Kids are so crazy for compounds that it seems like slime, sand, and dough have always been on store shelves. U.S. slime sales are multiplying by the millions, jumping from $7.3 million in 2016 to $72.4 million in 2017 to $228.5 million in 2018, according to the NPD Group. And it’s not just kids: Adults are getting in on the action, too, with enough versions of squishing slime, cutting sand, and scrunching foam to make anyone’s ASMR (more on that later) dreams come true. What was once confined to cold, green slime and a few primary colors of Play-Doh has now evolved into a fantastical world of rainbow colors, playful scents, and enough tactile stimulations to light up all of kids’ senses.

When it comes to compounds, Play-Doh is one of the classics, first launching on the toy market in the 1950s. “This year’s launch of Play-Doh Compounds is the first time in 60 years the brand has expanded beyond the classic ‘doh’ with the release of five new compounds to provide new, engaging ways to play with the classic brand,” says Kate Martino, senior director of global brand strategy and marketing at Hasbro.

Play-Doh’s new concoctions include regular Play-Doh Slime, which feels wet and gloopy; Play-Doh Slime Krackle, a stretchy slime with little balls inside that make it feel and sound crunchy; Play-Doh Slime Super Cloud, which has a silky, buttery texture; Play-Doh Foam, which feels like squishy, fluffy bubble gum; and Play-Doh Putty, which is firm and taffy-like. But why settle for one texture when you can have them all? Consumers can cover all of their bases with the Play-Doh Compound Corner, a variety pack including all of the above.

More is more when it comes to compounds, and manufacturers are getting more imaginative when it comes to new products. “The innovation in this category today versus five years ago is outstanding,” says Arlene Biran, Spin Master’s vice president of marketing and global business lead of activities and building toys. “There are more ways to play, more things to feel, and more combinations for kids to create.”

Spin Master makes Kinetic Sand, a squishy, moldable compound that is made with natural sand. The special formula makes the sand stick together and flow through your hands like a liquidy dough. This year, Spin Master will launch its first-ever Kinetic Sand Scents, pulling even more senses into playtime.

From toy reviews on YouTube to unboxing videos on Instagram, social media is a major influence when it comes to toy trends. Toy manufacturers are leveraging the way kids consume content online to create new toys — and new compounds. First, it was simple slime-squishing videos. Now, it’s all about using props with your slime and sand.

“The introduction of YouTube and social media have really changed the way we inspire kids,” Biran says. “There were so many people creating with sand and using their own tools from home that we decided to create our own kid-friendly product.”

Biran says that Spin Master leveraged the trends on YouTube and Instagram to create the Kinetic Sand Sandisfying Set, a kit that includes 2 pounds of Kinetic Sand; 10 tools to mold, shape, scoop, and grate the sand; and a contained play space with a video backdrop and a phone holder so kids can create their own videos to share online.

Compounds and their tactile nature lend themselves as perfect ASMR video content. If you’ve never heard of the ASMR video trend before, just search the hashtag on Instagram for more than 7.7 million posts. ASMR stands for autonomous sensory meridian response, and influencers are creating videos with relaxing sights and sounds amplified to create a calming yet tingling sensation in viewers. ASMR is triggered by things like whispering voices, crinkling paper, and squishing slime.

“The ASMR trend on social media helped kickstart the [slime] revolution,” says WeCool Toys CEO Jeff Osnato. WeCool Toys’ latest compound adds more dimension to traditional sliming — literally. Its 3D Goosh by Compound Kings has the squishing sensation and ASMR crackling noises, but it takes the ASMR experience a step further with a 3D element.

“It’s totally different than anything else we have produced in the past. It also comes with 3D glasses so kids will have a blast watching their slime pop and burst right in front of their eyes,” Osnato says. The 3D Goosh slime comes packaged in 3-pound buckets with chunky pompom mix-ins that kids can add.

Compounds are becoming more extravagant, turning tactile toys into a multisensory experience with surprise reveals, playsets, and more. “Gone are the days when parents and kids were content with rummaging through local party bins or vending machines for direct-from-factory slime products. They expect quality and value,” says Evan Buzzerio, chief marketing officer and executive partner of Horizon Group USA.

Horizon Group USA launched its DIY compound brand Slimygloop a few years ago with a full line of all-inclusive slime kits with all the fixings. “As tactile play evolved, we launched relevant brand extensions, such as Slimygloop Mix’Ems — a fun, textured, mess-free way to play with pre-made Slimygloop and themed mix-ins,” says Hiu Lee, senior executive vice president of Horizon Group USA. “We incorporate the hottest, most relevant trends into each of our Slimygloop brand products.” That includes customizable and themed kits featuring popular symbols, such as unicorns and Baby Shark.

Slimygloop Slimysand is a ready-to-play compound that molds like sand but stretches and expands like Slimygloop. Right now, consumers can purchase 3-pound bags of the compound or various playsets. The kits incorporate molds, rollers, and impression plates for more ways to play.

Whether kids are scrolling through videos of sparkling, sizzling slime or dunking their arms into massive buckets of goop, one thing’s for sure: All the new slime, sand, and foam will give anyone all the feels.


This article originally appeared in the December/January 2020 issue of the Toy Book.