Disney Playmation Puts the Power in Kids’ Hands, Literally
Before we begin, yes, Virginia, there will be a Black Widow figure as part of the Disney Playmation series.
Announced yesterday, Hasbro and Disney have teamed for a new set of role-play toys for kids dubbed Disney Playmation. The toys combine wearable accessories with figures that interact with one another, and put the kids right in the action with heroes like Captain America, Iron Man and the Hulk. Of course, Disney has much more in mind for the upcoming playsets, including Star Wars and Frozen, but the Avengers-themed collection will be hitting stores first this year.
Playmation was born out of a recent study Disney commissioned, where the company learned parents were nostalgic for the way they used to play when they were younger. New parents wanted their kids to be more active and use their imaginations (like they used to with the stick and hoop), but also recognized that technology was an important part of growing up today. Most importantly, the third-party study revealed nine out of ten parents were keen on the idea of new tech that could keep their kids active. With those results in mind, a team of Disney technologists, Imagineers and storytellers got to work in developing what would eventually become Playmation.
First up for Playmation will be the Marvel's Avengers Playmation Starter Pack, which includes one piece of Avengers gear (Iron Man's repulsor), two Power Activators (the interactive base) and two Smart Figures (Captain America and Iron Skull, a revamped Red Skull). Once you strap on the repulsor and turn it on, JARVIS starts talking through the wearable getting you started on your adventure. Using the wearables, wireless technology and the smart toys, Playmation creates adventures for kids to take part in across the Marvel Universe, including Avengers tower or Wakanda. The devices aren't tied to a wifi connection, so they can be taken anywhere, and you can sync multiple sets for multiplayer action.
Now none of the footage shown so far really shows off just what Playmation can do, but based on some of the reports from the reveal event, it sounds like Playmation will be a more elaborate version of laser tag. It also sounds a lot like a more interactive version of Captain Power. Those are not necessarily bad things, by the way. The scope with Playmation appears to be much grander in scale, as Disney is also releasing a companion mobile app, AvengersNet, to offer even more functionality. AvengersNet will offer the ability to upload and compare scores, and relay new missions and characters to the playset for continued adventures.
Additional figures will be released to tie into the Avengers Playmation set as well, including MODOK, Falcon, Black Widow, Ultron and Loki, to name a few. For the first year, the Avengers will be the primary focus for Playmation, but Star Wars and Frozen sets are already in the works for 2016 and 2017 respectively. There's no word on whether or not the sets will be cross-compatible at the moment, but one would hope that there would be a little bit of crossover allowed. Then again, if recent developments in the video game market (ie Disney Infinity) are any indication, Playmation isn't likely to be compatible with sets outside of a particular brand.
The Playmation Marvel's Avengers Starter Pack is due to arrive in October. Pre-orders will begin at select retailers and the Disney Store on July 7. The first pack is set to retail for $119.99, which is a substantial investment. There's not much info on what the individual figures will cost, nor what additional equipment like the Prowler Bot will run you (let alone what it does). It would be nice to know what the full product rollout will be, especially in regards to additional wearables being sold separately. There is a set of Hulk hands in the works, and hopefully you won't have to drop another $120 if you have more than one child.
Playmation is aimed squarely at kids ages 6-11, and knowing what I know about kids in that age range and their love of the current crop of role-play accessories, Playmation could be a fairly big hit for Hasbro and Disney this year. And then again next year with Star Wars, and then again the year after with Frozen. We already know there'll be plenty of Star Wars hype through 2016, but the 2017 release for the Frozen set may also hint that the sequel to the smash animated hit will arrive that year, and not in 2018. With that in mind, we hope that the subsequent releases don't lead to a lack of support for the Avengers set as time goes on.