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Toys and Tabletop Games

Fortnite streamer Ninja leads wave of Twitch-inspired toys

Yep, social media stars have their own playthings.

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Bridget Carey/CNET

In the video game world, there's no one bigger than Tyler "Ninja" Blevins. He shot to fame with record-breaking audiences watching him stream Fortnite on Twitch, including a run with Drake. In September, he became the first pro esports player to land on the cover of ESPN's magazine.

And later this year you'll find him on store shelves taking the form of collectible figurines and plush dolls.

Now playing: Watch this: Ninja and more Twitch streamers get their own toys
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The 27-year-old is one of the fastest-growing influencers on social media as a star in the professional gaming world. With 13 million Twitch followers and 21 million YouTube subscribers, fans watch him compete in tournaments and stream battle-royal games like Apex Legends. But this new, plastic form of play will be on display for the first time at the annual New York Toy Fair, kicking off this weekend.

Wicked Cool Toys, the company behind the 2017 remake of Teddy Ruxpin, has cooked up nearly a dozen different types of playthings and collectibles featuring a cartoonish persona of Ninja, embracing his goofy, energetic personality. And he's not the only Twitch gamer being turned into an plastic plaything. One particular set of five-inch vinyl figures -- marketed under a toy line called Lamo --- includes Ninja alongside other Twitch personalities DrDisRespect, TimTheTatman, Lirik, and Summit1G.

Ninja will be a 5-inch vinyl collectible under the toy line Lamo.

Ninja will be a 5-inch vinyl collectible under the toy line Lamo. Point your phone at the toy and watch it come to life with augmented reality.

Lamo

These Lamo figurines don't just decorate a shelf -- they also come to life in an augmented reality mobile game. Point your phone at the figure and watch animations appear. Each gamer recorded soundbites that play during animated moments. And there's a Lamo game coming soon in which you can face off against your friends with these characters. It's called The Game Between Games, designed to be played in five-minute bursts between your Fortnite matches.

"You've got millions and tens of millions of subscribers who will immediately be engaged with the experience before the product is even on the shelf," said Jeremy Padawer, co-president of Wicked Cool Toys. "We weren't taking a human being and creating an action figure. We were taking a brand with tremendous breadth and making it a line."

It's not the first time social media stars got their own toy line. In 2015, popular Minecraft players were transformed into blocky plastic action figures with a series called Tube Heroes, made by Jazwares. And last year, 7-year-old toy-unboxing YouTube star Ryan of Ryan ToysReview found success launching his own line of mystery toys, slime, stuffed animals and more, called Ryan's World.

"More and more marketing dollars are being put into YouTube personalities than even television," said Juli Lennett, a toy industry analyst with NPD. "You have to go where the kids are ... It's very no-brainer marketing."

So what can you buy to show your Ninja fandom?

Watch him jiggle with $10 bobble figures. Clip on a pocked-sized plush for $8. Or cuddle with his blue hair on a 12-inch fabric doll, sold for about $20. 

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Many ways to express your Ninja fandom.

Joshua Goldman/CNET

Fans can also dress up like Ninja with his colorful hair and headband, also going for $20. Or grab a pack of stickers for $5.

If you can't decide how to express your love of the pro gamer, there's always the Mystery Box: a $40 multilayered surprise to unwrap in five stages that includes a plush, a bobble figure, a collectible figurine, vinyl stickers and head gear.

The toy line is scheduled to arrive in stores this fall.

First published Feb. 15 at 8:17 a.m. PT.
Update at 5:40 p.m. PT: Edited product details to reflect company changes made to toy line.