Ruling for Drone Registration Requirement Reversed

toy association logoA U.S. appeals court reversed a ruling that requires owners of recreational drones to register aircrafts that weigh more than 0.5 pounds with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), according to The Toy Association.

With the reversal, users of toy drones no longer have to register their aircrafts with the FAA, and manufacturers of toy drones no longer need to tell purchasers that FAA registration is required with the purchase of their drone. [Read more...]

Odyssey Toys Partners with Petra for Product Distribution

odysseytoys copyOdyssey Toys signed a deal with Petra this month to distribute its complete line of consumer electronics toys, such as drones and educational augmented reality games. Petra will work to increase distribution at online retailers and independent brick and mortar stores around the U.S. [Read more...]

Flying High-Tech

Toy Drones Fly to New Heights

Although it seems like they’re becoming commonplace in the R/C aisle, the concept of a flying R/C is actually still quite novel in the category. The progression from ground R/C to difficult-to-fly helicopters to slightly more stable quadcopters led us to where we are now: within constant search of how to make this still-challenging play pattern more fun.

Truthfully, a company could add lots of bells and whistles into a drone, but that still doesn’t mean a consumer will pick it up off the shelf. Since flying an R/C tends to be more difficult than controlling one on the ground, there is already an initial reluctance for a consumer to purchase a drone.

However, with new features added in to promote user accessibility and easier-to-use controls, such as one-touch stunts; auto-launch, -land, and –hover; and more durable bodies, drone companies are looking for ways to add to the user experience and make it less intimidating for beginners, but still fun for more advanced fliers.

Skyrocket_SkyViperGPS

Skyrocket Toys’ Sky Viper V2700 GPS

“With a drone, you’re still having to manage height and altitude with all that, so it just becomes that using two thumbs at the same time is definitely more of a challenging thing than using one thumb,” says Jared Wolfson, senior vice president of marketing, licensing, and entertainment at Skyrocket Toys.

And now that most companies are incorporating a lot of flight assist features that allow users to concentrate less on the complicated maneuvering and more on the in-flight experience, they’re starting to delve further into more advanced technology, just like the high-tech features that are found in hobby and professional grade drones.

The biggest challenge for companies competing in the drone category of R/C toys is to figure out how to balance all of the high-tech features with a price point that is reasonable for consumers. “The challenge we’ve had out there in the past is that the new technology costs a lot of money and in order to kind of cheat that technology, people have really scaled down the benefit that you get from it and it just really hasn’t had a good pay off,” says Wolfson. Skyrocket, like other companies in this toy space, is blending the real-life technology and still giving consumers the lower price point they’re looking for, meaning: Drones are becoming much more than just “a flying R/C toy.”

GPS & GEOFENCING

Wolfson says that the company combats issues of high-end technology versus consumer-approved price points by building Skyrocket’s hardware and software at the same time. Using the same Cleanflight system that is very familiar to drone enthusiasts and professionals, Skyrocket is able to map out exactly what they want to build and integrate it all at the same time, instead of having to go back and overcorrect any issues.

By building the hardware and the software at the same time, we get ahead of issues such as where you’ve got a really expensive GPS module, but it doesn’t necessarily work with the other parts. Then you have to add other costs to get it to properly work,” says Woflson. “We’ve layered that all in at the beginning. We know what we want to achieve, and we cost-effectively, yet very meaningfully, implement it all together at the same time.”

One of Skyrocket’s newest products in its Sky Viper line, the v2700 GPS, features built-in GPS technology that battles two major issues for quadcopter pilots, especially beginners: controllability and fly away. The GPS allows the drone to know where the controller is in relation to the drone itself, so it adds in new safety capabilities, such as geofencing. With this new feature, users can draw a zone around themselves and their drone, and the drone won’t fly outside of that virtual fenced-in area.

Additionally, it offers the ability to add in a one-touch return to home button. “The flight range on the GPS drone right now is about 2,000 feet, which is a big distance. So if you have it out on the far end of that range, it’s harder to see,” explains Wolfson.” With a one-touch button that returns to home, you can press that button and because it knows where it is in relation to you, it’ll fly all the way back to where you are and land.”

ToyState_NikkoAirRaceVision

Nikko Air Race Vision, from Toy State

FPV DRONE RACING

There is nothing trendier in the world of drones than drone racing, and thanks to partnerships with professional leagues like the Drone Racing League (DRL), companies such as Toy State can bring the drone racing experience right into consumers’ homes.

Toy State’s Nikko line will introduce the official DRL-licensed Nikko Air Race Vision 220 FPV Pro drone, which gives users a first-person view (FPV) in real time.

“With the technology we’re bringing, you’re seeing a real-time view of what that camera on the front of the drone is seeing, so you can have that traditional racing experience, just like the professional pilots that you see in the DRL events,” says Andy Friess, president of Toy State.

With very little competition on the market, this FPV drone uses a 5.8 GHz connection with the camera, so there is no delay between the drone and the FPV goggles.

In addition to providing a realistic racing experience, DRL will also feature Nikko Air exclusive courses on its flight simulator, allowing users to practice their piloting virtually in between being able to take their drone out for a spin.

“It’s one of those really neat twists in this type of product that you do have that virtual playground where you can go and practice and do all the things that you would be doing outside, just on your computer instead of out in the open air, which gives you a lot more practice time,” says Friess.

NKOK's Battle Quadcopters

NKOK’s Battle Quadcopters

LASER TAG & GAMING DRONES

NKOK figured out a way to take a technology that they already use in their line of toys—laser tag—and incorporate it into flight. Using an infrared connection that allows the drones to engage and interact with each other, NKOK’s Battlecopters turn flying drones into a multiplayer experience.

“That’s the biggest development. It’s no longer one person at a time doing their own thing, it’s expandable infinitely,” says NKOK designer Kevin Greene. “You could fill up an auditorium with a hundred of these if you had them and everyone would be able to be engaged. It’s the next evolution of drones where more than one person is not only flying at the same time, but interacting.”

The Battlecopters feature three levels of piloting difficulty, allowing them to be more accessible to a wider range of fliers. Players are challenged to fire their laser at the other drones. Each time a drone is hit, the controller unleashes vibrations and sound effects, and the drone does an aerial maneuver. On the third hit, it descends and must be repowered up to rejoin the battle.

The addition of laser tag ability expands the R/C play pattern to a social—as well as competitive—experience for the pilots.

As far as what’s next, we know that as an ever-surprising and developing category, flying R/C will never cease to go above and beyond our expectations.

“In these technology-based toys, you never truly know all the frontiers that are going to come next, which is exactly the exciting part of this type of category,” says Friess. “There are so many things in the flying space that are virtually untapped. If people just keep an eye on it, they’re going to be excited with what they see coming out over the next couple of years.” »

Game of Drones

Drones compete to be top dog in the R/C aisle by adding extra features, gaming, and more.

Winter is coming—well, at least for the toy industry, which is constantly looking forward to Q4—and toy manufacturers are always competing to provide the best products at the best price.

Last year, we saw an influx of drones hit the market. A lot of companies were jumping on the trend, from traditional R/C companies to newcomers to the game that were importing in unknown brands. Retail shelves and online retailers were flooded with a variety of drones, making it a bit of a struggle for consumers to sift through all the options to find the one that suited their needs. [Read more...]

Odyssey Toys IntroducesDrones, Virtual Reality, and more at NYTF

Odyssey Toys showcased its latest drones, virtual reality solutions, and flying machines at The North American International Toy Fair in New York City, including the Pocket Drone, Turbo Runner NX, and Galaxy Seeker II.

The Pocket Drone is the first collapsing video drone that is lightweight and can fit into user’s pockets. The size of an iPhone 6, this first generation version features collapsible blades that can be tucked neatly inside the unit for easy transport, along with a carry case and remote. With the built-in 720p High-Definition camera, users can capture video and pictures that save directly to the included 4GB Micro SD Card. The Pocket Drone features next-generation gyro technology, ensuring operation both indoors and outdoors with incredible stability, as well as 2.4 Ghz WiFi technology, USB charging, and LEDs for night flying.

The Turbo Runner NX, a miniature version of Odyssey Toys’ Sky Runner NX, is a master of all tricks. Mimicking a design that was developed in conjunction with the US Navy for a real life UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle), the Turbo Runner NX fears no trick thanks to its patented cage, which minimizes any force of impact.

The Galaxy Seeker II provides users with the completely new flying experience of a high-performance drone thanks to first-person view (FPV) video recording and virtual reality (VR) capabilities. The Galaxy Seeker II offers  agile, 360 degree maneuvering and a real-time 5.8 Ghz digital remote and high definition video feed. Through the Galaxy Seeker II’s VR phone app and included VR headset, users can record and save videos and images directly to the provided 4GB Micro SD card. With built-in Headless SmartFly technology, the Galaxy Seeker II is compatible with Google Cardboard, giving thrill seekers a 3-D video flying experience.

The Pocket Drone, Turbo Runner NX, and Galaxy Seeker II will be available this spring.

 

Consumer Drone Shipments to Exceed 90 Million Units, Generate $4.6 Billion in Revenue by 2025

ABI Research LogoThe consumer drone market continues to exhibit dramatic growth, according to ABI Research. The company predicts more than 90 million consumer unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) will ship during 2025, up from 4.9 million in 2014. Consumer drone revenues in 2025 are forecast to reach $4.6 billion. [Read more...]

Artificially Intelligent Dog, Drones Part of WowWee’s 2016 Product Line

WowWee is debuting its 2016 product line at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, from Jan. 6 to 9. The new line includes three artificially intelligent robotic play products: [Read more...]

FAA Publishes Interim Rule on Drone User Registration

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has published an interim rule regarding new online user registration system for recreational drones and unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), according to the Toy Industry Association (TIA). The FAA will seek public comments before issuing a final rule.  [Read more...]

Parrot Introduces New MiniDrones, Including LEGO-Compatible Model

Parrot Jumping Night (pic courtesy of Parrot)

Parrot Jumping Night (pic courtesy of Parrot)

As reported by The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) this week, Parrot has introduced five new smartphone-controlled MiniDrone toys, all based on the company’s Rolling Spider and Jumping Sumo models. According to WSJ’s Personal Tech News blog, all five are set to go on sale in the U.S. and France this September, with other countries to follow in the weeks after.

[Read more...]

GUEST COMMENTARY: International CES Explodes with Family-Friendly Tech

by Reyne Rice, toy trends analyst and consultant

Meccanoid G15 KS, from Spin Master

During the first week of January, International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2015 unveiled the latest consumer electronics innovations. Kids, families, and educators were among the target audiences for this new world of technology, which extended across all exhibitor areas. Here are some of the family tech-focused highlights from the show: [Read more...]