Yesterday the NY Times featured two articles on the latest online-offline toys – one offered a sneak preview of the latest incarnation of everyone’s favorite doll, Barbie; and the other introduced U.B. Funkeys, a set of figurines that, when connected to the computer via USB, allows access into an online world of fellow U.B. Funkeys to interact with.

Mattel’s extreme makeover for Barbie includes a change in style and size (she’s less buxom and smaller than the original), but what really sets her apart is her new functionality: not only is she an MP3 player, but once she’s set in her docking station (that’s hooked up to a computer), she becomes a portal to a world of shops, games, and chat functions on a website designed for her and her fans –

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