30 March 2012
Tech toys rising
- report from the International Toy Fair 2012, Nuremberg
|Music makers from Supersonics Electronics.|
Hong Kong's Silverlit came up with its Blue Tech Heli (retailing at US$69.9). It's capable of flying in all possible vertical and horizontal positions and can be controlled by smartphone, tablet computer or music player. The user has to download the app and then the heli can lift off.
The technology has become so mature, even children aged five or six can use it, said Silverlit CEO, Kevin Choi. The company introduced Bluetooth technology in September 2011. In the US, Silverlit had a sell out after Christmas.
Another new item from Silverlit was a racing circuit called 3D X-trek, which retails at between Euros40 and Euros80, depending on the size of the layout. In July, Silverlit plans to introduce an aircraft with a built-in, real-time camera at about Euros129.9 retail.
|Choi with Blue Tech Heli.|
As to the prospects for this year, Choi was cautious. He said 2012 would be much tougher because of the economic uncertainties. There will be growth, but very little. The US could be a better market than last year.
The increase in labour costs on the Chinese mainland could hit the bottom line and Silverlit is giving consideration to moving from the Pearl River Delta (PRD); one consideration is the availability of skilled workers and engineers, said Choi.
With 2,776 exhibitors there was an increase of 33%, while the number of visitors declined 2.2%.
According to the fair organiser, the share of international visitors rose to 55%, with buyers increasing in number from Russia, the US and the UK.
Winning back the kids
One main issue was winning back teenagers for the toys and games sector. Today, six-year -old children sometimes explain to their parents how to use a smartphone. According to traders, kids are getting older. A study from Munich-based market research firm Iconkids & Youth showed that 85% of German teenagers from the ages of 13 to 17 like or really like playing online.
|WowWee's Elite Commandar.|
Hong Kong toy maker WowWee's newest development was AppGear, which should appeal to teenagers. Having already introduced the Foam Fighters version where an airplane is fixed to the smartphone with a suction cup, this time the company came up with Elite Commandar. The smartphone controls a gun.
In order to get access to the fighting drones, the player must scan a graphic pattern, then try to achieve as many hits as possible. The toy retails at Euros30.
|Budich looking for hits with the toy.|
Speaking for European distributor Sablon, Sales and Marketing Director Sebastian Budich, said 2011 was an extremely good year and expects 2012 to be even better, since Sablon now offers Lego and Star Wars licensed products.
Hong Kong's VTech Electronics (Europe) has electronics as an essential part of its products. The Kiditronic line was extended with Kidi Little Friends. Themed sets, such as sports and a castle combine playmates - controlled by noise and movement sensors - to change their facial expressions depending on their mood.
According to Sandra Zwigart, Junior Product Manager, the sets are for children aged from three to eight and each figure retails at Euros11.9.
Another new item is Switch & Go Dinos, in which cars can change into dinosaurs and vice versa (retailing at Euros19.9).
|Switch & Go car.*||Switch & Go T-Rex.*|
According to published figures VTech Europe grew 14.1% last year, while in the current year the management sees further growth potential, especially in the sector for kids up to three.
Eastcolight of Hong Kong has no plans at the moment to move production outside of the PRD, even though labour costs rose about 40%, the company said. Profits are likely to be off this year.
|Eastcolight learning toys.||Sze with planetarium.|
The company presented its Advanced AstroEye Planetarium, which retails at US$9. Different constellations of stars can be projected on the ceiling or walls and a radio is included in the set. The almost professional telescope retails at US$129. Major age groups for the company are from eight through 14, plus adult collectors.
One company that profits from the trend towards product testing was the Hong Kong Standards and Testing Centre (STC) which had a booth. Keith Yung, General Manager for Leisure Products said companies can choose which tests to apply, whether mechanical, chemical or for inflammability.
|Yung: companies choose tests.||Models from Rastar.|
Some companies, like Rastar of Hong Kong, have their own laboratories. The model car producer focused on Europe and the US and Assistant Manager May Lin expected this year to be more profitable than last.
New collectors items a Ferrari scaled at 1:14 (and priced wholesale at US$19.9) while a Mercedes scaled at 1:24 cost US$10.9 wholesale.
Carrie Siu, Marketing Manager at Supersonics Electronics presented keyboards, guitars and drums with electronic features. The instruments, with the US as the main market, aim at children aged over two.
|Siu with drum kit.||Leung with sword and wand.|
Michael Leung, Product Designer of Toyworld Toys of Hong Kong exhibited new items like a pink mirror with light and sound, wholeselling at US$2.5.
162 Hong Kong companies took part at the fair last month.
from special correspondent Joachim Hoffmann, Nuremberg
(*Images courtesy of VTech)
Salley Sze, Vice President and General Manager
|Tel: (852) 2333-6688
Fax: (852) 2366-8438
Email: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
|Hong Kong Standards and Testing Centre (STC)
Keith Yung, General Manager for Leisure Products
|Tel: (852) 2666-1888
Fax: (852) 2664-4353
Email: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
|Iconkids and Youth
||Tel: (49) 89-544-629-0
Fax: (49) 89-544-629-24
||Tel: (852) 3590-4300
Fax: (852) 3590-5100
Sebastian Budich, Sales and Marketing Director
|Tel: (49) 6151-95119-10
Fax: (49) 6151-95119-19
Email: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Kevin Choi, CEO
|Tel: (852) 2834-4168
Fax: (852) 2834-8797
Email: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
||Tel: (852) 2765-7263
Fax: (852) 2764-3419
||Tel: (852) 2375-4363
Fax: (852) 2375-4365
|VTech Electronics (Europe)
Sandra Zwigart, Junior Product Manager
|Tel: (49) 711-7097-40
Fax: (49) 711-7097-449