“The Future of Play Is Coming”
That is all I knew going into the latest press event from Disney Consumers Products on June 2nd. I must admit that I was drawn to the secrecy of it all. What exactly would this “future” entail? Was it a new toy product-line? Video-game series? App? Something new entirely that man hasn’t thought up of until now? Regardless what it ended up being, I was intrigued.
Tom Staggs, President of Disney Consumer Products, came to the stage and first revealed that the name of this innovative play would be called “Playmation.” He then proceeded to show the trailer (which can now be viewed on the new Playmation’s YouTube channel) which promised to put kids at the center of their favorite Disney properties.
So what exactly is Playmation? First, there will be Smart Figures, not unlike Disney Infinity. The Playmation Marvel’s Avengers Starter Pack will come with one Superhero (Captain America) and one Supervillian (Red Skull). There will also be an interactive app — the AvengersNet app — that will allow you explore missions, locations and characters. However, it was explained at this event the real drive behind this line would be products that would encourage kids to actually run around and use their imagination as opposed to simply sitting in front of a touchscreen (as has become the norm in our 21st century world). To sum it up, this toy-line intends to follow the Disney method of traditional interactivity using innovative technology.
The one big product they had ready to demonstrate (and will come in the Starter Pack) is “The Repulsor” —Iron Man’s flight stabilizer/go-to weapon. With it, kids (and adults) can imagine they’re Iron Man on “25-different adventures with both single and multiplayer capabilities.”
Also in the works is “Gamma Gear,” which kids can use to pretend they’re The Hulk. After explaining these products, they showed footage of kids play-testing the products as well as interviews with the little gamers afterwards. One child explained that they “felt like Iron Man” and that they wished “every single video game was with your imagination”.
With all of the focus is on Marvel right now, it was revealed at this press conference that they have also lined-up Star Wars Playmation slated to be released in 2016 and Frozen Playmation to be released in 2017. It’s safe to assume if these first three lines are successful, the entire Disney library will open up as possible Playmation options.
After the press conference was over, there were displays of all the Marvel figures intended to be released.
However, the event wouldn’t be complete until we got to see Playmation tested right in front of us. After some waiting (and some french-toast sticks), I got to go inside a test room to see “The Repulsor” in action. We were taught by a tech-guide and a test-subject all the different action commands, including the “Missile Launcher” (in which your hand points a green light where you aim and shoot) the “Freeze Blaster” (a command involving shoulder movement, which you have to unlock, and finally the most common and traditional of Tony Stark’s weapons) and the “Palm Canyon” (which simply consists of you raising your palm and releasing a blast). I asked how many commands would you be able to unlock and the answer was up to 40.
Also demonstrated was how the power activator will be used to bring the Smart Figures to life. He also revealed the app, which is used to help lay-out adventures such for players to experience such having to fight Ultron in Seoul. By the end of your adventure, it’ll show you your score and list of achievements.
After the test subject played with it, which included running, jumping and hiding, I was able to try “The Repulsor”. I can confirm that it’s adjustable to where an adult is able to wear it as well as a child could. I got to fight Red Skull who taunted me a little bit while I ran behind pillow in order to dodge his blast. Thankfully, I was able to take him out using a couple missiles and a palm canyon blast. In one of the best little details, he popped right out of the power activator when you defeated him.
While it’s definitely just in its early stages to truly judge, I can definitely see potential in this toy-line. I’m really eager to see how they will incorporate Star Wars. Kids could be able to imagine themselves in lightsaber duels like never before!
Playmation won’t be able to bought in stores until October this year, but you can preorder the Marvel’s Avengers Starter Pack on July 7th.