The tech toys of 2013 are unveiled at Toy Fair in New York. CNET's Bridget Carey checks out what's in store for Barbie and Hot Wheels, gets a look at Toby's BattroBorg boxing robots, and finds out how toy guns are incorporating smartphones.
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Bridget Carey is writer and host of Bridget Breaks It Down, a video series examining how technology is changing our world. She's now in New York, but she started in Miami, covering tech trends, reviewing gadgets and authoring the nation's first social media etiquette column. Why journalism? She was born 150 years too early to join Starfleet.
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Barbie gets digital makeover at Toy Fair
When it comes to the tech at Toy Fair, Apple steals the spotlight. Many tech-related toys at the 2013 Toy Fair integrate with an iPad or iPhone. Mattel is diving into this growing trend with several toys that offer an augmented reality experience using iPad apps. But it also wouldn't be a Toy Fair without a few cool robots.
- Tomy's BattroBorg: Players use Wii-like controllers to throw punches and wirelessly control the arms of tiny boxing robots. A robot will deactivate after five hits to the head. The controllers also serve as a recharger for the fighters. The starter set for $80 will be out in the fall and includes two robots, two controllers and a fighting arena -- but the arena isn't necessary for battle. Additional BattroBorg fighters will be sold seperatly, and up to 20 robots can fight at once.
- Mattel's Barbie Digital Dress Doll: This Barbie makes a digital fashion statement with her customizable dress. Barbie's dress is made of a touch panel with 114 tri-color LEDs. Using a stylus, kids can draw different light designs on the front of her dress. She has three modes, which can be changed with the buttons built into her necklace: pre-programmed graphics like hearts and fireworks, custom designs, and a party mode with animated designs that respond to sounds. This Barbie hits the runway in August for $50.
- Mattel's Barbie Digital Makeover Mirror: This digital vanity frame transforms an iPad into an interactive mirror. Similar to a web cam effect, this augmented reality app uses an iPad's video camera to help you apply virtual eye shadow, lipstick, glitter and accessories. Facial-tracking technology keeps the digital makeup in place on the screen as you move, and you can make a digital scrapbook of your favorite looks. It'll be out in August for $70.
- Hot Wheels Triple Track Twister Playset: An iPad can add a new dimension to this Hot Wheels race track. The track comes with a stand for an iPad, and a free Action Capture app uses augmented reality to make a scene appear around the racetrack. At Toy Fair, the app made it look like the track was built over water, and an animated shark chomped on cars that flew across the track. But of course, you don't need an iPad to have fun watching cars collide at high speeds. The set comes out in July for $45.
- Fisher-Price Apptivity Products: Mattel has created a line of toys that work with iPads and iPhones, designed for babies and kids between the ages of 3 and 7. Putting an iPhone or iPod Touch in the Apptivity Gym ($35) lets newborns play with apps that interact with the gym toys. There's also the Laugh & Learn Apptivity Storybook Reader ($20) that fits iPhones and iPod Touches. The Little People Apptivity Barnyard ($40) is a iPad case that lets kids explore a virtual barnyard with interactive figures, and is available this fall. For older kids, the Imaginext Apptivity Fortress playset ($50) also comes out this fall and uses an iPad for multiple app games.
- Tech 4 Kids' Tek Recon: If you combine the worlds of Nerf and Halo, you would get something like the Tek Recon. This new line of blasters shoot soft rubber rings, but attaching a smartphone enhances the gameplay. An app lets players communicate with teammates and see their location with GPS radar. There's also the option for a capture-the-flag game with disk accessories that can be scanned by the smartphone. The app works with iPhone 4, 4S, 5 and iPod Touch devices, as well as select Android devices. Two sizes of the Tek Recon blaster come out this fall for $20 and $35, and there will also be a battle pack for $40 (includes four blasters and two digital flags).
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