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Augmented Reality Takes Center Stage at Toy Fair 2012
Toy Fair 2012 showcased toys and technology, with augmented reality products for smartphones and tablets standing out.
The Toy Industry Association’s annual Toy Fair expo is in New York this week, and hundreds of toy companies have come to show off their new wares. But amid the endless rows of dolls, action figures, and wooden trains (still a surprising cottage industry), plenty of technology toys were on display.
The iPhone is shaping up to be the newest must-have toy, as vital as batteries for a series of augmented reality products from Hasbro, Mattel, and other toy companies. Hasbro’s Lazer Tag guns got more high-tech with the addition of an iPhone connector that turns the toy gun into an augmented reality targeting and scoring system. The company also displayed new Zapped games, which use iOS devices and conventional game boards to put new spins on Monopoly and Life.
Mattel has a similar idea with its Apptivity sets, which turn casual iOS games like Cut the Rope, Angry Birds, and Fruit Ninja into electronic board games with game pieces. Spin Master also had several smartphone products in its AppToyz line, which turn your iPhone or Android phone into shooting, fishing, and driving games.
Lego and Mega Bloks continue to offer impressive licensed building sets, with Lego introducing its new Lord of the Rings series and Mega Bloks previewing its World of Warcraft toys. There are lots of castles and warriors to be built by all, with goblin zeppelins and Ringwraiths adding Blizzard and Tolkein flares to the themes.
Casual game tie-ins are becoming bigger and bigger, with Angry Birds getting even more toys, including a bird-shaped remote controlled blimp. Fruit Ninja is working on catching up to Angry Birds, with fruit and sword toys, dolls, and plug-in video games coming. Finally, Activision’s Skylanders toy-based video game is only growing, with the Skylanders Giants booth standing as one of the largest at the show.
Retro gear was also on display this year, with Mattel announcing plans for a replica of the Back to the Future hover board, and the iCade 8-Bitty bringing the feel of a retro game controller to iOS and Android smartphones.
For a close look at the wonders of Toy Fair, check out the slideshow above.
By Will Greenwald, PCMag