Toy companies creating kid-friendly and parent-approved technology has been a trend for some time, with no signs of slowing down in sight. In the recent past, tablets such as the Kurio 7s and LeapFrog LeapPad Ultra dominated the kiddie-tech market with durable rubber casings, safe settings, and easy-to-set parental controls. Now, however, manufacturers are focusing on putting different devices in the hands and on the wrists of kids. [Read more...]
Techno Source, a division of LF Products (a Li & Fung company), and KD Interactive, a division of KD group have announced the Kurio Phone, a smartphone designed specifically for kids. The product will feature advanced parental controls and safety features as well as an Internet filtering system. The Kurio Phone will also include GPS tracking and phone use management by the parent.
The smartphone was introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Jan. 5. It will also be showcased daily at the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show in the Kids@Play TechZone in Las Vegas from Jan. 7 to 10. The Kurio Phone is expected to ship this spring.
Toys “R” Us Inc. will enhance product categories that have experienced sales growth over the past few years, such as education, tablets, and construction, as part of their 2013 holiday strategy.
This season, a dedicated Imaginarium shop will set in-store, and each store will have a whole aisle dedicated to new educational products, such as microscopes and telescopes from Edu Science and language-learning programs from Little Pim. Meanwhile, capitalizing on the growing construction category, the company will install a “Shop within a Store” in approximately 300 locations, showcasing construction brands such as Lego and Mega Bloks. The company will also feature approximately 70 Lego exclusives this holiday season, including Legends of Chima The Croc Swap Hideout and Star Wars Jedi Defender Class Cruiser.
After experiencing increases in sales of tablets and tablet accessories, Toys “R” Us will add easy-to-navigate 32-foot shops that will showcase 25 tablets that can be tested and engaged with by kids and parents. These shops are expected to set in the majority of Toys “R” Us locations by October. The company also has exclusive tablet products, such as the Kurio 10s by Techno Source and its recently announced tabeo e2, and will be launching a dedicated online tablet guide.
Finally, online shoppers can now place a “Buy Online, Pickup In Store,” order on toysrus.com and it will be ready for pickup in under an hour, and “Ship to Store” orders will now be available for pickup in five to 10 days. Later this fall, stores will be equipped with a secondary in-store pickup location, and “Ready for Pickup” emails that are sent to customers once their order is available will include a map of where the pickup location is positioned within the store.
It’s nearing September, which means the start of the 2013 to 2014 NFL season. Among the major American sports, professional football very easily rates near the top; however, unlike baseball or basketball, the NFL is only broadcast three days a week. This raises the question: What to do on those other days when the ol’ pigskin classic isn’t scheduled to be played? With a little help from the National Football League itself, we have your perfect solution: two officially-licensed NFL board games, plus one NFL video game super-sequel that just hit stores.
The first board game up is NFL Game Day from Fremont Die, in which two players (or two teams of players) take turns attempting to score points or stop the other team from scoring. The length of a football field is approximated on a neat magnetic board, and the game features magnetic pieces as well as cards for offensive, defensive, and special teams plays. For the most part, game play revolves around one side plunking down an offensive card, while the other side puts down a defensive card at the same time. Depending on which cards are played, the possibilities range from a five-yard gain to something much bigger, no gain to a huge loss in yardage, or even a turnover.
The game play mechanics are straightforward enough that even football novices can pick them up quickly; however, if you already fancy yourself an expert on football strategy, NFL Game Day has the bonus of effectively putting you in the head coach or offensive/defensive coordinator’s chair. At third-and-five, will you run for the first down, go for a short pass, or opt for the play-action? If you’re on the defensive side, do you play the pass or the run, or maybe even go for an all-out blitz?
A slightly different, but no less compelling football experience awaits NFL diehards and laypeople courtesy of NFL Rush Zone from Techno Source. Like NFL Game Day, it features a game board with customizable end zones for all 32 teams (and plastic uprights that don’t serve a practical purpose, but look pretty cool), but the game mechanics are dice-based rather than card-based. Each side rolls three dice representing a complete set of downs, but if the total of the defense’s dies is higher than the offense’s, it becomes fourth down and the latter must decide between punting, kicking a field goal, or going for the conversion.
If NFL Game Day represents the coach’s point-of-view, NFL Rush Zone is more like the spectator’s. The mechanics are such that despite being active participants, much of what happens on the field is left to chance; any series of downs can go really well or terribly wrong, and it’s difficult to strategize based on the random rolling of three die. Events will transpire as they will, and isn’t that exactly what watching an NFL game (or most any sporting event, for that matter) is like?
In the game I was playing, my hometown Miami Dolphins were marching on offense, but then my opponent (the Seattle Seahawks, for those who were wondering) got a defensive takeaway by rolling three of a kind. They subsequently scored a touchdown and won, at which point, like any true fan and viewer, I called for the Fins’ head coach to be fired and the team sold to parties based out of Los Angeles. Perhaps NFL Rush Zone represents football from the perspective of the team owner as well?
Actually, if any licensed NFL product lets users step into the luxury wing tips of their typical franchise owners, it’s most likely EA Sports‘ Madden NFL 25, the latest installment in the video game franchise. It arrived on August 27 for the Xbox One, Xbox 360, Playstation 4, and Playstation 3. New features include an “Owner Mode,” which lets gamers run the organization top to bottom, doing everything from selecting players to setting the prices of concessions, to upgrading the team’s stadium. It’s an intriguing form of escapism—running a corporation worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Meanwhile, Madden NFL 25 retains the more traditional game play mode in which users control avatars of their favorite players, and this time around, the simulated action has an unprecedented level of smoothness and detail.
With these licensed games, NFL fans should be able to get their fix well beyond the coming football season.
For more commentary from Phil, check back often. Views expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Toy Book as a whole. We hope that you will share your comments and feedback below. Until next time!
Techno Source introduces a new line of Kurio Android devices for families with kids: Kurio Touch 4s, a 4-inch handheld; Kurio 7s, a 7-inch tablet; and Kurio 10s, a 10-inch tablet, all available exclusively at Toys “R” Us stores nationwide and at Toysrus.com. The next-generation, Wi-Fi enabled devices will feature the latest technology, including an Android 4.2 operating system (Jellybean), a more comprehensive Kurio proprietary suite of parental controls, and preloaded free family-friendly content. Kurio Touch 4s, Kurio 7s, and Kurio 10s are available now for pre-order exclusively at www.Toysrus.com/Kurio.
Kurio has partnered with Disney to preload premium apps that feature kids’ favorite characters from Cars 2 to Disney Princess to The Avengers, and more. The Kurio tablets also feature an exclusive, complete pre-school through 6th grade learning system developed by award-winning American educator Mr. Nussbaum. [Read more...]
Consumers can turn their iPads into the 3-D coloring book of tomorrow with the striking new patent-pending 3-D coloring app that combines the latest in 3-D animation and augmented reality. TCKL Inc., has launched The Drip Drops: Color the World app, an interactive game designed to engage and entertain children between 2 and 6 years old. Based on The Drip Drops original digital pre-school property centered on art, color, reading, and creativity, the new app debuted at Consumer Electronics Show (CES) Showstoppers Media Preview on January 8. TCKL is also partnering with leading art and activity company Cra-Z-Art on The Drip Drops consumer products, which are expected to include a colorful roster of plush, art activities, and more. [Read more...]
Courtesy of Toy Industry Association
More than 700 buyers from around the world attended the Toy Industry Association’s Fall Toy Preview 2012 in Dallas. This is a 3 percent increase in total buyers who attended to look at the new toys and games for Holiday 2013. A 10 percent increase in foreign buyers was also noted. The top five foreign countries represented by buyers were Canada, the UK, Mexico, Australia, and Hong Kong. Roughly 348 companies exhibited their latest product lines, including Alexander Doll Company, American Plastic Toys, Famosa, Hape, Inc., Melissa and Doug, Playmobil, Ohio Art, Blip Toys, Safari Ltd., and Razor USA. In sponsorship with Techno Source and presented by Carlin West Agency/NFL Rush Zone, the opening night party for the event raised funds for the Toy Industry Foundation and allowed participants to meet with Dallas Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware.
Hit Entertainment has appointed Techno Source, a division of LF Products, as a toy licensee for Barney. Under the terms of the deal, the Barney toy range from Techno Source will include plush, play sets, and figurines, launching this spring in the U.S. and Canada.
Barney & Friends can be seen on PBS Kids and Sprout in the U.S., and on Treehouse TV in Canada. Episodes are also available for download through iTunes.