Consumer Products

Girls just wanna have tech

High-tech toys used to be synonymous with boys, video games and talking action figures. Today, techno-savvy girls in the eight to 12 age range are forcing toycos to read the writing on the PDA screen: Girls want high-tech too!...
February 1, 2001

High-tech toys used to be synonymous with boys, video games and talking action figures. Today, techno-savvy girls in the eight to 12 age range are forcing toycos to read the writing on the PDA screen: Girls want high-tech too!

A brand founded in 1995 by Janese Swanson and acquired by Hong Kong-based toyco Radica in 1998, Girl Tech’s line of girl-skewing product was created with this in mind. ‘There are very big differences, particularly among this age range, in how girls play,’ says Patti Saitow, VP of marketing for Radica and Girl Tech. ‘Certainly there are girls who like to be competitive, but girls tend to want the more cooperative play.’

According to Saitow, communication and privacy are also important to girls, and privacy will continue to be a focus of the Girl Tech line for 2001.

Girl Tech is building on the success of its Password Journal, introduced in spring 1999, with Password Journal 2 (SRP US$24.99). Scheduled to hit retail in the fall, updates include a calendar, light and intruder alert function. The Password line for fall 2001 also includes Password Control Center (US$29.99) and Password Puppies (US$19.99). Password Control Center uses voice recognition to allow girls on/off control over two electronic appliances in their bedroom. Password Puppies are also voice recognition toys, and feature maze games to help owners challenge and train their virtual pets.

While Saitow highlights the differences between boy and girl play patterns, Marc Rosenberg, Tiger Electronics’ senior VP of marketing, highlights the similarities. ‘There are a lot of common play values that kids have, including wanting shared experiences,’ says Rosenberg. He cites Tiger’s Poo-Chi as an example of a top seller with equal appeal, but adds that Tiger is still developing spin-offs with particular genders in mind.

To complement the boy-targeted Poo-Chi Bulldog, Tiger will introduce Poo-Chi Poodle for girls four and up this spring (US$24.99 each). While Bulldog has a deep, gruff voice and sings six ‘manly’ songs, Poodle features a higher-toned bark and sings six ‘sweet’ songs. And for the nurturers among girls four to 12 and four to eight respectively, are Petal-Chi (US$14.99) and Robo Baby (US$29.99). At retail in late spring 2001, Petal-Chi is an LED-faced flower that comes in its own pot, changes expressions, and responds when you talk to and ‘water’ it. Robo Baby is set to crawl, coo and cry into retail stores for fall 2001. Featuring internal sensors that detect rocking and diaper changing, Robo Baby reacts to light and dark, learns words and sings songs.

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