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Hi-tech hybrid forges category new collectible

AS toycos continue to turn to tech to attract tweens, Mattel is trying to get a leg up on the competition with its new electronic toy category. Just unveiled at Comic Con this past July, HyperScan merges boy-centric collector card and video game play patterns.
September 1, 2006

AS toycos continue to turn to tech to attract tweens, Mattel is trying to get a leg up on the competition with its new electronic toy category. Just unveiled at Comic Con this past July, HyperScan merges boy-centric collector card and video game play patterns.

Proving Radio Frequency Identification is not just for retailers looking to streamline their inventory management systems anymore, the device uses the tech to ‘read’ collector cards sporting RFID chips. As with a regular game console, HyperScan works with controllers and game discs and plugs into TVs via A/V cables. The difference is that each game is accompanied by six RFID collector cards (a full set runs around 100 cards per game). By scanning the cards into the game, players can customize avatars and gain additional powers for them.

VP of games marketing Cynthia Neiman says Mattel has no interest in entering the US$10-billion video game market and competing with the XBOXs of the world. And HyperScan’s comparatively low price point puts it squarely in the youth electronics aisle. The console will retail for US$69.95 with one game and a controller, additional controllers and games ring in at US$19.95 apiece, and booster packs with six cards will retail for US$9.95.

The device hits the mass market next month and Mattel is leading the charge by bundling a Marvel X-Men fighting game with the system. In fact, the toyco is relying heavily on licenses for most of the initial game releases. An action-adventure game based on Cartoon Network’s Ben 10 and an in-house Interstellar Wrestling League title will also be available at launch, followed by Marvel Heroes in November and Nickelodeon’s Avatar in 2007. Neiman expects a number of other deals to be announced in the coming months and adds the HyperScan team is currently scouring the market for more tween boy-targeted licenses to fuel the lineup.

Mattel also has an aggressive marketing campaign planned for HyperScan’s upcoming retail debut. On top of television advertising, the device will have its own website (hyperscangamer.com) featuring game reviews and previews. A shopping mall tour traveling to approximately 20 U.S. cities is about to get underway as well.

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