The big story in toys is technology.
Nothing new, right? Even those of us who grew up with the early handheld electronic games know that toys and tech are a perfect combination. But the annual Toy Fair took place in Manhattan this week, showing that tech toys are more creative than ever.
The big headline-grabber was Hello Barbie Hologram, which lets kids interact by voice with a holographic Barbie. Have conversations with her, ask her the weather, and have her remind you of tasks. She can deliver weather reports and dance to favorite tunes. This isn't a doll kids can hold, but I think the interactivity will make it a favorite when it debuts in the fall. Mattel hasn't given the final price, but said it will be under $300. That's steep, so start budgeting now.
The remote controlled BB-8 droid is getting supersized, with a $230 large version coming out this fall from Spin Master. It's two-thirds the Star Wars character's actual size. I love the look of it, and I expect a lot of parents to buy it just so they can play with it themselves.
Besides Barbie, several upcoming toys will let kids have natural conversations with them. Check out the fuzzy blue Woobo, a cuddly creature that can answer questions and sing songs. Its animated eyes will even look at whoever is speaking. It should be out by the fall when it will compete against a re-launched Teddy Ruxpin. Teddy will use an online connection to download new stories it can tell (for a price). It will sell for $99.
Not everyone is convinced interactive toys are a good thing. This week, a German watchdog group banned My Friend Cayla, a doll that kids can have conversations with, saying that hackers could use it to steal private information. That's the world we live in now, so toymakers will need to make their tech toys a lot more secure to avoid similar problems in the future.
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