There's an app that works with the fortress so kids can play games that mix physical toys with digital games. There are collectible figures that unlock new content in the app.
Imaginext is great stuff, really sturdy and well made, my kids have got some and my nephew has a huge collection. Combining the toys with interactive video games has lots of potential. It's aimed at children aged 3-8 which is the usual audience for Imaginext toys. My kids are just turned 5 and nearly 7 so within the age range.
The castle itself has a slot for an iPad which connects via the headphone jack. It also has a clear protective covering for the tablet. It has a canon and buttons that can be used in game play and can operate with the iPad in horizontal or vertical mode for different styles of game play.
It also has places where kids can place and play with the figures. The castle comes with one figure, the knight and his accessories.
The figures are Imaginext figures with a special base that allows them to be recognised by the iPad. The additional characters are the Archer, Wizard and Troll.
Each character comes with accessories and unlocks new content in the app.
Here's the Imaginext Apptivity Fortress in action:
The Imaginext Apptivity Fortress app is free to download and I tried it out with my boys which was a big success.
I like the app a lot, it's set in a medieval fantasy kingdom with dragons and trolls. For those you you who play video games yourselves, it has the feel of a young kids RPG (yes, I've spent a lot of time playing those games!) As a geek parent, I love that it introduces my kids to bashing barrels to check for coins and exploring a map to find new locations and enemies. It's all very little-kid friendly, but be warned there's lots of bashing of trolls!
You can access quite a lot of the app without the Apptivity Fortress or even any of the figures. Kids just place their fingers where the figure would go and then press red on-screen action buttons.
There's a map to walk around and discover four different locations, at three of them there are mini-games that can be played, the fourth tells you that you need the Apptivity Fortress. My kids enjoyed the dragon riding game and the battle game, but they really loved the troll bashing, treasure collecting game where you need to protect the King and his treasure from trolls. They ended up playing collaboratively with one controlling the figure and the other pressing the action button to bash.
The app does include advertising for the Fortress (yes, my kids asked for it.) It also includes a video that tells the background story for the toy. The graphics are gorgeous and the games were simple for little kids to understand and very engaging.
The app does have in-app purchases via Treasure Room. Coins can be bought or collected and used to buy blasts for the battle game or the virtual content associated with the additional characters from the range. It would take a lot of gameplay to earn enough coins for the extra virtual content, but my kids rather liked the idea of playing enough to do that!
I have a slight concern that there's not enough content to keep kids interested if they play with this toy on a daily basis, but my kids seems happy to play the games they had access to over and over again. And the Fortress itself and the additional characters do provide more content.
This toy goes beyond some of the app toy gimmicks that we saw manufacturers attempting last year and I can see kids playing with this on a daily basis alongside their other Imaginext toys. I can definitely see the concept being extended to other Imaginext ranges in the future, there's lots of potential here.
For kids at the younger end of the age range I think this is an excellent toy. It think it will still appeal to kids at the older end of the range although they will obviously grow out of it faster (try Angry Birds Star Wars II Telepods for older kids.) I also like that you can try the app out first and get a good idea of whether it will appeal to your kids. I think this is going to be a top-selling toy for Christmas 2013.