2003 to start WABA Fun. Before long, the company became known for Kinetic Sand and Superstructs, cool building sets for children 3 and older.

These days, Relevant Play regularly sees its toys appear on must-have or specialty lists, and the company’s offerings are embraced by the special needs community.

And kids in the United States and more than 50 other countries are part of countless hours of fun.

Delta sales to SEK 32 million in 2006 and SEK 87 million in 2007. Locally in Halmstad, it meant new hires and full speed in production. A new partner and wider assortment were made and Staffan's brother Krister came and entered as co-owner in 2010. With his background as a physical chemist, he both broadened the competence of the company and helped to expand the product portfolio.

In 2014, the products were sold in the Spin Masters Kinetic Sand range more than the dolls in the Barbie range which was popular in Japan. It was a huge success.

The owner trio has around 30 employees, most of whom work at the newly expanded facility in Halmstad. From here, everything is taken care of product development and sales to administration and production.

Known as kinetic sand now, it’s larger than Barbie in Japan today as it was back in 2014. Delta's products are found everywhere. North America is the largest, but they are found on all continents and also on unexpected places like Greenland and Saudi Arabia and more than 50 other countries are part of countless hours of fun.

Today, Kinetic Sand is a toy trademarked and produced by Spin Master Ltd.

As they say, and the rest is history!

After Thoughts

What started as a dream for Jonas Modell and Staffan Thuresson is now a certified hit in the toy industry.

Until this very day, the duo hasn’t stopped developing new materials with different properties, all to give customers ideas for re-launches and betterment of their products.

The magic continues with the makeup of the material about 98% of a filler such as sand. The other 2% is Chemistry of binder, paint, and added particles that glitter or magic, as their advertisement says.

The movers and makers of kinetic sand cannot stop growing, as it seems. The three partners consider the future with confidence: We like what we do and each other. And we have fun. Then learn even the rest dissolve.

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