Etch A Sketch more like Smith-Corona and VHS

One of the most challenging toys of my childhood took center stage yesterday with a gaff by one of Mitt Romney’s advisors.

I used to marvel at my older brother’s ability to really draw things with Etch A Sketch. He  could make those curves work for him. I was pretty good at….boxes.

The New York Times today tried to spin the Etch A Sketch moment in to one of second chances.

Even as someone who played with the Etch A Sketch in the backseat of our car (long before there were Gameboys and DVD players), I can’t see this characterization as anything but a stretch.

The Etch A Sketch is not a toy that has kept up with the times. Over the last two decades of covering toys, I’ve visited the showroom in hopes that there would be some radical new innovation that would give this beloved toy a true second chance.  There have been mini versions, glow-in-the-dark frames (sadly, the actual drawing part never glowed) and glitter versions….but no big breakthrough. My kids were willing to play with the keychain version I carried for years…but with all of the high tech hand held toys to play with, the little red frame just didn’t do it.


Barbie’s Ken was a true trendsetter with the facial hair

While this morning’s news is about LEGO’s Peter (from their new Friends line) and his 5 o’clock shadow, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that Barbie’s Ken (Mattel)  also went through his “I’m sexy and I don’t feel like shaving” period.

George Clooney, Brad Pitt and LEGO Peter

Peter, the new and only male member of the new LEGO “Friends” line directed at girls, seems to be taking styling advice from George Clooney and Brad Pitt.

LEGO Friends Peter

Or maybe he’s going for the younger Ryan Reynolds. In any case, feels like we need a new tag “toys with facial hair.”





New APP/TOY promises to be like Call of Duty in the Real World!

APPTAG - New Laser Toy that works with APP

We don’t recommend point and shoot anything, real or virtual. But the idea that you could now have Call of Duty in the real world (with virtual play) made us pause.

This pitch came from a new company that will launch a new product called APPTAG. This new version of Laser Tag allows you to play via a download. Promoted as the “first real-world first-person shooter gun/game combo (it works with a free App so users can play immediately), will sell for $39.99 (single unit) and $74.99 (two-pack) starting in June (available online and in stores nationwide).”

The company sets their product apart:  “What makes AppTag different from other laser blasters is that it uses high frequency sound to communicate between the blaster and the mobile device.  This eliminates the need for Wi-Fi or Bluetooth – both of which are expensive to implement in toys, heavily consume batteries and are painful for kids to setup.”

Now here’s the best part according to the company: “Even better, AppTag also has an open SDK and its developer, Jon Atherton, expects some fantastic games from the development community in 2012!  NOTE:  the SDK is being made available for free to all App developers.  Imagine over 1,000 people all playing together across an entire city, or 10-20 friends battling it out in a park!  AppTag will allow for Real World First Person Shooter Games…it’s like Call of Duty in the real world!”

The company is raising funds on kickstarter. You can watch their video here.

Now if you think this is just some small start up, you should know that Laser Tag from Hasbro has also been upgraded this year with a new APP version. We weren’t allowed to take pictures at Toy Fair of the new version.

The APPTAG group has already received $31,120 – which exceeded their goal of $30,000.