Wireless sword-wielding robots, kid smartwatches, and trackable Nerf darts add a new tech twist to the annual New York Toy Fair. (Warning: Tamagotchis are back.)
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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.)
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Tech transforms playtime at Toy Fair 2014
The annual Toy Fair show in New York City offers a glimpse at how technology influences tomorrow's toys. In this episode of Update, you'll see the evolution of the Battroborg Warrior fighting robots. These wireless mini bots now swing swords instead of punches. The wireless controller is designed to look like a katana handle, and you try to knock down the opponent with each swing. Moving your warrior around the arena does take some getting used to. These will arrive in the fall, costing $30 for one warrior or $70 for a set of two with an arena.
The smartwatch craze is heading to toy stores. VTech's Kidizoom Smart Watch takes photos and video, has multiple watch faces and plays games with it's 1.4-inch touch screen. Although this doesn't go online or connect wirelessly with other tablets and phones, it does have plenty of fun factor for playing spy games. It's coming this fall for $50.
Tamagotchi has returned, this time as Tamagotchi Friends. (And watch the video to learn the proper pronunciation of Tamagotchi, according to Bandai. Apparently many of us have been saying it wrong since this toy became a hit in the '90s!) The next generation of digital pet connects with others to go on play dates. These arrive in North America later this year for $20.
In previous Toy Fair shows, Mattel went big on tablets and apps. There were several toys for Fisher-Price, Barbie and Hot Wheels that worked with iPads and iPhones. That wasn't the case this year. Instead of working with iPhones, Mattel's new toys come with play phones. Dora the Explorer grew out her hair and now lives in the city under the brand "Dora and Friends." Her floating magical friend Map has evolved into a map app on her plastic smartphone. Talking Dora and Smartphone is $40 and comes out in August, in time for her new Nickelodeon cartoon.
Dora's not the only doll with a smartphone by her side. Entrepreneur Barbie comes with a mini plastic tablet and smartphone, perhaps so she can shake up Silicon Valley with her disruptive fashion app.
Classic toys always get a new spin from tech. This year, the Nerf TekStrike Storm Shield keeps track of your hits with Smart Darts using RFID chips. The accessory attaches to the tactical rail of a Nerf blaster and records points when players hit the shield. It arrives in August for $25 and comes with 10 Smart Darts. But we'll have to wait until the holiday to see if it's a real hit.
CNET Update delivers the tech news you need in under three minutes. Watch Bridget Carey every afternoon for a breakdown of the big stories, hot devices, new apps, and what's ahead. Subscribe to the podcast via the links below.