IF YOU NEED PROOF THAT THE INTERNET HAS BECOME A MASS MEDIUM, look no further than the Dancing Baby--the computer-generated 3-D character that dances to "Ooga-Chaka," the intro to Blue Suede's 1970s hit, Hooked on a Feeling. Since the Dancing Baby was created in 1997 to showcase 3-D modeling software by Kinetix, it has taken off: There are dozens of Web sites devoted to it, and the gyrating infant has gained even more fame for its appearances on the TV series Ally McBeal.
Now, the baby is about to reach true pop-icon status. Creative Zone, a maker of toys and novelty items that has obtained licensing rights to the character, is coming out with a line of Dancing Baby tchotchkes. There's an eight-inch, battery-powered baby that grooves to "Ooga-Chaka" when you press a button ($24.95). Or slap a suction-cupped baby onto your car window--it will sway with the motion of the car ($10). The assortment also includes a wind-up model, a baby pen top that dances when the pen is clicked, and a Dancing Baby air freshener that gives off a whiff of--what else?--baby powder. These and more can be yours this fall when retailers, including Kmart and Spencer Gifts, begin offering the line. Oddly, there are no plans to sell the baby gear on the Net.