Musical Instruments

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Design, features of toy musical instruments remain R&D priorities

Makers of toy musical instruments enhance visual appeal, and entertainment and learning aspects.

China suppliers of toy musical instruments continue to improve aesthetics and features, especially as similar efforts helped augment sales last year.

In the first 11 months of 2010, export revenue in the line exceeded $85.6 million, reflecting an 18 percent increase YoY. Considering roughly 80 percent came from sales of electronic models, companies are promoting these designs further.

Manufacturers are enhancing the appearance of releases catering to 3 to 6-year-olds. The latest products come in novelty structures and highlight eye-catching decals such as stars, thunderbolts, flames, crowns and licensed cartoon characters. Brighter colors, including pink, yellow, green, red, blue and purple, are adopted as well.

Companies are also developing multifunction toy musical instruments that combine two or three features in one design. To illustrate, toy guitars can incorporate microphones, keyboards or drums. DJ mixer systems are equipped with organs, while standing drum sets have an attached microphone.

For the 8 to 12-year-old segment, businesses are focusing on edutainment models. The products adopt preset programs that facilitate learning during play. Most electronic organs boast 37 to 61 keys, and timbre, tone, rhythm, chord, tempo, harmonic combination and record-and-play options. Users may control synchronization, vibrato and sustain, and choose demonstration songs.

Further, releases look similar to actual instruments. Only a few elements such as the amplifier and function buttons are in different colors. Others are fitted with flashing LEDs.

The range of China-made toy musical instruments includes keyboards, idiophones, and string and wind variants. Models are available in electronic and nonelectronic configurations.

Electronic units are typically designed for the 3 to 12-year-old segment. Among the popular designs are organs, drum sets and guitars. The majority is in ABS.

Basic keyboards have fewer than 32 keys. Releases come with three to five preset modes, and animal- or cartoon-shaped structures. These are between $1 and $6.

Quoted at $6.50 to $15, the midrange selection adopts 32 to 49 keys, and contains 10 to 15 preprogrammed features. Variants measure 50 to 80cm, with many in novelty forms.

High-end keyboards emphasize professional musical functions and a realistic appearance. The toys boast 42 to 61 keys and 20 preset sound schemes. Models range from 80 to 100cm and are priced at $15.50 to $30.

Meanwhile, nonelectronic toy musical instruments cater to children below 5 years old. Pianos, drums, maracas, tambourines, guitars and xylophones are common in this segment. The primary feature is music making. The products come in wood or plastic. Depending on size, releases in the first material start at $1.50 and reach $6, while synthetic kinds are between $0.50 and $4.

Read the full report at Global Sources, a leading business-to-business media company and a primary facilitator of trade with China manufacturers and India suppliers, providing essential sourcing information to volume buyers through our e-magazines, trade shows and industry research.

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