Technology rules at the 2013 Toy Fair

The Mercedes-Benz by Silverlit is a Bluetooth remote-control

The Mercedes-Benz by Silverlit is a Bluetooth remote-control car that also doubles as a speaker system with music streaming through owner's iTunes library; for ages 8 and up. It's due out in the fall; suggested retail price: $129.99. (Credit: Handout)

The 110th American International Toy Fair this week at the Javits Center continues the trend of melding online apps and physical toys that emerged at last year's event.

But this year, the toymakers do it better, say several toy industry experts.

Last year it was exciting just to see the toy industry respond to the Web and start to combine physical and virtual worlds, says Laurie Schacht, co-publisher of "The Toy Insider," a consumer guide for parents. More than 1,000 companies gather at Toy Fair to introduce toys that will debut in the upcoming year.


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But that innovation didn't translate into huge sales, insiders agree. "Few of the app toys did well," says Scott Goldberg, a spokesman for Silverlit Toys. That's because the physical toys weren't an integral part of the play, he says. This year, parents will see that in many cases the physical part of the toys has more of a purpose -- for instance, Silverlit's new remote-controlled Mercedes, which is run by an app, also can be used as a speaker to play the owner's iTunes library.

Here are some advances in the technology coming in 2013:

MERCEDES-BENZ SLS AMG

FROM Silverlit

FOR AGES 8 and older

SUGGESTED RETAIL PRICE $129.99

AVAILABLE Fall

WHAT IT IS Two products in one -- a Bluetooth remote-control car that also has a purpose: It doubles as a speaker system, with music streaming through owner's iTunes library. The app is free with purchase.

PHONEZIES

FROM tokidoki

FOR AGES Those old enough for smartphones

SUGGESTED RETAIL PRICE $3.95 each

AVAILABLE This month

WHAT IT IS Accessorize your smartphone with 11 different plastic tokidoki characters that can be inserted into the earphone jack.

SCANIMALZ

FROM Wicked Cool Toys

FOR AGES 5 and up

SUGGESTED RETAIL PRICE $7.99-$12.99

AVAILABLE April

WHAT IT IS Scanimalz combines cuddly toys and game-playing technology. There are 30 different Scanimalz, and each has its own individual QR code in its belly that lets the owner scan a smart device to open up an app and enhance online play.

CRAYOLA LIGHT MARKER

FROM Griffin Technology

FOR AGES 3 and older

SUGGESTED RETAIL PRICE $29.99

AVAILABLE Spring

WHAT IT IS Wave a digital stylus in the air to color in the online coloring book pages. Why not just touch the screen? Using the stylus keeps hands and fingerprints off the iPad screen and offers a new way to play. App included with purchase of stylus.

QUICK ATTACH MICROSCOPE

FROM Skyrocket Toys

FOR AGES 5 and older

SUGGESTED RETAIL PRICE $14.99

AVAILABLE Fall

WHAT IT IS The Quick Attach Microscope snaps over the camera lens of any iPhone, iPod, iPad or Android device to turn the camera into a lens that magnifies items to 30 times their size.

Activision and Disney vie for loyalty

A real-world video-game competition is brewing between Activision, creators of the Skylanders gaming franchise, and Disney Interactive. Disney is launching a game dubbed Infinity; Activision is adding a new option, SWAP Force, to its lineup.

DISNEY INFINITY

FROM Disney Interactive

FOR AGES 8 to 12

SUGGESTED RETAIL PRICE $74.99 for Starter Pack, which includes the game, the Infinity Base and three interactive character figures

AVAILABLE June

WHAT IT IS Features characters from Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios' movies. Like in Skylanders, real-world toy characters are placed on a device Disney calls the Infinity Base to activate their appearance on the Play Sets on the screen. Characters include Sulley from "Monsters University," Captain Jack Sparrow from "Pirates of the Caribbean" and Mr. Incredible from "The Incredibles." As players advance, they collect characters, vehicles, gadgets and more that they can save in a virtual Toy Box and take out to create more adventures and add to their screen play. It is compatible with Nintendo Wii, Wii-U, Xbox 360, PlayStation3 and PCs.

SKYLANDERS SWAP Force

FROM Activision

FOR AGES 6 to 12

SUGGESTED RETAIL PRICE Still being determined

AVAILABLE Fall

WHAT IT IS The newest game in the Skylanders franchise lets players reconfigure the 16 new action figures into more than 250 characters by "swapping" the top and bottom halves of their bodies. Mixing and matching changes characters' powers and moves to give players more choices. Abilities include flying, climbing, digging, bouncing and teleporting.

Zombies are the latest ugly-cute dolls

Despite all the toys incorporating technology, kids still need the basics, Laurie Schacht, co-publisher of "The Toy Insider," says. She advocates a "well-balanced toy box. You need to play with dolls and action figures. You need to build things and to create."

Here are some technology-free toys coming in 2013:

MYSTIXX ZOMBIES FASHION DOLLS

FROM Playhut

FOR AGES 6 and older

SUGGESTED RETAIL PRICE $19.99

AVAILABLE Spring

WHAT IT IS Each of the line's four 11-inch dolls has two faces. With a turn of the head, the doll transforms from a beautiful "everyday" girl to a zombie.

BRACED-LETS

FROM Aliquantum International

FOR AGES 5 and older

SUGGESTED RETAIL PRICE $12.99

AVAILABLE Spring

WHAT IT IS Bracelets are made from the neon-colored "power chains" that kids have put on their teeth with their braces. Created by an orthodontist and her designer sister, the newest kit includes one already-made bracelet, one make-it-yourself, two charms to put on the bracelet and retainer case to store them in.

WIPEOUT DRY ERASE HELMET

FROM Port Washington-based Triple Eight

FOR AGES 3 to 11

SUGGESTED RETAIL PRICE $29.99

AVAILABLE February at Target, March/April at Toys R Us, April at Walmart

WHAT IT IS Kids can decorate a helmet with a dry-erase marker, then wipe it off and change the artwork whenever they wish. The helmet is safe for biking, skateboarding, roller skating and scooters. It is available in black, bubble gum pink, hot pink or white.

FAIRY TALE ACADEMY

FROM Sag Harbor-based S-K Victory

FOR AGES 5 to 8

SUGGESTED RETAIL PRICE $19.99

AVAILABLE Fall

WHAT IT IS Teen versions of female fairy tale characters, including Cinderella, Belle, Alice in Wonderland, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Tinkerbell, Little Mermaid and Rapunzel. They are in a performing arts high school, and books and webisodes accompany the dolls.

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