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DISNEY Unveils PLAYMATION, “The Future of Play”

By Sharon Knolle

Disney unveiled “the future of play” today in Los Angeles: Playmation is an interactive way to play that gets kids up and running as one of The Avengers instead of sitting on the couch. The first product (due out this October) is the Playmation Marvel’s Avengers game that lets kids don Iron Man’s iconic glove to deliver palm cannon blasts and freeze rays in missions dictated by Tony Stark’s AI,  J.A.R.V.I.S.

We watched a little girl named Sydney demonstrate a five-minute mission where she had to sneak up on Iron Skull (Red Skull after he upgrades to an Iron Man-style suit), then run or hide at appropriate moments and fire repeatedly to defeat the villain. When you’re hit, you feel it in the palm sensors of the glove.

Besides the Repulsor (Iron Man’s glove) component, there’s a Power Activator base station that emits sound and lights – green means the enemy (the Iron Skull Smart Figure) is ready to fire, purple means he’s vulnerable. When you “defeat” him, he is ejected from his base and falls to the floor. The Starter Kit we saw demonstrated also included an interactive Captain America Smart Figure that you can spar with to train.

The components communicate via infrared and radio: The more you play, the more levels and abilities you unlock. At the end of her mission, J.A.R.V.I.S told Sydney she had leveled up and also acquired a new ability after defeating Iron Skull. Gameplay resembles laser tag and the missions can take place around the world, including the New York City battleground of the first Avengers movie.

You can download more missions via the internet but won’t be able to play online: The whole point is to keep kids moving.

Next up for the product line are the Hulk Hands, due in November, with plans for a Star Wars set (with lightsaber action) in 2016 and a Frozen game in 2017. The games will not crossover, however: Each will function only in their own universe.

There are Black Widow figures (as well as villains Loki, Ultron and Modok) but no set date to be able to play as Black Widow or any of the villains.

Leslie Ferraro, President of Disney Consumer Products, described Playmation as “active, creative play,” saying, “Kids love playing superhero.” Several lucky kids have already devoted hours in playing as Iron Man or Hulk and one boy in the demo video exclaimed, “It’s like an action figure mixed with a video game.”

You’ll be able to play by yourself or against another player: Plans for more players are down the road, according to our demonstrator, Mike. The hands units fit adults or kids.

Pre-orders start on July 7. The Starter Kit retails for $119 with items like the Prowlerbot retailing for around $39.

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