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INTERACTIVITY and TOYS - Reprinted from Young Consumer, 2008
Interactive toys, games and other kid, tween and teen targeting
products and programs – especially those that employ tech as
part of the mix - are rising to the top of every young person’s
In the toy category, for example, Walmart’s top
toys in a recent year are an indication of a typical toy
category mix and what might be expected in the future. You will
notice that 9 of 11 of them utilize electronics:
Little Mommy Real Loving Baby Doll : Cute infant
baby doll that recognizes her names, asks
for her bottle and plays peekaboo! Ages 3 to 7.
· Air Hogs Havoc
Heli Radio Controlled Helicopter
· Fisher Price
Smart Cycle Learning Game System.
Kids play games and ride a stationary bike too!
Ages 3 to 6.
Fisher Price Digital Camera, Pink &
· Littlest Pet
Shop Electronic Diary. Keep written
secrets locked inside this voice-activated,
electronic diary. Ages 6 and up.
RIPSTIK Castor Board,
skateboard/snowboard hybrid. Ages 8 and up.
· Are you
Smarter than a Fifth Grader? Game ages 8
Spider-Man 3 Action Command. Remote controlled
Spider-Man. Ages 6 and up.
Power Wheels Mustang Convertible Ride
On. Ages 3 and up.
Friends Kitty Cat. Lovable cat that comes to
life like a real pet! Ages 4 and up.
Power Tour Electric Guitar. Teaches kids
how to play guitar! Plug into a MP3 and play
to your favorite tunes! Ages 10 and up
With the exponential proliferation of technology a variety
of “tech toys” and other electronic devices have emerged to bite
into parents’ and kids, tweens and teens’ budgets. Cell phones,
music etc. devices such as the iPod, multi-function
communication devices, Portable devices with TV and Internet
functions, learning/play items such as Leapfrog and cameras such
as Fisher Price’s Kid Tough Digital Camera. Hasbro via its Tiger
Electronics division has released an array of tech items
specifically designed for tweens. For example, they have created
the VUGO portable multi-media system which allows
tech-savvy tweens to have access to their favorite TV shows,
music and photos all in one hand-held media system. They also
have the VCAM NOW, a pocket-sized digital video camera
specifically designed for tweens. It also takes still pictures.
ZOOMBOX is a portable and easy to use 3-in-1 entertainment
projector that will play DVDs, CDs and connects to most gaming
systems. VIDEONOW XP, is an interactive video system that
allows tweens to enjoy top rated programming and music videos as
well as play interactive games anytime, anywhere! The CHATNOW
Two-Way Radio Communicator is a modern day walkie talkie
that is a personal communicator, allowing users to be in touch
with their friends and family in up to a two-mile range without
paying for airtime or signing a calling plan contract.
are joining the tech parade targeting Tweens as well. Disney has
its Disney Flix digital video camera that comes with Disney
Director software. It allows young people to star in their own
Disney movies. They are also offering LCD TVs such as the
15-inch High School Musical model, resembling a locker.
Additionally, the cartoon-factory is offering Disney iPod
compatible speakers for use with an iPod. They feature alarm
clocks and AM/FM tuners. One is themed to Hanna Montana..Then of
course, there’s the highly interactive and physical Wii game
platform from Nintendo.
only the beginning. We will continue to see a proliferation of
interactive tech items with each passing year.
Forms of Interactivity
anyone interested in producing and marketing interactive items
to today’s young people, it would be important and useful to be
able to distinguish between the different types of
interactivity. At Youth Market Systems Consulting (ymsconsulting.com)
we have identified five distinct types of interactivity.
PASSIVE INTERACTIVITY: While this may seem like a misnomer –
“interactivity that is passive” – it’s not. In this type of
interactivity, young people typically just passively observe
what they have put into effect or motion. For example, a car
that they wind up then watch as it takes off, an electric train
set, or a dancing toy bear that dances at the touch of a button.
Slot car racing sets are another example.
CONTROLLED INTERACTIVITY: Remote controlled vehicles are a
solid example of this type of interactivity. The young person
guides the vehicle via a RC control device. Cars, boats, planes
and helicopters are good examples of the types of vehicles that
are controlled in this way. As robotic toys gain in popularity,
we will see more and more robo-tech products that are guided and
controlled by their young masters.
INTERACTIVE BUILDING: Any products that require the young user
to build or create something as he/she goes along could be
called “Interactive Building”. Lego and other building sets are
a prime example. The young person has to figure out,
problem-solve and create as they go along.
JOINING INTERACTIVITY: Often related to the type of activity
inherent in the above web worlds is what we call “Joining
Interactivity”. Anytime a young person officially joins a club
or other “group”, there is interactivity involved. We recently
consulted with a Norwegian company that has a very successful
“Pony Club” for girls. When a young Norwegian girl signs up for
the “Pony Club” she receives a package in the mail that includes
posters, books, toys, etc., all related to ponies. One’s ego
becomes involved with this type of activity and a sense of
“belonging” is psychologically inherent.
E: EGO-INVOLVED INTERACTIVITY:
With the proliferation of the web, we are seeing more and more
examples of opportunities for young people to involve their own
egos in different activities. Anytime a young person goes to a
website and creates their own iconic character or avatar, their
egos become involved within that activity. There is a good deal
of power involved when a person becomes – in an imaginative,
creative way – an actual character within a web world. There are
many examples of this including a new arrival: Zwinky.