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iKids Winter 2014

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8 ikids_Winter 2014 /gear War of the robots Tech toys have been playing in the children's market for quite some time, but 2013 revealed a sharp rise in interest—and revenues—for the segment. While overall US toy sales dipped 1% in 2013, youth electronics gained more than any other category with sales shooting up 18% over 2012. Tablet sales helped propel the electronics category forward last year, but so did robotic and interactive playmates. While Google and Amazon are busy squaring off between their own futuristic versions of robots and drones, more toycos than ever before are vying for shelf space and a place in the family living room. "Robots speak to old-school play patterns that are being infused with tech. Everything doesn't have to light up, but it's certainly more fun if it does," notes Jennifer Stein, a New York-based Global Toy Experts consultant and CEO of Always In Entertainment. With the hundreds of robots roving the halls of the Consumer Electronics Show in January, setting the stage for the year ahead, we take a closer look at some of the major players predicted to help shape tech toy trends of 2014. B y We n d y G o l d m a n G e t z l e r Zoomer Spin Master's Zoomer robotic canine attracted many devoted owners over this past holiday season, after selling out at many North American retailers. The Zoomer puppy has multiple sen- sors that enable it to behave just like a real dog. It will sit down, roll over and respond to someone calling its name. "It's a dog, and children like dogs. They're friendly. Before, there were only fluffy dogs that were plush that could make noise, move and have LED eyes. A robotic dog is futuristic, and kids get it," says Stein. Interactive playmates are biting into a booming youth electronics category

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