Tiger Brings Tech Edge To Toy Line

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Tiger Electronics in an aggressive move to bring new technologies to kids' toys will debut next week at the Toy Fair several "first" products of their kind based on the Internet, flash memory and radio frequency communication.

New from Tiger for this fall, is a kids' e-mail device called Lightning Mail. Using NetZero's free e-mail service, kids just plug the pocket-size unit into a phone wall jack to send and receive e-mail. The unit also has an RF transmitter/ receiver for exchanging messages with another Lightning Mail unit within 50 feet.

Lightning Mail has a 3 x 4-inch screen and uses touchpen writing (electronic ink) or an onscreen keyboard for inputting messages and data. No monthly subscriptions are required for this e-mail service, nor is the user required to watch advertisements.

Tiger would not discuss its arrangement with NetZero, an Internet Service Provider, which until now offered users free Internet access in exchange for viewing ads. Lightning Mail is aimed to children ages 8 and older and is expected to ship in September at a suggested retail price of $59.99.

In the portable music player category, Tiger will launch a new line of flash memory products called HitClips. Tiger will supply 1 x 1-inch proprietary flash memory cards (dubbed Micro Clip by the company) that contain clips from hit singles at a cost of $3.99 per card. Top artists are expected to be available, and a total of 12 Micro Clips, each containing up to 85 seconds of music, will be offered this year, said a spokesman.

To play back the Micro Clips, Tiger is offering four new, low-cost products, starting at $8 for a mini HitClips player -- which will ship this summer with a single-earbud headset plus one Micro Clip.

It will be joined by the HitClips Rockin' Micro Boombox. Measuring 2 x 3 inches, it incorporates a tiny high-performance speaker and has a suggested retail price of $10.99.

The HitClips Alarm Clock has a built-in Micro Clip-changer that can hold up to six clips. The changer can be programmed to play when the alarm is triggered and allows kids to choose the clip (or song, as each clip contains one song) they want to wake up to. It comes with a snooze function, so they can wake up to their favorite song five minutes later. Suggested retail price will be $15.

Tiger will also sell blank Hit Clips so users can record 60-second songs from the Internet (using the proprietary HitClips format), and Tiger is releasing the HitClips Downloader enabling children to download music from a PC. The unit plugs into the headset jack on the computer and will ship this fall at a suggested retail price of $25.

Another new product expected to ship this fall is the Pocket Com -- a personal handheld communicator that uses radio-frequency technology to allow "addressable" communication with another Pocket Com up to 500 feet away. Users can type in any one of 99 codes to "directly call" another user's PocketCom. The unit also comes with a display and keyboard so kids can select one of many pre-coded messages for sending, or they can type in their own message.

Aimed to ages 8 and up, the Pocket Com is expected to ship this fall at a suggested retail price of $19.99.

Tiger's final Toy Fair introduction is a mini personal organizer called the Quik Writer.

The Quik Writer has basic organizer functions, including address book and scheduler, and uses radio-frequency technology to send and receive messages to one friend or up to 99 friends. The unit is wallet-size when closed but opens up to reveal a keypad with large buttons for typing. It also operates by electronic ink. Suggested retail price is $32.99, with shipping slated for fall.

Also at Toy Fair, Mattel is launching 14 new titles under the Barbie, Purple Moon, Matchbox and Tyco R/X brands. These include a new war play series called Mission Bravo, to launch under the Matchbox line.

The first product in the series, Matchbox Mission Bravo CD-ROM, allows kids to create virtual battles with more than 12 different combat planes, boats and tanks on 3D battlefields. The game will be offered for the PC this fall at $29.99.

Also in the Matchbox series are three Caterpillar construction titles for GameBoy Color and the PC.

Barbie will get her second title for the PlayStation, Barbie Super Sports for PlayStation, for ages 6 and up, at an average selling price of $39.99. It is joined by other titles, including Barbie Digital Makeover CD-ROM, Barbie Beauty Styler CD-ROM and Barbie Pet Rescue CD-ROM and GameBoy.

The Tyco R/C series will offer its first racing title, Tyco R/C Smash & Bash, for the PlayStation and Sega Dreamcast. It is aimed to kids ages 5 and up for fall release at an average selling price of $39.99.

Also new are two Purple Moon titles, including Rockett's Sleep Over CD-ROM and Rockett's Sleep Over GameBoy Color for ages 9 and up at $29.99.

Intel will show the next generation of products in its Intel Play line. The company would give no details prior to the show. Products from this division now on the market include the QX3 Computer Microscope and the Intel Play Me2Cam Computer Video Camera.


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