Summer Lovin

ToyTalk does not tread lightly on summer festivities. We find that the season goes best with a side of good stories, ice cream sundaes, and grilled everything. See more pics from our third annual summer soiree here

How are you celebrating this summer? 

Apple of our Eye

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Earlier this month, we invited a group of journalists from all over the world to come to our office during WWDC. Throughout the day, friends from Australia, Korea, China, and Canada met with the ToyTalk team and played SpeakaZoo.  We even got to flip the tables and ask them a few questions of our own, including what animal they’d like to see on SpeakaZoo (kangaroo), what character they’d like to talk with (Hello Kitty), and if they wanted to test out the recording studio (next time!). Check out some articles on the visit here and here!

Pandamonium at the SpeakaZoo Preview Party

A few weeks ago we invited a handful of our most loyal fans to the ToyTalk studio to play with our new app, SpeakaZoo.  The honorary zookeepers enjoyed playing with a sneak peak of the app, posing in the safari photo booth, and bellowing out their favorite animal voices in the sound booth.

Below are some pictures from the event and please email events@toytalk.com if you’d like to come to our next party!

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Talk on the Wild Side

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Kids have a longstanding, magical friendship with animals of all kinds so we didn’t have to look far to find the inspiration for our latest app. Introducing SpeakaZoo, the only zoo where the animals talk with you.

Whether your family is crafting a poem with the Vampire Bat, feeding the hungry Warthog, or curing the Dolphin’s stage fright, there’s plenty of conversations they’ll want to have at the SpeakaZoo.  Explore four habitats with 18 brand-new faces from our award-winning creative team.

We’re also proud to share that the app is available not only for iPad, but also iPhone and iPod Touch. So take a trip with us to the SpeakaZoo and let us know what you think!

Oren, CEO & Co-Founder

Don’t Stop Pretending

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Today we’re introducing new characters and sets that invite your family into four worlds of make-believe.  Whether you’re invading outer space, solving a mystery or ruling the kingdom, we believe entertainment is more fun when you play along.

Our writers have spent a lot of time thinking about the best way to invite you back to join us week after week. We’re making Episode 1 available today with three new episodes airing throughout March. We hope you’ll follow along at home as our characters embark on new adventures each week.

Please download Episode One  and tell us what you think.

Oren, CEO & Co-Founder

Make. Believe.

As we gear up for Season Two of The Winston Show, we’ve been thinking a lot about make-believe.

It was one of the first games we remember playing as kids. It’s the first time ( and hopefully not the last) that we remember using our imagination to make the world better.   

In fact, it turns out you can learn a lot about a person based on what they played.  

Here’s what ToyTalk’s newest faces had to say:

Niko and his brother had a giant roll of paper that they used to draw and construct props out of ( no word on whether that included this hat). It didn’t matter where they traveled, they were always efficiently prepared.

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Max managed to convince his younger sister he was an alien. This picture might explain why he was successful.

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Even more inspiring is what our audience likes to play. Recently, Winston asked kids “What is your favorite thing to dress up as?” and we heard back ( in ranked order)

Princess

Pirate

Ninja

Batman

Cat

How bout you? What is your favorite kind of make-believe?

Winston’s Greatest Hits: Season One

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In celebration of our first season of The Winston Show, we’ve pulled together some of our favorite one-liners from the show.

Featuring such tender moments as “Moms are the Bombs” to the more controversial, “Underpants ( I Love You),” we had a blast picking the season’s hits.

What’s your favorite Winston-ism and why?

Random Access Memories

Hello, music makers.

In celebration of Sunday’s Grammy nominees, we thought we’d turn the mic over to our audience to talk about their lyrical stylings of choice.

When asked “What is your favorite kind of music?” Winston show viewers’ ages 6-8 were full of opinions.

Top 5 Answers:

1. Pop. By a margin of more than 2:1, the candy sweet reigns supreme.
2. Hip Hop. Get up and dance, people.
3. Rock. Death metal, mostly. (Kidding)
4. Country. Also, Winston’s personal favorite.
5. Jazz. Mostly we’re just psyched they know what jazz is. 

Some other standout answers; 22 viewers pledged their allegiance to the republic of Katy Perry while 13 kids can’t get enough of what that crazy fox says.

We’ve heard enough to place our bets for Sunday night. What are you singing at home?

Sounds play an essential role in bringing The Winston Show to life. Of course, like any animated world free of real world limitations, creating the necessary sounds for it can be a challenging task. But, it’s also one of the most fun as we get to explore our creativity with the same freedom as Winston’s world in hopes of making the unbelievable believable.

The Winston Show’s new installment, In the Movies, presented many of these challenges, including creating the sound of a starship that has fallen under attack by aliens forces. I’ve had the privilege of working on some amazing tracks before that offered me the opportunity to ride dragons on Avatar and buckle up in the driver’s seat to reenact car chases for MI4: Ghost Protocol, but I’ve never had the chance to board a starship and engage in interstellar warfare.

Unfortunately, my request to charter a space vessel and have it destroyed in deep space were denied, so how would we accomplish such a feat? It was time to roll up our sleeves and do it old school, like dial tones on rotary phones.

First things first. We needed to decide what characteristics of an inner space explosion on the bridge of a starship we wanted to highlight. Seems common enough…

1. Photon torpedo fire

2. Impact and explosion

3. Reverberant low frequency rumble (ship shake)

4. Moaning metal (ship sway)

5. Hissing air released by over pressurized valves

6. Heavy metal and plastic rattle on the ship’s bridge

7. Distress alarm

Great, now that our sfx list has been finalized we could start gathering props and making arrangements to gain access to those harder to attain sounds. Aside from the challenges of the design itself, this is the most challenging part of the process. Think about it. Where would you look to source a photon torpedo cannon? Area 51, maybe? Go ahead, call them and let me know how that goes.

Our audio engineer had his work cut out for him. “Kevin, we’ll need access to some long runs of metal cable. Call SFMTA and see if we can arrange to have a section of a train route’s electricity turned off for an hour or so. Let’s also locate some high tension wires to mic up. This will probably require clearance to access private property. Let’s arrange to have some mortar shells and dynamite blown up. We’ll need heavy metal doors with stressed hinges. I’m thinking on a submarine or battleship. We can drag an anchor and it’s chain across across different surfaces while we’re at it. Ooooo! How about a castle? Preferably one with a drawbridge. Let’s see, gather some filing cabinets, gym lockers, tires filled with air, a pile of plastic scrap, a chain link fence and, last but not least, let’s call in that favor to Officer Lee down at the SFPD. We’re gonna need that future siren of theirs.”

Once all the recordings have been captured I can begin their design. The files are then edited, mixed, and combined with Winston’s dialog.

Enjoy!

- Frank, Senior Sound Engineer

Winston Goes To The Movies, Starring You.

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It’s hard to be bored when you’re a kid. 

The kitchen table can become a pirate ship. Your bed is a castle under attack by a monster. The living room couch is a mountain, just begging you to climb it.

Watching our kids play, we’re blown away by the unlimited powers of their imagination. They’re creative, they’re intuitive, and sometimes a little crazy. It’s that energy that inspires us to do what we do at ToyTalk; to make entertainment that helps kids be their best creative and imaginative selves.

Today we’re introducing In the Movies, the latest sketch from The Winston Show featuring Winston and Ellington, the first-ever characters to listen and talk back.

In the Movies invites the audience to make believe they are starring in a movie alongside Winston and Ellington. There’s the film-noir inspired “Winston Sly, Private Eye” where you can help Winston solve a mystery, and there’s my personal favorite, “Squabble Amongst The Stars,” where you star as an alien invader threatening Captain Winston and his crew.

So, send your kids to the movies this December. Watch them be their most creative selves, and get in on the magic of make believe. 

I’m guessing it’s been too long since you broke out your best alien voice and donned a space helmet made out of a pasta colander. Believe me, it’s just as fun as you remember.

Download the latest version of The Winston Show here.

- Oren, CEO & Co-Founder