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retailer tries to be everything to everyone in a very small space; it ends up confusing the consumer because they don’t know what the assortment stands for. If you’re going to go into fashion dolls, then make a cohesive statement in fashion dolls — you would want some sort of presentation that says we’re in this business rather than a smorgasbord of products.”


Tech on the rise With the increased popularity of digital devices, there’s no doubt that the toy landscape has changed in recent years. Innovative new products marry the advantages of open-ended traditional play with the capabilities of technology. One new company in this space is Toymail,


which had its soft launch in December 2013. “We’re a smart toy, but we have a mission to really use technology in a way that helps kids stay connected rather than isolating them in front of a screen,” says Gauri Nanda, CEO and co-founder of Toymail. Nanda wanted a way to keep in touch with the kids in her life,


but those under 10 don’t usually have phones—and when you do get them on the line, they’re often not so attentive. Enter Toymail. It works like this: Mailmen, which are a cross


between a small mailbox and an animal character, operate as something of a global walkie-talkie. When connected to Wi-Fi, you can record a message for the kids (in your voice or a goofy one); they’ll know they have a new message when the toy snorts, wheezes, or whinnies (depending on what kind of animal it is). Kids can respond right from their toy, with 300 to 500 free messages per month, resulting in a two-way conversation. A feature called the Daily Toymailer sends songs, jokes, and fun facts to the Mailmen, which keeps the toys talking (and unlike the talking toys of the olden days that only had a few different messages, this one can say anything). So far, the response has been positive.


“A mom who travels a lot told us she’s been sending messages along to her boys and it’s been great,” Nanda says. “Over the holidays, one child’s father was using it as a direct line to Santa, so Santa was sending her messages all holiday long.” Speaking of the holidays, expect tech toys to


have a big presence this season. “Because gift givers typically splurge around the holidays, you’ll see some


GiftShopMag.com


THOUGHTFULL TOYS / MODARRI Summer 2014 n


GIFT SHOP 151


UKLOO KIDS INC.


AEROMAX TOYS


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