Toys 'R' Us expands Web profile, launches video service

The toy retail chain will distribute video online, a move that comes a month after it announced the coming of a new kid-focused tablet. Toys "R" Us? Are we back in 1999?

Greg Sandoval Former Staff writer
Greg Sandoval covers media and digital entertainment for CNET News. Based in New York, Sandoval is a former reporter for The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. E-mail Greg, or follow him on Twitter at @sandoCNET.
Greg Sandoval
2 min read
Tabeo, the kid-focused tablet from Toys 'R' Us, which will debut later this month. Toys 'R' Us

I never thought I'd be writing about Toys "R" Us again but one of the country's best-known children's merchants is making some big moves online.

The company has launched a video service designed for children and offers more than 4,000 titles from some of Hollywood's biggest film studios. As one might expect, the selection at ToysrusMovies.com is family fare and the service will charge $2.99 for 24-hour rentals while download-to-own titles will start at $5.99.

Toys "R" Us is even in the cloud. Users can store their purchases on the company's servers where they can access them from Web-connected PCs, Macs and other Adobe Flash-compatible devices. The new video store follows the debut last month of Tabeo, a computer tablet built by Toys 'R' Us and designed specifically for kids.

Apparently, Toys "R" Us is making a comeback in a big way to the digital world. In the early days of the dot-com era, Toys "R" Us' leadership saw the wisdom of selling online and it was a pioneer for toy sales online. But in those days, e-commerce was in its infancy and not for the faint of heart. Back then, the merchant couldn't get out of its own way.

Yes, site outages were prevalent and for an online toy store, the inability to take orders or deliver gifts during the holidays brought terror to parents rather than Christmas cheer.

After a partnership with Amazon, which for a while helped to run Toys "R" Us' online operations, ended in a bitter lawsuit we didn't see much from Toys "R" Us.

There I go, getting nostalgic for the rough-and-tumble years of Web shopping, when hundreds of millions of dollars were poured into the likes of Webvan, Boo.com, and eToys, and a consumer stood only a 50-50 chance of getting the correct order on time. Good stories.