Kids are always begging for pets, especially around the holidays. “Can I have a puppy?” “I want a pony!” I’m sure you’re hearing it all. But if you’re not ready to make that huge commitment to a pet and a messy house (and perhaps all of the dog-walking responsibilities), new technology that’s available is truly bringing animal toys to life.

Hexbug Nano V2 Black Hole

Hexbug Nano V2 Black Hole

The Hexbug line, from Innovation First, has used new tech to make robotic Hexbug critters that crawl on battery power. Two of the company’s newest lines expand upon this technology to make it even better. The Hexbug Nano V2 critters are gravity-defying bugs that can climb vertically through tubes. The Hexbug Nano V2 Black Hole play set, the Nano V2 bugs can climb vertically, horizontally, and around corners. Kids can unleash their creativity by customizing the design and layout of the three-story set. The play set also comes with special accessories including a spiral tube and a black funnel.

The Hexbugs Aquabot line features robotic fish that really swim in water. The micro-robotic creatures have Smart Fish technology that allows it to swim, dive, and change directions. You don’t have to worry about feeding it or cleaning its tank. Aqua bots are available in five translucent colors and designed for kids ages 3 and up.

Kids love bugs, kids love robots—where can you go wrong? The different Hexbugs are fun to play with alone or with the play sets so they have a lot of play value. The Aquabot adds extra magic, with the under water robotics and fish-like movements. Since Hexbugs aren’t R/C toys, they seem to really come to life, since they crawl, swim, and climb on their own.

FurRealMy GiggleMonkeyPetFurReal Friends Cuddles My Giggly Monkey, from Hasbro, will be your sweet and adorable new monkey best friend. My Giggly Monkey has more than 100 responses ranging from loud out loud silly to super sweet, and offers a range of interactive emotions. As you feed her, swing her upside down, and play with her, she interacts in a very lifelike way that really makes her a new friend, not just a toy. Check out how she interacts with our Toy Insider Mom Laurie Schacht:

She talks and laughs and drinks out her bottle, all while batting those sweet eyes of hers. This cool interactive technology that brings My Giggly Monkey to life goes above and beyond other toys I’ve seen on the market this year. It’s almost as if you are playing with a real monkey. (However she’s more well-behaved. My Giggle Monkey won’t be climbing all over you or picking through your hair.) This plush monkey responds and reacts differently to different play patterns, so it truly becomes an interactive experience for kids. She is recommended for kids ages 4 and up.

techpetTechPet, from Bandai, is a cool option for tweens and teens. Each TechPet comes with the main dog-like unite, a face plate with sensor, three cases to fit the proper iPhone or iPod touch, a bone accessory, a cord cover, and spacers. Kids can nurture and take care of their TechPet so it grows strong and learns new tricks. They simply download the TechPet app from the App Store, connect a device, turn him on, and let the fun begin. TechPet is designed for kids ages 8 and up and works with iPhone 3, 4, 4S, and 5 and iPod touch 4th Generation.

TechPet is a good option for those parents who aren’t really into the idea of actual pets in the house. The technology behind TechPet allows him to become a robot dog, who can learn new tricks and interact with kids. Since TechPet is available in white, neon pink, and Dalmatian styles, he is fitting for both boys and girls, and like a real puppy, can provide hours of fun. TechPet can be a fun new addition to a household, without all the mess of a real pet.

For more commentary from Ali, check back often. Views expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Toy Book as a whole. We hope that you will share your comments and feedback below. Until next time!