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Blame Fortnite for making llamas the hottest toy this year

The power of gamer culture is nothing to spit at.

Bridget Carey Principal Video Producer
Bridget Carey is an on-camera reporter who helps you level up your life -- while having a good time geeking out. Her exclusive CNET videos get you behind the scenes, so you can see new trends, experiences and quirky gadgets. Bridget Tries is her video series, in which she explores our changing world by getting up close with today's oddities before they become tomorrow's normal. She started as a writer with a syndicated newspaper column and has been a technology journalist for over 15 years. Now she's a mom who stays on top of toy world trends and robots. (Kids love robots.)
Bridget Carey

This piñata made the toy world go llama crazy. 

Mark Licea/CNET

Llama tell ya, Fortnite is a big influence on toys.

The popular battle royal game made its mark at this year's Toy Fair in New York. The annual gathering of figurines and fuzzy playthings is something I've covered for the past seven years. I've cuddled with robotic pets and explored augmented reality worlds. I've flown new drones and got nostalgic over classic toys that get a modern makeover.

But this year, among the gears and glowing screens, another tech influence emerged. An influence of online culture. 

Watch this: How Fortnite, AR and YouTube influence toys

Fashion dolls are designed as Instagram stars, packed with green screen and selfie stick accessories. Faces of YouTube influencers are plastered on packaging. Twitch streamers, like Fortnite master Tyler "Ninja" Blevins, are transformed into action figures and plushes. 

And then there are llamas. So many llamas.  Llama board games. Llama collectible figurines. Spitting llamas. Twerking llamas. Rainbow unicorn llamas. Experts point the finger at the game Fortnite, where a loot-filled llama piñata became an informal mascot of sorts.


Meet Spitzy the Llama, arriving this summer for about $25. Not the most refined robotic pet I've met.

Bridget Carey/CNET

As generations change, toymakers are changing their approach to how they weave in technology. Today's 10-year-olds grew up in the age of the iPad and YouTube. So how does a tech company make a toy that can tap into this connected, screen-absorbed culture, while still embracing the magic of physical play? 

In this episode of Bridget Breaks It Down (embedded above), we explore that balance in the evolution of tech toys, and how internet culture invades playtime. 

Toy Fair 2019: Nerf Fortnite, Barbie turns 60 and more

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