Lately, it seems like everyone is talking about Webkinz. These stuffed virtual pets are all the rage among middle school kids all over the country (if you’ve never heard of them, read my previous entry about them here). So it’s not really a surprise that their success is spawning at least a handful of eager copycats. But the range of different approaches actually is a surprise.
First, Playvisions is planning to take their successful Zibbies line (basically a bunch of cute stuffed animals with hyperflex hair) and kick it up a notch with web-based interactivity and content developed by a renowned children’s author.
Next, Ty introduced the new Ty Girlz, a group of six girls with funky colored hair who bear a faint resemblence to Bratz dolls. I haven’t gotten the full scoop on these yet, but from the marketing that surrounded them, it seems like there’s going to be some sort of interactive component to them, too.
Last, a company called Karito Kids introduced a line of beautiful 21″ dolls. They are 11 year old girls from 5 different countries, and each comes with a beautiful outfit and a hardcover book. The books are written from the doll’s perspective and they blend fiction and nonfiction to create an adventure story that incorporates educational details about the character’s culture and background. The faces are really lovely. They have been specially designed to reflect the beauty of each ethnicity.
So where’s the interactive component? Well, Karito Kids has approached it a bit differently. Each doll will come with a unique code that allows the child to log onto a website and select a charity that will benefit from the purchase of the doll. After that initial gift, kids will also be able to go online and play games to accumulate points. These points can then be transformed into additional monetary donations to charitable organizations.