Toy Time is upon us, when all the nation’s retailers begin their all-out brawl for holiday market share. The first salvo is the reappearance of Toys ‘R Us—as, of course, an Instagram-friendly popup brand “experience” charging $28 a pop.
Business Insider reported on the scheme launching in October in Atlanta and Chicago, a collaboration between Tru Kids, which bought the brand name out of bankruptcy, and Candytopia, a traveling experienced based on—duh—candy. The website promises, “over eight mind-blowing rooms and celebrate play with brands you know and love. Zoom into adventure, trek through a Schleich safari, show off your medieval moves in the disco castle, test your house-building skills in a huffy-puffy fairytale come to life and SO much more!” Forbes got more details on the opportunities for your child to interact with T H E B R A N D S:
The Paw Patrol toy brand by Spin Master, specialty toy maker Melissa and Doug, and Schleich, which makes animal figurines and playsets, are some of the products and vendors that will be featured in the play spaces.
The play spaces will be “a mixture of play experiences and brand experiences,” said Tru Kids CEO Richard Barry, in a phone interview. “We’re going to have an environment where kids will really be able to experience being in a full Paw Patrol world,” he said.
In the Schleich room, visitors will be able to interact with giant Schleich figures, in an environment “where you’ll feel like you’re in a real jungle,” Barry said.
Unfortunately, as the parent of a small child, this sounds like a great place for your beloved wee goblin to catch a loathsome stomach virus that requires you to miss three days of work. But then, that’s literally everything for kids. And this is part of a broader trend, via Forbes:
James Zahn, senior editor of The Toy Insider, The Toy Book, and other toy trade publications, said he believes parents will pay to bring their children to the Toys R Us Adventure. Experiences and toy events have become so prevalent that Zahn devoted a special feature on them in the next issue of The Toy Book. “There’s Nickelodeon’s Slime City, there’s a Dr. Seuss experience” and in Pennsylvania there is the Crayola experience, he said. “My kids love going on experiences,” he said.
This is the second initiative by Tru Kids; “In July it announced a joint venture with retail tech firm b8ta to open two interactive and immersive Toys R Us stores in malls in Paramus, N.J., and Houston,” Forbes noted. Meanwhile Walmart, Target, and Amazon are gnawing on the once-mighty brand’s bones.