Successful toys and what we can learn from them.
Part 1: tiptoi (by Ravensburger)
This blog series takes a look at the past and present of the toy industry in order to develop good and sustainable ideas for the needs of families. Week by week, we will look at individual hits of the toy world, analyze their advantages and disadvantages, and see how we can learn from them for AVA.
For today’s week, “tiptoi” is on the agenda – one of Ravensburger’s most successful products of the recent years.
What is tiptoi and how does it work?
tiptoi is an innovative learning and creative system that helps children discover the world through play. If you tap on a picture or text with the pen, matching sounds, speech or music are played. In addition to playing and learning with pre-made material, children also have the opportunity to record sounds, texts or music themselves in the tiptoi Creative area and thus create their own creative environment.
tiptoi is aimed at children between the age of three and ten. Different media are provided for each age level and learning progress.
What are the advantages of tiptoi?
The tiptoi pen is an ingenious concept, there’s no question about that. The pen offers an incredible number of advantages, but in my opinion Ravensburger has made a big mistake at a crucial point in order to be able to sustainably drive the growth of the product. But first, the advantages:
A familiar device that plays out an action-reaction plot I know
The tiptoi has a very simple haptic experience (pen, microphone), based on familiar objects. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the pen or the microphone, both are objects that children have already held in their hands either while drawing or playing. This makes it easy to learn the required sequence of movements without requiring a great deal of effort.
Just as the Toniebox (a separate article will be published on this) has replaced the classic CD player, so tiptoi is replacing an even more everyday object – the pen. The special feature: almost no support from the parents is required. Just as parents had to replace the broken CD or sharpen the pencil again in the past, today almost no support is required after setting it up once.
As mentioned above, the pen not only offers the possibility to play pre-made content, but children can also be creative themselves. By recording their own texts or sounds children can discover content such as the sounds of animals themselves, but they can also make up animal sounds themselves. Thinking up your own stories can also stimulate children’s imagination and thus sustainably promote children’s development.
An ongoing companion
I am very enthusiastic about this part of the product, without being particularly emphasized in tiptoi’s marketing. Because the pen is an object that accompanies us almost throughout our whole life, tiptoi also has a long life cycle. Certainly not without an expiry date, but everything is possible from learning the first sounds, to simple stories, to learning the alphabet or other languages. As a result, the child remains to a familiar object that adapts again and again to the events of the respective age.
But in addition to these advantages, there is also a major disadvantage that makes the product finite and, in my opinion, also closes it off from other target groups:
a closed system was created in which only one player is the content creator
All content made available for the tiptoi is published exclusively by Ravensburger. This limits the number of games or new ideas. The functions or undiscovered possibilities of the tiptoi are also made available exclusively by a content creator.
However, if the community is involved in the development, there are three advantages: users identify more with the product, the amount of content that is beeing created and available increases exponentially and mouth-2-mouth marketing can attract many new users and bring them to the platform. Especially when it comes to toys for children, the recommendations from friends, acquaintances or family matter a lot.
What can we learn from tiptoi?
In particular, using the technique of known “action-reaction patterns“ impresses me and is an essential success criteria for me. Humans are used to habits. So if we manage to reproduce familiar patterns in the haptics (rolling dice, rearranging figures), then we can build a trustful product. At the same time, it is essential to leave space for the creativity of the families (or any other game developer). Even if we see what tiptoi can already achieve with the simple import of sounds, tiptoi loses out when building a real “platform” for new games. If we manage to gamify the game development process in a reasonable way (see blog article), then not only creativity can be promoted, but sustainable communities can also arise.
Finally, it is important to continue to accompany the children with our console, so that it is not just a passing pleasure. So how can we not only offer games for one age group, but also appeal to older groups by changing game mechanics, game types etc. We want to grow with the community.
We must ask ourselves these questions in the near future in order to be able to create a good, sustainable product.
What do you value or have you valued in toys? Can the guarantee of success be identified so clearly? I am looking forward to your opinions.