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School Holiday Wish List – Not All Bad for Parents

Press release
11 July 2006

School Holiday Wish List – and It’s Not All Bad for Parents

Electronic toys have beeped, whirred, sung and lit their way on to New Zealand children’s wish lists this school holiday, according to New Zealand’s largest toy company.

“Today’s kids are distinguished as the technology generation; they love to surf the net, watch DVDs, listen to iPods, text on their cell phones and play computer games - yet they’re also renowned for wanting more,” said Taliah Oosterdijk, marketing manager of Planet Fun.

“Childhood development experts confirm if we don’t embrace new technologies we are in danger of losing touch with the popular culture of young children.”

However, Oosterdijk says that not all of these electronic toys are the mind numbing gadgets many parents may expect them to be.

“What is rewarding is that the new information technologies and the activities associated with them have the potential to provide fun for children, and extend learning in a new and dynamic way.”

Oosterdijk says one brand of electronic learning products is becoming increasingly popular with parents in New Zealand. The LeapFrog range is expected to be in even higher demand this week with the New Zealand launch of the international award winning educational toy, Leapster. This portable electronic learning system combines the popular technology used in handheld gaming systems with educational content. Given the thumbs up by leading educators and industry experts; this product can teach children aged 4-8 years about letters, phonics, rhyming, spelling, numbers, counting, addition, subtraction, art and music.

“It’s no secret children love to engage with gaming consoles like Nintendo, PS2 and Xbox; it’s fun for them to interact with these products. They want the objects they play with to respond to what they do. Products like Leapster from LeapFrog now allow children to learn to read, write and draw electronically; bridging the gap between learning and playing. Parents have told us their kids are having so much fun that they don’t even realise that they’re learning. This is also due to Leapster offering game cartridges which feature many much loved characters including Bratz, Dora the Explorer, Thomas & Friends and the current movie box office hit –Cars”.

Away from educational electronic products, the virtual pet, Tamagotchi Version 3 is expected to continue to be one of the country’s best selling toys for boys and girls this school holiday. Made popular in the Nineties, the egg shaped virtual pet Tamagotchi has been reincarnated to allow children to go online and play games using their toy.

In girls’toys this school holiday, Oosterdijk says there is a growing trend amongst ‘Tween’girls, for products which encourage sisterhood amongst girlfriends.

“This age group enjoys socialising with friends; they value play which encourages privacy and communicating. Toy shops will be selling lines such as FriendChips, an electronic toy where kids can save a message onto a chip, remove the chip, and pass it onto a friend to read the secret message in their own unit. We anticipate 2005 best sellers like Password Journal to remain popular amongst girls; this toy uses voice recognition technology to ensure no one but the user has access to their journal.”

Also expected to be a hit with girls, is a new toy called B-Bop - a music player for sharing and trading music. The toy allows music to be downloaded from music sources including TV, radio and CD players, eliminating parents’ concerns about their kids surfing the internet to download music. Oosterdijk says B-Bop is likely to retail for less than fifty dollars; another reason for parents to be happy.

At the premium end of the market, New Zealand children will be able to simulate the closest thing to a real mother and child experience with the launch of the world’s first and only doll of its kind capable of two way communication.

“Amazing Amanda was one of the biggest selling dolls in America last year, and we believe is the closest toy to a real life baby girl.

“She integrates voice and speech recognition, and the doll’s sensor technology means she has realistic facial expressions and sounds, she engages in conversation with her ‘Mummy’ through answering questions and even knows when it’s day or night.” said Oosterdijk.

But the fun is not just for the kids. If parents need a little break from their kids this school holidays, 20Q could be the answer. This handheld electronic game endeavours to guess what you are thinking by asking a series of twenty questions.



Pre school:
1. Glo-e Bear: a super soft, teddy bear which lights up and changes to seven colours. Perfect for comforting preschoolers – especially those having difficulty sleeping or who are afraid of the dark. RRP$49.99ea.

Boys and girls
1. Tamagotchi Version 3: Currently one of New Zealand’s biggest selling toys. While the egg-shaped toy still simulates the life cycle of a real pet, letting kids experience the fun without the responsibility and the mess, kids can now play online at Children can go online and shop in the TamaTown Mall, eat in the international food court, watch a movie at the theater, visit with their virtual pet's parents and grandparents, meet the King and even travel the world-just as long as they have their official Tamagotchi passport. And through the exchange of passwords, special items and treats can then be collected in the Tamagotchi egg as well. RRP $29.99ea.

2. LeapFrog Leapster: the award winning, portable learning system. Kids can play action packed games, create works of art, watch interactive videos and read electronic books through a range of interactive cartridges (sold separately). RRP $179.99ea and cartridges RRP $69.99ea.

1. Skannerz Racerz: A handheld electronic game based on kids scanning barcodes in order to collect points. As kids collect more points they are given more play options including improving their car, racing on more tracks or changing drivers. Race alone or connect with a friend for head-to-head competition! RRP. $29.99ea

1. Amazing Amanda: An interactive doll capable of two way communication through voice and speech recognition and sensor technology. For ages 5 years and up. RRP$199.99ea.

2. Girl Tech Password Journal: Uses voice recognition and password technology to ensure no one but the user has access to their journal. For ages RRP$49.99ea

3. Girl Tech Friendchips – Short electronic messages can be saved onto small discs and swapped between friends. For ages RRP $49.99ea

4. Girl Tech B-Bop – A new music player which records up to 30 minutes of music from any headphone jack. For ages RRP $49.99ea.

For kids and adults, ages 8 and up:
1. 20Q: A handheld electronic toy based on the classic game of 20 questions. RRP $29.99ea

About Planet Fun:
Since being established in 2001, Planet Fun Pty has quickly grown to be New Zealand’s largest juvenile consumer entertainment business. Planet Fun specialises in branded and licensed products across Toy, Nursery, Confectionery, and Homewares ranges. Toy brands include: Bratz, LeapFrog, Thomas &Friends, Bob the Builder, Cranium, Girl Tech, Marvel, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Pirates of the Caribbean, Pokemon, WWE, Fly Wheels, Cabbage Patch Kids and Doodle Bear.


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