Magazine article Insight on the News

Manufacturers and Retailers Agree That Toys 'R' High Tech

Magazine article Insight on the News

Manufacturers and Retailers Agree That Toys 'R' High Tech

Article excerpt

To be a bear of very little brain just isn't good enough anymore. Winnie the Pooh has been fitted with a computer chip and now is teaching children to count and master the alphabet.

A. A. Milne's lovable bear has company. Equity Marketing, which has developed a 2-foot-tall replica of Babe, the talking pig, says the stuffed animal can be programmed to ask children about their day at school. Lego Blocks is trumpeting its RCX System, a computer program that allows children to choose between building the Mars Sojourner, for example, or a robotic quarterback.

"Technology is having a massive impact on toys this year," says Terri Bartlett, a spokeswoman for the Toy Manufacturers of America in New York. "Toys have always reflected what's going on in society."

Children are learning how to use computers at a very early age, so toy manufacturers seeking to capture their attention must follow suit. "Kids are smarter," says Bartlett. "They accept this like it's second nature, and they learn it much quicker. It's like learning a foreign language."

And their parents have shown they have an interest in "smart toys." Moms and dads waited in line last Christmas at Target and Toys 'R' Us stores in order to snag a Sing & Snore Ernie. A year earlier, consumers tripped over each other trying to get their hands on Tickle Me Elmo. The furry doll that giggles and laughs with the help of a computer chip fetched up to $700 through the classifieds.

Retailers know that if they want a share of the $22. …

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