Crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo are increasingly being used by toy creators to launch their products into the marketplace.
Following news of Exploding Kittens' mammoth success via crowdfunding, here at ToyNews we have scoured the world to look at some of the best toys and games to reach out to the public in its path to the shelves.
Some were funded, some crashed and burned, but all are amazing in their own way.
This Kickstarter campaign for a toy-based email/voicemail service raised a mammoth $83,341 from a $60,000 target, and appeared in the likes of Wired, The New York Times and TechCrunch. You can record a voice message using the app, hit send, and the toys will speak the message back to the recipient in their funny voice (or the child's voice). Kids can then reply directly using their toys. Toymail toys are now fully available to buy from www.toymail.co/.
2.Psychic Power II Board Game
How in the name of all things holy did we let this game slip through our fingers?
Psychic Power II needed to raise $5,000 on IndieGoGo back in 2012. Unfortunately, it didn't raise a cent. But what a game! The purpose of Psychic Power II was to establish and measure the level of your psychical potential by using radiesthesia, magnetism, clairvoyance, psychokinesis, telepathy and precognition. In a nutshell, this was a board game that, after a few goes, could turn your into Derren Brown, and all just through the use of a board, pendulum, dice and some cards.
One example of the game was that to measure your telepathy skills, two players take cards with a range of symbols on and take it in turns to try to identify the images on their opponents card. You get points if you're able to guess, or 'telepathically recognise', the symbols. It's as easy as that.
I don't know what happened to Psychic Power I, but then again, I'm no psychic.
Movie buffs flocked to Kickstarter earlier this month to help fund Cinelinx, a card game for 'movie people'. The game sees players take turns laying down cards featuring actors, directors, movie titles, scenes, quotes or genres, before stating the connection between them. If a player can't find a connection, they pick up another card, and the first person to shed all of their cards, wins. The game was created by the team behind the Cinelinx website and the campaign raised $36,184, smashing a goal of $12,000. To stay informed as to when the game is ready to buy, sign up here.
4. Supertoy – The World’s First Naturally Talking Teddy Bear
UK firm Supertoy Robotics took a naturally talking teddy bear to Kickstarter, and raised more than double the target amount. Supertoy – The World’s First Naturally Talking Teddy Bear mimics awareness and has his own autonomous thoughts. Far less creepy than it actually sounds, the bear copies real human speech patterns, and his robotic mouth moves in time to what he says.
Users download a free app and zip the smartphone into a hidden compartment at the back of the bear to give the ability of speech. The app is free from either the Google Play or Apple App store, and is built from Jeannie, a virtual assistant which has been downloaded three million times. The internet access to his server 'brain' allow him to react realistically to things that children say, something his creators believe is a sort of ‘Siri for children’. The firm hopes to start shipping Supertoy in December.
5. Cards Against Humanity
Cards Against Humanity's initial Kickstarter campaign raised four times its $4,000 goal back in 2011 and it has since generated an estimated $12 million in revenue.
The card game sees players dealt a range of white cards featuring a whole host of random actions, objects and celebrities. Each round sees one player asks a question from a black card, and everyone else answer with their funniest white card. The funniest answer wins, and the game is full to the brim of rude, offensive, daft and hilariously innapproporate cards. The game can be purchased or downloaded for free on the official Cards Against Humanity site.
Four expansion packs and a special UK edition later, Cards Against Humanity has become a cult favourite. The firm behind it even recently partnered with Netflix for a special House of Cards pack, titled House of Cards Against Humanity.
6. Sweety Onion
Sweety Onion is a copyright character created on the island of Maui, Hawaii. Why is an surfing Onion on this list? Well, here's a bit of backstory.
October 1997: The remains of Che Guevara are laid to rest, I Know What You Did Last Summer lands in cinemas, and all the onions of Maui got together to witness the birth of one of the sweetest onions around. This birth reminded all of the older onions of how sweet life really is and so the onion was named Sweety. Sweety developed a signature hand gesture which means 'Aloha' and 'Hang Loose'.
Still not convinced. Well, there aren't enough onion-based toys in this industry and as far as vegetables go, it's cute. Unfortunately, the campaign wanted to raise $25,000. It made $170.
Ubooly, a toy idea born from its creators believing 'the toy industry stopped caring', was created by teachers who descibe it as 'a child's best friend, tutor and gym coach all rolled up into a furry marshmallow creature with ears'. The toy, which functions when an iPad, iPhone or Android devices are inserted into it, has been designed to keep kids engaged for months with games, stories, jokes and experiments.
Ubooly features voice recognition and includes a range of activities designed to teach children, with new tasks constantly added wirelessly through mobile devices. Different Uboolys will also talk to each other if put together. The Kickstarter campaign raised double what it aimed for back in October 2013, and Ubooly is now available to buy at www.ubooly.com.
8. Humanoid 8.0 Yvonne Action Figure
It's quite simple to see why this project only raised $242 for a goal of $12,000. Who wants a creepy scowling naked doll called Yvonne with 'swappable chest pieces'?
But looking beyond the image, the project was actual an attempt to release a 1/9 scale (8 inch) figure boasting detail and customisation options not usually seen in a figure of that size. A concept far less worrying than the image above suggests.
Things might have gone a little differently, had he not used Yvonne, an action figure with a face like a slapped arse, as an example. And I can't be alone in thinking she looks a little like Susanna Reid.
9. Touring Teddy
This sweet idea from Leah Chamish sees children receive personalised packages containing letters, photos and toy souvenirs from a globetrotting Touring Teddy.
The letters aim to encourage kids to read as they become familiar with other countries and cultures. After touring and exploring their country, the Touring Teddy comes home to stay with the child.
The campaign was successfully funded last March, hitting its goal of $8,000.
10. MO-TO: Modern Vintage Toy Cars
MO-TO cars are a series of wooden recreations of iconic 1960’s automobiles boasting complex carving details, rubber tires and lively graphics. Makers Candylab Toys even designed a range of apparel to go with the toys.
The project was successfully funded in September 2013, raising $102,924 from a goal of $20,000. Petrol heads with a love of traditional toys can pre-order the range at www.candylabs.com/shop.html