With toys going more high tech and vid games selling better than ever, getting kids out of the house and onto the playing field is becoming increasingly difficult. But a new Emeryville, California-based toyco is launching a line of playthings that might just make sports cool again.
Former VP of marketing at San Francisco’s Wild Planet Nathan Keker launched Diggin last October after teaming up with Phil Neal, the inventor of the Fisher-Price Shake ‘n Go Racers toy (nominated for the TIA’s preschool/infant toy of the year award) and Jenny Stern, former international sales manager for LeapFrog.
Keker’s aim is to produce safe sports toys with an innovative spin. ‘The world doesn’t need another softball,’ he says. Diggin is souping up the sports toy category with a number of bells and whistles. The Black Max football, for example, has a special weighted ring placed in the middle of the ball, allowing kids to throw a perfect spiral every time. There’s also a baseball with similar technology that makes throwing a wide curveball a snap. The products are made out of soft foam material, which is safe for children as young as four-years-old.
Aside from classic sports toys, Diggin’s product line also features original creations. The Wobble Deck is similar to the classic memory game Simon, but has a twist. The electronic balance board lights up with color combinations, which have to be remembered and entered in sequence. Kids play the game by balancing on the wooden deck and shifting their weight in different directions to copy the light patterns.
Six Diggin sports toys will rollout on www.digginactive.com and at specialty retailers in May. With the exception of the Wobble Deck (US$40), prices top out at US$15. As for expanding into the licensing realm, Keker says it’s not an immediate priority, but he’s looking at getting into the space within the next few years. DW