Gonzo Gizmos!

The Batman Cuff
May 1, 2005

The Batman Cuff

Manufacturer: Oregon Scientific (Tualatin, Oregon)

Demo: Five to nine

Release date: Fall 2005

Retail channel: Mass and specialty toy and consumer electronics

SRP: US$29.99

Specs: When you fight crime, you’ve got to be mobile, so Oregon Scientific is launching this new electronic learning aid that straps right onto kids’ wrists. Shaped like a batarang (the dark knight’s weapon of choice), this cuff/computer’s exterior features a compass and speaker, and the whole thing slides apart to reveal a secret high-res backlit LCD screen. The learning aid has different functions when it’s either attached or detached from the cuff, running up to 15 activities and games including Batman memory, logic and mathematics.

Sticker Wizard KidzCam with Snapstickers software

Manufacturer: Sakar (Edison, New Jersey)

Demo: Tweens

Release date: June 2005

Retail channel: Mass and specialty toy

SRP: US$29.99

Specs: This three-in-one digital camera takes up to 152 downloadable photos, shoots video and doubles as a webcam. The Sticker Wizard comes with software for tweaking photos with digital effects and captions, and then turning the personalized pics into things like stickers and CD labels. The doctored pics also play into games such as Pixel Paddle (in which players clear bricks with a bouncing ball to reveal a hidden image) and customized slideshows. The Story Maker offers 12 templates for putting together personalized storybooks that kids can e-mail to friends and family members.

WowWee Alive Chimp Head

Manufacturer: WowWee (Hong Kong)

Demo: Five and up

Release date: November 2005

Retail channel: Sharper Image exclusive, with wider distribution in 2006

SRP: US$130

Specs: Coming off the recent success of its hit Robosapien toy, WowWee has recruited Hollywood special effects wizard George York to create a line of lifelike animatronic animals for the mass market. The first critter to come out of the jungle and into the living room hails from the primate family. WowWee’s highly detailed, life-size bust of a chimpanzee head is fully animated, interactive and communicative, with both puppeteering controls and an autonomous interactive mode. Sound/touch sensors and IR vision tech mean the toy can interact directly with the people around it, following motion and sound with its head and eyes. A body will follow in 2007, and WowWee is planning a small-scale tiger soon after.

Firefly phone

Manufacturer: Firefly Mobile (Chicago, Illinois)

Demo: Eight to 12

Release date: July 2005

Retail channel: The initial rollout will be a Target exclusive

SRP: US$99.95

Specs: Designed specifically for tweens, the Firefly is a stripped-down version of a cell phone that performs basic functions, but lets parents stay in control of their kids’ usage. The voice-only phone is made for smaller hands and has just five keys instead of a regular dialpad, with speed-dial buttons for mom, dad and 911, and a scrolling phone book function. The phone also comes with customizable shells, 12 ring tones, five animations and seven different background colors, and true to its name, it lights up like a firefly when it’s in use. Kids can also pick up cool accessories such as glow-in-the-dark phone skins, lanyards and a couple of different carrying pouches.

Ion Educational Gaming System

Manufacturer: Hasbro

Demo: Three to seven

Release date: Fall 2005

Retail channel: Mass and specialty toy and consumer electronics

SRP: US$119.99 for the console, US$17.99 for the disks

Specs: Giving off-the-couch gameplay a preschool learning twist, Hasbro has licensed Toronto, Canada-based tech company GestureTek’s video image control system for its new educational gaming system. The camera’s motion sensor lets kids appear on the television screen and control the game with their physical movements. It takes coordination, balance and physical exertion to make it through challenges like catching jellyfish with SpongeBob, all the while learning about core concepts such as numbers and reading. Each disk contains five games hosted by various TV characters from Nickelodeon shows and HIT Entertainment’s The Wiggles and Bob the Builder. Future disks will be split up into two early-learning age categories, with preschool basics such as letters, numbers and colors for three- to five-year-olds, and elementary skills like reading, math and problem-solving for the five to seven set.

Disney Princess Locket-Style Digital/VGA Camera

Manufacturer: Memorex (Cerritos, California)

Demo: Tween girls

Release date: August 2005

Retail channel: Mass-market toy outlets and consumer electronics chains

SRP: US$39.99

Specs: When it’s not recording, this tiny heart-shaped camera does double duty as a locket that dangles from a pink beaded necklace. The gadget has a built-in 16MB memory and can hold 50 high-res still shots, but it also shoots up to 20 seconds of video footage and serves as a tiny webcam. And just like a real locket, there’s even a frame for a small printed pic.

About The Author


Brand Menu