That’s Not a Phone In Your Pocket It’s a Dongle for Your Toys!

Toy Fair 2012

Toy Fair 2012

Pretty catchy slogan – huh?  Yep, that is the new slogan from the Toy Industry.   Apparently they focus group tested “If Your Kids Play With Your Phone Instead of Our Toys, The Terrorist Win” but it just wasn’t edgy enough.  Fine, I am totally making all of this up, but there is no question the toy industry is concerned with the trend of kids playing with phones and tablets instead of toys.

If the walls of Toy Fair 2012 could speak I am pretty sure they would be saying “Damn you parents, why do you keep using your iPads and iPhones to entertain your kids?  Toys not good enough for you anymore? Oh, and hey buddy stop leaning on me- I’m a wall, not a vertical bed!

The Toy Industry Strikes Back!

Clearly one of the top trends at Toy Fair 2012 was the marriage of phones, tablets and toys.  Some concepts were solid, the use of a smartphone or tablet increased the play value of the toys.  In other cases, it was painfully clear that the addition of the phone or tablet was just a desperate attempt by the toy industry to hold on to consumer interest in a technical world.

Here is a quick sampling of how toys, tablets and phones will come together in 2012…

Board Games Are Less Boring With A Phone or Tablet???

Hasbro has decided it is time to zap some classic board games.  The Game of Life: Zapped Edition uses an iPad in the middle of the board to replace the spinner and play videos from America’s Funniest Home Videos – just to give you a taste of what life is really like.

Monopoly Zapped gets rid of all that ugly money and chance cards that used to clutter the table.  Now you use an iPhone to scan cards and properties and the iPhone keeps track of all the money.  Better hope you don’t get any embarrassing texts while playing Monopoly Zapped with the kids!

You Haven’t Lived Until You’ve Rubbed Toys on Your $600 iPad

Every large toy company was showing off some technology that gives you the privilege of buying physical toys that interact with the app.  Disney’s AppMates is a popular one that allows you to drag tiny cars all around your iPad screen.   Really, if I had a nickle for every company that showed me an app that worked with a real world toy, I would have enough money to buy a new iPad after my kids break the current one after smashing toys against the screen.

No Really, iPhones Love to Get Tossed Around

If you are not into rubbing toys against your iPhone or iPad screen – how about sticking your iPhone into a toy?  We saw plenty of stuffed animals that you stick your iPhone into.  Because if there is one thing every parent needs, it is one more place to lose their iPhone.

Oh, and remember when people used to bowl…for real?  Then we all got into Wii bowling, but really isn’t bowling about taking your phone and rolling it into a wall?  TheO is a big foam ball you stick your iPhone in and can then play games like bowling by rolling your phone into a wall.

Fly and Drive Everything With Your Phone of Tablet

Have you ever looked at your flat phone, with no joysticks or steering wheels on it, and thought, “Wow this make the perfect device to fly an RC plane or drive and RC car?”  Yep, back in the day they made remote controls for cars and planes that had joysticks, wheels and buttons…it was clearly too easy to drive or fly this way.  Now, every major company makes a remote controlled vehicle that you control with your phone or tablet.   Isn’t technology great?

Playing Cards Come to Life With Augmented Reality

Playing cards and trading cards have always been cursed by being so simple.  No batteries needed, you can take and play with them anywhere.  Clearly here was a problem that the toy industry was happy to solve.   Products like MushABelly from Toy Tube give you a trading card that comes to life via augmented reality when you hold it in front of your iPad’s camera.   Now when you want to play cards with your friends you just need an iPad2 and the correct amount of light for the app to work… simplicity problem solved!

Kids Shooting, Running, Rolling and Playing With Your iPhone – What Could Go Wrong?

Hasbro, Mattel and Jakks Pacific were all showing off various guns that allow you to clip your iPhone onto them.  The idea is that the phone, by using its camera, can create an augmented reality battlefield and keep track of scoring.  This actually sounds really fun, until your son does that dive and roll move and the gun (with your phone) goes flying to the floor.  Don’t worry, sometimes it is nice to be disconnected for a while.

We could go on and on with this list, but I assume you are reading this on your iPhone and your kids probably need it to play some games.

Is This Marriage of Toys and Tablets Always a Bad Thing?

No.  There are times where an iPad or iPhone can add a new experience to a toy and make it more fun and enjoyable to play.  When we get a chance to sit down and review some of the toys we mentioned above, maybe this will be the case.  On the other hand, let’s be honest for a moment, for some toys, there is just no reason or logic to tie it together with a high priced, delicate phone or tablet.    Which is why I have an even better idea for the toy industry – turn the tables and require that every toy made also function as a phone and tablet.   Take that you overly entertaining phones!

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