Monday, November 23, 2009

Toy Co. #4: Fisher-Price

The toy market doesn't seem all the big, dominated mostly by Mattel, Hasbro and Fisher-Price. It's amazing how small the world begins to feel as you take a look at different industries.

Like the other toy sites I've looked at, Fisher-Price is predominately a retail site. But I did find a couple interactive pieces (that weren't the obligatory games):

The Geotrax line of Train track building has a "Submit your Photo" section of the site. There's a respectable amount of photos here - and they don't seem to be all from the same kids ;)

Here's a cool idea. The notion of Downloadable Content seems to be old-hat to the Video Game industry, but this is the first incarnation I've seen in the Toy world. This series of toys is your basic "build-a-something" set, but it has areas where you can physically attach an illustrated image to enhance the "scene". The cool part is that you can create the images online and print them out.

But, like so many great ideas on the web, they end up half-baked -- like the above.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Toy Co. #3:Playmobil

I didn't know Playmobil was a german company until visiting their site.

There are a couple interesting things on the Playmobil site:

With an Ikea-type flare, this is a flash exploration of a suburban Playmobil house. There's a bit of a story on the right, which, oddly enough, I've not really seen before. It's like a snippet from a book, following a young girl answering the doorbell.

If you click on any of the rooms you get a slideshow of a variety of accessories/furniture for that room. The Ikea feeling is really strong here, like Ikea took over Barbie and put some thought into it.

This is here is probably one of the smartest games I've seen on a site. You are in charge of barbequeing for the family. You put the meat on the grill and you've got to flip it at the right times so you dont burn it. You get points for the best grilled meats.

those germans, always thinking and shit.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Toy Co. #2: Hasbro

The Hasbro site kinda looks and feels like someone dropped a grenade into a toy chest and then put the resultant chaos online. I say this with nothing but love.

Sifting through the debris I found a couple things to share:

This is the G.I. Joe page within the Hasbro site. It might be hard to tell, but the majority of the page is taken up by a battle scene between action figures. You can mouse either direction to see all of the scene. There's also a variety of games that feature the figures as well. If you click on one of the figures, you're taken to the Shopping section....which then makes the whole experience feel really disjointed. Is this a site for kids or for adults to shop?

You see this on a lot of commercial sites, this mashed duality. Do you want me to play or do you want me to shop? There's only so much room on the page. What ends up happening is the page above, full of shit for both and feels a bit overwhelming and underwhelming at the same time. Confusing ain't it?

Then there's this page:

Which i think is strictly for kids. Kinda raids the eyeballs. Somehow, by exploring more, I found another version of this page:

I'm confused too.

But! Out of this I found the Star Wars Comic Creator:

Which is a sweet idea.

I imagine children getting lost in sites like this for days, then shuffling out of nowhere with a blank distant look in their eyes, their greedy little hands begging for your credit card. There might be a science to this that I'm immune to (or to old to fall in to).


Friday, November 13, 2009

Toy Co. #1: Mattel

If your job is making fun interactive things for children, your website should probably reflect that. First up in exploring the Toy industry is Mattel.

While not pushing any boundaries, the Mattel site does feel a bit like a kids toy. All the buttons and motion have sound effects that you usually find accompanied by furry animals or big plastic instruments. Interesting note on the masthead, you can click at the top or bottom to have all the info/images (ie. dino, and cloud images seen above) move in and out via a Z-index, revealing completely new toy environments.

Unsurprisingly, the site has a whole section dedicated to games. I didn't see anything that struck me as topic worthy, but I will say that all the games were centered around Mattel products, and, for the most part, well executed. I say this because you can find some real crap when it comes to advergaming.

The section that took my notice was the Toy Factory section:

We've seen this before, many times. Basically a build-your-own-scene application. Choose backgrounds, toys, accessories etc. The interface is one of the better I've seen however and worth a look. The page features a wind-up randomizer device, which when used, just throws a bunch of objects into a scene. Strange results, but the device is fun to use.

Best feature of this app is that it begins building a Wish List below with all the toys you pick for your scene.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Camera Nerds #4: Hiroshi Seo

The last photographer portfolio in my excursion is taking us over to the land of the rising sun.

The site of Hiroshi Seo is packaged up neatly in concept, unlike the others we've seen so far. His work is presented as a simple story told over his career.

The timeline on the right acts as your guide through the tower of images that represent his body of work. In between the image tower and the timeline is an interesting touch that validates the concept. Here you'll find the timestamp of each photo in the tower. It's this minor detail that gives the site a sense of history and atmosphere (along with a bit o' music).

Selecting a photo moves the timeline and tower over, always a better option than the a "close" button or the like.

It's not often that meat-and-potatoes sections such as Profile or News would be included in a concept, but here the site carries through the timeline to support the content.


Monday, November 9, 2009

Camera Nerds #3: Andreas Smetana

I could probably spend a few months looking at photographers sites, and like it.

Andreas Smetana's site is a tasty elegant affair:

Your trip through the gallery of his work is controlled by the Up and Down arrows, each new row cascading in fluidly.

And of course, as all photo sites should be, the photos themselves are viewed full-screen.

It's so easy when building a website, or probably any piece of design or creative, to muck it up by trying to be too clever. The real trick is to make it look easy.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Camera Nerds #2: Fabio Lana

Sailing our barges across the Mediterranean to Italy, we find Fabio Lana's site. This is actually the work of Gabriel Vinci. I feel i need to state that, since this is no longer Fabio Lana's official site.

It's an interesting take on the slide carousel. Clicking the arrow turns the carousel of course.

A nice touch is the connection between a "quick view" mouse-over menu at top, and the carousel below. While it's just a linear version of the same menu, the images visible below are darkened above.


Monday, November 2, 2009

Camera Nerds #1: Emmanuel Rouzic

Photographer portfolio sites are a source of inspiration for me. For one thing, they're very focused. The whole goal is to show off their photos. And secondly, they (the photo portfolio web designer) are continuously experimenting with the how someone experiences those photos.

Today's site features a spanish photographer: Emmanuel Rouzic.

The site opens with a full-screen montage of his photos, with random photos flashing and changing as energetic music pulses out of your speakers. Can your flickr do that? :) All the images are clickable, leading you on to that images and the rest of the album it's attached to.

You can click on the photo to zoom in and then mouse-around to see the details, or keep clicking the arrow (on right) to see the next bits.

Very simple, yet it's got an atmosphere. You feel more like you're at a show, walking around looking at what you want to look at, taking your time. If this site showed you all his photos in a literal fashion or just as a page full of thumbnails, I think it would just be an over-done Flickr rip.


Grey Matters

I'm a Digital ACD in Advertising land. I have been in love with the internet for over 10 years now. And I have a Red Bull problem. There I said it.

I travel around different industries every week or so and look for interesting and tasty interactive bits. I hope to make this a place for ad folk to keep up to date. And I just enjoy the spelunk.

Brain Pieces from Me

"There is a creative solution for everything."

"Sometimes, to be successful with Social Media, don't start a conversation. Start an argument."

"This is no longer the Age of Information, it's the Age of Opinion."

"The work that comes out of an Agency is the result of not going crazy while doing it."

People Who Probably Read My Blog