Mattel Pop-Up Shows Toys, Retail Going Digital

November 29, 2013 Ben Myers
Using the virtual product wall to browse toys and brands.

Using the virtual product wall to browse toys and brands.

It’s easy to feel old when you play with kids’ toys.

Last week, at the Mattel Digital Shop ‘n Play pop-up store at the CN Tower, playing with motion-detecting cameras, augmented reality apps and interactive video content, I arrived at the conclusion that technology and toys are now fundamentally linked.

For Mattel, touch screens, apps and motion-sensing cameras are the future for both their toys and their retail experience.

Motion-sensing camera reflects my weird dance moves on the screen.

Motion-sensing camera reflects my weird dance moves on the screen.

Newer toy brands like Max Steel, and Ever After High were added to the classics like Barbie and Hot Wheels to show off how toys are evolving with screen and cameras becoming a central part of children’s play experience.

On the retail side, large motion-sensing screens created a wall of products for visitors to browse through using their arms and hands as controls. Emailing you your shopping cart or producing a code for later follow-up, the wall is a vision of how retailers might coordinate sales and shipping across channels in the near future.

Mostly, the pop-up store was about showing off the latest ways that technology and toys are merging. For a wide variety of brands, interacting with the brand on the screen allows the child to play a part in the storyline and interact with their favourite characters.

Getting interactive

An augmented reality app for the Max Steel super hero action figure franchise allows kids to blast through enemies in a first-period-shooter game, as well as pose for pictures with characters.

Ever After High’s interactive video allows you to make choices for characters and see the result of your choices as the characters pick a persona for their dance routine.

Of course, we can’t forget about Barbie. Large screens and cameras can project clothes and makeup to simulate Barbie’s looks on kids (and curious adults).

Reidin Goode, senior director of marketing at Mattel Canada explained that the shop is a reflection of consumer trends toward e-commerce and cross-channel buying.

Browing through Barbie's Endless Closet. I asked for anything with cats on it.

Browing through Barbie’s Endless Closet. I asked for anything with cats on it.

“Mattel Canada knows that e-commerce trends in Canada are continuing on the up-swing. In 2012, Canadians spent $22.3 billion on retail e-commerce and this figure is expected to double by 2015.”

“Using the latest technologies with entertaining content, Mattel is creating the future of play and influencing new approaches to retail through a digital playground that fuels creativity and imagination in a meaningful and relevant way,” Goode said.

The pop-up store is running inside the base of the CN Tower until December 8, and it’s an interesting vision of where toys and digital retail are going. You will probably find yourself marveling at some of the tech, or playing with the touch-screen toys, feeling like a kid again.

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