Toy Makers Have Their Own Christmas In July

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NEW YORK — Timing well with the recent so-called Polar Vortex were CE toy introductions this month from two major manufacturers, bringing to mind the very season these companies are prepping for.

LeapFrog Enterprises unveiled its first console gaming system, known as LeapTV. The system, geared toward children aged 3 to 8, features a controller that can change to a motion controller and LED pointer controller with the press of a button. The controller, which is scaled-down for small hands, also features a built-in “hint” button. A motion-sensing camera, meanwhile, can be used for interactive game play.

When asked what led the company to enter the console market and how it plans to compete, a company spokeswoman told TWICE: “While there are a number of existing ‘family’ or adult video game systems, less than 1 percent of tens of thousands of video games rated by [the Entertainment Software Rating Board] are rated appropriate for children under the age of 6 years old. Plus, console hardware and controllers have not been designed for children. We made the decision to create LeapTV to offer children the best first experience with video games that is educational and promotes physical activity.”

She noted, “All games and content available on the system are perfectly kid-safe and age-appropriate, curated by our in-house [experts].”

More than 100 LeapFrog-designed downloadable games and videos will be available for the system when it ships during the holiday selling season, as will nine cartridge games. The LeapTV system will feature 16GB of memory and built-in Wi-Fi, and included are the console, motion-sensing camera, camera mount, transforming controller with wrist strap, HDMI cable and one game, “Pet Play World.”

Suggested retail will be $149. Games will range from $5 to $29.99.

VTech, meanwhile, announced this month that its Kidizoom smart watch for kids is now shipping. The company first previewed the device in February.

The watch, which comes in four colors and is geared toward kids 4 and older, features a 1.4-inch color touchscreen that displays more than 50 digital and analog clock designs. Kids can play games, take still images and record video using a built-in camera.

Four built-in games are included with the Kidizoom, as are a stop watch, an alarm clock and a voice recorder. It can also be connected to VTech’s Learning Lodge suite to download additional games and watch designs.

Video is recorded at 320 by 240 resolution, and the watch features 128MB of internal memory that can store about 800 photos or six one-minute videos, according to VTech. Kids can edit the photos on the watch to add filters, frames and distortions, and the files can transfer to computers using the included MicroUSB charging cable.

The splash-proof Kidizoom is said to have two weeks of battery life. Suggested retail is $59.99.

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