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Brief Published: 2 Sep 2014

Science Vending

Nature Technicolour's Plant Tissue edition

Nature Technicolour, a Japanese company that makes lifelike, nature-related toys, has created booklets of microscope-slide images that can be dispensed by vending machines to help children learn.

The company's latest collection includes eight booklets of transparent slide images, featuring animal and plant tissues, as well as pathogens and diseased cells, annotated with scientific names in Roman and Japanese script.

The series became a big hit on Twitter, where fans began searching desperately for swaps to complete their collections – toy-vending machines (or 'Gashapon', as they are known in Japan) issue products at random. Its popularity confirms the widening consumer appeal of science, as explored in Science & The New Consumer Curiosity.

Vending machines have long been popular in Japan, but they are enjoying a global resurgence thanks to innovations taking them far beyond their traditional offerings of plastic toys and unhealthy snacks, towards luxury goods and even DNA. See Vend: New Generation Retail Automation and Future Food Vending for more.