Source: Roblox/the Toy Book

Parents are on a never-ending quest to entertain their kids‭, ‬so what if there was a place where kids could access more than 20‭ ‬million games for free‭? ‬Well‭, ‬that place exists‭, ‬and it’s called‭ ‬Roblox‭.‬

Roblox‭ ‬is a digital platform where millions of players gather together every day to create and share experiences in immersive‭, ‬3D worlds‭. ‬All of the online games in the platform are built by members of the‭ ‬Roblox‭ ‬community for members of the‭ ‬Roblox‭ ‬community‭. ‬Roblox‭ ‬is free to download and play on all modern smartphones‭, ‬tablets‭, ‬computers‭, ‬Xbox One‭, ‬Oculus Rift‭, ‬and HTC Vive‭. ‬Players can find endless ways to play for hours of entertainment‭: ‬They can build the ultimate theme park‭, ‬compete as a race car driver‭, ‬star in a fashion show‭, ‬become a superhero‭, ‬or just hang out with friends‭.‬

Kids can customize their Roblox avatars to represent their personalities. | Source: Roblox

Entering its 16th year‭, ‬the platform is hardly new‭, ‬but more people are jumping into the metaverse than ever before‭. ‬As in-person events and gatherings became scarce during the COVID-19‭ ‬pandemic‭, ‬Roblox presented a place for kids to gather virtually‭, ‬personalize digital avatars‭, ‬explore new worlds‭, ‬play games‭, ‬and even create their own games‭. ‬Toy and entertainment companies caught on to the digital hangout and are diving into the platform to promote their‭ ‬brands through in-game activations and special events‭.‬

After WowWee launched My Squishy Little Dumplings last year‭, ‬it partnered with game developer Gamefam to promote the collectibles in the‭ ‬Twilight Daycare‭ ‬game‭, ‬with digital versions of the toy and a Dumplings costume that players could virtually wear‭. ‬In just one week‭, ‬33‭ ‬million‭ ‬Roblox‭ ‬users played the game‭, ‬21‭ ‬million users played with the digital Dumplings‭, ‬and 2.2‭ ‬million users dressed up as Dumplings‭ ‬—‭ ‬that’s a lot of exposure for the My Squishy Little Dumplings brand‭.‬

My Squishy Little Dumplings | Source: WowWee

Roblox is the new way to hang out and spend time with your friends‭, ‬especially during the pandemic when things are not so interpersonal‭ ‬anymore‭,‬”‭ ‬says Sydney Wiseman‭, ‬vice president of brand development and creative strategy at WowWee‭. ‬“Now‭, ‬given that shift‭, ‬it has brought us into this new social world that didn’t really exist before‭. ‬In the past two years‭, ‬there’s been a big shift in who was playing‭ ‬Roblox and we thought there was a tremendous opportunity there‭.‬”

Wiseman says that the‭ ‬Roblox promotion was one of the most effective marketing activations that WowWee has done for My Squishy Little Dumplings‭. ‬“You have to make sure to create an activation that doesn’t feel like an advertisement to‭ ‬Roblox‭ ‬players so that it adds value without coming at the expense of the players’‭ ‬in-game experience‭,‬”‭ ‬she says‭. ‬“Our choice of doing Dumplings in‭ ‬Twilight Daycare‭ ‬was actually quite strategic and was not offensive because the whole game is centered around playing with toys‭. ‬It was so seamless that kids actually thought it was just a toy in the game‭. ‬Some kids were surprised to find out it was an actual toy you could buy in the real world‭.‬”

Source: Spin Master

Spin Master launched its first major activation with Roblox‭ ‬last March with the‭ ‬Bakugan Rage Runner‭ ‬game‭, ‬which has received more than 75‭ ‬million plays‭. ‬In September‭, ‬the Bakugan franchise dove further into the metaverse with the first-ever premiere of a full-length episode of a series to launch on the platform‭. ‬An episode of‭ ‬Bakugan: Geogan Rising‭ ‬premiered within the Bakugan hub on‭ ‬Roblox‭ ‬a week before the episode appeared on Netflix‭, ‬and the‭ ‬Roblox‭ ‬episode has more than 2.7‭ ‬million views to date‭. ‬

Spin Master’s Purse Pets and Mermaid High brands also received the Roblox‭ ‬treatment‭. ‬Purse Pets were the first animated accessories available in Uplift Games’‭ ‬Adopt Me!‭, ‬the No‭. ‬1‭ ‬game on‭ ‬Roblox‭. ‬In just one week‭, ‬more than 2‭ ‬million virtual Purse Pets were sold through in-game currency‭. ‬In November‭, ‬Spin Master’s Mermaid High doll line made a splash in Fullflower Studio’s‭ ‬Mermaid Life‭ ‬role-play game with a new quest released each week based on the Mermaid High characters‭. ‬When players completed the quests‭, ‬they gained exclusive virtual items‭, ‬and they were also able to purchase the Mermaid High dolls’‭ ‬outfits and accessories within the game‭. ‬The event culminated with a virtual dance party featuring the Mermaid High‭ ‬theme song from the animated YouTube series‭.‬

“The‭ ‬Roblox metaverse provides the opportunity to build brand awareness for evergreen and new brands by introducing them to an established audience in the virtual world‭,‬”‭ ‬says Spin Master Executive Vice President of Marketing Laura Henderson‭. ‬“With‭ ‬Adopt Me!‭, ‬the target demographic’s interest and built-in affinity for animated pets aligned with our Purse Pets brands‭. ‬Unicorns are the most requested item in the game‭, ‬creating the perfect opportunity to introduce the Purse Pets Glamicorn to a new audience‭.‬”

The Ryan’s World brand also made a‭ ‬Roblox‭ ‬appearance for the Ryan’s World FanFest afterparty‭. ‬During and Sunlight Entertainment’s FanFest event in November‭, ‬fans joined Ryan Kaji for a virtual show in which he traveled to a‭ ‬“multiverse”‭ ‬via portals that brought him into different worlds and dimensions‭. ‬At the end of the event‭, ‬the entire Kaji family walked through a‭ ‬Roblox door and were transported into the Ryan’s World‭ ‬Roblox‭ ‬server‭, ‬where Ryan’s twin sisters Emma and Kate debuted their new‭ ‬Roblox avatars‭. ‬There was also a scavenger hunt mini game for attendees at the afterparty‭.‬

Squishmallows on Roblox | Source: Jazwares Game Studio

In addition to activations‭, ‬some toy brands are putting themselves in the spotlight with‭ ‬Roblox‭ ‬games of their own‭. ‬As kids spend hours hanging out in the‭ ‬Roblox‭ ‬metaverse each day‭, ‬manufacturers have a major opportunity to reach their target audiences‭. ‬MGA Entertainment’s‭ ‬The L.O.L. Surprise! Official Party‭ ‬features interactive versions of L.O.L‭. ‬Surprise‭! ‬doll characters‭, ‬dance-offs‭, ‬challenges‭, ‬and unlockable rewards‭. ‬Players can‭ ‬customize L.O.L‭. ‬Surprise‭! ‬characters with mix-and-match outfits and accessories‭, ‬just like they can with the physical dolls‭. ‬In‭ ‬December‭, ‬Jazwares Game Studio developed a‭ ‬Squishmallows‭ ‬game featuring a social world in which fans can gather and collect virtual Squishmallows‭, ‬compete in mini games‭, ‬and customize‭ ‬Squishmallows-themed homes‭. ‬

HEXBUG recently teamed up with Wind Sun Sky to craft new content in support of the second season of Junkbots toys‭. ‬HEXBUG took a‭ ‬cross-platform approach to weave storytelling through the Junkbots toy line‭, ‬an eight-part animated series on YouTube‭, ‬and a multichapter Roblox‭ ‬story game‭. ‬Kids can use custom codes embedded into the Junkbots Port Power Plant Playset packaging to unlock digital content within‭ ‬Roblox‭. ‬

Source: HEXBUG

“We wanted to create a platform that moved beyond the plastic toy‭,‬”‭ ‬says HEXBUG Vice President of Creative and Brand Management Brandon Adams‭. ‬“When Junkbots jumps over into the‭ ‬Roblox world‭, ‬it needs to stay true to the in-hand toy experience‭.‬”

The game features Junkbots locations that fans may recognize from the physical playsets‭. ‬“These locations are also reflected in our YouTube series for continuity and a better understanding of the characters’‭ ‬personalities that play out in our multiverse‭. ‬There are multiple touchpoints to help you gain experience and a love for the world of Junkbots‭,‬”‭ ‬Adams says‭.‬

Some manufacturers are even bringing the metaverse trend full circle with toy lines based on‭ ‬Roblox‭ ‬games‭. ‬WowWee is continuing its partnership with Gamefam to create a doll line based on‭ ‬Twilight Daycare‭. ‬The line will include 25‭ ‬collectible baby dolls‭ ‬—‭ ‬including common‭, ‬rare‭, ‬and super rare‭ ‬—‭ ‬that come with redeemable codes that kids can scan into the game to unlock exclusive powers‭, ‬costumes‭, ‬toys‭, ‬and dolls‭. ‬

WowWee will kick off its Twilight Daycare line with Collectible Babies. | Source: WowWee/the Toy Book

From Banana Baby to Gamer Baby‭, ‬the themes of the dolls are all based on data of what players are actually asking for in the game‭. ‬“Kids are always talking in‭ ‬Roblox‭ ‬—‭ ‬that’s the whole point‭ ‬—‭ ‬so we’re able to comb through keywords of what kids are looking for‭,‬”‭ ‬Wiseman says‭. ‬WowWee’s Twilight Daycare line will launch this spring‭.‬

Hasbro also joined forces with Roblox‭ ‬for a Monopoly‭: ‬Roblox 2022‭ ‬Edition board game featuring a code to redeem an exclusive virtual item‭, ‬as well as NERF blasters representing the following‭ ‬Roblox games‭: ‬Adopt Me!‭, ‬Arsenal‭, ‬Jailbreak‭, ‬Mad City‭, ‬Murder Mystery 2‭, ‬and‭ ‬Phantom Forces‭. ‬Each of the NERF blasters also includes a code that‭ ‬Roblox‭ ‬players can redeem for a virtual blaster to equip on their avatar‭ ‬—‭ ‬and use in the game that inspired it‭.‬

Roblox‭ ‬is transforming how people come together to connect‭, ‬create‭, ‬and express themselves through shared experiences‭, ‬ushering in a new era of play and marketing‭. ‬With unlimited possibilities for toys to influence the games and the games to influence toys‭, ‬toy‭ ‬manufacturers should take the leap into the metaverse because the future is now‭.‬

This article was originally published in the February 2022 edition of the Toy BookClick here to read the full issue!

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