While many toycos have taken notice of the runaway success of video games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero, New York-based WowWee owned the musical hype at this past Toy Fair with its new Paper Jamz line.
What look like paper cut-outs of a guitar, drum kit and amp have surprising functionality. The guitar, for example, weighs eight ounces, is less than 1.25 inches thick, and is powered by new Active Graphics Technology that allows users to strum it like a real guitar. The sound it produces is essentially indistinguishable from that of the genuine article.
The guitar and drums can be played freestyle or users can turn to pre-programmed songs selected from a variety of genres, including rock hits like ‘Sweet Home Alabama,’ ‘Born to Be Wild’ and ‘Smoke on the Water.’ There are six different Paper Jamz guitars, each pre-loaded with three separate radio hits. The drum kit comes with the same songs, so sets can be played together to achieve a ‘full band’ feel. Additionally, WowWee plans to introduce different series of the instruments, while retiring others, in an effort to foster collectibility.
The line, which is aimed at kids ages eight and up, also has wallet-friendly price-points. The guitar and drum set have an SRP of US$24.99 each, and the accompanying amp will retail for US$14.99. ‘For US$65 you can essentially have a full band,’ says Marc Rosenberg, chief marketing officer at WowWee.
Wide US retail distribution is in the cards, and Toys ‘R’ Us, Walmart and Target have placed orders for a summer product rollout. A full marketing blitz should get underway in the latter part of the year, with major TV and radio buys, as well as in-store and live events.
As for inbound and outbound licensing, Rosenberg believes WowWee will be exploring a variety of opportunities in the next year. ‘We are definitely talking to a lot of different groups,’ he says. ‘There is a lot of potential; it’s limitless because we have innovative product and competitive prices.’