Remember Pokemon cards? My kids were crazy about them when they were little, and I didn’t mind supporting that passion because the cards were part of what seemed like a whole field of child anthropology. At a very young age, kids were learning about the traits, customs, physical abilities, relations, culture, etc. of an imaginary species – and sharing that knowledge in collaboratively designed play experiences with their friends.
That was then, this is now: Take all that imaginative play and add digital technology that makes the creatures come alive on the devices in our kids’ own hands and you get today’s kind of “toy” that’s a blend of tangible, virtual, interactive, and mobile. Nukotoys, which just launched today, come in two forms so far: the animals of Discovery Channel’s Animal Planet show for kids aged 3-7 and the imaginary monsters of Candlewick Press’s slightly magical, encyclopedic Monsterology book for older kids, both types on digitally enhanced trading cards and in their respective free apps for portable devices.
“Nukotoys’ cards have an advantage over their mute predecessors – they can communicate with Apple’s touch-screen devices,” the Los Angeles Times reports. Card collectors tap an iPad’s or iPhone’s touchscreen with the card, and animals and monsters come to life. “The games are free to download,” the Times adds, but the cards cost $1.99 for a packet of three, $3.99 for seven, and $19.99 for 28 and, for now, can be found at Apple Stores and Toys R Us. “In addition, parents can buy virtual cards within the games and dole them out to their kids one at a time, like an allowance,” according to the Times. FastCompany.com’s story about these hybrid 21st-century toys has a fun video with kid testimonials and footage of them at play with the animals and monsters, and Nukotoys.com has demos and photos, of course.