December 2006 | Vol. V - No. 12
Kidults Grow Younger
Will Portable Flash Drives Replace Pacifiers?
“Since electronics have permeated everyday life, today’s tech-savvy kids want to ‘play with’ their very own MP3 players, digital cameras and even cell phones,” explained Mike Sullivan, marketing manager for Fisher-Price, which debuted its Kid-Tough electronics line for preschoolers this year.
Becky Mitchell, a mother of three in Woodbridge, Va., encounters the hype firsthand. Last year, her son Austin and daughter, Lauren, 13 and 10, began asking, “Can I get a cell phone? All my friends at school have a cell phone.”
Austin received an MP3 player, but his dad, Robert, acknowledged the downside to kids’ electronics: “It's a never-ending stream of what can be fairly expensive entertainment products.”
With the Disney Pix line of cameras, though, Digital Blue offers “cameras at an affordable price point,” said vice president of marketing Julie Gibbons. The products offer flexibility, too, as kids can take quick photos or use the editing software for hours. The Discovery Digital Camera Watch and Kutoka (Gift Guide) Digital Camera are also outfitted with software.
Some companies are just getting started with kidult products, and others, such as Digital Blue and Sakar International Inc., plan to launch new camera versions in the first quarter of 2007. So look for trend growth as we move into next year and beyond.
What follows is a list of some electronic products that fall under the expanding kidult umbrella:
A computer device cleverly disguised as a monster, these limited-edition designer flash drives make collecting data ultra-chic. All mimobots have their own personalities and hobbies. They come in well-designed, attractive packaging along with some fun stuff, such as wallpapers, already stored on the drive. Compatible with Mac and Windows, mimobots come in 256MB, 512MB, 1GB, 2GB and 4GB versions ($44.95, $54.95, $79.95, $119.95 and $169.96, respectively). “You’re getting a piece of art and … something that’s loaded with content,” Evan Blaustein, founder and CEO of mimoco, told TDmonthly. And mimobots are not easily misplaced. “A lot of people lose their flash drives,” he said, but “this is your flash drive and it’s your little friend.”
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9461 (added 9/22/2006)
This preschool-appropriate digital camera boasts a durable drop-resistant design, a rubberized outer shell, a 1.3” backlit color LCD screen, dual handle grips, two-eye viewing and auto flash. Features include 640 x 480 resolution, memory for more than 50 pictures, an SD card slot, software and more. It requires 4 AA batteries (not included). “Our motivation for product development is always grounded in a consumer need or want,” marketing manager for Fisher-Price Mike Sullivan told TDmonthly. “In this case, it’s 'durable and easy-to-use' preschool electronics. Since preschoolers may drop their toys, we wanted to develop an electronics line that would be tough enough for them to use.” Launch Date: July 2006.
— Steve Levy, owner of Toy City in Keene, N.H., got a lot of requests for the Fisher-Price digital cameras, “which I should have bought,” he said.
— Kidult products continue to grow in popularity, attracting ever younger fans. (VIEW ARTICLE)
— The Kid-Tough Digital Camera made the top-25 best-selling electronics toys for kids on Amazon.com as of December 28, 2006.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9930 (added 11/3/2006)
Preschoolers can be-bop all day long with this digital media player — the first to provide a durable, easy way for youngsters to play downloadable songs and stories. It comes preloaded, but parents can add more files from their own collection or Fisher-Price Song & Story Online Store. The drop-resistant player features a 1.4” LCD screen, an SD card slot, software and more. It requires 2 AA batteries (not included). “We'll continue to develop a variety of toys to answer changing trends that will ultimately help spark imagination and enhance role-play fun,” Mike Sullivan, Fisher-Price marketing manager, shared with TDmonthly. Launch Date: July 2006.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9931 (added 11/3/2006)
This is the only digital camera officially licensed for the smash hit American Idol series. The mini camera measures a tiny 2.25" x 1.5" but comes equipped with enough memory (16 MB of SD RAM) to store up to 80 pictures, plus photo-editing software. Julie Gibbons, vice president of marketing at Digital Blue, said “the software is very inherently easy to use,” so that 6- to 11-year-olds get past the basic functions quickly and find new things to do. The company plans to release a refreshed version of the camera, with a more rounded shape and a different color by February 2007, she told TDmonthly.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7896 (added 5/19/2006)
This exclusive line includes the Disney Pix Micro Digital Camera, with 24-photo storage capacity; the Disney Pix Click Digital Camera, with 1” color LCD screen, 200-photo storage capacity, and two interchangeable face plates; the Disney Pix Max Digital Camera, with 3 mega pixel digital resolution and a 1.5” color LCD screen; and the Disney Princess Digital Movie Maker. These come with Disney Pix CD-ROM, a highly interactive editing software suite loaded with animation. Designs include Disney Chrome, High School Musical, Pirates of the Caribbean, Cars, Little Mermaid, Disney Princess and Tinker Bell. With the software, children are “creating something that’s truly their own,” said Julie Gibbons, vice president of marketing at Digital Blue. 5/19/2006
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7895 (added 5/19/2006)
Kidz Cam Digital Camera Kit by SAKAR INTERNATIONAL INC.
Other products from SAKAR INTERNATIONAL INC.
This product allows children to do much more with their photos than look at them. After linking it to a PC, kids can use the Story Maker feature to set up a slideshow storyline, or turn their pictures into a game in the Game Center. The included software has an editing feature that allows pictures to be cropped and distorted, and the pack includes an Internet instructional lesson. “Our product offerings for digital cameras take into account a child's entire digital experience,” said Liza Abrams of Sakar International Inc. The popularity of the Kidz Cam is facilitating the creation of additional lines. “We have acquired the licensing rights for some of the hottest brands around and will be launching these newly molded, colorful cameras — each with its own internal, specific software — for Toy Fair, February 2007.”
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 4638 (added 9/16/2005)
Bratz Mobile Phones, complete with wallpapers, voice ring tones, screen savers and custom skins, allow young girls to stay in touch with parents and friends. The phone features voice mail, caller ID, call waiting, three-way calling, text messaging, emergency 911 service and more. It is pre-loaded with 50 minutes of nationwide airtime. Additional minutes can be added. Matt Callahan of Ztar Mobile described the product as “a fully functional Sony-Ericsson T290 mobile phone, operating on a nationwide GSM network. Parents can protect their kids from unwanted text messages or calls by setting up control points. In all, the Bratz Mobile Phone is in a class of products all its own.”
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7164 (added 3/9/2006)
This pocket-size communicator uses WiFi (802.11b) so kidults of all ages can instant message via Yahoo! Messenger, Google or Skype; make Skype Internet voice calls, play MP3s ATRACs or WMAs, or browse the web. Mylo (“my life online”) has 1 GB internal memory, plus a Memory Stick Duo slot, and features a slide-out QWERTY keyboard for fast, easy typing. There’s no monthly service fee. Ha Thai at Ruder Finn, representing Sony Electronics, said the Mylo is targeted to “college-age [individuals] and other young techno-socials looking for a fun way to stay connected.” Its uniqueness comes through its status as a WiFi device with numerous functions.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9595 (added 10/4/2006)
Digital Camera Watch by DISCOVERY COMMUNICATIONS INC.
Other products from DISCOVERY COMMUNICATIONS INC.
This kidult gadget allows future spies to practice their skills by secretly taking photos and uploading them to the computer. The miniature camera watch takes up to 152 pictures and comes with spy cam CD-ROM software. It weighs only 1 pound and measures 2.5" L x 2" W x 4" H. The watch requires two AAA batteries (not included). According to Pamela Rucker, vice president of communications at Discovery Communications, the digital camera watch is unique because of its double function as a Web cam and its inclusion of software that allows the user to add messages and captions. Launch date: September 2006.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9932 (added 11/3/2006)
Graphic Tablet With Click & Create CD-ROM by KUTOKA INTERACTIVE
Other products from KUTOKA INTERACTIVE
Draw on the graphic tablet with the special pen and see the results on your computer screen. This graphic tablet uses the same technology as those of the professional graphic designers. The included CD-ROM, Click & Create with Mia, allows you to explore your creativity through 5 sections: drawing, shapes, paint, projects and multimedia. Richard Vincent, CEO and creative director of Kutoka Interactive, said the graphic tablets his company produces are the only ones for children, and professional models cost “twice as much.” In spring 2007, the company plans to unveil tools that function with graphic tablets to help children learn how to read and write.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9171 (added 8/29/2006)
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Writer's Bio: Julie L. Jones has written articles for both newspapers and magazines. Before joining the staff of TDmonthly Magazine, she worked as a communications writer and provided editorial support for a market research company. Read more articles by this author
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