US toys in 2010 are 'green,' high-tech... and cheap

Feb 16, 2010 by Luis Torres de la Llosa
Various types of Hexbugs by Innovation First, Inc. on display at the annual Toy Fair, February 14, 2010 in New York. Hexbugs are described as micro robotic creatures that are self-powered and motorized.

US toy makers are coming out of a long recession tunnel this year, hoping to ride the recovery wave with new lines of classic, "green" and high-tech toys, and a sales pitch centered on affordability.

The American International Toy Fair 2010, underway in New York until Wednesday, is sounding out market tendencies after a disastrous 2008 and an encouraging upswing in 2009 that promises further improvements this year in a multi-billion-dollar industry.

Toy manufacturers have hit the fair with exhibits ranging from classic erector sets by Lego and Playmobil to spanking new offers like a Twitter collar for pets and the perennial doll favorite Barbie, who this year is decked out as a television anchorwoman.

Santa Claus will have toys for all tastes next Christmas, but above all he will be concerned with keeping the price tag down, even at the expense of quality.

Labeled toy of the year by the Toy Industry Association (TIA), the cuddly Zhu Zhu pet hamster robots from Cepia are still top of the list for young kids -- and parents -- for under 10 dollars.

"The trend this year is affordability. You will see a lot of green products under 25 dollars, also active games for the body or the minds, and affordable high tech," TIA spokeswoman Reyne Rice told AFP.

"Parents are looking for toys or games they can play with their children, and not necessarily with too much technology," said Playmobil USA Marketing Manager Michelle Winfrey.

The toy industry is worth 75 billion dollars in annual sales worldwide, with more than one-quarter, or 21 billion, in the United States alone, according to TIA figures.

This year's environmentally friendly exhibits include toys made of wood and innovative offers like a 20-dollar caterpillar farm that, with all the supplied proper care, turns into a butterfly factory in only three weeks.

Giant toy maker Mattel is hitting the high-tech market in mid-2010 with "Puppy Tweet," a Twitter-enabled dog collar for around 30 dollars that broadcasts your pet's actions on micro-blogging site Twitter.

Another wallet-friendly smart toy starting at 10 dollars is "Hexbug," micro-robotic creatures resembling cockroaches, spiders or crabs that respond to touch, sound and even light and are capable of navigating mazes or their own nano habitat set.

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Rubik's Cube, Techno Source offers "Rubik's Touch" for easy solving of the puzzle with just a swipe of the finger, and "Rubik's Slide" -- coming out in the third quarter of this year -- with light-and-sound effects for 18 dollars.

"It is easy to understand, it has a physical aspect and it is addictive," said Techno Source assistant marketing manager Amy Bogin.

Barbie 2010 has also gone high-tech with its 50-dollar "Video Girl," sporting a small video camera that can send everything the blond doll sees onto a computer screen.

Toy giant Mattel surveyed its Barbie followers to determine what the doll's 125th profession should be. By majority consent, Barbie this year is a reporter and star news anchorwoman on television.

And steering away from her traditional pink outfits, the new Barbie comes with a choice of 12 predominantly black wardrobes.

The toy fair has some 100,000 products on show for its 32,000 visitors at the Javits convention center. The list, of course, also includes sophisticated and expensive .

"Beamz," is a laser beam musical instrument for 200 dollars apt for children of all ages, including dad.

A notch above is "Bioloid," a 1,200-dollar robot from South Korea's Robotis that is billed as the first educational robot kit based around "smart serially controlled servos." It can be programmed and made to move in astonishingly realistic fashion.

Explore further: Jacket works like a mobile phone

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Age-appropriate toys are the best choice, says expert

Dec 18, 2007

Many parents around the country will purchase toys for their children this holiday season. While choosing toys that will further a child's education development is important, it's also a great idea for parents ...

Monkeys mimic kids in toy selections

Dec 08, 2005

A Texas A&M study suggests biological pre-wiring determines why boys and girls enjoy playing with different types of toys, not sociological factors.

Recommended for you

Jacket works like a mobile phone

5 hours ago

A fire is raging in a large building and the fire leader is sending a message to all firefighters at the scene. But they don't need a mobile phone – they simply check their jacket sleeves and read the message ...

Patent talk: Google sharpens contact lens vision

Apr 16, 2014

( —A report from Patent Bolt brings us one step closer to what Google may have in mind in developing smart contact lenses. According to the discussion Google is interested in the concept of contact ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Amazon Prime wins streaming deal with HBO

Amazon scored a deal Wednesday to distribute old shows from premium cable TV channel HBO to its monthly Prime subscribers, landing a blow on rival Netflix in the streaming video battle.

Is nuclear power the only way to avoid geoengineering?

"I think one can argue that if we were to follow a strong nuclear energy pathway—as well as doing everything else that we can—then we can solve the climate problem without doing geoengineering." So says Tom Wigley, one ...

Robot scouts rooms people can't enter

( —Firefighters, police officers and military personnel are often required to enter rooms with little information about what dangers might lie behind the door. A group of engineering students at ...

Cyber buddy is better than 'no buddy'

A Michigan State University researcher is looking to give exercise enthusiasts the extra nudge they need during a workout, and her latest research shows that a cyber buddy can help.