Internet Connected Toys
The latest trend in toys is to be given access to a website when you purchase a particular toy. Usually in the form of a code number, once you buy the toy, you can use the website for games, chatting and more. Typically, these toys are stuffed animals or dolls that become have a virtual counterpart that you can play with online.
Though I personally don't really see much connection to a stuffed animal and a website online, these toys are gaining in popularity. Partly because these access codes usually offer children a way to get into a secure online environment that does not link off the site. You can let your children roam around these toy websites without worrying about them surfing off into some less wholesome web pages.
Note that I have not actually purchased these toys, and therefore haven't been able to access the buyer-only sites myself. The information has been gathered from various sites and details about the products.
These are probably the most popular of the current internet toys. Webkinz are stuffed animals that come with a code, that lets you get onto the website. There you can see your new toy "come to life" as a virtual pet. The interface is somewhat like the Sims, that your pet has a room where you can buy and arrange furniture and you are responsible for keeping your pet happy, healthy and well-fed. There are also games to play with your pet, where you can win play money to "buy" things on the site. There are chat rooms and message boards where kids can interact with other Webkinz owners.
MyePets are similar to Webkinz, as a stuffed animal with a website code. Once online, a Myepet owner has a private room that they can furnish anyway they want, along with a complete virtual world to explore with your virtual pet. Play arcade games to win money that you can use to buy new things for your online space. Even a virtual vet to keep your pet healthy. Parents have several levels of control to help regulate how a child communicates with other pet owners.
A change from the fluffy pet type of toy, Be-Bratz is for older girls. Buy a Be-Bratz doll and you will get access to a virtual version that you can style and dress anyway you like. Your virtual room can be designed and furnished as you please, and though the toy isn't really a pet, your online doll can have pets of its own for you to feed and take care of. Your Be-Bratz can go shopping and interact with other characters on the site.