The App World and the Toy Industry Converge as eCollectibles

Mix former Apple programmers with toy industry veterans, add in the power of portable devices and the result is a profound change in how consumers collect, own, and display collectibles.

Created by Little Ricky Software, eCollectibles are a revolutionary way to merge all the classic patterns of collecting tangible objects onto a portable device.

Here is how it works. Visit www.shakyplanet.com to download the ShakyGlobe app, which will work on Apple products such as iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. Droid and Blackberry are expected to follow in the near future. Users can then download a variety of collectible ShakyGlobes. Most of the ShakyGlobes are 99 cents and some are free. Each one looks like a tangible snow globe. Professional digital artists and game designers created each of the globes. Of course, just like a traditional snow globe, shake it and whatever is inside will spin around as if it’s housed in liquid. The floaters inside the globe are unique objects that are relevant to the specific scene. For example, the floaters in the San Francisco ShakyGlobe are crabs, cable cars, and baseballs, according to Little Ricky Software. The floaters in the Carnival ShakyGlobe are red and blue balloons and cotton candy. And, like any great collectible pattern, once a globe is retired, that’s it—it’s gone. Retired globes are listed on the site.

Little Ricky Software (No, it’s not named for that Little Ricky. The origin of the company name is top secret.) is comprised of Michal Anne Rogondino, creator of  the ShakyPlanet concept and Little Ricky president, and Paul Bugielski, senior vice-president of new business development and licensing.

What sets this concept apart, according to the company, is that consumers own their globes. Bugielski explains that the company has applied for a patent establishing clear and distinct ownership for the collector. It’s about authenticating and serializing each object. As a result, if consumers lose their device, the purchased globes can be reloaded into a new device. It mirrors the iTunes model.

“Consumers truly own what they have downloaded,” explains Bugielski. “It’s not that different from when you buy software.” The software has an activation and licensing code.

He explains that collectors register with ShakyPlanet to ensure their personal ownership of their eCollectibles. Each will be authenticated as original and unique. The eCollectibles will only be available for a limited time and in limited quantity. Consumers will have to act right away to obtain more for their collection.

Location-Specific Collecting

With the rise of Foursquare and other similar location-based apps, the next logical step for consumer products companies is to go beyond couponing and sell things directly to consumers. GPS capabilities offer an opportunity for an eCollectible to only be available in a specific place and/or for a specific time. For example, if a collector would like the ShakyGlobe Paris, the collector would have to be in Paris to collect it. This offers collectors a lot of bragging rights.

This also opens up a lot of opportunities for consumer products companies. For example, a promotion could be put in place with Hallmark that has consumers going to specific stores during a specific time period to collect a designated ShakyPlanet snow globe. This offer can then be combined with an in-store purchase of a tangible item.

The licensing possibilities are endless. Licensing will play a large and immediate role in the snow globe concept. Speed Racer, ComicCon 2010, and Squaredy Cats (soon to be a licensed product line from Gund created by Monkey Doodle Dandy) are just a few of the licensed versions available. In addition, the company is working with Wild Horse Concepts, which is focused on licensing in the toy and entertainment industries. The team at Wild Horse Concepts is comprised of Steve D’Aguanno, Fred Vuono, and Kirk Bozigian—all former Hasbro executives.

“For toy manufacturers and licensors this can become a new promotional medium to speak directly to key consumers in a high-tech, fun, and unique way,” says Kirk Bozigian, of HKB ideas and Wild Horse Concepts. “Its patent-pending, location-dependent technology allows toy companies to work with retailers to create special promotions for properties or events. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination.”

For years the toy industry has been challenged by the “kids getting older younger” phenomenon. It has only accelerated due to the widespread acceptance of portable devices by adults. Naturally, kids want to use the device, too, and that has created the “pass-back” factor that has made apps for kids so popular. Very few traditional toy companies have been able to merge the online and offline worlds. Perhaps ShakyPlanet has cracked the code.