An Expert Panels Look at the Best of the Year

Weird.  And pricey. Those words best describe the kid’s toy industry as we head towards the holiday.  Analysts are saying that there’s no single standout toy frenzy but digital toys are high on everyone’s list. Preschoolers are getting $400 iPads; tweens getting their own iPod Touch. Some of most sought after toys are the LeapFrog LeapPad Explorer Learning Tablet that sells for $200. It’s sold out of most stores with parents eagerly watching to see if stores like ToysRus will manage to restock the shelves before the holidays. Other trending toys include Hot Wheels Wall Tracks and Figit Friends – animatronic buddies

But, lurking quietly behind the hub-bub of shopping lines, there are some gems lying unrecognized.  Each year a year a panel of 15 judges with decades of experience in the kids business get together to seek out the best that the digital world provides for young kids.  Called the KAPi Awards, these are doled out during CES at a special ceremony honoring creators of good tech for kids.


Does it pay to buy an iPad?

From the looks of some of this year’s winner’s it seems that some of the most creative work for kids is being done on Apple iPads and that once you invest in the iPad the cost of an app is minimal.

DoodleCast by zinc Roe was selected as best app for young kids.  It’s a simple app that allows you to draw and add voice to your drawings creating an animated storybook by you. Best of all, it cost $1.99 and is available on the iPad or iPhone.  For older kids the winner was Bobo Explores Light by GameCollage LLC , a $5 app that let’s kids explore the physical properties of light  including color and photosynthesis. In the world of digital children’s books the award went to Cinderella Nosy Crow Animated Picture Book where a 3D looking world allows kids to sweep the floors with Cinderella and more. Apple nabbed the Best Hardware award for the iPad2, with LeapPad Explorer following clost behind.


The best video game software award went to  Once Upon a Monster by Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment, unbelievably rich game for the Xbox Kinect where parents and kids can play on Sesame Street, actually controlling Cookie and Elmo with their body movements.  Disney’s AppMAtes, Disney Consumer Products  received an award for the most innovative technology.  Disney combined a miniature car with capacitive sensors that drives a race track on the iPad and encounters all sorts of Cars adventures.

Noodlewords from Noodleworks, an app that brings words to life as they dance and jump across the iPad screen won best educational software.  MineCraft by Mojang won for the best kids’ virtual world. The judges loved the “hide and go seek” feel to this world.

People, as well as products were recognized.  Ge Wang, Co-founder and Chief Creative Officer, Smule; won the Emerging Pioneer Award. He created the Magic Piano so that people all over the world could make music collaboratively with this fun tool. Mark Schlichting, Creator of the Brøderbund Living Books and now Noodlewords, was recognized for delighting a generation of younger readers, twice.

For more about the KAPi Awards and the judging process visit Kids@Play