Examiner chats with Nitin Chawla – Disney Consumer Products’ VP of Innovation, who discusses their new Playmation line of toys and games. Utilizing wear-on toys and the AvengersNet app kids and adults can go on all types of adventures with their favorite Marvel characters.
Examiner: For those who are unfamiliar, how does Playmation work?
Nitin Chawla: Playmation takes the technology you’re familiar with—smart toys, wearables, Bluetooth Low Energy, the Cloud, motion sensors, and more—and combines them to create a unique experience in which toys interact not only with the kids who play with them, but with each other. Along with the system’s companion app, the toys in Playmation update classic play for the digital generation—allowing kids to become part of the story in real life.
In all of these scenarios, kids can interact with smart figures and other toys in the system, train with each other or engage in free play to build their skill set. Using the AvengersNet app, kids can also keep track of their performance, explore new missions and visualize their progress with the help of their favorite Avengers heroes and heroines.
Examiner: How does the App enhance the gameplay experience?
Chawla: The app plays a key role in the Playmation experience, acting as the bridge between kids’ desire for active play and the smart technology they know and love. Using a tablet or smartphone, kids can use the app to step directly into Avengers Labs, where they can see a detailed breakdown of the skills they’ve acquired, the levels they’ve unlocked and, of course, what’s next in their Playmation Marvel’s Avengers adventure.
Examiner: What’s included in the starter pack and what can be done with it?
Chawla: The Repulsor Gear Starter Pack comes with Iron Man-inspired Repulsor Gear, two exclusive smart figures (Captain America and Iron Skull) and two power activators. The Gamma Gear Starter Pack comes with two Hulk Hands, a power activator and an exclusive Loki smart figure.
Examiner: How do smart figures come into play?
Chawla: Smart Figures are heroes and villains that are brought to life through the Power Activator. Each character brings custom experiences, and allows you to earn new, unique abilities. Flipping the “Toys to Life” concept on its head, Smart Figures take screen-based experiences into the real world, and because the action is real, when you score a direct hit, your Smart Figure Villain will shake with damage. Defeat him, and will pop off the Power Activator right in front of your eyes.
Examiner: What makes this series special?
Chawla: The biggest difference between Playmation and other products, including “Toys to Life” video games, is that the primary offering for a video game is the software. Instead of using toys to activate a screen-based experience, Playmation brings the best digital technology to real world play, using connected toys, wearable technology and customized Disney stories to allow kids to actually play alongside their heroes and heroines.
One of the most unique things about Playmation Marvel’s Avengers in particular is how the Avengers Gear communicate with the AvengersNet app, which interacts with the Cloud and customizes missions based on kids’ play habits. For example, if you like one specific mission or character, the system will respond by sending you similar challenges based on your preferences so that the toys stay fresh and new each time your play.
Examiner: Why do you believe it’s a must buy?
Chawla: There’s no other system that lets kids live out their favorite characters’ adventures – let alone from the comfort of their own bedrooms. Disney Consumer Products actually just conducted a survey on children’s play habits, and we found that nine of ten parents believe new technology could play a key role in keeping their kids active (and a whopping 71% of kids said they regularly use tech-centric toys and games). At the same time, the majority of parents said being active and imaginative during playtime was key to their kids’ development. Playmation exists in a sweet spot between active and tech-based play, with a big dose of Disney magic and Marvel adventure to cap it off.
Examiner: What updates are being planned and how will they change the experience?
Chawla: In addition to the Repulsor Gear Starter Pack, Prowler Bot and 16 new Smart Figures, we’ll also release the Gamma Gear Starter Pack later in the fall. The Gamma Gear will include 25 new missions, along with the Hulk Hands, Power Activator and Loki Smart Figure. All of these pieces will help expand the Playmation Marvel’s Avengers universe, and add new intelligence to the AvengersNet app.
Examiner: What’s next?
Chawla: We’re excited about what’s next for Playmation. In the coming years, we plan to develop new systems featuring more beloved characters and stories from The Walt Disney Company.