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December 2006 | Vol. V - No. 12
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Why Your Toys Should Speak Spanish

Manufacturers Tap Into Rich Market


“[Awesome Kids] is going to help the kids learn two languages.” Joan deSouza, Awesome Kids
Mainstream marketing is no longer a sufficient approach to the Spanish-speaking demographic in the United States, where an astounding 22 percent of the entire Hispanic population is represented by children under the age of 5. Thanks to the No. 1 ranking in both birth and immigration rates (U.S. Census Bureau), the number of non-English speaking households continues to grow exponentially, as does their spending power.
 
These numbers should be no-brainers for toy manufacturers, and yet, marketers have failed to invest substantial resources in this demographic.

English- and Spanish-Speaking Kids Get Closer

Joan deSouza, CEO of Awesome Kids Inc. (Gift Guide), is vowing to do what many toy manufacturers have yet to attempt. With a Spanish-language Web page in the works, and the new bilingual Magic Color and Play Series of Magic Coloring DVDs already on the market, Awesome Kids hopes to bring Spanish- and English-speaking children closer.

“[Awesome Kids] is going to help the kids learn two languages,” said deSouza stressing the need for more bilingual products in the toy market. “The Hispanic market has been [largely] ignored.”

With the exception of one popular licensed character, Dora the Explorer, and Play Along’s Amigo Bear, a Spanish-variety Care Bear, few crossover products have made a dent in the Hispanic toy market.

Kids Need Toys Like Them

“Manufacturers have had no real pressure to develop representative toys,” Denise Gary Robinson, founder of DollsLikeMe.com, explained when asked why the toy industry is slow to tackle the Spanish-speaking demographic.

Robinson’s 2004 survey on the availability of toys for children of color showed that only 61 out of 474 Hispanic children had dolls representing their ethnic background, though 90 percent of parents were dissatisfied with the selection of multicultural toys available. She took matters into her own hands and opened DollsLikeMe.com — a specialty retail company that provides quality multicultural merchandise.

Parents Want to Preserve Cultural Values
 
In its efforts to develop bilingual products, Awesome Kids is striving to keep in mind the most pertinent values of the Spanish-speaking community, namely culture, education and family.

 “As much as Spanish-speaking parents want their children to learn English, they don't want them to lose touch with their native language,” deSouza explained.

The Miami-born Baby Abuelita line of singing dolls by Baby Abuelita Productions, for instance, was created with the sole purpose of preserving Hispanic culture. The dolls sing traditional lullabies handed down from generations past.

Mary Beth Garcia, founder and CEO of Cantarima, produced Canciones Tradicionales — a CD of traditional Spanish children’s songs — for the same reasons (VIEW ARTICLE). As with Awesome Kids’ products, many of Cantarima’s CDs are designed to teach children both English and Spanish.

Bilingual Toys Reflect Society

“This is a racially integrated society,” deSouza emphasized. “When we developed characters, we created them all racially mixed. We’re teaching kids to accept and celebrate customs.”

In addition to the new Magic Color and Play Series, Awesome Kids’ other toys are also designed to appeal to all cultures, deSouza continued. “Everything [we do] is traditionally wholesome with educational values. There’s nothing that won’t cross over.”


The Market Continues to Grow

Manufacturers and retailers might want to take note: This market’s momentum is picking up speed, with a spending power that could surpass 1 trillion dollars in the next few years. According to HispanSource, a Hispanic marketing firm, the Spanish-speaking community is 33 percent more likely to buy toys, a calculation that will be hard for retailers and manufacturers to ignore.

Following are some of the products mentioned in the article, plus a few more by the same manufacturers:




MSRP: $12.95
Category: Play Sets
General Toys



Enjoy the beautiful classic story of Cinderella in DVD format using the new Magic Coloring process. The story will unfold before your eyes while our narrator tells it and as the magic pictures fill with color before your eyes. Added music and many special effects help the story come alive. So sit back, relax and watch with Mervin and all the Awesome Kids(including you!). Included, on a separate CD, is a “Never Ending Coloring Book®” containing pictures your parents can help you print so that you can color them over and over again! Crayons are included, so you can color as you watch and listen. Included on the CD are instructions to make your own stage out of one of mom’s old shoe boxes and some colored backgrounds for your stage sets. Last, but not least, you will find four 55-mm hand-painted figures of Cinderella in her work clothes and ball gown, the Fairy and, of course the Prince, to re-enact the story on the stage you have made. The Magic Color and Play Series is a great stocking stuffer.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9478      (added 9/25/2006)
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Enjoy the action packed story of Arthur and the Black Knight® in DVD format using the new Magic Coloring process. The story will unfold before your eyes while our narrator tells it and as the magic pictures fill with color. Included, on a separate CD, is a “Never Ending Coloring Book®” containing pictures your parents can help you print so that you can color them over and over again! Crayons are included, so you can color as you watch and listen. Included on the CD are instructions to make your own stage, three hand-painted figures of Squire Arthur, Sir Kay and the Black Knight and, of course, a horse for each to re-enact the story. The Magic Color and Play Series is a great stocking stuffer, and is currently on sale at a special Christmas bargain rate of $12.95.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9477      (added 9/25/2006)
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Category: Arts & Crafts



A box full of creative fun for the younger set, paints, crayons, stamps, stencils, games, etc. Fun for a day of sun, a rainy day, or those often tough to entertain long vaction drives ! They can work on pieces looking like stained glass (in plastic form of course) with special window markers, paint by numbers, draw, stencil, play, or just write their thoughts in the journal.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8878      (added 8/2/2006)
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MSRP: $22.95
Age Range: 3 to 8
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Play Sets



Craft Box is a newly added item that has almost every imaginable craft from painting to structuring to assembly. It’s a great value at $22.95, including freight.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 10070      (added 11/14/2006)
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MSRP: $25.95
SKU or Item #: #1023
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: General Toys
Play Sets



There's the stepmother, the ugly stepsisters, the fairy godmother, the prince, and, of course, Cinderella together with the rest of the cast of this marvelous fairy tale box! The pumpkin coach whisks Cinderella off to the ball where she dances with the prince until midnight. Relive the ultimate princess tale in wonderful detail. It's a great girl’s gift for kids 8-years-old and under. It's a great girl's gift for children 8 years old or younger.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 252      (added 9/1/2004)
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MSRP: $11.99
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Audio & CD



This CD helps children to learn Spanish through music. With playful, melodious songs, such as "Cuando Tengas Muchas Ganas" and "La Feria de San Juan," children will come to sing along and understand the lyrics as they go. Parents will want to join in as well.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 6613      (added 1/17/2006)
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MSRP: $16.99
Age Range: 1 to 5
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Audio & CD



This 26-minute video introduces children to numbers and shapes through traditional Spanish children's songs and nursery rhymes. This entertaining, Spanish language video teaches the words for shapes and numbers 1 through 10 with the help of catchy sing-alongs, traditional music and instruments, toys, puppets and the playful assistance of other children. This video is also available in VHS format for $12.99.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 6614      (added 1/17/2006)
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MSRP: $16.99
Age Range: 1 to 5
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Videos & DVDs



This 24-minute video introduces children to the language and rituals of bedtime through traditional children's lullabies in Spanish and English. This soothing video uses friendly puppets, colorful toys and playmates to gently transition children from active play to rest time. Simple words and phrases are introduced in both Spanish and English, and language learning is reinforced with song. With music sung by children and developed for little ears, this video will appeal to children of all ages. A VHS version is also available for $12.99.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 6615      (added 1/17/2006)
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Age Range: 2 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Dolls



Dora speaks directly to your child, sings songs, tells stories, and plays games. Dora can be personalized with a child’s information using a simple USB cable, CD-ROM and computer.
— Missy Beutler, sales associate at Tinkerz Toy Shop in Coeur D' Alene, Idaho, got calls for “lots of name brands and cartoons like ... Dora.”
— “Dora the Explorer,” was hot, agreed Ryan Donnelly, assistant manager of mass-market retailer Kay Bee Toy & Hobby in Boise, Idaho.
— Specialty toy retailers have told TDmonthly that Dora products are some of the hottest choices for little girls, despite their availability in mass-market stores.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 10287      (added 11/28/2006)
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Age Range: 3 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Electronics
Teddy Bear



Amigo Bear teaches children bilingual skills. Press Amigo Bear’s phone to hear phrases that teach numbers, colors and simple conversations in English or Spanish.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 10293      (added 11/28/2006)
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