Trends from Toyland: KOTA

kota.jpgEvery year there is an animal that seems to dominate toy fair. Last year it was hard to find a toy that didn’t have a  penguin on it.  Dinosaurs never really leave toyland…they remain great props for dramatic play…but this year they have come back in a very updated way.  KOTA the Triceratop, from Hasbro ($300), is an oversized dino that your preschooler can even sit on.  Much like the company’s pony, Butterscotch, KOTA is sound and touch activated (there are 11 different touch points).  He will even roar, enjoy chomping on some leaves, and give your child a spring-action ride (he doesn’t move forward).  We look forward to testing him with our testers.

Today Show/ toyportfolio.com Platinum Award Toy Segment

Right before we went on air, our 4 minute segment became 3.5 minutes–that’s right–to talk about over 15 great Platinum Award winning products! We also had kids on the plaza (bundled up) that were really into playing with the Castle of Courage from Step 2, the Arena from Playmobil, and the Candy Land Castle Game from Hasbro. Al Roker is always fun to do segments with – and I usually like doing segments outdoors because the crowds are there – giving that extra energy that you don’t get if you’re in the studio. The downside? The wind today was kicking up. So right before we were about to go on live, I turned sideways and all of my hair got caught in my lip gloss. Not the best look. But more important than my hair was that the Havoc Heli RC helicopters from Spinmaster couldn’t fly – too much wind for these really cool tiny helicopters that are meant for indoor use or a very calm day. Thankfully the big K’nex Double Ferris wheel did not fall over! It looked iffy there for a moment too. Of course I could really talk about any one of these products for 3.5 minutes–so it’s always hard to decide what the sound bite will be for each–and I didn’t want to skip any–so it was full steam ahead. If you want more info about these award winning products, you’ll find a lot more on our website at www.toyportfolio.com and we also have posted a calmer discussion of some of our award winners on www.youtube.com. The best sign of a successful segment, the kids didn’t want to stop playing with the toys after the segment was over!

Marketing On-Line Safety: Fisher-Price, Hasbro, LeapFrog

Responding to the concerns of worried parents over the lurking dangers to kids on the internet, toy makers are trying to make computer experiences safer.  Fisher-Price and Hasbro have created “gated environments” where parents pay for the platform or key to safe sites that also block your child from surfing the web. Taking it a step further, LeapFrog has created a platform that stimulates a computer experience on your television (not a bad idea if you’re worried about your child’s sippy cup near your expensive equipment!). Of course it should be noted that screen time is not as important for your preschooler as active physical play and creative activities that develop fine motor skills as well as imaginative play of their own making. Interacting with a screen is no substitute for interacting with real objects and real people.