Still riding high on the pioneering success of LeapFrog, the electronic learning toy category continues to be hot. Garnering quite a lot of buzz this year is Vtech’s V.Smile, which brings a vidgame sensibility to the early learning arena. The cartridge-based device mimics a plug-and-play video game platform, and kids control the on-screen action using a hand-held controller with buttons and a joystick. When the system hits retail in August, its phase-one games will include titles featuring Winnie the Pooh, Mickey Mouse and the Disney Princesses.
You know how kids love to play teacher? Well, Radica’s Twinkleberries interactive doll sets should give this popular play pattern a whole new dimension when they hit shelves in the fall. When the ‘teacher’ asks the ‘class’ a question and touches a piece of chalk to the corresponding question card, one of the five Twinkleberries will pipe up with the answer.
Latching onto the kids home décor trend, Canadian toyco B-Bel has secured a license from Discovery Channel to produce Trading Spaces mini-houses that will help kids get in touch with their inner-Frank, Doug or Hildy this spring. Kids can build and then custom-decorate their dream house using tiny paint rollers, stencils, stickers, stamps and weaving yarn. And when they’re ready for a makeover, they can wipe the paint off the walls and furniture and start over from scratch.
Wild Planet has taken its tech savvy and applied it to a new tween line of customizable room accessories called Girls Living in Style that will come out this fall. Especially cool is the Dazzlin’ Doorway, a curtain designed to hang in a room’s entryway and announce and greet visitors with recorded messages.
Uncle Milton gets into the RC category with the X4 Metal Detector Rover, available at retail this fall. This hybrid RC two-wheel tank tredder/metal detector comes with a joystick-style controller that operates the vehicle as it rolls over hill and dale in search of buried treasure and lights up when the vehicle rolls over metal-based booty. The company has even thrown in some coins to get the action started.