10 Must-have Toys for 2012

WowWee AppGear
You can play a free sample of the ZombieBurbz app, but for the full game, you'll need a zombie figure to move across your smartphone or tablet's screen. Screen capture by HowStuffWorks staff

The idea behind WowWee's AppGear is pretty cool. Unlike any of the other toys on this year's hot list, this one is based on augmented reality (AR).

Instead of downloading digital apps for your kids to play on your smartphone or tablet, AR technology pulls the app experience into your real, physical world. It works something like this: First you download one of the AppGear apps to your smartphone (or any iOS or Android-based smartphone or tablet), and depending on the game there may be physical toys involved as well. For example, to play the app Elite CommanderAR, players mount an interactive plastic toy pistol to their tablet or smart phone and then shoot enemies conjured by augmented-reality targets. (Think of it something like the hologram of Princess Leia asking for Obi-Wan's help in "Star Wars IV: A New Hope.") To interact with the app ZombieBurbz, you move small plastic zombie figures across your smartphone or tablet's screen.

At the end of 2012, the collection of available AppGear apps includes: Alien Jailbreak, Akodomon, Elite CommanderAR, Foam Fighters, Mysterious Raygun, and ZombieBurbz -- recommended for children ages 9 and older [source: WowWee].