Euromonitor International attended The Gadget Show Live, held at the NEC, Birmingham, UK’s second largest city, over 7-12 April 2015. Based around the very popular Channel 5 programme in the UK, the event included features such as Game Zone and Super Theatre, where the presenters of the TV show took to the stage to test out some of the latest tech on the market.
The exhibition’s wide demographic range attracted children as well as adults. The specific sections targeting children included the Build Your Own Gadgets zone as well as Kids Tech Toy Trail (sponsored by Vivid), where children were able to play with a number of toys, namely Crayola’s Colour Alive, Real FX Slotless Racing and i-Que Intelligent Robot. While Active Zone focused on wearable technology, Robo Challenge included 2015 Fighting Robots Featherweight World Championships. Drones accounted for a considerable portion of the exhibition, attracting much interest from the attendees. GAME, a video games retailer, was also present, allowing participants to test leading games and consoles in its busy stand.
UK – Penetration of Electronics in Traditional Toys and Games, 2004, 2009, 2014, %, Rsp
Source: Euromonitor International
Traditional toys underrepresented
As the affiliation between traditional toys, video games, gadgets and electronics becomes increasingly apparent, they fast create and shape one big global play industry. Therefore, it is more vital than ever before to follow key trends on all fronts as far as technology is involved in order to succeed. At the Gadget Show Live, however, the lack of major toy players including Mattel, Hasbro, Lego, Namco Bandai and Takara Tomy was rather notable. The event would have provided a good opportunity for these manufacturers to showcase their latest offerings, to keep an eye on technology as well as to engage further with the larger play industry.
Crayola was the only global player attending the exhibition, showcasing its Colour Alive range which blends traditional colouring with a virtual App-linked experience. The company’s line enables children to colour the pages in each book, scan them on their smart device then interact with them on their devices and take photos to share with their friends and family.
Targeting pre-schoolers, My Friend Freddy Bear was another app-enhanced toy at the show. Interacting with the cuddly bear, the app includes activities with three levels of learning to grow with each child, ranging from interactive stories, learning games and counting exercises.
Are toys with apps taking over?
There is no denying that there is an upward trend in the popularity of toys with app-enhanced features – a trend that is driven mainly by the rising penetration, as well as tablets. In addition to The Gadget Show, this was also recently confirmed by many launches at the latest Hong Kong Toy Fair, where Euromonitor International presented the Toys and Games: Global Trends, Developments and Prospects address.
As access to electronics becomes more mainstream, toy manufacturers will introduce more technologically-advanced products. Having said that, it would be misleading to suggest that app-enhanced products will take over and become dominant in the toy business any time over the foreseeable future.