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YouTube-inspired New Toys Aim to Wow Today's Digitally Savvy Kids


For some youngsters, “unboxing” YouTube videos are all the rage. They involve a pair of hands – some small, some big with lacquered nails or others with hairy knuckles -- unwrapping and playing with new toys.

The concept looks and feels mundane, but some of these videos have clocked hundreds of millions of views.

Now this YouTube sensation is influencing the toy industry.

'Blind bag' items

Toymakers are creating “blind bag” items, small inexpensive toys packaged in opaque plastic bags. Kids can’t see what they’re getting until the package is opened.

An antidote to digital childhoods, where every song or video is a click away? Maybe.

“Blind bags right now are huge. Kids love opening them, love the surprise factor,” Kelly Foley, marketing manager at Wicked Cool Toys, said.

These blind bag items as well as blind bag miniature collectible sets were on display in New York City recently, at the “Sweet Suite” toy event hosted by The Toy Insider, an online toy review guide.

Foley was showing off the “Little Sprouts” collection from Cabbage Patch Kids. The miniature figurines (more than 120 in all) come in “blind” cabbages, and are meant to be collected.

“They’re small, they’re able to be purchased with allowance money or money that kids earn, pocket change,” Jackie Breyer, editor-in-chief at The Toy Insider, said. A Little Sprouts blind cabbage retails for $2.99.

FILE - A demonstrator in the Hasbro showroom during the American International Toy Fair plays with the LITTLEST PET SHOP CRUISE SHIP playset.
FILE - A demonstrator in the Hasbro showroom during the American International Toy Fair plays with the LITTLEST PET SHOP CRUISE SHIP playset.

Influence on toy culture

YouTube’s influence on the toy culture can also be seen in another hot toy – the fidget spinner craze.

“They’re seeing their peers do really cool tricks and also they’re collecting,” Breyer said. “They want a full collection of these, they don’t just want one.”

Besides paying attention to YouTube, toymakers are moving quickly to speak the language of today’s digital natives with toys like the Elmoji, a robot that teaches children coding basics using emojis. It is made by Sesame Street and WowWee.

“It’s a visual language that kids get intuitively, and we want to have them solve problems using emojis because they’re comfortable with them,” Natalie Wight, art director at WowWee, said.

The Lego Boost teaches basic coding principles to kids as young as 7.

But it’s not all work and no play.

“You can build a robot and make him do things like turn and hit a target,” Amanda Madore, senior brand relations manager at LEGO, said. “Or pull his finger and make him pass gas, which kids love.”

Now that might get some views on YouTube.

After all, tech trends may come and go, but kids will still be kids.

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