Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Techy Tuesday - Hi-Tech Keeps Advancing into the Toy Market

True story: back when I worked at Major Southeast Defense Contractor, Mattel came to talk with us.  Yes, that Mattel.  This was around 1992, so pardon me if I don't remember too many details, but they came to look into putting radio systems into a new line of their toys and wanted to know if we could do it.  "Of course we can", we answered, but when all was said and done, our approach was too expensive for them.  Our design was probably a little too "gold-plated" for them; figuratively speaking.  Being a group that had designed systems for all sorts or military and space platforms, and proud of our very low system failure rate, our design was going to be essentially guaranteed to work properly 100% of the time and they were willing to go with something a bit less robust.  They had a price point and we were well beyond what they thought a good starting point would be. 

Do I have to tell you that the toy industry is very sensitive to price? 

Keep the story about our tech being too expensive in mind when you look at this story on the just-completed annual Toy Industry Association Toy Fair, held February 13-16 in New York City.  Yes, the industry has this show every year, right after their big season, with the prototypes of next Christmas' "Big Thing" on display.  This is a slide show of 20 feature toys from the show.   The influence of hi-tech is simply impossible to miss.  For example:
In fact, U.S. Toy Industry Association (TIA) in its top toy trends of 2016 pointed to drones, robots and toys-to-life as the leading trend. "The hottest robots of the year will be customizable and teach kids important concepts, including coding, engineering, problem-solving and building," the group said in a written statement. "Younger children will also find them as, or with, their action figures, puzzles and bath toys." (source)
To see everything, just keep clicking the "Next" arrow at the top or bottom of the picture.  There's a 23 minute video from a talk at the fair on the 2016 trends in toys in the Electronic Business News article.


  1. Hmmmm....I'm still waiting for them to come out with the "Small Soldiers" line of interactive toys.....

  2. Bad enough in automotive electronics. Software quality? We don't have time for that! Code it fast, hope it last! Heard plenty of horror stories about commercial electronics.