Burbank, Calif. — The summer and fall lineup from Disney Consumer Products includes the marketers’ first netbook and first camcorders, all designed for kids.
Other new products include the brand’s first MP3 players with micro LEDs that flash to the beat of the music, a $129-suggested Ultimate Buzz Lightyear robot that responds to voice commands and plays laser tag, a Wii-like Zippity TV-game system for preschoolers, and a next-generation digital still camera whose body twists to let kids take close-ups of themselves.
The Asus-manufactured netbook, called the Disney Netpal, is designed for 6- to 12-year-olds and features 40 parental controls. The controls limit access only to Web sites that parents enter into an approved list, block emails to and from specified email addresses, and restrict the amount of time spent surfing or talking via Skype. The Netpal ships at the end of July in 16GB flash-memory and 160GB hard-drive
versions, both at a suggested $349. Both versions will be available in Princess Pink and Magic Blue.
The device meets the three principal objections that parents have to buying a laptop for kids: price, durability, and lack of control over Internet browsing and email use, said consumer electronics VP Chris Heatherly.
The Netpal, which carries the Asus and Disney brands, uses the Windows XP Home OS, features Disney-themed kid-friendly user interface, and incorporates Wi-Fi, spill-proof keyboard and enhanced durability to withstand drops. Other features include 8.9-inch screen, 1GB system memory and Intel Atom processor. Bundled software includes built-in Disney games, Disney music-management software, and access to the Mix Central download store to download Disney music and TV shows using prepaid cards.
The netbook features Disney-developed industrial design and software, and it will be co-marketed by Asus and Disney. Asus, however, will manage the sales transactions and provide customer support to consumers, Heatherly said.
The netbook ships at the end of July to Toys “R” Us stores, the Toys “R” Us online store, and the online sites of Best Buy, Walmart and Amazon. The company is also negotiating with other retailers to sell the netbook.
For Disney, the NetPal marks a return to the PC market, having several years ago marketed a $1,000 desktop PC for 6- to 12-year-olds for about a year. To go with the netbooks, Disney is launching netbook accessories made by Belkin and carrying the Disney and Belkin brands names.
For its first kids-oriented camcorders, Disney is launching a Pix Jr. model for preschoolers at a suggested $79.99 and another model for tweens at a suggested $59.99, both in boys’ and girls’ versions. They ship in the fall to Toys “R” Us and DisneyStore.com. The preschool version, available in Princess Pink and Cars themes, joins a previously available digital camera for preschoolers, both with ergonomics and durability designed for 3- to 6-year-olds. The Flix Jr. features a trigger button, 15 minutes of video capture, instant video playback on a 1.5-inch color screen and downloads to a PC. The tween version, shaped more like a traditional camera, features one-button recording, Disney-character overlays and a blue-screen feature to place kids against a background scene. Other features include software to edit movies and add music, 2-inch color-TFT screen and 30 minutes of recording at 30 fps.
The twisting digital camera for tweens, the Disney Pix Twist at a suggested $59.99, ships in the fall to Toys “R” Us and DisneyStore.com with 5-megapixel resolution, 16MB of internal memory and four themes: Hannah Montana, Jonas Brothers, Princess Petals and Wizards of Waverly Place.
In MP3 players, the 2GB Mix Lights with flashing micro LEDs will ship in the summer in four themes, all with 2GB memory at $39.99. They’ll be available through Toys “R” Us and DisneyStore.com.
The Wii-like game system for preschoolers is the Zippity, which carries the LeapFrog and Disney brands and ships in the fall at a suggested $79.99 to Walmart, Target, Toys “R” Us, Kmart and DisneyStore.com. The educational-game system comes with floorstanding bopper, or joystick, and eight Disney-themed games. Additional game cartridges can be purchased separately. As with the Netpal, the co-branded product will be co-marketed by Disney and LeapFrog, but the latter will manage the sales transactions, Heatherly said.
In robotic toys, the Ultimate Buzz Lightyear robot will join the Ultimate Wall-E robot launched last year. At a suggested $129 to $149, Buzz will cost less than Wall-E, which retails for $250 and up, yet pack such additional features as responding to verbal commands to fire a laser and to salute. He’ll also give kids the high five and play laser tag with them. It ships in the fall to Toys “R” Us, Walmart, Target, Disney stores and DisneyStore.com.
Also new: a relaunched music and TV-show download site, available in beta form for a year to transition Disney’s MP3 music sales away from music-laden music cards. Songs as well as TV shows can be downloaded using prepaid cards. Disney stopped selling video-laden memory cards for its portable media players, citing cost.
Also for 2009, Disney has scaled back its marketing efforts in technology toys, whose selection was expanded in 2008 to expand Disney’s share of shelf space in the youth electronics area of mass merchants’ toy aisles. With the recession, Heatherly said, parents scaled back their toy purchases on toys costing $20 to $80 toys and have focused more on products costing less than $20 and products costing more than $80, he explained.