Smartphone-based playthings are set to be one of the hottest trends in the toy aisle this year.

With 46% of phone owners now using a smartphone [Kantar 52w/e 26 December 2012] and 14% of UK households having a tablet computer, the first generation of app-based toys, launched last year, are to be joined by a host of new products in 2012.

Among the first to hit shelves will be the Character Options’ AppGear range, which combines augmented reality games with a physical toy used to unlock and interact with the action on screen.

The first launch is the Foam Fighters collectible toy plane range (rsp: £9.99) rolling out next month. The plane can be attached to an iPod, iPhone or Android to unlock fighter missions played on screen.

Character has more AppGear products in the pipeline including Zombie Burbs, also out next month, a Dr Who game, out in July, and Alien Jailbreak, which arrives in August.

The second half of the year also sees Moshi Monsters get in on the app action with Moshi Monsters App Monsters. The app allows kids who place their phone in a holder in the cuddly toy to interact with an animated face to make it play music, giggle and fall asleep.

“Reflecting the rise in children who own or have access to smartphones, the growing trend towards toys that can interact with downloadable apps has had a major impact on the toy industry,” said Emma Weber, licensing and marketing director at App Monsters producer Vivid.