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Classic Toy Makers Get Creative In The Digital Age

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Toy story: Classic toy makers like Ohio Art Company, creator of the Etch A Sketch, have been forced to get creative in the digital age. | Freeze Tag, Inc.

For the toy industry, times have been tough. Sales at some of the biggest companies like Mattel and Hasbro have fallen as toy makers compete for the short attention spans of today's tech-enamored children. The challenge has been equally tough for smaller, independent toy makers responsible for some of the classics kids have played with for generations.

A study by Common Sense Media found that more than one-third of children eight years old and younger use mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, and you can bet they're not checking their email. In fact, one of the hottest toys this past holiday season was the LeapFrog LeapPad Explorer, a tablet computer for kids.

With more than 500,000 apps in Apple's app store, and a good number of them catering to kids, the market for tech-friendly toys has exploded. For classic companies like Topps, a leading manufacturer of baseball cards, the adjustment can be tricky, but necessary. Topps, along with many others, have begun to release app versions of their best products, from baseball cards to updates on classic arcade games.

"We live in an increasingly digital world, so it's important for brands with physical products to engage people digitally," said John Criswick, CEO of Magmic, a mobile content developer. "We were excited to take an iconic toy like Rubik's Cube and make the brand relevant to a whole new generation."

Here's a look at a few companies that have re-imagined the classics.

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