Last year, I wrote right here on this blog about Toy Fair 2011 and its focus on traditional toys. Yet it was clear that physical games were inching closer and closer to the world of smartphone and tablet apps. More and more companies were launching iPads for kids last year, including Fisher Price, VTech and LeapFrog. Fisher Price’s iPad stood out, and it was clear not only how toy manufacturers were noticing the digital direction in playing and storytelling but also how parents were embracing their children’s growing demands for gadgets, particularly the iPad. In last year’s post, I wrote, “While the show did feature innovative products and technologies, very few companies were represented, including our competitors. I hope that the expo expands next year to better exemplify the world of apps for children.”
Well, guess what? One year later, Toy Fair 2012 looked very different. Tech was popping out all over the place, and it was clear that major brands are taking strides to develop their traditional branded products and games around Apple products. Not only were a few digital companies present, such as Fruit Ninja, Angry Birds and Cut the Rope, but other brands were obviously entering the digital mix as well. Our partner Hasbro now makes traditional games like Monopoly and The Game of Life that connect to iOS devices for digital play through apps available in the Apple Store. There’s also a new version of Lazer Tag, by NERF, where players insert their iOS device into a blaster and engage in virtual or real battles.
Animal Planet and Monsterology NUKO’s brand are joining trading cards with digital magic on the iPad with cards that tap into action using any iOS device. MushABellies’ new 3D augmented-reality game blends the game world and the real world using a smartphone device and exclusive, patented augmented reality from Gravity Jack. And WowWee introduced its App Gear line, extending the idea of connecting apps with traditional toys to create something called “amplified reality.”
So, the question is, how much more advanced will Toy Fair be in 2013? Your guess is as good as mine, but considering the visible changes that we witnessed this year, we’re very excited to see what transpires between now and then.