Clash of the titans: Manufacturers talk tech vs traditional - ToyNews

Clash of the titans: Manufacturers talk tech vs traditional

Are traditional toys under threat from tech? Should retailers be open to both? Is one taking market share off the other? Can’t we all just get along? Toy firms give us their view on the tech versus traditional debate
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Asobi: Thierry Bourret, founder and managing director

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“The Asobi mission is to provide ‘inspired toys for today’. What parents find frustrating with many tech toys, is that they give children premade ideas and there is little left for the imagination.

The reason I started Asobi is because as a father, I was really discouraged by the lack of high quality toys available that would allow my child to use his imagination.

We have a great diversity in the Asobi collection, which includes beautifully packaged crafts from Seedling, iconic ride-ons from Radio Flyer, den building kits from PL-UG, the largest figurine collection in the world from Safari, the infamous Sticky Mosaics line from The Orb Factory, Vilac - the brand that has been manufacturing wooden lacquered toys for over 100 years and many more.

Tech toys such as tablets can be fantastic learning devices. There are thousands of educational apps and games that teach children to read, write and learn math, and as long as they are not used in excess I think these type of tech toys provide a great dimension on play.

However, when children are spending hours on these devices, I believe it can become incredibly detrimental.
Playtime needs to have variety and to be balanced.

What traditional toys offer is a chance for children to discover and learn for themselves. Dressing up and role play is great for the imagination and crafting leaves a child with a wonderful sense of achievement.

All in all, I would say that traditional toys offer more wholesome fun, however in moderation, tech toys can also be great learning tools.”


VTech: Andrew Welch, senior brand manager

“We are continuing to introduce new and innovative technology to traditional products and play patterns. Across our ranges, our products have been designed to bring out the best in children by encouraging them to play, learn and discover.

At VTech, we take the latest technology and make this accessible to children in an educational, fun way for them to enjoy. New for this summer, we are launching our Little Love Baby Talk doll.

With our new doll, we are enriching this nurturing role-play as children can engage with Little Love Baby Talk as well as learn from her too.

In an ever-increasing fast-paced technological society, children need to be familiar with technology to help in their learning, further education and career.

Schools as well as households are using technology more and more. With our pre-school range, our toys are specifically developed to teach basic curriculum skills in the same way children are taught in early school years.

We offer a balance of traditional based toys with technology to enrich a child’s learning and imagination. Our First Steps Baby Walker is a traditional toy enhanced with technology to not only help with a baby’s first steps but also introduce words, numbers, colours and more. This is the number one infant toy by value (April 2014 NPD) and is now in its 20th year.”

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Flair: Verity Groom, product manager, GP Tech

“GP Flair develops and distributes toys across many sectors, including traditional toys and modern technology. Last year the company launched its GP Tech division and successfully introduced APPen and Cupets.

We also have an amazing new interactive high-tech pet to launch in July called Xeno which we are really excited about.

Stocking tech toys can create a reason for customers to come to the store in the first place, especially as they are often TV advertised and will be sought after by the consumer. Including these type of toys can therefore open up the store to a wider audience and, if chosen wisely, does not have to affect the nature or ethos of the establishment

On the traditional end of the scale we have some of the most well-known brands of the last century in the portfolio including Plasticine, Etch a Sketch and The Original Slinky.

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Most toy shops do embrace all elements of the toy sector, both tech and traditional, but we respect the fact that some owners may have particular thoughts on what they should stock.

It’s always good to have an open mind though and make consideration of all that is available when choosing ranges.”


LeapFrog: Sally Plumridge, international marketing director

“With our in-house team of Learning Experts and our in-house play lab we ensure that every toy within our extensive range offers the very best play value in today’s world.

This is a unique blend of traditional play values, the power of innovative technology, real understanding of a proprietary curriculum of 2,600 skills and a passion for enriching the lives of children in today’s dynamic world.

A great example is LeapBand, the first activity tracker for children. It gets kids moving and having fun with 50 different activities and challenges.

We recognised how a new technology can encourage children to be more active – one of the most traditional of all play patterns.

We know from our conversations with parents that there are a number of concerns about exposure of technology to children. The amount of screen time is an important issue and each family will have their own plan, related to the age of their children, their lifestyles, and their views about technology. However we do know that it’s the type of content matters most.

Whatever way you look at it, tech toys are becoming increasingly popular and that is why our products combine world class education with a 100 per cent kid-safe experience.”

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Cartamundi: Trudi Bishop, head of licensing

“We have a mix of traditional cards and hybrid products for consumers to choose from.

A major new addition to our hybrid range is Shuffle. You can deal and play the Shuffle games straight out of the box, but you can also download free apps that let you hear, watch and even inhabit your chosen game.

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The children of today are a connected generation and technology is their norm. But they still love many toys and games familiar to their parents and even grandparents. So in order to compete and appeal to the very wide-ranging tastes of modern young consumers, any toy shop needs to be willing to embrace at least some of the new toys coming through.

Cartamundi has done just that: in fact we’ve taken this one step further with our move into hybrid products. You could say we’re giving traditional toy shops the best of both worlds.

It’s really not difficult to see the value of technology in very traditional terms: kids are learning, interacting and using it for role play, imaginative play and social play in much the same way we did with our toys when we were kids.

What is important is that retailers and parents understand and even embrace new technology.”


Spin Master: Phil Hooper, marketing director

“Tech products have captured kids imaginations for many years, so when something groundbreaking is launched, with the backing of creative and substantial marketing investment, then retailers should be confident that demand will be strong.

Toy stores should back items that combine genuine innovation with a commitment to deliver heavyweight marketing support from the supplier.

Spin Master’s Tech offering is focused around an expanded range of Zoomer pets.

In 2014, the classic Zoomer has been further improved with double the amount of tricks plus new breeds and colours.

For boys, we have Boomer the Zoomer Dino, which as well as being incredibly speedy racing around on two feet, will chomp, roar and whip his tail when he gets angry.

Today’s kids live in a world of rapidly advancing technology and they are extremely tech savvy as a result. So it
should come as a surprise to no one that some of the best and most innovative tech items are in high demand. But parents will always be looking for a balance from the best of traditional and tech toys.

I would like to think that toy shops can also find a balance between the best of traditional and the best tech toys, as this is likely to mirror consumer demand and drive traffic to those toy shops.”

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Golden Bear: Barry Hughes, commercial director

“Golden Bear offers a diverse and varied range of both plush and plastic toys that encompass not only traditional elements but also many electronic features.

Whilst our plush provides both comfort and soft play for younger children it also includes items such as Henry Hugglemonster Roar Back which brings a new dimension through its electronic chip technology.

Most toy shops have a balanced offering and tech toys certainly bring in the crowds at certain times of the year.

The type of mainstream licensed toys Golden Bear produces are highly sought after and a must have for any toy store.

They reflect a good balance of traditional values but also have elements of technology to varying degrees bringing products to life and endless fun to pre-school children.

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Technology has opened up a whole new world of ideas and way of play and even learning, however, it’s important not to forget about traditional toys as they offer imaginative play and children can interact together.

Both tech and traditional should be embraced rather than put against each other.

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