(EAST AURORA, NY) February 9, 2004 -- Fisher-Price, Inc., a subsidiary of Mattel, Inc. (NYSE: MAT) expands its learning initiative in 2004, to deliver a comprehensive line of innovative - and fun - educational toys for every age and stage of a young child's development. What began with a handful of highly successful entries into the competitive learning category has evolved into a multi-dimensional, long-term strategy for the future.
In keeping with its track record for innovation, Fisher-Price debuts new offerings within five distinct learning platforms that reflect the company's in-depth understanding of the way children play, learn and grow. The full complement of products helps to support intellectual development from the infant years through grade school. First, the powerful combination of fun and learning is underscored with the introduction of two new platforms: the experientially-based Laugh & Learn collection for infants; and the exciting new InteracTV for preschoolers, based on children's favorite entertainment properties. The line-up of learning toys is rounded out with the expansion of software libraries for the ground breaking PowerTouch Learning System and the hugely successful Learn Through Music System. Finally, joining the successful Kasey the Kinderbot line are two new friends for toddlers that focus on basic learning and phonics.
"The positive response that our learning initiative has generated tells us, most emphatically, that we are right on track in developing the kinds of products that are most appropriate for the way children play and learn," says Neil Friedman, president of Fisher-Price. "For 2004, we have a portfolio of five distinct platforms that truly reflect the way children learn from the time they are infants, with Laugh & Learn, right through grade school, with PowerTouch and InteracTV."
Fisher-Price's educational toys are developed with a team of leading content developers, early childhood development experts, teachers and engineers, most of whom are involved with the development of Fisher-Price learning toys on a daily basis, from initial concept through production. These experts are particularly demanding about the quality of content, play value, design and function, focusing on three key principles: all Fisher-Price learning toys must be (1) fun first; (2) based on proven educational practices and curriculum; and (3) deliver a natural, intuitive play experience.
For infants, the new Laugh & Learn collection builds upon babies' innate curiosity and the natural way they learn through everyday experiences, to provide enriching learning opportunities and musical activities. Fisher-Price has combined its expertise in infant development with recently conducted, in-home, "reality research," to develop a platform that allows babies to learn and develop through everything they experience in their daily lives - from ringing a doorbell to flipping a light switch. The result is a brand new collection of infant toys that encourages learning through fun and familiar everyday play. Each product in the line features two modes of play - learning and music - and integrates with the lead item, the Laugh & Learn Home, to create an incredible world of learning for baby. In addition to the Laugh & Learn Home, the collection includes the Learning Table, Learning Birdbath, Learning Puppy and the Learning Phone. (Available May for $12.99 - $59.99/Ages 6-36 months)
For preschoolers, Fisher-Price introduces InteracTV, a unique and exciting interactive learning system that enables children to interact and learn with their favorite characters from popular TV shows, right on their own TVs using their home DVD players. Using a child-friendly InteracTV controller and DVDs featuring individual episodes from Blue's Clues, Dora the Explorer, Barney, Sesame Street® and Sponge Bob Square Pants, children are invited to play and learn.
Children simply place the InteracTV DVD into the player, and set one of three activity cards into the wireless controller, to begin play. The footage from the show will begin to play and then, just like on the TV shows, the characters invite the children to interact. Children can answer questions by pressing corresponding icons displayed on the activity card graphics. Each DVD title will offer over 100 interactive questions and activities to keep children engaged over and over again. The questions are randomly programmed so that every time children play, they will have a different and unique experience. In addition, the controller can be programmed to three different DVD players, making the whole package portable for visits outside the home. The main unit will come packed with an InteracTV wireless controller, a DVD and three activity cards featuring footage and game play from Sesame Street®, Dora the Explorer, and SpongeBob. The system and individual software titles also include a case to store the DVD and activity cards. Additional DVD software titles will be sold separately for $15 each. (Available July for approximately $39.99/Ages 3+)
Expanding Existing Platforms
Learn Through Music took the educational toy category by storm in 2003, selling out early in the holiday season. In its second year, the interactive learning system will continue to delight toddlers by bringing basic learning lessons to life through rhythm, rhyme and repetition. New titles in 2004 include Elmo's World Numbers, Barney's Colorful World, Dora's Music Festival Adventure, plus the introduction of new properties, including SpongeBob Square Pants, Winnie the Pooh, Disney My First Princess and Blue's Room. A third Sesame Street title will also be released, for a total library of 12 titles in 2004. Each lesson features audio and visual content to help preschoolers develop the building blocks of learning with their favorite friends from their favorite preschool shows. A touch-sensitive, light-up screen makes it easy and fun for preschoolers to interact with each character-driven lesson. It also includes a microphone so children can sing along. (New software available in April for $9.99/Ages 18 months+)
The Kasey the Kinderbot line expands with the introduction of two new friends for toddlers: Toby the Totbot and Fetch the Phonicsbot, plus a new entertainment DVD featuring stories about Kasey for the fall. Toby is an adorable talking Totbot that teaches learning fundamentals like letter, numbers and shapes. In Kasey the Kinderbot style, Toby comes to life with plenty of singing and dancing, too. Fetch the Phonicsbot is an interactive puppy that teachers reading skills like letters, phonics, spelling and more. Fetch also comes to life with moving eyes, ears, head and tail. (Toby: $19.99/1+/March; Fetch: $24.99/2+/June; Kasey: $39.99/3+/Now)
In 2003 the PowerTouch Learning System revolutionized book reading systems by providing children with a natural way to interact with reading and learning activities with just the touch of a finger, and without the interruption of a "go" button on each page. For 2004, the system continues to grow with more than 25 titles, doubling the library of available software. The new titles will feature kids' favorite characters from Sesame Street®, Dora the Explorer, SpongeBob Square Pants, Jimmy Neutron, Fairly Odd Parents and more! Plus, there are new School Skills books that explore topics like dinosaurs and parts of speech. To store the new titles, a PowerTouch Backpack will be available, and finally, a hot new fashion color in pink and purple will enter the line. (Available now/Software $14.99; Backpacks $14.99/Ages 3+)
"Clearly Fisher-Price has established that it is going to be a strong player in the learning category for the long-term. The company has proven that it can innovate in this category; it's a brand consumers trust, and the retail trade has confidence in its commitment to the category. Like last year, the level of competition in 2004 will push learning toys to higher levels of innovation and advancement - and consumers will reap the benefits." said Jim Silver, publisher of the Toy Book.
Fisher-Price, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mattel, Inc. (NYSE: MAT) and located in East Aurora, New York, is the leading brand of infant and preschool toys in the world. Celebrating over 70 years of excellence in children's products, some of the Company's best known "classic" brands include Little People®, Power Wheels®, Rescue Heroes and View-Master®. The Fisher-Price brand includes some of the most popular and widely recognized character brands - from Barney and Blue's Clues to Disney, Dora the Explorer, Sesame Street® and Winnie the Pooh. The Company also develops and markets juvenile products called babygear that are designed to help families get the best possible start in life. The Company's web site can be found at www.fisher-price.com, providing valuable articles and resources to new and expectant parents.
Sue Murphy/Ellie Bagli
Freeman Public Relations
Editor's Note: Product photography available upon request.