Mattel is trying hard to wrest some market share in learning toys away from category behemoth LeapFrog this spring as it unveils Fisher-Price’s new Power Touch System (US$49.99). The line employs new technology that lets kids use their fingers rather than a stylus to trigger the interactive books. The Power Touch books (US$14.99 each) are separated into three categories: beginner reading for ages three to five, intermediate for five- to eight-year-olds, and school skills for the six and up crowd.
Mattel is counting on the Fisher-Price name to draw parents in, and the company can also cull from its impressive lineup of licenses like Sesame Street, Dora the Explorer and Clifford. This is the preschool toyco’s second attempt at toppling LeapFrog from the ELA summit; Fisher-Price introduced Kasey the Kinderbot in July of 2002, and the interactive robot had nabbed the number-four spot in year-to-date sales by November, according to industry tracker NPDFunworld.
But with its market share hovering around 80%, LeapFrog will not be easy to oust. LeapPad (US$49.99), which launched in 1999, rapidly revitalized a flat category into one of the hottest markets of the past few years, earning its manufacturer the third-largest toy sales take in 2002.
Not one to rest on its laurels, LeapFrog has an impressive new slate of its own this year. With products running the gamut from preschool all the way up to SAT prep, LeapFrog has expanded its line to appeal to infants as young as six months with the fall-launching TogetherTime LeapPad (US$39.99), which also uses finger-touch technology. The LeapPad Plus (US$59.99) adds math and writing activities to the original LeapPad with a dual-function writing stylus.
And for four- to eight-year-olds, LeapFrog is rewriting a page from the video game industry’s playbook with the Leapster All-Learning Game System (US$79.99). A handheld gaming console that includes a touch-sensitive, full-color LCD screen, the system uses popular licenses like Dora the Explorer and SpongeBob SquarePants in games that teach math, reading and critical thinking (US$24.99).