At Toy Fair 2013, the iPad Is the Real Plaything
Toy makers are putting the iPad front and center at playtime.
Feb. 12, 2013 — -- Stroll around the 2013 International Toy Fair and you'll see tons of toys spread out in the 266,229 square feet of show floor space. Obviously, it's one of the world's largest toy shows. But you'll also see lots of iPads in or near them.
Yes, many new toys now require another toy -- Apple's popular tablet.
Fisher-Price has an entire castle, the Imaginext Apptivity Fortress, built around the tablet. It allows you to fire a toy cannon and shoot little trolls running around the screen. WowWee has a BotSee robot that holds the iPad to teach kids shapes and colors. Then there's the iDollhouse -- a dollhouse built around the iPad. Barbie even has an iPad Digital Makeup Mirror.
This isn't the first year, of course, that the big toy makers, including Hasbro and Mattel, have announced kids apps or playthings that work with the iPhone or the iPad, but the iPad is increasingly at the center of the experience, say industry watchers.
iPhone / iPod Touch vs. iPad
"I have never seen so many toys that incorporated an iPad into the play pattern," Andrea Smith, Mashable's Lifestyle Editor, who has been covering the toy fair for years, told ABC News. "Last year was the iPod Touch and iPhone, and I think this year it was all iPad, from Barbie to the Hot Wheels."
Jim Silver, the editor of Time to Play, thinks there is actually less iPad mania this year. "It's smaller than it's been," Silver told ABC News. "What happened last year was that everyone was going down the trend of mobile devices working with toys. It was a hot trend, but 90 percent of them failed; only a few of them are successful." Still, Silver says that the category, especially for iPads, will continue to be a focus for toy makers.
"Companies are going to continue to go after them as tablets are handed down to the second generations," he said. "This year it has also gone from the phones to the tablets, and I expect that to continue."
Android in Time-Out?
But while there are plenty of toys built around tablets, it's really only one tablet that counts -- the iPad. Android tablets may be plentiful, but toy makers say they are going after the tablet that is most popular with kids.
"We monitor the landscape so we are always looking at all the devices and who is using what," Amber Pietrobono, a marketing associate at Fisher-Price, told ABC News. "With kids 3 to 10 being the largest growing segment of tablet users, we are monitoring it, but right now we are focusing primarily on iOS."
Fisher-Price makes some cases for the Kindle Fire. However, while Amazon added some kid-friendly features to the Kindle Fire HD this holiday season, many kids still wanted an iPad for Christmas. According to Nielsen, 48 percent of kids between the age of 6 to 12 wanted an iPad and 36 percent wanted an iPad Mini. Only 29 percent said they wanted a tablet that was not an iPad.
Below are some of the iPad toy highlights we saw at the show. Just remember: batteries and iPad not included.
Barbie Digital Makeover Mirror
Barbie is certainly keeping up with the times. Not only is there Digital Dress Barbie this year with an LED/touchscreen-enabled dress, but there is the Digital Makeover Mirror for the iPad. Slide the iPad (it will accommodate the iPad 2 and up) into the battery-powered vanity, pair it via Bluetooth, and download the app. Then the app uses the front-facing camera on the iPad and facial recognition technology to let you put on digital makeup.
When you hold up the applicator it pairs and you can the tap on the colors to put on eye shadow or lipstick. You can also put on accessories like a crown. You can then save a photo of yourself and share it with friends. The mirror will be out in August for $69.99.
New Adventures iDollhouse and iFirehouse
Barbie isn't the only classic toy getting an iPad makeover. The iDollhouse and iFirehouse use the iPad to become virtual playhouses. Open the back of the iDollhouse or iFirehouse case, slide in the iPad, lock it in, and then download the app. The iPad doesn't pair with the plastic case; it just protects the back of the tablet.
Hasbro's Nerf N-Sports Cyberhoop is still a plastic basketball hoop to be clipped on the bedroom or office door, but there's now an app so you can use the iPad as your scoreboard. Download the app and it will use audio tracking to pair with the hoop. As you score points, you'll see them appear on the scoreboard. You can also now use two Cyberhoops to set up a court and the app will record the score. The Cyberhoop will be out in the fall for $19.99.