Move over MySpace… Tweens are always one step ahead of their parents when it comes to what’s cool in cyberspace, and now that parents have the 411 on MySpace, kids have moved on to another networking site called Facebook—leaving MySpace for the likes of marketers and young adults. Facebook started as an online social networking site strictly for school- age kids. Students could interact with classmates and new “friends” from other schools in a safe, student-only environment—there was no option for a public web page. Now with the student-only restriction lifted, students can “invite” anyone they want to join. Since the newly extended site still feels safe and exclusive, Facebook is quickly becoming one of the coolest, most-used social networking sites for youth. Keep an eye out for some other favourite tween social networking sites, including Piczo, Hi5 and Nexopia. Kid-Friendly Technology What happens when toys meet modern technology? With the prevalence of technology in toys, our marketplace is becoming increasingly saturated with kid-friendly versions of toys that compete with their adult counterparts. To date it’s been tweens who have been receptive to these tech toys—they’re commonly too young for the real thing (according to their parents), but old enough to know what they want when they see it. Although they don’t seem to mind the product being tailored just for them, with bright colours and age-appropriate content, it’s not long before they become dissatisfied. A downsized version of the real thing is nothing new, but the window of use is short, as kids want to upgrade to the grownup version of the latest gadget. However, there’s still a real marketing opportunity for high-tech toys and kids under 10. Kid-friendly items such as palm-sized cellphones that can only call mommy are ever-present for the holiday season. Kids can emulate their parents, while parents don’t have to spend a fortune on the real thing. It seems that modern toys in the marketplace require an element of technology in order to interest and excite kids. The technologies found in the new crop of toys are also commonly used in “adult” computers, cell phones and iPods. For example, the soon-to-be holiday hit Lego Mindstorms NXT is a “robotics toolset” that lets kids 10+ build and program robots to do what they want, using Bluetooth technology similar to that in adult cellphones When it comes to technology, a downsized version of the real thing is nothing new. But the market for these high-tech toys is becoming smaller as tweens quickly move away from these scaled-down versions and Lego Mindstorms NXT hanker for the real McCoy. Toy manufactures are quickly clueing in and are starting to target younger and younger children. Take the Fisher Price Kid Tough Digital Camera—it’s easy enough that a preschooler can use it, but it still features an LCD screen and holds up to 60 pictures. In recent years, toys have integrated new and innovative uses of technology that give them more functionality, more appeal and more play value than ever before. Here are some new and innovative toys for this holiday season. Digi Makeover: From Radica Games, this “makeup case” with camera allows you to scan a photo and use the TV to experiment with different looks. With special effects that allow you to play with hairstyles, makeup, clothes and accessories, Digi Makeover offers hours of fun. Butterscotch—My Furreal Friend Pony: This interactive, life-sized, Digi Makeover miniature toy pony from Hasbro uses sensors to respond to touch and sound—moving toward a child when its name is called, or going to sleep when the lights are off. Kids hankering for their very own MP3 player, portable DVD player, laptop or digital camera can be indulged without having to spend a fortune on the adult version. Even satisfying a kid’s craving for a pet can be answered electronically. Ganz Webkins are still going strong and Tekno, The Robotic Puppy, is back for another holiday season with a wireless translator that actually translates Tekno’s sounds into words. Kids will be able to understand exactly what their robot dog is “thinking” with a press of a button. If Tekno sounds too intimidating, try taking iPet for a walk. This Jakks Pacific virtual pet is excitingly original in that it can be brought to life on the television screen, but retains the same characteristics of other virtual pets, namely, if you ignore it, it will die. Speed Stacking One of the latest trends sweeping its way up from the U.S. is an activity called Sport Stacking. Formerly called Cup Stacking, Sport Stacking is an individual and team activity where players race against the clock or an opponent to see how fast they can stack and unstack their cups. There are various stacking patterns that must be completed in a given cycle. But not just any cups can be used! Like in any sport, regulation equipment must be used in play. Designed with holes in the bottom and Cup Stacking manufactured with durable plastic, Speed Stacks are the official, specifically designed cups that help with the swiftness of stacking and unstacking. There’s also an official mat used called a Stackmat, which has a built-in timer so you can practise to be the fastest. Speed Stacking is geared towards kids 12 and under, but anyone can participate. Players of the game say participants learn teamwork, cooperation, ambidexterity, and hand-eye coordination. The world record for the fastest cycle stack is 7.43 seconds, completed by Emily Fox from Denver, Colorado, whose feat is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records. And it was only a matter of time before someone capitalized on this trend. Play Along has released a game called Speed Stacks StackPack just in time for the holidays. Puppet Popularity Musician Beck is taking puppet/marionettes on tour and integrating them into his stage show, and My Name is Earl is creating 2-minute stop motion animated sequences featuring Christina Aguilera! Fraggle Rock is big with the over-15 crowd, with a movie set to launch next year. Adults and puppets are redefining their relationship! Was Team America ahead of the curve? It’s only a matter of time before this trend trickles down, making puppets popular with tweens and teens again. Viva Piñata Toys Ready to launch for 2007, Dynatech Action will be launching the incredible Viva Piñata toy line to compliment the exciting show on YTV. This unique toy line will use an amazing new technology that will allow the TV show to communicate with the toys as well as other platforms like the Xbox 360, the console that holds the exclusive rights to the game. Pokemon YTV.com asked our YAP members the following question in a poll: "Pokemon is making a comeback. What do you think about Pokemon?" The poll results showed that the majority, with approximately 50% of the votes, thought that Pokemon was fantastic or a good thing—which is great, as 2007 will be the year of Pokemon! Pokemon Pokemon will be everywhere with its new Master Toy Licensee—Jakks Pacific—who will launch a new series of collectible trading cards. But that’s not all! The latest video game from Nintendo, “Diamond and Pearls” will hit the market, new episodes of the cartoon will air on YTV, and, last, but not least, there’ll be the release of Pokemon 9—a movie that is already creating incredible excitement! Retro Toys As more retro toys make a comeback just in time for the holiday shopping season, who are the real targets? Is it kids or nostalgic 20- and 30-somethings who want to reclaim their youth? In the mid-80s, Mattel’s He-Man toy series dominated and revolutionized the action figure market, becoming the most powerful series in the universe at that time, and solidifying He-Man as a legend of his day. The success of the He-Man collection paved the way for the proliferation of similar toy-based cartoons, including G. I. Joe, Thundercats, Rainbow Brite, and She-Ra, among others. In 2002, Mattel re-launched this classic series with a refreshed look for the new generation; unfortunately it did not achieve the same level of world domination as it did in the 80s. Sadly, this was also reflected in the ratings for the re-launch of the He-Man cartoon. However, there have been proven successes with other toys, such as Elmo, Strawberry Shortcake, Easy Bake Oven and Transformers that have withstood the test of time. Perhaps the true test would be when your younger sister, brother or child opens their presents—are they more excited or are you? Strawberry Shortcake Two Thumbs Up What’s the hottest new thing in Kids TV? THUMBS! More importantly, thumbs that wrestle. That’s right! Hitting Canadian airwaves this winter will be the TWF: the Thumb Wrestling Federation! Eight of the biggest, super-strongest thumbs will be battling it out on TV for the right to win the honour and glory that is the TWF Championship Belt. Created by the Animation Collective, these Thumb Wrestlers are taking the U.S. by storm and will soon be invading our own airwaves. Conceived as 3- Thumbwrestlers minute shorts, Nicktoons aired the property to wrap around their Monday night programming to huge success. This January YTV will be doing the same on Friday nights. Two groups of wrestlers, the Dexteras (our heroes) and the Sinestras (the villains) battle it out just like real wrestlers. Each wrestler has a unique back-story attached to them, which kids can learn all about on YTV.com. A Four-midable Force! Superheroes will always be big with kids—that’s a fact. From Superfriends and Batman: The Animated Series to Teen Titans and Justice League, kids love their superhero teams. And now Marvel Comics is back in the series game with their latest, Fantastic Four. Hot off the success of the 2005 movie and leading into the sequel being released this summer, Fantastic Four tells the story of four average Americans who are hit with Gamma rays and turn into superheroes fighting crime and other-wordly menaces. This is the first foray into animation for Marvel since X-Men: Evolution was on the Kids WB back in Fantastic Four the late 90s. Add to the mix the fact that these heroes are huge with adults, and we’re sure that this series is the perfect co-view show for dad and son to watch together. For Kids Who Don’t Stick to a Schedule! Now you can download Treehouse shows and watch them on your PC, a connected TV, or a compatible portable video player. Treehouse Direct gives parents the flexibility to search or browse a catalog of TV shows that includes hits like Max & Ruby, Miss Spider’s Sunny Patch Friends, Rolie Polie Olie, and This Is Daniel Cook. Once downloaded to the free Treehouse Direct Player, kids can watch stories whenever they want! Visit www.treehousedirect.com and be the boss of your TV! Mashin’ Fashion The theme this winter continues to be about lots of layers and the mixing of patterns and cool accessories. But this trend can go from stylish to sloppy if it’s not done properly. Most tween magazines seem to take this notion and feature Gwen Stefani/Harajuku Girl styles, with their loud non- matching colours and clashing prints. However, most young girls don’t want to stick out that much. Here’s what you’ll see in circulation in most kid’s wardrobes: Tights rule! Girls can wear ‘em under skirts, tunics, dresses and long- sleeved shirts. The layering look for boys is collared shirts under v- necks, and long sleeved shirts under t-shirts. A variety of patterns are making their comeback this season—wide rugby stripes, plaid, pokadots, plus lace and animal prints! Accessorizing can breathe new life into any new outfit. Headbands, big belts and jewellery jumbled together continue to dominate this winter’s accessories. MUST Haves… • Leggings • Dresses • Patent leather anything • Sweaters and more sweaters! Sweater dresses, sweater coats, wrap sweaters, chunky turtlenecks and more. • Shrunken hoodies • Vests • Bow-tie blouses • Boots—both slouchy and wedge-heeled • Converse sneakers (the more 70s-looking the better) • Big belts Ciara: The Evolution (release date December 5th, 2006): You may remember Ciara from her smash R ‘n’ B hit “1, 2 Step.” Well, now she’s back with her new, highly anticipated album, The Evolution, which hits stores on December 5th. The Evolution features the new smash hits “Promise” and “Get Up” feat. Chamillionaire. There are all- new tracks with production by Pharrell, Rodney Jerkins, Polow, will.i.am (from the Black Eyed Peas), and more. The CD will also include a limited edition bonus DVD which teaches you Ciara’s dance moves and routines from “Get Up”, “Promise” and much more. Bow Wow: The Price of Fame (release date December 19th, 2006): Everyone’s favourite rapper ain’t so Lil’ no mo! Bow Wow's fifth album, The Price of Fame will be released on December 19, 2006. It is led off by the single "Shortie Like Mine," featuring Chris Brown, which debuted at number 80 on the Billboard Hot 100. Not only is Bow Wow big on the music scene, but he has been in several films and has made many television appearances. Bow Wow made his acting debut in 2002's Like Mike, where he starred as a young orphan who gets a shot at the NBA. Bow Wow He also co-starred with Cedric the Entertainer, Vanessa Williams, and Solange Knowles in Johnson Family Vacation. Bow Wow even guest- starred on the television show Smallville in November 2006 in the episode entitled "Fallout". Little know fact: Bow Wow is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the "youngest solo rapper to ever hit number one." My Chemical Romance: The Black Parade One of the hottest alternative acts out there right now, My Chemical Romance, a.k.a. "My Chem" or MCR, has released their third album entitled The Black Parade. When the album debuted at the end of October, it entered many of the major charts at the top of the list. If that weren’t enough, there’s also a special limited edition version of The Black Parade, which features a long skinny box and hinged lid, wrapped in black velveteen. The 64-page book in the box contains band members’ drawings, making-of-the-album notes from the band, and 4 special photo art cards. The Fray: How to Save a Life It took almost a year for these guys to get some real recognition for their pretty piano and Coldplay-esque sound. Thanks to the help of television shows like Grey's Anatomy and One Tree Hill, "How to Save a Life" has been rapidly climbing the charts. The Fray is a four-piece alternative rock band from Denver, Colorado. They’re known internationally for their single "Over My Head (Cable Car)," which made the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100 and was also a hit single in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. The band’s follow-up single "How to Save a Life" was also a successful hit in the U.S., helping their debut album of the same name sell over 1.5 million copies and reach the top 15 of the Billboard 200 album charts. Microsoft Woos Wee Ones Microsoft's strategy for its year-old XBox 360 console differs significantly from its original outing. During the previous console lifespan, which brought us the Sony Playstation 2 and the Nintendo Gamecube, it was considered poisonous for a console to look or feel child-friendly in any way; this attitude was reflected from the systems' game libraries, down to the design of the actual system itself. The bright purple and toy-like Nintendo Gamecube lost credibility with older gamers and was considered a strictly kids-only console. Now that Microsoft has established a reputation for being respectable enough for mature gamers, they are more actively pursuing a younger audience. Their most recent investment, Viva Piñata, is a gardening game filled with fanciful paper animals that is supported on YTV by the animated show of the same name. Curiously, the game itself has enough complexity and depth to boggle the mind of most adults who play it. But for a company so steeped in sports simulators and fancy first person shooters, old habits die hard. Corus Interactive Attempts a Massive Undertaking The Television-Interactive arm of Corus, which is responsible for many of the online incarnations of the company's brands including YTV.com, WNetwork.ca and CMT.ca, is developing a MMMOG. This Massively Massively Multiplayer Online Game is a collection of many MMOGs built on the same architecture and linked together under one unifying brand. An MMOG typically allows players to customize a character, decorate a personal space like a bedroom or a hideout, and then share a world space with hundreds of other players. Players can chat with each other, play mini-games, and earn virtual currency which they can spend on furniture and accessory upgrades. The Corus Interactive MMOG's have a few unique and exciting twists that won't be revealed until the project launches in early 2007. Grinchy Wii Poised to Steal Christmas The Grinch had a heart two sizes too small, and Nintendo's latest console, the Wii, has a graphics processor to match. Nintendo threw out the bells along with the whistles when they decided to forego fitting the Wii with HD capabilities and "next-gen" graphics, focussing instead on a radical new motion-sensing control scheme with games that can detect your hands' position in 3D space. To play the Wii's boxing game, for example, players have to actually jab at the screen; a fishing mini-game has players making a physical casting-off motion, and then moving the other hand in circles to reel in a big one. The Wii is poised to be the biggest-selling console this Christmas thanks to a few key details. Its distribution is in the millions, compared to the competing PS3 console, which will launch only a few hundred thousand consoles by year end. The Wii's price is a cool $300, while the PS3 approaches $700. And in a familiar echo of the Playstation 2 launch, eBay is already packed with people bidding nearly $2000 for the PS3 console, with only a pre-order receipt as evidence that the product will actually materialize. DISCLAIMER: The trends that the YTV Trend Huntaz comment on come from the buzz on the street, the mall, the Internet, and numerous publications. YTV does not guarantee that all of the above information will come to fruition, but you can pretty much believe us as we are obsessed with this stuff. For more information contact: Aubray Lynas at firstname.lastname@example.org.