The PopCult Toybox
An exciting new concept has hit toy stores this week, and I have mixed feelings about it.
Stikbot is a cool idea–an action figure that’s tailor-made for stop-motion animation. However, it’s practically necessary to have a smartphone to play with it to its fullest extent. There’s also a heavy element of social media in the marketing, which means that they’re either going to forego the younger audience, or that we’ve given up on the idea of keeping children off of social media.
The toymaker, Zing, has previously been known for their outdoor active play toys, so this is a whole new arena for them. It’s an action figure, with suckers on its hands and feet, designed for stop-motion animation. These are translucent little guys with simple features who should appeal to the Minecraft crowd, but also attract fans of older toy lines like Micronauts.
Unfortunately, as I mentioned, all the software (and hardware) that’s required for this is smartphone-based. The slant of the marketing is for you to make short video clips that you then upload and share with your friends. On the plus side, they may sell millions of the “Studio” sets, because folks will buy them just to get the inexpensive iPhone tripod.
It’s a solid idea, as you can glean from the press release:
Developed with creativity and imagination in mind, Stikbot turns kids into moviemakers. “Stikbot is an innovative toy that combines the use of social media with a traditional toy,” says Adrienne Appell, Director of Strategic Communications at the Toy Industry Association. “It’s a fun new way to engage older kids and infuse play into social media platforms they’re already using. Stikbot is truly cutting edge and has addressed a new avenue that is fast becoming today’s new ‘traditional play pattern.'”
An easy-to-pose figure with suction cup hands and feet that adheres to almost any flat surface.
A free mobile app, StikBot Studio (available on iOS and Android), which allows users to snap individual photos and stitches them together into a film. Built-in sound effects and music that can be added to the video, along with custom recorded sound and music
Download to users’ camera roll and an easy upload to social media.
“Social media is where today’s ‘conversations’ are happening,” says Josh Loerzel, vice president of sales at Zing. “We wanted to break ground and create something new and totally different in toys; with the launch of Stikbot we’ve found a niche in the intensely competitive toy industry. By investing heavily in creating original and inspirational content, we are able to stay ahead of the game.”
Stikbot is available in a studio pack, including 2 Stikbot figures and a tripod ($9.99 retail), and a single pack, including one figure ($4.99 retail) with 7 different color options. They can be found at Amazon.com, Fred Meyer, K-Mart, Target, Toys R Us, Walmart and Zing’s online shop.
Like I said, I have mixed feelings about this. I love the idea of action figures that are intended for stop-motion animation. I just wish–and this is probably a generational thing–that it didn’t require a smartphone to use these. It’s a cool idea and a neat-looking figure, so I’ll probably pick some up to review, but I think with the requirement of expensive smartphones and the social media aspect, this may wind up being a toy aimed more at young adults than children.
And if that happens, they might as well explore their licensing options, because if they go into that area, this concept could be a goldmine. Imagine being able to make your own Star Wars, Hobbit, or Monty Python clips.