Disney’s new toy Playmation uses motion-sensors, Bluetooth, and cloud connectivity to encourage kids to be more active.
Participants use an app on a tablet or smartphone to learn their “mission,” but once they start playing, no screens are involved.
Jim Silver, CEO and editor-in-chief of toy review site TTPM, played with Playmation for more than an hour and said:
There’s nothing else out there like this. It feels like it has elements of a video game — but it pushes kids to return to classic play and run around. This is as close as kids can get to being Iron Man — to act out being the character and try to save the day.
Kids are aspirational, they want to become the heroes. Parents will love that it’s classic play.
The first line that will be released is a set of five toys built around the Marvel Avengers character Iron Man, writes Julia Boorstin of CNBC. It includes an armband that “shoots” and “blocks” like Iron Man’s Repulsor Gear, plastic disks that give players instructions in the voice of his computer assistant JARVIS, and two action figures — Captain America and supervillain Iron Skull. Kids jump, hide, and dodge to avoid beams and missiles.
Afsoun Yazdian, Director of Product Management for Playmation, said:
What we are doing is using light, sound, and that physical feedback — all coordinating with the connected toys in the system — to really bring this fantasy to life.
The app, called AvengersNet, allows players to register their gear, access new missions (like rescuing another Avenger in the jungle), and learn more about JARVIS’ instructions. 25 missions are available right out of the box, writes Brook Barnes of the NY Times. However, before play begins, you have to turn off the app and disconnect from the internet.
Shan Li and Daniel Miller of the LA Times quoted Kareem Daniel of Disney Consumer Products about how this signals the next generation of toys and play:
Parents certainly believe that today, technology is increasingly becoming a natural part of kids’ lives. That said, they often express a degree of nostalgia for … the active way that they’ve played growing up.
The way kids are playing today is evolving — their desires and expectations are changing accordingly. What we did with Playmation was use technology to bring our stories and characters to life in a way that frankly we were never able to before.
It’s scheduled to be released in October of this year, according to the Associated Press, and will be priced at $120. Incredible Hulk hands will become available in November.
Other versions of the system, like ones based around Star Wars and Frozen, are in development and scheduled to be released in 2016 and 2017 respectively.
Disney previously attempted a similar combination of video games and reality with the release of the Disney Infinity video game in 2013, which combined characters from a few franchises like Pirates of the Caribbean and Toy Story.