It can sometimes be hard enough to get your child off your iPad while you check your email, and toy manufacturers aren't making it any easier on tablet-owning parents with their focus on our touch-screens. Not long ago, we saw the iTikes range from Little Tikes. Now, Mattel has released Apptivity Play toys – plastic figures which can be used to interact with game apps on the iPad and unlock extra content.

The iPad-screen-safe plastic Apptivity toys are said to combine "authentic toys" with app content. While they look like standard plastic toys, when placed on the screen of an iPad running an Apptivity app, they automatically unlock additional content which can include new levels, features, playing modes or characters.

Rubber touch points on the base of the toys are recognized by Apptivity versions of popular iPad games including Angry Birds, Cut the Rope and Fruit Ninja, and Mattel brands such as Hot Wheels, WWE Rumblers and Batman The Dark Knight Rises. The figures can then be used to play the game using tap and swipe control functions, while some of the toys also feature action buttons.

Playing the Hot Wheels Apptivity app sees users steering their special Hot Wheels cars – which each open different performance features – around the screen where they interact with the in-game action. In WWE Rumblers, the Apptivity toy is moved around the iPad ring while punches, kicks and other moves are activated through a series of taps, swipes and button presses.

In Cut the Rope, the green character of Om Nom is moved across the screen to capture candy, and in Fruit Ninja, placing the the Sensei Apptivity figure on an iPad opens a new two-player mode which tests slicing and swiping skills. While all the Apptivity games can be played without the physical toys, Mattel says users will not get the full experience or ease of functionality if just using two fingers.

Apptivity single packs retail for US$9.99, while starter sets with multiple figures and added accessories sell for $19.99. A Fisher-Price Apptivity case is also available, which locks the iPad in a dribble and drool-proof case.

Source: Mattel