COMMENTARY: Not Your Average R/C Toys

Give a child a R/C controller, and he or she will be occupied for hours, steering or flying whatever device it is around the room or outside. Give a child an iPhone and chances are your contacts will end up being deleted, you’ll be left with 350 pictures of the inside of your little boy or girl’s mouth, and your phone will soon self destruct—but, that’s about to change.

There’s no denying that it’s now essentially encrypted in children’s nature to be intrigued by new technology at increasingly younger ages—and let’s face it, most of the time they get the hang of it a lot quicker than adults. But instead of parents discouraging their children from toying around with iPhones, iPads, and tablets (because they’re of course not toys, they’re high-tech adult equipment that are soo not used for playing Candy Crush), they can instead support a productive way to use such devices with these awesome toys.

I was first introduced to Orbotix’s Sphero 2.0 when someone in the office put it on my desk and said, “Here, play with this.” I looked at the box a little confused wondering what it was, and as I starSP0SPHERO003ted to read the instructions (very helpful to figuring out how toys work), I realized that this was, hands down, one of the coolest toys I’ve ever played with. It’s simply a ball, not a fancy monster truck with huge wheels and the ability to smash into the wall, crumble into pieces, and put itself back together all while singing jingle bells—or something like that. But, it’s a robotic ball with an engine and it’s really, really fast and controlled by your phone. You just download the Sphero app on your iPhone, iPad, iTouch, or android device and using a Bluetooth connection your device transforms into a control that propels Sphero at speeds up to seven feet per second across the room and off ramps. The driving accuracy really impressed me because I do tend to be a little spazzy with toys like these, but it was actually easy to maneuver the toy around bends and turns and what not. Sphero 2.0 also lights up in a variety of neon colors which looks as spectacular as it is to play. There are also a ton of other apps available to engage Sphero in a variety of games. [Read more...]

LeapFrog Unveils New LeapFrog Learning Path App

LeapfrogLearningPathLeapFrog Enterprises Inc. has launched its new LeapFrog Learning Path. LeapFrog’s Learning Path is designed specifically to help support and guide their child’s learning with personalized ideas and feedback, fun activities, and expert advice. Developed in collaboration with LeapFrog’s in-house team of learning experts, the new Learning Path is available as a downloadable app for iPhoneiPad and iPod touch, a weekly newsletter, and a web resource.

The LeapFrog Learning Path provides a unique set of features that parents will use to help their child reach his or her potential:

  • Personalized learning ideas to help a child grow:Learning Pathgives parents access to hundreds of activities, learning tips, videos, printables, and more.
  • Share and discuss hot topics with other parents: Parents can join conversations with other parents, ask and answer questions, and get direct advice from teachers and LeapFrog’s team of learning experts. They can also share photos and achievements to celebrate their child’s progress.
  • Track progress and follow a child’s developing skills: As their child plays with a LeapFrog-connected product including LeapFrog’s learning library, parents will receive weekly updates on their child’s progress. This allows parents to share in their child’s success and identify and get additional support in areas where a child may need extra practice.

 

Fingerprint Unearths New Get Rocky App

getrockyFingerprint has released an immersive science and adventure app for kids ages 6 to 12, Get Rocky. This tilt-and-slide trek follows Digger as he glides, spins, and battles his way to the center of the Earth to find his son, Rocky, a young mole with a knack for trouble. As the journey heats up, players uncover scientific facts about geology.

Get Rocky is a geology-packed quest that plunges players into an underground world gleaming with rocks, minerals and scientific facts they can really dig. Get Rocky has 30 animated game leves and six layers of geologic learning in the race to find Rocky. The app also includes 18 Get Rocky comic book movies with real science facts about the journey, 12 key rocks and minerals to collect for the Get Rocky Collection with more coming soon, 20 subterranean enemies to defeat, including centipedes, goblins, and magma men; 15 power-ups, boosts, and ugrades to earn or purchase, including the laser, jackhammer, and dino suit. The app is available exclusively on the Fingerprint network for iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch.

Disney Infinity Debuts at Toys “R” Us Stores Nationwide

disney-infinity-figurinesToys “R” Us stores and Toysrus.com officially launched Disney Infinity on August 18. Disney Interactive’s new video game platform will be available on the Xbox 360 system, the PlayStation 3, Nintendo 3DS, Wii, Wii U, and iPad. The game integrates collectible figures featuring characters from The Walt Disney Company and Pixar Animation Studios with a video game experience that allows the characters to interact together—for the first time ever. In the U.S., the Infinite Crystal Series figures will only be available at Toys “R” Us. The figures are an assortment of collectible figures that have enhanced in-game abilities, as well as power discs that unlock special in-game powers, gadgets, vehicles, and more.

Each Disney Infinity character figure will come to life and play together in a virtual Toy Box. In this mode, players can build and customize their own virtual world using their favorite characters, vehicles, settings, and accessories. The game also includes a Play Set mode, a story-driven experience that allows players to solve puzzles, battle enemies, and explore locations from Disney properties.

Disney Infinity launched with an initial line of 18 collectible interactive figures and 21 Power Discs, including those found only at Toys “R” Us. Toys “R” Us will offer the largest assortment of Disney Infinity products available, which includes the Lighting McQueen Infinite Crystal Series figure, and Mike’s Car Power Disc (Monster’s Inc.).

Disney Interactive Releases Two New Infinity Mobile Apps

DisneyInfinityDisney Interactive has unveiled two new Disney Infinity mobile apps, Disney Infinity: Action! and Disney Infinity: Toy Box, which will provide connected extensions of the console  experience. The Disney Infinity: Toy Box app allows players to build and edit new worlds from the Disney Infinity Toy Box mode on their iPad. Players can also transfer any Toy Box creation between their iPad and console, and play with Mr. Incredible for free. Disney Infinity: Toy Box will be available for free for the iPad in the coming weeks.

Disney Infinity: Action! will be available for free on iTunes and in the Windows Store on August 15. It will be available for the Google Play Store soon. Features of the app include the ability to discover unique animations and use them in the Movie Maker so kids can create their own movies. Kids can from a high caliber cast of characters, including Mr. Incredible, Sulley, and Jack Sparrow, and more than 30 animations to use in videos sword fighting with Jack Sparrow and scaring a friend with Sulley and share the movies by posting to Facebook or YouTube.

Blitz Games Teams Up with DreamWorks for Shrek Alarm App

shrek-alarmBlitz Games debuts the release of DreamWorks’ Shrek Alarm, the first in a series of interactive character apps co-produced with DreamWorks Animation. This app is available now on iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, and all Android devices.

Designed for Shrek fans of all ages, DreamWorks’ Shrek Alarm features full alarm clock functionality, day and nighttime modes, and a bedtime feature, which allows you to decide when Shrek falls asleep. In addition, DreamWorks’ Shrek Alarm features access to your music library so you can wake up and go to sleep with your favorite songs, Facebook integration, a world clock, a flashlight, a timer, a stop watch and an interactive weather feature with your five-day forecast.

DreamWorks’ Shrek Alarm is available now worldwide from the App Store and Google Play.

 

My Beastly ABC’s Now Available for iPhone

gI_130197_title_treatment_007-IG_csDuncan Studio has released its popular storybook app, My Beastly ABC’s, for the iPhone. Previously available only on the iPad, My Beastly ABC’s has been highly rated and ranked as one of the top ten iPad apps for kids.

Through the use of interactive animation and an imaginative plot, My Beastly ABC’s tells the story of a young boy as he encounters mythical creatures from around the world. Each page is filled with artwork and invites readers to interact with characters from the scene. Narrated by actor Jim Dale, of Harry Potter audio book fame, the app is an experience that the entire family will appreciate.

My Beastly ABC’s encourages children to strengthen their reading skills with the read-aloud feature while also learning a positive way to confront everyday apprehension. Additionally, the app includes an index where kids can find more information about each of the creatures within the story. My Beastly ABC’s for both iPad and iPhone is now available in the App Store on the iPhone and iPad or on iTunes.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Launches Curious George’s Town App

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt debuts Curious George’s Town for iPad and iPhone. Developed for preschool- to kindergarten-aged children, Curious George’s Town teaches smart saving and spending habits while engaging kids in creating a virtual world complete with roller coasters, dinosaurs, and farm animals, as well as neighborhood staples such as the pet store, bakery, and fire station.

The app features a unique reward chart that parents and caregivers can customize by assigning a specific coin value to a list of real-world tasks—such as cleaning up toys—incentivizing children to complete real-life responsibilities. Kids can also supplement their stockpile of virtual savings by tackling in-app educational games.

Curious George’s Town from HMH Kids on Vimeo.

Mike the Knight Trains Knights in New App Pack

MiketheknightHit Entertainment and Funny Garbage Inc., an app design firm, launched the Mike the Knight: Knight in Training Game Pack for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. With six interactive games in one, the Mike the Knight Game Pack invites and transports young knights-in-training into an imaginative world of castles, dragons, and trolls.

Mike the Knight: Knight in Training Game Pack features everyone’s favorite young hero and includes Jam Tart Fling, Fruit Shoot, Paint the Castle, Jigsaw Jumble, Seek & Find, and Match Mission. This game app features fun missions for children to practice their archery skills, learn shapes and colors, unlock different puzzles, search for hidden objects, and match their favorite characters from memory, while developing children’s cognitive skills and hand-eye coordination. The game’s easy and hard modes welcome all children to play.

The app can be downloaded at the following links for the U.S. and for the UK.

 

COMMENTARY: Here We Go A-Travelin’

Summer time means vacations, trips to Grandma’s, sleepovers with friends, and plenty of other activities that keep parents and their kids on the  move. On long car trips, plane rides, or any sort of day away from home, it’s good to have toys to bring along to keep kids entertained. It’s important to have toys that kids can play with en route, as well as upon arriving at the destination, without overpacking the car.

Avoid constant complaints of “Are we there yet?” or “How much longer?” with a few of these fun on-the-go toys.

3artsee_studio_mainThe ArtSee Studio, from WowWee, turns an iPad into a creation station. Kids can turn simple drawings and paintings into animated games, activities, and more. Using the interactive tools, kids can quickly make a blank canvas explode with color, sound, and movement. The studio allows kids to explore creativity while dabbling in technology all at the same time. The ArtSee Studio is for kids ages 3 and up.

aquadoodle_travel_doodleWith the Aquadoodle Travel Doodle, from Spin Master, kids can turn a road trip into creative fun. By simply adding water, little artists can create fun-filled, no-mess drawings on the go. The Aquadoodle Travel Doodle pen draws in red or blue ink, never makes a mess, and never runs out. Bumpy car rides can be hazardous with other drawing tools, but the Travel Doodle leaves no trace behind. This soft, portable drawing toy allows kids to create on the go. [Read more...]