Technology breathes new life into toy classics

Mon Feb 14, 2011 6:42pm EST
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Bernd Debusmann Jr.

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Cutting-edge technology is infusing new life into classic toys such as Barbie and Mickey Mouse, according to leading toy makers.

The merging of hi-tech, popular culture and classic toys is a major theme at the American International Toy Show this week in New York, where more than 1200 toy makers are showing their latest products.

Mattel's Diana Dunn-Graves said embracing technology is vital to rejuvenate timeless toys like Ken and Barbie and Mickey Mouse.

One example of the theme is the newest "Rockstar Mickey," which performs rock ballads.

"The mechanisms and content can be infused into a character like Mickey Mouse," said Dunn-Graves. "The fun thing about technology is that often the kid doesn't notice. It's seamless. The technology enhances the play experience and never masks or diminishes it. It remains fun."

Mattel is also launching what the company says is the first set of toys based on a smart phone application with "Angry Birds Knock on Wood", based on the Angry Birds app -- currently the No. 1 paid game app for the Apple iPhone.

"We've taken an app and turned it to a tabletop experience. That's a first," said Rachel Cooper, public relations manager for Mattel Brands. "We know how technology has infiltrated life, and this is a trend we'll see a lot more in the future. Plus, this actually encourages people to play with another person and not just on their phone."

Other examples of technology-driven toys include a flying attack drone that can be controlled through a smart phone, a toy car with video technology that allows children to digitally record their races from the viewpoint of the car, and a Ken doll which records messages to repeat in his own voice.   Continued...

<p>Tom Worthington, from Hampshire, England, demonstrates the new "Let's Rock Elmo" at the unveiling of the new Sesame Street branded line of Playskool products at Hasbro's American International Toy Fair showroom in New York, February 12, 2011. REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine/Hasbro/Handout</p>