iPad becomes virtual play mat with Cars 2 Disney Appmates

Disney has combined its expertise in toys and licensing with a new-found love of iPad apps, to create a range of Cars 2 toys that work with the Apple tablet device, creating a virtual play mat for kids.

Dubbed Disney Appmates, the new range of Cars 2 miniature models react with a free downloadable app in order to offer a child (or adult - we're just as excited, to be honest) a scrolling background that fits. In this case, different locations in Radiator Springs - one of the main scenes for the movie (even more so for its prequel) - and five different racetracks, where you can race against a stack of on-screen opponents.

And each of the toys packs a unique sensor at the bottom, thereby unlocking different features and content specific to that character - all without the aid of Bluetooth or cables. And as the proprietary technology is Disney's alone, you can bet that other ranges of interactive models will be on the horizon.

"We have cracked the technology code in changing the way kids play with their toys," said Sunny Lauridsen, director of digital toys for Disney Consumer Products. "Kids will always use toys to play out their favourite Disney stories, but Disney Appmates now allows them to include technology which has become a way of life for them through a beautifully rich app."

The first wave of Disney Appmate toys will be available in the UK from 3 October, with the app hitting the App Store simultaneously. The Cars 2 range will be offered in two-vehicle packs featuring Lightning McQueen, Tow Mater, Finn McMissile and Holley Shiftwell, and there will be a single pack with just Lightning McQueen. Apple Stores both highstreet and online will also sell an exclusive two-pack featuring Francesco Bernoulli and Shu Todoroki.

Prices come in at £19.99 for the two-packs, £12.99 for a single car.