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Barbie – computer engineer!

The 107th International Toy Fair opened up in New York City yesterday with a marked feeling of optimism after a rough couple of years for the $21 billion industry.

Over 30,000 people are expected to attend the trade-only event, which features more than 1,100 exhibitors drawn from 20 countries around the world. Show organizers estimate that over 100,000 unique products will be on display during the 4-day show.

The themes of this year's event are the four A's: active, accessible, affordable and aspirational.

  • Active toys encourage children to use their minds and their bodies – tying physical play together with active intelligence and imagination.
  • Accessible toys refer to products that are available to kids and families wherever they are, and include iPhone or other mobile applications, as well as e-reader programs that offer playable content.
  • Affordable toys – continuing an emphasis on the lower-cost options ($25 and under) that gained traction last year.
  • Aspirational toys – a new category of products that empower kids to make their own choices.

As has been the trend over the last few years, technology-enhanced toys were everywhere. Whether they were action figures, stuffed animals, board games or craft-making kits, few toys were able to escape a technology-driven makeover.

Mattel even showcased a 3-month-old golden retriever that was modeling Puppy Tweets, a new toy that posts pre-written tweets to the social media website Twitter when triggered by a bark or movement!

Elsewhere, Techno Source introduced "Rubik's Slide", a version of the iconic Rubik's Cube that has thousands of outcomes, and Hasbro, makers of Scrabble, added a twist to the classic board game by letting players shuffle electronic cubes rather than the traditional wooden tiles.

Another standout gadget toy was Air Hogs' Vectron Wave, a hand-sized UFO capable of sensing objects below it and which automatically adjusts its height to hover above them. The new $24.99 toy from Spin Master will hit shelves this Spring.

Not even the venerable Barbie could escape the impact of the digital world. In a move that is sure to please advocates of girls going on to careers in science and engineering, the classic Mattel doll has embarked on yet another new career – her 126th to date – this time as a computer engineer!

The career move was decided after Barbie solicited advice from her legions of fans – using Twitter and Facebook, of course!

More from the International Toy Fair later this week.

Comment by Milcah, posted 2/16/2010, 10:08 AM:

I like that look for Barbie :) Cute.
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