Visiting the American International Toy Fair gave me a brief overview of what is popular across many facets of the toy industry. I wouldn’t claim to have a thorough comprehension of the market, but it was certainly an informative experience.
Some of my notes from fair:
Lots of robot kits. Solar powered vs. battery powered.
Grouped into prefab and modular kits.
Sound and light sensors, too.
Example: HexPods. Overheard vendor discuss user testing: Kids want control and speed.
Slot car systems. Even here there is much licensing. (Nintendo – Mario Cart)
Figurine playsets. Thematically related. Realistically detailed. Schleich.
Glow strings and kits.
Materials: Lots of plastic (PVC), lots of wood.
Many stuffed animals.
Lots of board games and educational toys. Brain teasers.
Flying toys. Planes/helicopters.
Tents and other enclosures.
Saw remote controlled drawing robots. Reminded me of Chris Cerrito’s project
Pedal powered cart. Awesome. Disc brakes and 7 speed shifting.
So, an idea for the toy design class:
Handheld car/wheeled bot. Move it around, let go of it, then it will continually mimic the previous movement. Inspired by yellowtail, but physical. I feel that I’ve seen something similar from a research lab, but can’t find the site. (anyone want to point it out to me?)
Here’s a (rough) software prototype: TraceBug
Maybe it could be a game? Have to make an increasing number of discreet moves without hitting anything? Maybe it could be like lightcycles (from the movie Tron) – remember the path and try not to cross over it? Maybe there is an obstacle course? Maybe you are trying to trace and existing path?
Of course, you can still roll the car around even when it’s without power.
So, that’s the rough idea.
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