Hasbro is to launch an Internet-compatible version of its toy dinosaur character Barney for pre-school children.The new product, called eSpecially My Barney, is claimed to be the first interactive talking toy that can be customised and updated from the Internet.
Parents can plug the soft toy into a PC, connect it to the eSpecially My Barney website and personalise the toy to “learn” and speak the child’s name, birthday, best friend’s name, favourite food and other details.
Children can also download activities, songs and games from the website, which will modify the behaviour of the toy when it is unplugged from the computer. The features are changed every few months so the toy can be updated. There is no extra charge for downloading the activities.
ESpecially My Barney is being launched in the UK in October and will cost &£49.99. It is already available in the US. It will be featured in TV advertising for the full range of Hasbro Barney products in the run-up to Christmas.
Hasbro brand manager Henry Foulds says the company is expecting consumers to buy computer equipment at Christmas, extending access to the Internet, and then to start buying applications to use with the equipment in the new year.
A dedicated TV campaign for eSpecially My Barney, by Griffin Bacal, now renamed Burkitt DDB, will break in spring/summer 2001.