Augmented Reality Toys & The Future of Fun

Spatial Computing

Augmented Reality Toys & The Future of Fun

Spatial Computing

Every new wave of consumer tech starts the same way: novelty

When Apple released the App Store it was flooded with flashlight apps, apps that transformed your phone into a pint of beer, and terrible mini games. Yet, early adopters, eager to explore the capabilities of the new hardware, downloaded them in droves, minting many overnight successes as a result.

Fast forward 12 years, and apps have become powerful tools which are, for many, the cornerstones of every day life. AR however is, in many ways, just beginning its novelty phase with the introduction of Apple’s Vision Pro.In this week’s issue, we explore the early trends, tech, and toys that are bringing AR capabilities to the earliest adopters of them all: kids.

The AR Toy Opportunity Landscape

Companies have been dabbling in AR toys for years now, with mixed results. To get a sense of the current landscape we rended up some of the best in-market examples from companies like Nintendo, Marvel, and Warner Bros.

Current AR Toy Opportunities:


Pro Moves: 
Mario Kart Home Circuit

Ever had one of those "holy shit, I'm a kid again" moments? Well, buckle up, because Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit is a time machine on four wheels. Picture it: you're in your living room, piloting a real-life RC Kart, with that lovable bastard Mario at the helm, blasting shells at AI enemies while dodging the occasional ill-placed coffee table. Sure, there's a hiccup or two, and the occasional spectral banana peel. But when it works? Holy shit, it’s a blast.

This thing is like the Frankenstein's monster of gaming; half traditional Mario Kart, half remote-controlled Hot Wheels. Half the fun is in taking your Nintendo Switch for a drive around your living room racetrack, from the POV of a remote-controlled toy. It’s immersive, it’s silly, it’s classic Nintendo.

Your racecourse is bespoke but with four cardboard gates setting the route. All the twists, turns, loops, and shortcuts are yours to define. The Switch throws a heap of AR magic at you, blessing your living room with 3D item boxes, AI rivals, and the all-nostalgic Mario Kart tropes you love. At times the UX falls short of amazing but still provides a laugh & hours of fun.

Pro Moves:
Marvel World of Heroes

You ever played a game of cops and robbers when you were a kid? Marvel World of Heroes is like that, but instead of a stick, you've got Marvel super heroes meets Pokemon Go style combat. Bad guys are waiting around every corner of your neighbourhood & looking for a brawl. The fights are all about strategy, balancing out wham-bam melee moves and ranged attacks. You’ve got old-school heroes like Wolverine to unlock, but it’s the fresher faces like Ms. Marvel and America Chavez who are front and center.

The game itself a classic brawler, but the economy is all about that loot box life. You're rolling the dice for all sorts of goodies, from currency to new skins and health refills. Of course, they have a key system for these boxes, with keys either dripping in over time or being available at the cash-grabbing store.

Marvel World of Heroes is Niantic's latest adventure, taking their Pokemon Go AR gaming concepts to a whole new level. With Marvel's massive fanbase, this game has super potential. It’s still early days, and with mixed reviews only time will tell if World of Heroes will make an impact, or go the way of Harry Potter's ill-fated Wizards Unite. Stay tuned, true believers!

Pro Moves:
Panic in Gotham City

Infinite Rabbit Holes and Warner Bros. teamed up to bring The Arkham Asylum Files: Panic in Gotham City to life. It's a game like no other, merging mobile AR, a physical board game, with immersive storytelling. Your iPhone or iPad becomes a portal to a whole new dimension of Gotham. The Arkham Asylum Files app is the key to unlock an insane mix of digital and physical content.

Get ready for animated and live-action scenes, mind-bending gameplay, passable 3D graphics, and an original score that really sets the tone. The box comes packed with over a hundred mind-blowing game elements, from classified Gotham City police evidence to top-secret Arkham Asylum files. All AR enabled.

There are seven action-packed chapters. Play 'em separately or go all in and binge this game like your favorite Netflix series. Combining physical assets, extended digital content, and an augmented reality delivery system, Warner Bros is bringing to life a whole new world of gaming, but only time will tell if the finished product warrants the technical overhead.


The future of technology is kids. Let them play.

Brands must view their relationship with Gen Z as a dynamic partnership. It's not just about selling a product or service but engaging in a dialogue, understanding their evolving needs, and co-creating experiences. To thrive in this landscape, brands should prioritize engagement, innovation, and responsiveness.

Innovation shouldn't be viewed as a one-time effort but as an ongoing process. Experimentation, iteration, and feedback loops should be ingrained in a brand's DNA. But beyond the technological and strategic efforts, brands should foster genuine connections, standing for values that resonate with Gen Z and reflecting the diversity and inclusivity this generation champions.

In conclusion, the digital landscape offers immense opportunities for those willing to listen, learn, and evolve. Embracing change, being agile, and building authentic relationships with Gen Z are the keystones for success in the digital age.

Augmenting toys with extras.

Toys augmented with extras like animations, soundtracks, and extras bring fun into a new dimension via QR codes, NFC chips, or AR image markers.

Enhancing with digital overlay.

Board games overlayed with digital views, characters, effects, animations, and other elements to blur the lines between video game and IRL game.

Merging gaming & IRL toys.

Mobile games offer a unique opportunity to combine IRL toys with gaming elements, rewards, and IP through the phones camera and AR capabilities.

AR boxes hype the action.

AR packaging offers a unique benefit to customers by giving them a taste of the brand, product, and features in an interactive way before they buy.

Adam Wilson
Spatial Computing
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