IN the ongoing effort to get kids one step closer to their favorite characters, London-based tech toy company Bright Things has created an interactive educational gaming system for preschoolers.
Bubble (US$100 for hardware plus one game) uses infrared sensors to control the action on a corresponding disk playing in a regular DVD player. Using actual footage from popular preschool series, kids can navigate through a multi-ending story or play games and activities by pushing the console’s bright flashing buttons. In a Teletubbies game, for example, the DVD shows clips of the characters performing dance moves and asks preschoolers to string them together into a routine they can then dance along with. Bubble also comes with an interactive booklet and attaches to a touch-sensitive pad for on-the-go play.
The kiddie console was rolled out in the U.K. in late August by distributor Bandai, which shipped more than 100,000 consoles and 200,000 software units to retail for the holiday season. Expansion into North America and Europe (with a focus on Germany, France and Spain) is planned for Q4 next year, and Bright Things publishing director Matthew Tims says the company hopes to have a U.S. distribution partner in time for the Fall Toy Fair this month.
Bright Things has licensed 19 kids properties so far, including Bob the Builder and Pingu from HIT Entertainment, The Koala Brothers (Spellbound Entertainment), Noddy (Chorion), Tweenies (BBC Worldwide), Dora the Explorer (Nickelodeon) and Babar, Franklin and The Fairly OddParents from Nelvana. Bubble was designed primarily for two- to five-year-olds, so the Fairly OddParents title will be something of a litmus test to see whether older kids are playing the system as well. Bright Things is very eager to sign more deals and would like to build a gender-balanced portfolio with solid international legs.
‘We’ll try to make Bubble feel like a local product in every market we roll out in, which is why we’re not doing it in a big rush right now,’ says Tims. ‘We want to take our time, making sure we have the right properties, and then either localize them properly or write new games from scratch.’