Everything old is new again

Everything old is new again

Original Alphie, 1978

During an early Christmas celebration this last weekend, my almost two-year-old son opened up his latest gift – an Alphie robot.  I heard a loud exclamation of excitement, not actually from my toddler but from my 38-year-old sister. “Oh my gosh – that’s the best gift ever – I haven’t seen one of those in years!”

Over 30 years to be exact. The original Alphie was introduced in 1978. Being one of the thousands of kids who went nuts over it – this plastic robot that taught you about letters, numbers, reasoning – I could understand why my sister was excited about the new, improved version.  Playskool reintroduced the educational toy in 2010 – and since its debut, the talking robot has made several lists as being one of the top interactive, educational toys for children once again.

New Alphie, 2010

Why would anyone be interested in a 30-year old toy? The answer is simple: an excellent marketing strategy and a smart product launch (or re-launch in this case). Vintage toys are the craze right now – deep within one of the worst recessions this nation has ever experienced, adults are clamoring for toys for their children that remind them of happier times.  Resurrecting this toy was genius – when unveiling it at the 2010 Toy Fair, the launch phrasing of the presenter was simple “Remember the Alphie you had as a kid? He’s all grown up!” And just like that, heartstrings were tugged and a product was re-launched.

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