Five things learned from five years of Poptropica

This is a guest post by James Lema, director of product development for Poptropica.

When we launched Poptropica in 2007, we had spent months doing research into other products. We discovered many of them were following predictable patterns that had become the norm. At the time, virtual worlds were popping up everywhere. We knew we needed to stand out from a growing crowd and made some decisions that were necessary for us to be lean and scale quickly. In this entry, I will detail how we came to some of those decisions.

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What parents think of fake toys

At the beginning of the year we teamed up with Toy News to investigate the counterfeit toy industry. Fake toys are a danger not just to children but they also have a huge impact on the entire toy industry, did you know up to one million Rubix Cubes are faked every year!

Forming part of the Fight the Fakes campaign we used our award-winning Clickroom focus group software to interview a group of parents on their attitude to, and experience of, fake toys.
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What will be the next Angry Birds

A massive 72% of mobile-gaming kids have played Angry Birds! That’s huge, but, according to the Wall Street Journal, Angry Birds isn’t only one of the biggest IPs in gaming history, it’s also helping to rescue the plush toys market! This is one of the reasons we decided to research the apps-to-toys sector for leading toy trade publication, Toy News. Read More>

Kids demand toys based on virtual worlds

During a recent look back over our projects we found this piece looking at the demand for toys based on kid’s virtual worlds like Moshi Monsters, Bin Weevils and Club Penguin.

We conducted this study as toys based on kid’s virtual worlds are huge! You only have to look at look at the best selling toys during Christmas 2011 to see that. But how big are they and what could be the next big game-to-toy licence?
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Kids and pop star dolls – who will be the next big hit?

Every month we work with leading toy industry publication, Toy News, to find out kids are up to: what are they playing with now and what will they want in the future. This month, we looked at Pop Star dolls to find out which artists kids are buying, how they collect and play with them as well as finding out who could be the next big pop star doll!

The popularity of dolls based on pop stars is clear, with 61 per cent of the 500 girls surveyed either playing with them at present (35 per cent) or having done so in the past (26 per cent).  Of course, tastes change as kids grow up, and the research shows that by eight and nine years of age, girls are starting to move away from pop star dolls, although 18 per cent carry on until their 11th birthday.
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Why Skylanders Matters to Kids

It’s clear that Skylanders matters for videogame publisher Activision and for Penguin with their licensed book deal, but why does Skylanders matter for children? All will be explained in this guest post by family gaming expert Andy Robertson.

If you’ve not come across it already Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure is a videogame that uses collectible toy figures to grant access to characters and levels in the game. Interesting but not that unusual?

The real novelty is the Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) technology that saves a child’s progress in the game to the toy figure without the need for it to be plugged in (or buttons to be pressed). Not only that but you can take your toy to a friend’s house and play on their version of the game no matter which platform (360, Wii, PS3) they have.
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What do kids want for Christmas?

Every month we conduct exclusive research for Toy News – the leading publication for anyone working in the toy industry.

In November we found out what will be topping kid’s Christmas lists and whether toys are still the biggest gift or is it all expensive gadgets and video games.
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More than half of UK children own a toy based on a virtual world

Children’s virtual worlds – like Moshi Monsters and Club Penguin – aren’t just popular online; they’re also proving a big hit as toys with new research showing over half of UK children own a toy based on a virtual world with some as  popular as Dr Who.

Dubit’s research department recently studied the popularity of toys based on online worlds, looking at Disney’s Club Penguin, Mind Candy’s Moshi Monsters, as well as Build-a-BearVille, Poptropica and Webkinz.

The study of 500 kids showed that an amazing 55 per cent of children owned a toy from at least one of these games. The most popular was Disney’s Club Penguin, with 32 per cent of children owning a branded toy from the online world. Club Penguin, which has 150 million registered users (globally) launched in 2005 and has spawned a series of books and video games. Each toy is connected to the virtual world as they’re packaged with a code that allows items to be unlocked in the virtual world.
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Almost Naked Animals could be the next big toy licence

Every month we work with leading Toy Industry publication, Toy News, to find out kids are up to: what are they playing with now and what will they want in the future. This month we’re looking at which new TV shows have the most potential as a toy.

We started by looking at kid’s shows which don’t currently have a toy licence. Here we find that CITV’s Almost Naked Animals has the most toy potential, followed by CBBC’s Pet Squad and The Suite Life of Zack and Cody. Indeed, the latter scored highest on popularity (kids who watched it) and toy preference (kids who wanted a licensed toy), putting it ahead of the rest. Of those aware of the show, 44 per cent of seven year-old girls and 43 per cent of nine year-old girls would look out for it on the shelves.
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Which films create blockbuster toys?

Every month we work with leading Toy Industry publication, Toy News, to find out kids are up to: what are they playing with now and what will they want in the future. This month we look at toys licensed from the summer’s hit movies.

Working with a panel of 500 children aged 7-11, we see that  although children are still enjoying playing with toys from their favourite films, a box office smash doesn’t always equal a hit toy. The sweet-spot for marketeers is children aged seven-years-old as that age group is most interested in film licensed toys.

Harry Potter topped our chart, helped by being popular among all age groups, with seven year olds being the least engaged.
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