Skyrocket Toys, Marvel Partner for Spider-Man: Homecoming Drones

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Skyrocket Toys partnered with Marvel to reveal new, high-tech drones inspired by the upcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming film. Skyrocket Toys designed the functional replica of Spider-Man’s surveillance drone, complete with the free Spider-Drone app.

The Spider-Man Drone will be available exclusively at Walmart on June 4. Additionally, the Spider-Man Streaming Video Spider-Drone, will be available exclusively at Toys “R” Us on July 1.

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.

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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.”

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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.” »

Skyrocket Toys Forms New Media Division

Skyrocket.Jared WolfsonSkyrocket Toys has appointed kids and family entertainment executive and producer Jared Wolfson to lead the company’s newly formed media division, which will create original content for multi-media platforms in conjunction with the company’s toy and consumer products brands.

Skyrocket will develop original content for digital and broadcast platforms with a corresponding line of toys and ancillary products, and plans to launch their first property with a toy line in 2018. As senior vice president of the company’s media division, Wolfson will be responsible for developing, launching, and managing Skyrocket’s portfolio of integrated entertainment properties in coordination with the company’s toy and consumer products businesses. [Read more…]

Toys “R” Us Awards Skyrocket Toys with Vendor of the Year Award

skyrocketToys “R” Us has awarded  Skyrocket Toys the Vendor of the Year award for the company’s strategic partnership and innovative product offerings for 2015. “Vender of the Year Award” is given annually to business partners who show loyalty, commitment, and dedication.

The New Flavor of Activity Toys

Mom was wrong: apparently, it’s more than OK to play with your food.

Since the inception of Kenner Toys’ Easy-Bake Oven in 1963, kids have been expressing their creativity in the kitchen by baking up miniature sweet treats. And while the Easy-Bake Oven is one of the most iconic toys ever made, inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame in 2006, new toys that let kids make and decorate real, edible foods are eating up shelf space like never before. [Read more…]

Toy Industry Unveils Nominees for 2015 Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards

TOTY2015logoToday, the Toy Industry Association (TIA) announced the 83 finalists for the prestigious 2015 Toy of the Year Awards (TOTY). Between now and January 11, toy consumers of all ages can visit www.toyawards.org to vote for their favorite toys, games, and properties across 12 categories.

The 2015 finalists were selected from more than 600 nominees submitted for consideration by 159 companies. Sixty academics, journalists, toy trend experts, play therapists, toy inventors and designers, and toy retailers staffed the nomination committees that narrowed the field to the slate of finalists.

Votes from mass retailers, specialty toy retailers, media, TIA members, and consumers will be weighted and used to determine each of the 12 category winners. The winners—including the overall Toy of the Year and the People’s Choice awards—will be announced at the TOTY Awards ceremony held on February 13, 2015 as the kick-off to the 112th North American International Toy Fair. [Read more…]

COMMENTARY: Something in the Air, or, How I Do Drone On

Unmanned aircraft, or drones, have been in the news a lot recently. This past Tuesday, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) ruled that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has the authority to regulate drones, and can fine those who fly them recklessly.

DJI.InspireMeanwhile, a recent article in The Wall Street Journal profiled a Chinese company called SZ DJI Technology Co., which has created a new commercial drone armed with a high definition camera, among other bells and whistles. From the video footage I watched, what struck me was that the drone only weighs two pounds, and looks a lot like the R/C flyer toys that constantly make their way through The Toy Book offices.

According to the aforementioned NTSB ruling, drones are legally aircraft. So in the eyes of the federal government, they aren’t toys, despite the groundswell of drone hobbyists popping up in places like Chicago, and despite the fact that one can see a clear trail of evolution between these controversial machines and less notorious R/C toys. [Read more…]

The Toy Insider and Woman’s Day Magazine Launch New Video Series

WomansDayVideoThe first entry in The Toy Insider‘s newest Fun with Kids video series launched this week at Woman’s Day. The latest video can be found on the Woman’s Day site’s front page, and the series will run for the next five weeks leading up to the holidays, reaching the site’s 3.9 million unique monthly visitors (Note: The Toy Insider is published by Adventure Publishing Group, which also owns The Toy Book).

In “Toys in Motion,” Toy Insider Mom Laurie Schacht and Woman’s Day‘s Senior Editor Taryn Mohrman show off this season’s hottest toys that race, fly, and ride. Products shown in the video include: The Rockin’ Rider Patriot Rocking Horse, from Tek Nek Toys; the Air Storm Firetek Bow, from Zing; the Planes Fire and Rescue U-Command Dusty, from Thinkway Toys; the Hot Wheels Street Hawk, from Mattel; the Heli Beast, from Silverlit; the Sky Viper Camera Drone, from Skyrocket Toys; the Hot Wheels High Jump Frenzy, from Toy State; the Extreme Beast, from Maisto; the Y Flicker Lift, from Yvolution; and the PowerRider 360, from Razor.

COMMENTARY: Skyrocket Toys Lights Up R/C Aisle

As I wandered the R/C aisles at Toy Fair this year, I noticed the hobby-grade trends trickling down into mass market toys. R/Cs were starting to become more focused on flying, instead of only ground transportation. Toy companies were trying to discover how to make quality products, such as those found at the hobby grade level, at a price point that was affordable for toy shelves. And the result is tons of cool R/C products that are unlike anything we’ve seen in this category before.

One of the stand-out companies I saw, and then had the chance to meet with later, was Skyrocket Toys. Skyrocket has three new major R/Cs coming out for this holiday season, and I think they exemplify the movement to increase the quality of product at an affordable price point.

SkyViperQuadCopter_SkyrocketToysThe Sky Viper QuadCopter follows one of the hottest trends in R/C right now—four-blade copters. With hobby-grade precision and computer-controlled, six-axis gyro and accelerometer stabiliazation, the 16-inch Sky Viper is constructed for indoor and outdoor use. The Sky Viper features a foam body and carbon fiber frame that make it lightweight, but still sturdy as it performs stunts with one touch. The 2.4 GHz remote operates the copter with knob that has three different difficulties, so it can be used by flyers ages 12 and up at all skill levels. The rechargeable lithium plymer batter and fast-charging A/C adapter are included. [Read more…]