[FUN] Old Toys Get New Tech
Disney loves to recycle old movie plots because it’s cheaper than coming up with new material. Toymakers love to recycle old toys for the same reason, and also because parents tend to have fond memories of their favorite childhood toys and buy accordingly. Here are some old toys that have been reborn with tech touches for the connected generation...
Your Favorite Childhood Toys, Reimagined
Who didn’t have a Radio Flyer “little red wagon” back in the day? Even during the Great Recession, 1500 wagons a day were produced. Today, Radio Flyer sells also sells customized tricycles, scooters, bicycles, and a $499 scaled-down Tesla Model S electric car.
The mini-Tesla can be ordered with custom paint, a standard 130 Wh or an option 190 Wh battery, indoor car cover, vanity license plate, and even its own stop sign. Its top speed is 6 mph and that can be limited to 3 mph. For ages 3-8. (I can recall exceeding that top speed by a considerable amount in my old-school Radio Flyer.)
Cabbage Patch Kids were a huge hit in the 1980s. The soft, all-fabric, “needle molded” dolls were supremely cuddly. You couldn’t buy one; each was “adopted,” complete with adoption certificate and life story. The next-generation CPK Baby So Real, $100 when it debuts this Fall, is covered with sensors that enable the doll to respond to tickling and even games of Peek-A-Boo. Tiny LCDs make its eyes appear more lifelike, able to look around, blink, and respond to interactions with a child. More lights under its new plastic skin help it “blush” or show symptoms of a fever that can be “treated” with an interactive medicine spoon or feeding bottle. A smartphone app serves as a “baby monitor” and prompts the doll to giggle, laugh, and move around.
The View-Master stereoscope has wowed adults and kids with 3D images of exotic locations and animated characters since 1939. In the Fall of 2016, the View-Master DLX virtual reality viewer will hit the scene. Based on the Google Cardboard VR platform, this $30 toy requires a smartphone that is inserted into the back of the viewer. Instead of inserting cardboard-and-celluloid reels, users will download data files that can be rendered by the VR engine. Can't wait? The first-generation View-Master VR starter kit is on Amazon for less than $20.
Barbie’s Dreamhouse is getting smart. The Hello Barbie Dreamhouse coming out this Fall is WiFi-enabled, has a smartphone app, and comes with voice-recognition that lets kids interact with the house. “Hello, Dreamhouse. Bring the elevator down to the first floor” is one example. Kids can also tell the house to turn on the oven, adjust the lights, and get ready to party. (The chandeliers spin disco-style and the stairs turn into a slide.)
Cashless, But Not Crashless
To pass Go and collect $200 in the upcoming “Ultimate Banking” Monopoly game from Hasbro, you’ll have to swipe a plastic debit card through a battery-operated ATM. Hasbro is doing away with the colorful (and easily lost) wads of fake cash. The ATM will also keep track of purchases, properties, debts, and “Life Events,” a new random assortment of things like rent increases, medical bills, car repairs, etc. I wonder if they've included "Bank error in hacker's favor: Lose $200" or "Files Encrypted! Advance to the nearest Bitcoin dispenser and insert $500."
My personal pick this year has to be Anki Overdrive, a slot-less slotcar racing set. Track sections fasten together with magnets to form eight different configurations. Each car has its own artificial-intelligence “driver” with a unique set of driving skills, attitude, and virtual weapons. The cars are controlled via a smartphone app. Gameplay modes include Arcade, in which players race each other and the computer, and Campaign, in which various “commanders” must be defeated to unlock achievements and challenges. Yes, it’s like a video game with real-world crashes! The starter kit with 2 cars, 10 track sections, and 2 risers will cost $150.
Be wary of toys that are Wifi-enabled, and require your child to register with his, her (or a parent's) personal information. Last November, Vtech, maker of electronic toys, was hacked. Names, birthdays, email addresses, passwords, home addresses (and in some cases photos) of both kids and parents were exposed. Using a fake name, address, and birthday might be a good strategy when dealing with connected toys.
So, parents and grandparents, what was your favorite childhood toy, and is there a re-imagined, wired, or digitized version of it for today's kids? Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below.
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 26 Feb 2016
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- [FUN] Old Toys Get New Tech (Posted: 26 Feb 2016)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved