Accessible Toys: Anytime-Anywhere Availability of Favorite Toys and Games for Today’s Mobile Kids

Third in a series exploring the 4 A’s of 2010 Toy Trends 

Anytime – anywhere access is key for fast-paced kids and families.  Accessible toys and games make playtime readily available to kids and families whether they’re at home, on vacation or simply on-the-go. And for kids growing up in the digital age, the options for mobile, interactive entertainment are practically limitless.   Selections can be found for multiple age groups and play patterns, from multiple manufacturers and entertainment studios, and across all categories of products.

In this article, the third in a series exploring the four “A-rated” [Active, Affordable, Accessible and Aspirational] trends identified at Toy Fair 2010, TIA’s toy trend experts explore a few of the many toy and game products that provide portable 24/7 access to fun:  from compact editions of toys and games to kid-friendly versions of the tech toys used by Mom and Dad, gaming consoles, and online social media networks and games:

Travel Toys

Compact editions of toys and games – including classic board games revitalized with open-ended and customizable formats– and shorter play times make it easy to pack-and-go for fun on the run. Whether heading cross-country or cross-town, compact toys may be small in size but still are big on fun! Many of these toys are appropriate for kids and adults of all ages, and families are able to create lasting play memories while on vacation.
A few examples of the many terrific toys to take on the go include Scrabble Flash (Hasbro), Dry Erase Travel Pack (Crayola), Discovery Beach (I Can Do That Games), To Go Games Flippin Frogs (Mattel) and Mini Mandalas (Ravensburger).

Tech-Savvy Just Like Mom and Dad

Educational Play
Outside of School

Accessible toys can also incorporate educational activities into on-the-go play, encouraging kids to learn while on the school bus, during recess, or after school. Thanks to the advanced technological aspects of some toys in this category, younger kids can learn basic skills and older kids can master more complex theories, like mathematical concepts, outside of the classroom.

Some examples in this category: Who Knows Math? Electronic Quiz Game (Learning Resources), LeapFrog Tag Jr. and Tag Reading Systems, Educational Insights Hot Dots Jr., and Playskool Alphie Robot (Hasbro).

From playing dress-up to nurturing dolls, kids often want to emulate what their parents are doing. They’re equally fascinated with the tech gadgets Moms and Dads use for every day life. Luckily, parents don’t need to leave the toy aisle to find the latest technology for their digitally savvy children.  Toy manufacturers have designed a variety of kid versions of adult tech products that are affordably priced, durable, and ergonomically designed to fit a child’s smaller hands.  Accompanying software is also age-appropriate and often expandable with cartridges or add-ons designed to appeal to a wide variety of interests and skill levels, adding price-value that parents can appreciate.

The iXL (Fisher Price), LeapFrog’s My First Laptop, LeapFrog Explorer, Barbie B Smart Learning Laptop (Oregon Scientific), and the Vtech Vreader and MobiGo are among the many kid-friendly tech products now available on retail shelves.

Other tech-driven toys and games put children in touch with new worlds through digital imaging, and online play that complement offline products. Web-cams and digital or video cameras empower kids to explore favorite brands and characters through online play, engage with the wider social world and learn how to share their vision of the world with others.  In addition to helping kids learn to communicate verbally and visually through electronic methods, many of these products will also help children develop the basic computer skills that they will continue to hone as they grow older.

Examples in this category include iCarly Webcam (Sakar), Fisher Price’s Kid Tough Video Camera, Littlest Pet Shop Dancing Dog (Hasbro), Avatar 3-D “augmented reality” figures and accessories (Mattel), and Jakks Pacific Club Penguin web-connected products. 

[See sidebar on “Educational Play Outside of School” for more tech-related products.]

These are just a few examples of the many toys and games on the market that toymakers have made accessible though digital, educational or interactive components. For more information on current toy trends, visit “The Toy Biz” on the Toy Industry Association website or the “Trends” section on www.ToyInfo.org.