Heads Up: Tootsville

Florida-based RES Interactive is prepping the launch of its new toy-based virtual world, Tootsville.com, aimed at children 6-12 for July 4. The world, currently in beta, is meant to let kids play games, download books and music, and socialize with their friends. The virtual world is driven by the sale of plush elephant dolls, Toots, with USB ports that give users access to the extra content. Although the founders of the company come from advertising, the website will be ad free. Extra revenue will come from $5.95/month subscriptions that add extra features like customizable houses, virtual goods, chat, and exclusive games and events. It looks like that’s on top of the price of a plush toy, though, and that sort of one-two punch brought a fairly public backlash against the established brand of Beanie Babies 2.0.

Virtual Worlds News: RES Working on New Toy-Based Kids World, Tootsville

Ya know… it was all quiet on the western front last week… nah, the last TWO weeks. Now the revving engines have begun again.

Tootsville sounds a bit like webkinz X funkeys X bebratz with their toys & extra features on USB port combo meal. I’m VERY interested to see how the downloadable books & music thrives – no one has really gone that direction in a VW yet for this demo (although, there are sites that build a lot of momentum on the music they play).

I do have to say – tis bold this “toys + subscription” path to market. One-two punch? More like a two fists flying at once sort of deal. I’m not sure about that at all. I’ll have to dig in deeper.

Seems like there are a LOT of companies entering the toy + virtual world arena. One can only wonder if the level of multitasking that kids currently exhibit will allow for so many entities to exist, or if kids will start picking apples over oranges.

How many virtual pets do you have to take care of? Sigh & sheesh. I’m struggling with my one monster and one neopet and two webkinz – thank goodness Neopets has a hotel I can stick him in for a month so I can take a wee break, and webkinz only decreases the energy of your pet while you’re online and not offline. My funkey is probably so filthy (they get dirty if you don’t take care of them daily) that he can’t move, and my Littlest Pet Shop kitty has simply got to be dead by now. Thank goodness most of the other sites I am on do not require so much guilt & maintenance. But then again… it keeps the customers coming back, doesn’t it? Indeedy do. Plus, there are tater tots who love the maternal instincts of caretaking. Props to them. After 3 years of it tho, it gets a bit frustrating (and yet, I am old enough to “just let go”, and I refuse).

Anyway – tootsville sounds like an interesting new adventure. For the most part, the site looks young (all I can think of are “Elephants on Parade”, but I suppose that’s natural considering the content). They seem to have safety at the forefront – stopping users who wish to register, and introducing the safety protocol (nice). The safety protocol is broken into four bubbles that you must “agree” to by checking a box. It’s very cute & bubbly, but I totally didn’t read anything past the bolded headers when passing through with my obligatory click.

Next comes the choice of membership vs free – with check boxes showing the difference in accounts (what you get vs what you don’t get). Honest, straightforward.

There seem to be about 10 or so pre-created elephant avatars to chose from. No create-a-player/avatar. Bummer, but I do like my cow-print elephant.

NICE. Not only do they NOT collect personal information in the slightest from a child (WOOO HOOOO), but they still ask kids to give their parents email address. Parents must approve the account. < Mind you, unless they plan on NOT moderating the site… and unless they plan on TAKING personal information from your child, there is NO NEED to get parental approval. It’s a good policy thing.

As it turns out they DO need parental permission because they take personal information regarding the child from the parent (so smart) – and (better yet) they also give the parent an opportunity to SET THE TIME LIMIT for their child playing online: Unlimited, 1 hour, 2 hour. NICE.

Hmmm. They really hit you on the upsale of the premium account. Sheesh – thrice before even getting to enter the game there’s a “Buy the subscription” push.

The word is nice. Lovely clouds passing buy. Circus feel (which, actually, I’m personally not thrilled with, since I’m not a big supporter of circuses).  Passports for traveling to other fantasy lands.  Everything is big, bright, bubbly.  Again, I hate to say it, but it kind of aesthetically reminds me of preschool television.  Hmm.  The toy itself looks kinda anime-cool (the way funkeys do).  Sort of irreverent yet youthful – totes something I would put on my desk.  But the elephant in the world?  Young.

Little girls who love elephants & playing ‘animal dress up’ will enjoy tootsville. It’ll be interesting to see how it does in the long haul. The safety features are nice, and the world seems to have great quality. I’m more interested if there is a sizable play-pattern demographic of kids out there who have always wanted a world where they can play with an elephant who seems very young… enough to continue to sustain such an environment for a long period of time.

I dunno. Check it out for yourself. Let me know what you think?

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  1. September 9, 2008 at 7:29 pm

    You should see all the changes at Tootsville and by the way the customizable avatar system… they GOT IT NOW.
    Thanks for your comments they help us focus and grow.

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