Nine out of 10 toy-industry efforts at combining real-world toys with applications were unsuccessful in 2012, says Jim Silver, editor in chief of TimetoPlayMag.com. "Kids looked at these plastic toys used to run digital games and said, 'Why bother when I can just use my thumbs?' " Silver says. Jakks Pacific recently unveiled an enhanced-reality app that, through a device's camera and display, made Disney characters appear to be interacting with toys. But industry observers are split on whether it will be successful, and they are concerned that tacking technology onto old ideas shows desperation.

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