REPORT: 2016 Toys-to-Life games will challenge Disney, Lego & Skylanders

We talk to Nick Mayberry and Doug Renert of Tandem Digital who have been studying the connect and toys to life space as investors.

I spoke to Doug Renert, co-founding partner of Tandem Captial, asking him what their report had uncovered in this space?

“Technology is driving a new set of toy experiences and companies are taking advantage of this. Also, there are new ways to monetise in the toy space. Finally there are new methods of distribution taking play from the app to the toy space. This all bodes well for start-ups and new comers to the market.”

Nick Mayberry, director of content at Tandem, expanded on this picture through the year. “We hear about connected toys often around the holiday season, what happened in 2015 is that consumer interest as measure by Google Trends extended beyond the holiday season. Tech becomes a fundamental of play rather than a gimmick.”

“In our research we discovered that the toys to life category was underfunded compared to other categories. An opportunity for big large scale businesses to grow from that into cross-media rather than just connected toys.”

“As long as newcomers can be creative in developing intellectual properties and stories and how to acquire their audiences. One reason some may think it’s ‘game over’ is that when a company like Disney enters the market with its intellectual property and cross media domination it can be daunted for other to enter. But that’s what start-ups are all about, creating new and inventive ways to develop intellectual properties.”

Of course this was a feature of Activision launching Skylanders very much attached to the Spyro brand and character. Since those early years it has eclipsed the diminutive dragon but it seemed an important connection to begin with.

“We put Anki in the robotics category because of the car’s artificial intelligence that learns the tracks. Sphero is another company in this space, who have a strong relationship with Disney and links to BB-8.”

“A nimble start-up is going to have to prove their business model before they get access to that capital, while larger companies have more resources. The winners at the end of the day will have amassed the capital to build out big brands one way or another.”

“Some of it depends on innovation. Having started with a single figure that opened an iPad game, but now we are seeing the ‘brains’ be put into the figures themselves that then impacts on the game. The games are also becoming more complex with in-app purchases. Add-ons are also happening on the toys themselves where buying additions will open up new possibilities in the virtual world.

Summing up Renert reiterated the opportunities here. “I don’t see this slowing down I see it picking up. I don’t think there will be 20 winners. The business for the small handful of winners will continue to grow.”

LEGO Minecraft 21128 The Village

We have an early look at the Lego Minecraft Village 21128.

Build and protect The Village!

Join forces with Alex at the busy Minecraft™ village, including a variety of biomes plus a watchtower, library, blacksmith, butcher and marketplace. Enjoy hands-on Minecraft adventures featuring your favorite characters and objects with this LEGO® Minecraft set—designed for young fans of the highly successful sandbox video game.
• Includes 4 minifigures: Steve, Alex, zombie and a zombie villager, plus a Creeper™, enderman, pig, baby pig, iron golem and 2 villagers (a farmer and a librarian).
• The Village features rainforest, snow and desert biomes, and includes a watchtower, library, blacksmith, butcher and a marketplace.
• Fold out the library and butcher’s buildings and lift the marketplace roof to access the interiors.
• Grab your iron sword and prepare for battle!
• Build the iron golem to help protect the village.
• Accessory elements include a crafting table, water bucket, emerald-ore-style elements, 2 pumpkin heads and a chest with emerald-style elements.
• Weapons include a sword and a pickaxe.
• Set your imagination free—rebuild the set for more LEGO® Minecraft™ creations!
• Measures over 5” (15cm) high, 19” (49cm) wide and 17” (44cm) deep.

LEGO Star Wars The Force Awakens – Cover System and Multi-Builds (Gameplay)

The trailer, which shows off characters from various Star Wars films highlights a number of new features that will be coming to the game, along with some favorite features from recent Lego games.

Blaster Battles are brand new. Here players get more intense gun fights that include the sort of cover system we are used to seeing in shooters. This is the first time it’s included in a LEGO game. Characters can duck behind the brick based terrain and then pop out from the safety of cover to fight enemies with blaster fire.

Multi-Builds are another feature in the game that will enable players to make different constructions from the sane stack of bricks. This should offer more diversity in how each puzzle is solved. Lateral thinking rather than just trying out every ability will be more the order of the day in this Lego game.

Finally we see more space flight. This seems to extend what we have in Lego Marvel’s Avengers with high-speed flight integrated with level game-play. Of course this features the various iconic Star Wars vehicles including the Millennium Falcon and X Wings.

With the game launching at the end of June on pretty much every system in the known universe, the force still looks strong with this one. Particularly with that new cover system.

Lego Dimensions Wave 4 Unboxed w/ Marvel Tease

We have a look at the Wave 4 minifigures for Lego Dimensions:
– Stay Puft (71233)
– Gamer Kid (71235)
– Superman (71236)
– Aquaman (71237)

Most exciting is the Midway Arcade level pack comes with a build-able Gamer Kid minifigure, Spy Hunter vehicle and Arcade Machine.It unlocks 20 classic arcade games from Midway Arcade:
Seven Twenty, Badlands, Blasteroids, Championship Sprint, Defender, Defender II, Gauntlet, Gauntlet II, KLAX, Joust, Joust 2, Marble Madness, Paperboy, Rampage, Road Blasters, Robron, Spyhunter, SuperSprint, Timber, Toobin, Cyberball, Vindicators, Xybots.

Lego Dimensions Wave 4 – Every Ability, Minifigure w/ 20 Arcade Games

We have a look at what’s on offer in Wave 4 of Lego Dimensions.

This Midway Arcade level pack comes with a build-able Gamer Kid minifigure, Spy Hunter vehicle and Arcade Machine.It unlocks 20 classic arcade games from Midway Arcade:
Seven Twenty, Badlands, Blasteroids, Championship Sprint, Defender, Defender II, Gauntlet, Gauntlet II, KLAX, Joust, Joust 2, Marble Madness, Paperboy, Rampage, Road Blasters, Robron, Spyhunter, SuperSprint, Timber, Toobin, Cyberball, Vindicators, Xybots.

The Gamer Kid comes with a host of different unlock abilities as well – Stealth, Laser, Speed, Invulnerability, and Super Strength each unlock more areas of the open world and campaign game.

Also in Wave 4 of Lego Dimensions is the DC Comics Superman fun pack that offers a Superman minifigure and Hover Pod vehicle. Superman has an impressive array of abilities: Flying, Dive, Invulnerability, Laser Deflector, Freeze Breath, X-Ray Vision, and Super Strength.

The DC Comics Aquaman fun pack adds a playable Aquaman and Aqua Watercraft to the game. Aquaman offers Dive, Growth, Atlantis and Hazard Cleaner abilities that each unlock new ares.

Finally for Wave 4 we have Ghostbusters’ Stay Puft villain and the iconic Terror Dog from the film. Marshmallow Man has Hazard Protection, Big Transform and Super Strength abilities.

Tio – Robotic Blocks brings Toys to Life – Lego, Megabloks & GoPro

One thing we missed at New York Toy Fair was Tio. Today we talk to the inventors of Tio, a smart building block that animates, moves and programs Lego and other toys.

Tio Kickstarter:

Mario Morello: “The ease of use and intuitiveness means it can be used by children as young as 3. You can combine it with any objects, toys, gadgets or 3D prints.”

Peter Spence: “The magnetic mounts enable you to very quick snap the block on in seconds. We also supply sticky tabs that can be attached to anything.”

Lego Juniors & Duplo 2016 – Push Train 10810, Sofia the First, Mickey & Miles

We check out the LEGO Juniors and LEGO Duplo sets including:
– 10726 LEGO Juniors Stephanie’s Horse Carriage
– 10727 LEGO Juniors Emma’s Ice Cream Truck
– 10728 LEGO Juniors Mia’s Clinic
– 10724 LEGO Juniors Batman and Superman vs. Lex

– 10810: Lego Duplo Push Train
– 10811: Lego Duplo Backhoe Loader
– 10812: Lego Duplo Truck & Tracked Excavator
– 10813: Lego Duplo Big Construction Site

– 10822: Lego Duplo Sofia the First Magical Carriage
– 10823: Lego Duplo Minnie’s Bowtique
– 10825: Lego Duplo Miles’ Exo-Flex Suit
– 10826: Lego Duplo Miles’ Stellosphere Hangar
– 10827: Lego Duplo Mickey & Friends Beach House
– 10828: Lego Duplo Doc McStuffins’ Pet Vet Care

Official blurb:
“LEGO DUPLO(®), with bricks two times the size of a classic LEGO brick, introduces children as young as 18 months to the world of LEGO building. Twenty-eight new DUPLO sets include classic themes such as My First Garden, Little Plane and Baby Animals, along with favorite licensed themes and characters including Disney’s Junior Mickey Mouse Clubhouse(TM) and Doc McStuffins(TM).New to the DUPLO line this year is Disney’s Junior Miles from Tomorrowland(TM). Sets range from $9.99 to $99.99.

Featuring modular pieces and elements, such as walls and archways, plus step-by-step instructions to help young builders gain confidence as they get started, LEGO Juniors is the perfect age-appropriate building experience for builders who are new to classic LEGO bricks. Iconic themes provide a relevant and fun building experience with sets including Police Helicopter Chase and Batman(TM) & Superman(TM) vs. Lex Luthor(TM). Also new for this year is MARVEL(TM) Ironman vs. Loki and Disney Princess Ariel’s Dolphin Carriage. Sets range from $9.99 to $29.99.”