Animal Rubber Bands were designed by Haneda & Ohashi of Passkey Design in Tokyo in 2002. They were awarded Best Design for 2003 at the Japanese National Competition; the Toyota Prius had won the previous year. "Ours are the original animal rubber bands and come in three styles: pet, zoo and dino," said Carol Shapanka of Eastern Accent International. " They're made of silicone and produced and packaged in Japan. Japanese products are produced under strict standards. Factory conditions and the welfare of the workers is just as important as the products coming out of the factory.” The boxed set comes with 24 pieces in a sturdy snap box. The cards have one of each of the pet, zoo or dino animals. Launch date for Animal Rubber Bands: 2002. Launch date for Dinos: 2007. — TDmonthly Magazine first reported on Animal Rubber Bands by Eastern Accent on July 27, 2005; one store manager compared their popularity to that of Ty's Beanie Babies. They had also been featured in a 2002 New York Magazine "Best Bets" article.
These brightly-colored silicone bands work like ordinary rubber bands when stretched, but revert to giraffes, rhinos, kangaroos, elephants, ostriches and hippos when relaxed. The work of Japanese designers Yumiko Ohashi and Masanori Haneda, whose mission is to endow longevity on disposable items, the bands are one of the hottest items for little girls at The Purple Bear in Guilford, Conn. Kids collect them and share them with friends. "It´s like the Beanie Babies," declared Jeanne Orlando, store manager. "They´re very, very popular. They´re a big hit with little kids," said Chris Kline, sales associate of the Museum of Modern Art´s Design Store in New York City. They also sell very well at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art´s store. Most toy stores aren´t carrying them yet, but they´re not only popular with Tween girls at Learning Express stores, but are "picking up," said senior buyer Sandie Pardiso. Twenty-four animals come in each box. They´re also available as a Pets line and on a card with six animals. Editor's Note: Animal Rubber Bands became a hot fad across the country in 2009. TDmonthly first reported on their potential as a top-seller in 2005. Launch date: 2002.