Toys trends

The Christian Science Monitor has a good piece about adult technology mimicked by toy manufacturers. Some excerpts I found relevant:

This Christmas, tech-peddlers are turning their gaze toward kids, with new lines of grown-up gadgets built for tiny hands.(...) "There's a shift in need in terms of what a child finds fun and entertaining," says Jim Silver, editor of the toy trade publication Toy Wishes. "A lot of that has to do with the computer age. If a 3-year-old is entertained by software, the toys that might normally entertain him might not have the same value." (...) "Toys mimic what children see in real life. As we look around the house, everything is getting consistently tech-driven." (...) While traditional adult gadgets are fertile ground for "juvenilization," you're still unlikely to see "Baby's First Spreadsheet Application" on store shelves. (...) But despite the introduction of some interesting and inspiring new electronic playthings, some parents and child psychologists question the wisdom behind high-tech play.

"A growing concern of the preschool teachers that I'm talking to is that children are coming to preschool not even knowing how to play," says Susan Linn, a psychiatry instructor at Harvard Medical School (...) Another pitfall for toy companies that "juvenilize" products: Adult products will soon be cheap enough to give to a child instead of a toy. Hasbro's "ZoomBox" is essentially a cheap video projector that is made and marketed for children. This $299 "toy" lets kids project and play video games on blank walls. Another example is Hasbro's $99 imitation cellular phone called "Chat Now." Despite its flip-phone fanciness and built-in black-and-white camera, Chat Now cannot actually place a telephone call.

I like their list of hot toys and in particular:

iZ (Zizzle, 5 years & up, $39.99) By plugging a music player into this alien creature, children can manipulate the sound by turning its ears and flicking its antennae.

Shell Shocker (Tyco, 8 years & up, $79.99) This high-powered vehicle can morph into a "cyberball" or a "cyberbeast" on the fly.