The new dolls from Mattel have a more active play component. For example, when Barbie's cell phone rings and you raise it to her ear, she actually answers the phone and speaks. The dolls sing into a microphone and each version features three pre-programmed song clips.
Kids can also plug in their MP3 players or any other music device and the doll will "lip sync" and bop her head to the music. Mattel said an African-American Nikki doll will be added to the line in March.
"This is an example of how technology is relevant to toys," said Byrne. "Mattel is experimenting to the fullest extent possible even though Barbie is still a classic form of play." The dolls, suggested for kids 5 and up, have a suggested retail price of $29.99 each and are already in stores.
Mattel has also figured out a way to make teens keep playing with their dolls. The new "My Scene Growing Up Glam" dolls starts as tween. But with the twist of a dial, the dolls grow one inch taller, gets curves and develops a chest. Kids can change the dolls' clothing, accessories, and make-up, to give them a teen look. The dolls launch in June, priced at $19.99 each.
Separately, toymaker Jakks Pacific is introducing a line of fashion dolls, role-play items and TV plug-and-play videogames based on Disney's hit shows "Hannah Montana" and "Cheetah Girls."
Said Byrne, "Hannah Montana and Cheetah Girls are among the hottest brands for girls this year. Jakks dolls have a sing-along feature and also convert to MP3 speakers."