Anatomy of a blockbuster toy: LeapPad

For the last two years, LeapPad has been the number one tablet in the UK market year to date, says LeapFrog. Here, the firm tells Samantha Loveday about its plans for the latest incarnation, the Ultra, why sales are still growing and how the brand has continually captured the attention of kids, and their parents
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For the last two years, LeapPad has been the number one tablet in the UK market year to date, says LeapFrog. Here, the firm tells Samantha Loveday about its plans for the latest incarnation, the Ultra, why sales are still growing and how the brand has continually captured the attention of kids, and their parents

LeapFrog has enjoyed some strong sales figures already in 2013 for its LeapPad children’s tablet, including an impressive 48 per cent growth in May YTD for LeapPad2 (source: NPD May 2013).

On top of this, LeapFrog software sales have also helped to bolster the brand’s performance in May, with LeapFrog Explorer software at number eight in the market YTD. This resulted in LeapFrog’s 55 per cent market leading share of the pre-school electronic learning category in the UK.

Now, this month sees the latest incarnation of the LeapPad hit retail shelves, the Ultra, and – if the early retail Christmas lists are anything to go by – LeapFrog has another hit on its hands.

“Founded on a simple mission to inspire a love of learning, the LeapPad family are a fantastic example of how LeapFrog continuously strives to help reinvent the way children learn,” Sally Plumridge, international marketing director at LeapFrog, tells ToyNews.

“The original LeapPad tablet was launched in 2011 aimed at four to nine year olds. It offered parents a kid-tough, interactive tablet solution at a time when more and more young children were being enticed by adult technology, such as tablets and smart phones, that weren’t particularly age appropriate or robust enough for child use.”

This was followed up with LeapPad2 in 2012, which added new front and back cameras plus more games and storage. LeapPad2 Power and LeapPad Ultra arrive in August.

As the hardware family grows, all of the devices remain compatible with LeapFrog’s Explorer library of over 500 educational games, ebooks, music and more.

So, what’s the secret to its success? Dual appeal, says Plumridge.

“It is everything kids love and everything parents want. The LeapPad family of tablets have been designed with both kids and parents in mind, making it a desirable all round purchase at an attractive price point.”

Plumridge continues: “Kids love the wealth of 500+ games, apps, ebooks, videos and music that they can enjoy independently via their own personal device. Parents not only love the fact it is kid-tough and can withstand everyday play, but love its longevity. LeapPads can be refreshed with new educational entertainment experiences from the extensive LeapFrog content library, ensuring they stand the test of time with little ones.

“Parents also have that all important peace of mind knowing that their children are learning while they play with all of our LeapPad devices.”

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“LeapPad Ultra’s stand out feature is LeapSearch, a proprietary kid-safe web browser that lets children access and explore pre-approved internet content.?The content is selected by our educators in a closed, secure environment – giving parents that all important peace of mind,” says Sally Plumridge, LeapFrog’s international marketing director.

The new tablet also boasts child-safe peer to peer play across devices when two or more LeapPad Ultra tablet connect locally, as well as a larger screen.

While the original LeapPad and the second incarnation had five-inch screens, the Ultra has a seven-inch DUO TECH high-resolution touch screen which means it is finger swipe friendly. It is also stylus enabled for that all important writing experience.


“LeapPad Ultra is not just child friendly, it is kid-tough,” enthuses Plumridge.

“The product has been designed for both little minds and little hands, and is therefore designed to withstand little accidents. Its compact size, weight and smooth rounded shape make it just right for children’s small hands to keep hold of, either on the go or at home.”

The seven-inch display screen also helps the product’s sleek new look, while the easy to use front and back cameras and video recorders encourage children to get creative and learn to write with the aid of the stylus.

Plumridge continues: “All instructions are at a child’s pace and the LeapSearch browser is also simple for children to navigate, giving them the freedom to play and learn independently. To aid learning and discovery, the devices offer children hints, tips and full tutorials should they get stuck, as well as personalised auto levelling – meaning that levels of games or challenges will be tailored to players abilities and will encourage them to develop.”


The size and placement of LeapPad’s buttons was a vital consideration for the firm.

“D-pad dimensions are based on traditional ‘cross’ style D-pads,” says Jason Avery, LeapFrog’s director of design. “We made ours circular to allow for better diagonal translation in gameplay. We share some of the same concave features as other controllers, but added a convex centre element so they don’t migrate to the centre of the button during gameplay.

“Volume and power are placed in an ideal location to allow for landscape and portrait play. Power is recessed again to prevent accidental activation in a backpack or when holding the device.

“Home button is on a thumb sweep arc, but recessed or has a raised rib to prevent accidental activation when they are playing traditional D-pad style games,” Avery continues



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