Shopping Ideas
Mattel Digital Toy Shop Visit
Minority Report meets Santa Claus

By Seán O'Sullivan - November 25th, 2013

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If Toronto Thumbs readers are anything like Toronto Thumbs writers, then there’s a good chance that you’re a fan of the convenience of online shopping, and you harbour at least an academic interest in visiting toy shops. From now until December 8, Mattel Canada are offering visitors to the CN Tower the joys of both at the Mattel Digital Shop ‘n Play.

Visitors to this novel pop-up will see a combination of high tech and timeless plastic playthings. Two big-screen televisions allow users to browse through virtual shelves using Kinect tech, and purchases can be completed on the spot by secure mobile purchase with home delivery, or sent as a wishlist to family and friends. Each order is fulfilled by partnerships with Amazon, Sears, and Toys”R”Us, so users can be assured that they’re still getting competitive prices.

Some of the augmented reality stuff is unique to the store: kids can step into Barbie’s Endless Closet, which overlays clothing items over a live webcam feed (after subjecting it to my full journalistic rigor, I can confirm that Barbie’s Endless Closet supports 6’5″ men). There’s also a dancing game that allows kids to control a character of their choosing from Monster High via a motion tracking camera. Also on offer is a Hot Wheels Triple Track Twister in a virtual Hot Wheels speedster, and a Thomas & Friends interactive story – so the full gamut of cherished brands is represented.

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As far as family outings go, it certainly feels like a visit to the toy shop of the future, albeit one built on existing technologies. Gamers familiar with the original Kinect camera know how easily it can get confused, so it shouldn’t be a surprise to hear that navigating the virtual shelves isn’t always going to be as effortless as it ought to be. Fortunately, the staff on hand were absolutely terrific: able to compensate for any technical glitches that arose, willing to bounce around in front of the games to get the kids fired up to burn off some energy, and clearly as excited by the toys surrounding them as their target demographic.

The Mattel Digital Shop ‘n Play is located at the base of the CN Tower, and is a no-brainer for anyone looking to indulge their curiosity in the evolving toy market and retail experience, or anyone looking for a novel way to pass an afternoon with their kids.

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