Computers and Electronics Take Center Stage
These Toys Train the Body and the Brain
Manufacturers are tapping into the power of computers and electronics for various reasons. While many of these products today, especially those that afford connection to online worlds, target play and social networking, some aim largely to educate or encourage physical fitness. Keyboards for toddlers are one sign of the computer’s growing popularity throughout all age groups. See some of the newest products in these categories below:
MSRP: $34.99Age Range: 8 and upLaunch Date: August 2008Gender: Boys And Girls
This full-color, electronic handheld game doubles as a pedometer, and each step a child takes grants him one point for game play in the three-dimensional ME2 world online. Kids create their own avatar (more than 1 million designs available through combinations of various features) and can interact with other players online, where they might, for example, challenge others to a race. Six colors are available. Launch date: August 2008.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 17768 (added 2/27/2008)
Created to facilitate active play with family and friends both indoors and out, this game console speaks, explains how to play games, and cheers on participants. Players interact with the console though XS tags — colorful, microchip-embedded wristbands that begin games and measure player performance. Individuals can download free games onto the console from the Swinxs website. Launch date: 2008.
— One TDmonthly editor was hesitant to include this product in a Toy Fair 2008 top-10 list on the basis that it takes money and electronics to simulate the way children have been playing for generations, and she believes kids will easily tire of it. TDmonthly included it, however, for its encouragement of group play, its novel approach to active gaming, its sleek design and the ability customers have to download additional games from the company's website.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 17770 (added 2/27/2008)
The 13” plush encourages children to discover and explore through a library of thousands of award-winning songs, interactive stories, educational games and other content that parents can selectively purchase through the Internet and download to the toy with a super-easy USB connection. The smart-e-software allows the toy to change and grow with each child’s interests. The plush utilizes electronics about the size of a deck of cards and contains no moving parts that can easily break and harm a child. Smart-e-bear, smart-e-dog and smart-e-cat are each sold separately. Smart-e-bear received a 2009 Tillywig Brain Child Award.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 17646 (added 2/20/2008)
Wholesale Price: (Log in to view) MSRP: $69.99Age Range: 1 to 5SKU or Item #: K-800Launch Date: February 2008Gender: Boys And Girls
This plug-and-play keyboard designed for young children features large, color-coded keys and an ergonomic mouse for small hands. It is spill-proof, washable and works with both Macs and PCs. White, pink, green and blue colors are available. “The award-winning myPC keyboard design distinguishes itself as the only spill-proof, washable, covered keyboard with staged-based learning attributes. The Stage I keyboard was specifically customized for toddlers and children who want to enjoy the experience of grown-up-like computing through a toddler-friendly peripheral,” Sales Director Mark Coleman of Targeted Technology Solutions told TDmonthly. “With only 47 alpha and numeric keys, it [is] ideal for 1-year-olds to preschoolers, and the perfect start to their technology experience.” Launch date: February 9, 2008.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 18334 (added 4/11/2008)
MSRP: $74.99Age Range: 8 and upLaunch Date: September 2008Gender: Boys And Girls
The electronic dance game requires no game console or dance mat controller. Simply plug the included U-Dance console to a television and then attach motion tags to shoes. The motion tags allow users to use moves that are outside the scope of a typical dance mat. Launch date: Fall 2008.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 17875 (added 3/10/2008)
MSRP: $49.99Age Range: 4 to 8Launch Date: July 2008Gender: Boys And Girls
The electronic reading pen contains a small infrared camera that recognizes letters, words and symbols printed on the pages of Tag books. The pen delivers audio, games and activities that correspond with the specific book the child is reading. Tag's 16MB memory capacity allows it to hold up to five books at any given time. Tag also tells parents which words kids are reading well, and documents the amount of time kids spend reading.
— As of 8.03.2010, this product had 4 out of 5 stars from 43 reviews on Amazon.com and was No. 50 in the top 100 best-selling toys and games. PROS: Educational, entertaining and portable. CONS: Requires a computer with USB port and CD device. Is not compatible with some MAC computer systems.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 17780 (added 2/27/2008)
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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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