Toy tablets for toddlers

2014-01-26 12:32
A customer uses his iPad outside an Apple store in Shanghai, China. (File, AFP)

A customer uses his iPad outside an Apple store in Shanghai, China. (File, AFP)

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London - The big players in the traditional toy market have come out fighting in Britain as little fingers are increasingly occupied by iPad-type devices at playtime.

Previously seen as the preserve of grown-ups, tablets are increasingly top of children's wish-lists.

The best-selling toy in Britain last year was the Furby, the cuddly robotic "pet" that has irritated millions of parents with its constant chatter. But tablet computers designed specifically for kids came close behind, according to the NPD market research group.

With toddlers frequently more nimble on touchscreens than their parents, major players including Samsung are cashing in with tablets designed for the lucrative and tech-savvy youth market.

At this week's London Toy Fair, manufacturers of traditional toys insisted they face a bright future - but admitted the rise of tablets means they're in for a tough fight.

"We have to recognise these days that there's a place for tablets and for technology," said Jamie Dickinson, marketing manager at Playmobil, the German-based brand that has produced some 2.6 billion plastic figures since 1974.

"When children grow up and go into the adult world, they need to know how to use the technology," he told AFP as he stood in front of a display of Playmobil figures at London's Olympia exhibition centre.

"But there are lots of other skills that they need to learn, which only traditional toys can give them."

Playmobil is resisting the digital onslaught, with its global sales increasing by 5.3% to 531 million euros ($726 million) last year.

In the British market, the building sets and action figures markets will enjoy a 10% jump in growth this year, NPD predicts, partly thanks to toys linked to the football World Cup in Brazil.

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