A Not-So-Secret Project

Someone at KidScreen Magazine finally let spill a wee bit of information about a project I’ve been working on for Playmates Toys. It’s buried in an article about hitting the tween audience with web/toy hybrids. For your convenience, the pertinent text is behind the cut.

And, yeah, that’s all I can say about it—for now.

Over at Playmates Toys in Costa Mesa, California, the master toy licensee for Microsoft and 4Kids Entertainment’s Viva Piñata is one-upping the model by adding a collectible figure to the mix – did we mention it’s a figure embedded with an intuitive microchip?

The lead toy is more like a network of components. Proprietary J-Sync technology weaves together the figures, the handheld Party Port, Viva Piñata website and same-titled Xbox game – they will all interact with each other when the toys launch this fall. The line will go out with 24 figures based on Piñata characters (US$7.99 to US$9.99 apiece, depending on rarity), and they’ll house a J-Sync chip that turns them into digital trading cards, each with distinct characteristics and Party Points value. Players can then wave their figures over the screen on the Party Port (SRP US$49.99) and transfer the digital info. Once entered into the device, characters can become part of battling games, and then via a USB hookup, the info can be transferred to the Piñata microsite. Once there, kids will be able to collect more points by playing casual games, as well as adorning their avatars with accessories.

What guilds the lily with the Piñata line is that the Party Port has the ability to synch up with the Xbox game itself. Not only will users be able to open up cheats in the console game, but when they wave a character over the port, it will appear in the console game sporting the accessories that the physical figure has on, closing the loop between toy and interactive gameplay. And upping its marketing potential, the Party Port will function like a retail scanner that reads special Piñata-coded labels. Kids can earn bonus points by scanning, and packaged goods partners and retailers will get more exposure.