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Guide to Children's Products for Fun & Learning

 

Children's Toys:    News & Trends

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Top stories - toys and games:

Xbox 360
Cabbage Patch Kids Babies
Furby
New Generation of Intelligent Toys
Leapster L-Max
Roboraptor and Robo Pet
Fisher Price DVD Learning System
FLY by LeapFrog

Wal-Mart: Sneak Peek at the Newest Must-Have Toys

Xbox 360 - The future of entertainment

(NC)-Since its launch in 2001, Xbox has become a household entertainment brand, weaving itself into the pop culture fabric with blockbuster titles like Halo 2. But where can video games possibly go from there? Microsoft will answer that question with the Xbox 360, the next incarnation of the Xbox video game system in stores this holiday season.

Jason Anderson"Xbox 360 is so much more than just an amazing video game console," said Jason Anderson, Xbox Canada. "What we are doing here is reaching out to beyond just gamers, capturing all the activities the whole family can enjoy."

Xbox 360 will have all the top games like Perfect Dark Zero, Kameo: Elements of Power and Project Gotham Racing 3, and will also feature more titles for the whole family, from parents to kids. Beyond the games themselves, families will also be able to run the rest of their home entertainment through the Xbox 360.

With just one component next to their TV, Xbox 360 owners will be able to easily manage and enjoy everything from movies, to music, to photos, and even personal video recorders. The Xbox 360 will also feature a simple video chat feature for communicating with other users around the world.

"The Xbox 360 truly puts consumers at the centre of a revolutionary entertainment experience," said Anderson. "We believe Xbox 360 will be the entertainment product of the decade and the catalyst that makes Microsoft an entertainment powerhouse in the 21st century."

- News Canada
 

Mother Cabbage is expecting again - this time with Cabbage Patch Kids Babies!

Cabbage Patch dolls were re-released last year. This season, they introduced Cabbage Patch Kids Babies, such as the one at right. These adorable dolls come with a kit of baby accessories (including a diaper), and they smell like baby powder!

Note that you can order these dolls through Toys R Us (see link directly below this description) by choosing a general description of the doll, such as "Blonde Hair Girl, Pink Sweatsuit", but because each doll is one-of-a-kind, the eyes, hair styles, and faces will be different than those shown. 

[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: All Cabbage Patch Dolls at Amazon.com (Toys R Us)]

 

Sensory Chip Provides Brains for the Next Generation of Intelligent Toys -- Hasbro's New FURBY Is First


Wednesday September 7, 6:00 am ET
Single RSC-4128 IC from Sensory Controls All Motor, Speech and Hearing Functions


SANTA CLARA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sept. 7, 2005--There is a new wave of interactive toys ready to explode on the marketplace this fall, and they are arriving just in the nick of time for the holiday buying season. If it talks, hears and "understands" you, it is probably using an integrated circuit developed by Sensory, Inc., a Silicon Valley innovative force with over ten years experience in designing low-cost speech technologies into consumer electronics. Featuring highly accurate voice recognition, speech synthesis and command and control capability, Sensory's RSC-4128 integrated circuit is being utilized as the main brain unit for a new generation of low-priced interactive consumer products.

New FURBY Features Single Processor for All Advanced Functions

One of the best selling toys of all time, with 40 million units sold, is back! Hasbro, Inc.'s (NYSE:HAS - News) Tiger Electronics division has developed an all-new FURBY creature that has been engineered with Sensory's RSC-4128 microcontroller providing the brains necessary for its many advanced new functions. Todd Mozer, CEO of Sensory notes, "The newly-released FURBY creature uses the RSC-4128 as a complete single-chip solution providing all hearing, talking and CPU functions." The new FURBY is larger and uses 6 times more memory than its predecessor, allowing for complex motor controls (dancing, expressive eyes and moving ears), multiple sensors (tilt, tickling, petting and feeding), and advanced multilingual speech capabilities (talking and hearing). Most importantly, all of its brains are located on a single chip, which keeps the cost of a new FURBY under approximately $40 at retail.

EMOTO-TRONICS Showcases Multilingual Speech Recognition

Using a technology designed by Hasbro called EMOTO-TRONICS, the evolved FURBY creature displays many new personality characteristics that will make it more life-like and globally loved than ever. "Because of advances in technology, we have been able to make the new FURBY with many of the features that we had wanted to put in the original but could not because of cost," said Leif Askeland, Vice President of Engineering and Technology Development for Hasbro. "Thanks to Sensory's cutting-edge ICs and speech technologies, the new FURBY creature can actually listen to what you say and respond in a very vibrant fashion."

The new FURBY creature "understands" requests to sing a favorite song, tell jokes, dance and play interactive games. It can also communicate with children and other FURBY creatures using human languages, as well as its native "Furbish," making it a uniquely multilingual product.

Speech Capabilities Made Possible by Sensory's Quick T2SI(TM)

The new FURBY creatures' speech capabilities were developed using Sensory's Quick Text to Speaker Independent(TM) (Quick T2SI) recognition technology, which allows vocabularies in multiple languages to be built for an RSC-4128-enabled product using text models that can be fine-tuned for a particular dialect, including invented ones like "Furbish." The command words are referred to as speaker independent -- they work with any speaker (male, female, child or adult) in a given language, and they even recognize different accents, such as the difference between American and British English. Hasbro's new FURBY creature is currently available in the U.S. and will be rolling out across the globe throughout the early fall. In addition to English, versions will be available that also speak Dutch, German, French, Spanish, Japanese and Italian. According to Mr. Mozer, "The new Sensory-energized FURBY creatures promise to set a new standard for realistic, low-cost interactive toys around the globe."

About Sensory, Inc.

Sensory, Inc., (www.sensoryinc.com) based in Santa Clara, CA, is the world leader in embedded speech technologies. Sensory is a profitable private company offering a complete line of IC and software-only solutions for speech recognition, speech synthesis, speaker verification, music synthesis and more. The company's products are widely deployed in consumer electronics applications including telephones, home automation, toys, remote controls, automotive, security, and learning aids. Sensory's customers represent the leaders in consumer electronics, including such companies as Hasbro, JVC, Kenwood, Mitsubishi, Toshiba, Uniden and Sony. Additional Sensory offices are located in Portland, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Vienna.

About Hasbro, Inc.

Hasbro (NYSE:HAS - News) is a worldwide leader in children's and family leisure time entertainment products and services, including the design, manufacture and marketing of games and toys ranging from traditional to high-tech. Both internationally and in the U.S., its PLAYSKOOL, TONKA, MILTON BRADLEY, PARKER BROTHERS, TIGER, and WIZARDS OF THE COAST brands and products provide the highest quality and most recognizable play experiences in the world.

To buy Furby: Furby Toys

Leapster L-MAX

The New Leapster L-MaxTwo screens are better than one in the new Leapster L-MAX(TM) learning game system, now available from LeapFrog Enterprises, Inc. , marks the company's next entry into the video game arena. By combining handheld learning and TV screen learning, Leapster L-MAX learning game system offers the ultimate in educational video gaming.

"LeapFrog has always set the standard for personal learning tools, creating an impressive legacy that we strive to live up to with every product launch," said Craig Hendrickson, director of marketing. "The Leapster L-MAX system is yet another example of our ability to apply cutting edge technology to a new play pattern that utilizes a handheld screen and a TV screen to unlock a deeper level of learning that will thrill and delight children and their parents."

Raising the Bar on Product Innovation

The new Leapster L-MAX learning game system is the only educational video game solution that offers dual-screen technology, activated by special software, to provide added learning opportunities. As a handheld system, it supports portable learning for children on the go. Connect the Leapster L-MAX learning game system to the TV and the dual-screen functionality creates a unique, interactive learning experience that best teaches key school skills for multiple skill levels.

Standard on LeapFrog(R) products, the Leapster L-MAX learning game system uses a stylus to help children better master early handwriting skills. It is the only video game system that also uses a touch screen to support different modes of game play.

In-Depth Tutorials Offer Better Way to Teach Key Concepts

The Leapster L-MAX system features the richest educational content available in a learning game system. Rather than designing games that assume children understand certain reading or math concepts, Leapster L-MAX learning game system supports children in their individual learning process. By providing the best in-depth tutorials and a supporting hint structure to guide the learning, players may seek step-by-step assistance through reading, math or spelling concepts. This type of guided practice not only helps them learn as they play, but inspires confidence in mastering important skills from preschool to fourth grade.

Extensive Software Library Offers Range of Games

A software library designed to work specifically with the Leapster L-MAX learning game system is immediately available for multiple skill levels, and additional titles that go up to fourth grade will follow. The platform will also be compatible with the entire Leapster learning game library of more than 20 software titles to support handheld learning.

Pricing and Availability

The Leapster L-MAX learning game system and new software titles are available immediately in retail stores, including Wal-Mart, Target, and Toys R Us. It has a suggested retail price of $99.99 and the new software titles retail for $29.99 each. Compatible Leapster learning game system titles retail for $24.99.

Read our full review of the Leapster L-Max here.

For more information, user reviews, and to buy: Leapster L-Max

New from the makers of Robosapien

Wow Wee, the makers of last year's hit Robosapien, have released Robraptor--a toy with artificial intelligence. The raptor features three different modes (or moods!): Hunter, Cautious, and Robo Pet ReviewPlayful. Speaking of moods, this toy is designed to be moody, performs bi-pedal walking motions, and works with a remote control.

Also forthcoming from Wow Wee is Robo Pet, a canine bot that walks, jumps, sits, and gets up after falling over. Color recognition and multiple function sound and vision system are featured. This pet has mood swings!

 

New DVD Learning System by Fisher Price

New this season is Read with Me DVD learning system by Fisher Price designed for children ages 3 to 7. Story comprehension, vocabulary, and word awareness skills are built as kids play. A wireless controller allows children to interact with the stories onscreen (they press the page forward or page backward buttons, press shapes to answer multiple choice questions, push the pause button to temporarily stop the action, and so forth). A Read With Me book is included in the package, and more add-on books are available separately. The stories are read aloud and kids answer questions that test their listening and reading comprehension skills. Scholastic is associated with the unit as well, and some of children's beloved stories are available as add-ons.

For more information or to buy:

New in October 2005....FLY

This fall, LeapFrog launches an innovative computing platform -- the FLY(TM) pentop computer.  This new technology platform is designed to bring computer interactivity to the most prolific and easiest-to-use interface of all -- pen and paper.

The FLY pentop computer is the first consumer electronics device to give users real-time audio feedback as they write and draw on special FLY paper, making what you write, really work. A user of the FLY platform will be able to write on a piece of paper and then interact with the writing directly on the paper. 

For instance, a FLY pentop computer user can draw a calculator, touch the handwritten digits and functions to perform an operation -- then hear the answer announced from the FLY platform.  A user also can write a word in English and hear it translated into Spanish, or draw a piano keyboard and play it. At the core of the product are a variety of state-of-the-art technologies including optical scanning technology licensed from Anoto, a widely acclaimed industry leader in digital pen technology.  

"The introduction of the FLY pentop computer is an important milestone for LeapFrog as we strategically extend our successful learning products line into new markets, new technologies, and to broader audiences," explained LeapFrog President Jerry Perez. "The FLY pentop computer strongly positions us to establish and grow a completely new market segment with broad potential for core FLY products and a tremendous range of application opportunities for both LeapFrog and for companies that will support this new platform."    

"The FLY platform heralds the birth of a new industry market -- paper-based computing. With 'intelligent' technology, the FLY pentop computer will assist people of all ages in the mastery of core academic subjects and provide a new genre of entertainment," said Jim Marggraff, the father of the LeapPad(R) learning system, the visionary behind the FLY pentop computer and LeapFrog's Executive Vice President of Worldwide Content.    

Cool Tween Applications    

With the FLY pentop computer, LeapFrog applies its deep roots in technology-based learning products to a range of innovative applications created for tweens to learn, communicate, and game. These paper/software applications make it cool, convenient and fun for tweens to get homework help in math or spelling, translate words into other languages, play baseball with interactive collectible playing cards, write in their journals, interactively master key concepts from school textbooks, compose music, and much more.    

"We've created an intuitive user interface that provides instant navigation, from a blank piece of paper to a user's desired application. Our initial set of tween learning tools and games are designed to alleviate critical educational pain points for tweens, and to provide easy access to information and entertainment in synch with a tweens' lifestyle," added Marggraff.    

Development of the FLY pentop computer was enhanced by a group of 50 tweens, aged 8 to 13, known as the Quantum X Team. These "kid developers" worked on a regular basis over the past year with LeapFrog product designers to provide input on the FLY platform and its applications.    

Product Information and Availability    

The FLY pentop computer will be available in Fall 2005 in the consumer electronics section of select retailers nationwide. The suggested retail price for the FLY pentop computer is expected to be approximately $99 and the suggested retail prices for applications are expected to range from $7.99 - $29.99. 

See All FLY products

 

Littlest Pet Shop

Remember Littlest Pet Shop? They're back! This next generation series of Littlest Pet Shop toys is actually quite different than you may remember them—the pets are bigger, for one, and they look a little funkier. Kids love toy pets, and they adore teeny-weeny toys, too. Although not as teeny as they used to be, Littlest Pet Shop sets will have strong appeal with kids approximately 4-8 years old. The smaller sets include two adorable pets and little accessories. The larger sets are playsets. 

These miniature pets contain little magnets and feature bobbling heads. Their paws have tiny magnets inside that, when placed on special areas on an accessory, allow them to "do" something, such as open the lid of a food dish or a jewelry box. Accessories include such things as a tiny hairbrush or cool sunglasses. They're unquestionably cute, comparatively inexpensive, and kids love them. 

See All Littlest Pet Shop Toys

  

Cabbage Patch Dolls

A blast from the past! The original Cabbage Patch doll frenzy occurred in the early 1980's. Many parents of today's children took part in the thrill of the dolls: each doll is entirely unique and comes with adoption papers that include a name and a birthdate. Kids loved them then, and they love them today. Many parents will be happy to know that today's Cabbage Patch dolls have not been "updated" with technology or anything of the sort. 

Note that you can order these dolls through Toys R Us (see link directly below this description) by choosing a general description of the doll, such as "Blonde Hair Girl, Pink Sweatsuit", but because each doll is one-of-a-kind, the eyes, hair styles, and faces will be different than those shown. 

[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: All Cabbage Patch Dolls at Amazon.com (Toys R Us)]

 

Tamagotchi Connection

Tamagotchi virtual pets are back with all-new features. This new breed of Tamagotchi pets features infrared technology that allows them to communicate with up to 50 other Tamagotchi. There is a Lights Off feature that should help minimize the stress that the old Tamagotchi caused some children. Kids still need to feed, clean up after, play with, and discipline their virtual pets in order to keep them alive and well. Why didn't we recommend this toy in our gift guides? Our gift guides feature our most recommended toys. Tamagotchi Connection didn't make it simply because we still find the toy stresses children out, especially younger kids. Of course, every child is different and responds to this type of toy in unique ways. However, we found that the care required to keep Tamagotchi thriving is a little too challenging, and many kids, especially sensitive ones, don't need that kind of stress to keep a pet "alive".

[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Tamagotchi Connection:Pink with Orange Stars or see all Tamagotchi Connection Toys at Amazon.com]

 

December 2004: VideoNow Color Named Best Toy of 2004

Already topping the leading national 'what's hot' lists predicting the holiday season's 'must haves' Hasbro, Inc.'s VIDEONOW COLOR was named 'Best Toy of 2004' in early December during the first annual Ultimate Toy Awards Show, a nationally televised special presented by Toy Wishes Magazine. Voted on by consumers and the American toy press, The Ultimate Toy Awards celebrate play, family entertainment and the toy industry.

"VIDEONOW COLOR has raised the bar in the world of electronic entertainment for kids," said Jim Silver, editor-in-chief of Toy Wishes Magazine. "It truly deserves this year's top honors."

"We are thrilled that both consumers and the media have voted VIDEONOW COLOR as the best toy of the year," said Brian Goldner, president of Hasbro's U.S. Toys group. "Hasbro established a leadership position in this important category beginning in 2003, and we are very pleased that our consumers continue to look to VIDEONOW for a great 'anytime, anywhere' experience. A key part of our success is the synergistic relationships we have with our valued content partners and top celebrities such as Nickelodeon, Discovery, NBC, CBS, ABC, Hilary Duff and Raven."

In addition to securing the top spot as "Best Toy of 2004" VIDEONOW COLOR also brought home the 'Ultimate Electronic Entertainment Toy of 2004' award.

VIDEONOW Color Personal Video Player: Sapphire

 

Scene It? Jr.

Scene It? Jr. won a toy award in the Best Puzzles & Games category in NBC's Ultimate Toy Awards Show. "Scene It?(TM) Jr. represents a new generation of board games," said Jim Silver, editor-in-chief of Toy Wishes magazine. "The game embraces the growth of DVD technology, which adds a new level of fun and excitement to kids' board game play." Scene It?(TM) Jr. is the first-ever DVD-based board game for youngsters that combines an interactive board game with the visual excitement of the fast-growing DVD technology. Targeted to today's 'tweens, kids can gather together to share their memory, logic and pop culture knowledge as they move frame to frame along the film reels of the game board, challenging other players or racing the clock. Many of the questions are based on observation, so players of all ages can participate in the fun. Scene It?(TM) Jr. along with the Disney Scene It? (TM) DVD Game were introductions this year into the successful Scene It? (TM) portfolio of games. 

See Scene It Games

 

November 2004: Amazon.com's top-selling toys

Amazon.com announced its 3 top-selling toys from November 1-23, 2004:

  1. V-Smile

  2. Cranium Hullabaloo Game

  3. Fridge Phonics Magnetic Letter Set

 

 

Fall 2004: My Little Pony

Fans of My Little Pony will be pleased to hear that the property has returned as a popular brand with little girls, and new products are being released this year.

Since last fall, more than four million ponies and over three million books featuring the pastel ponies have reached the U.S. marketplace alone. This year, there is even more to look forward to as the My Little Pony brand celebrates a new theme - FRIENDSHIP BALL. Little girls will enjoy these new pony adventures with an in-pack video being distributed worldwide. The MY LITTLE PONY story will also be told through the successful and growing publishing program. This year, Simon & Schuster, Hemma, The Five Mile Press and Egmont Books will work with Hasbro Properties Group to bring publishing to multiple countries and more than double the number of titles released.

Additional licensees for the brand in 2004 include Atari, Cohen & Wilks, American Greetings, pending contract, and Fruit of the Loom, to name a few. In spring 2005, look for a promotion with a major restaurant chain.

On the Horizon:

My Little Pony was released on software some years ago, but the CD-ROM was discontinued. In January 2005, Atari will release My Little Pony Pack, which is now available for pre-order here: My Little Pony Play Pack.

MY LITTLE PONY TWINKLE TWIRL’s DANCE STUDIO is a playset by Hasbro due out in Fall 2004. All the ponies are practicing their dance moves in preparation for the Friendship Ball at TWINKLE TWIRL’s DANCE STUDIO. Twinkle Twirl is included and spins to music and lights on the playset’s rotating dance floor! Ages 3-up.

Read more about My Little Pony

 

 

 

 
 

 

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