We all know that kids are more tech-savvy at the age of 2 than most of us will ever be. Living in the digital age comes instinctively for kids, and the fact that they have the ability to understand and use technology so early on lets toy manufacturers create some really, really cool tech toys for kids of all ages. Below is a roundup of favorite tech-y playthings from North American International Toy Fair, in no particular order:
Play All Day Elmo (Playskool)
Every year, Hasbro’s Playskool line introduces a new Elmo—and this year’s might be our favorite one yet! Play All Day Elmo is equipped with all kinds of cool technology, but without the bulky battery box that usually prevents him from being a cuddly plush toy. Elmo now has more than 150 responses when he’s playing with your kid, and two different modes: toddler mode and preschool mode. He plays games, dances, recognizes kisses and his hands clapping, knows when you are moving or standing still, and much more. Best of all, Elmo also has a sleep mode, so when playtime is over, he will go to sleep with kids and won’t turn on during those precious quiet hours.
Hello Barbie (Mattel)
Mattel’s iconic doll really can become a girl’s best friend this year with the very cool Hello Barbie. Using voice recognition technology, Barbie talks to you, learns things about you, and then actually remembers who you are and all of the things she learned. Interactive toys were a big trend this year, so look out for this and other products on the shelves that actually will be more than a toy in your toy box—they’ll be friends.
ROBOTS! Robots were very real at Toy Fair. How. Cool. The Meccanoid G15 KS robot may be one of the most innovative things we’ve seen this year, and it comes straight from the classic Meccano line of building toys. He stands at about 4 feet tall and he can pop-and-lock. I know, you don’t actually need any other facts to be convinced, but he also gives high fives, is programmable, WALKS YOU THROUGH THE STEPS TO BUILD HIM (WHAT?!), dances, talks, and more. The Meccanoid also comes in a smaller version (G15, standing at about 2 feet tall) for a lower price point.
3D Magic 3D Creation Maker (Tech 4 Kids)
3-D printing just became super kid-friendly. Kids simply squeeze the included gel into molds, and stick the mold into the 3D Creation Maker, and in 10 seconds, it becomes a 3-D object. The best part: It uses UV light technology instead of heat, so kids don’t have to wait for it to cool down (Bonus: It’s also safer!).
Anki Overdrive (Anki)
Who would’ve ever thought that racing R/C cars could be SO cool? Anki Overdrive is part toy, part video game, and a whole lotta fun. Anki Overdrive features a modular track system that kids can snap together quickly with magnetic connectors. It lets you build and rebuild endless tracks for high-speed racing fun! Anki Overdrive Supercars are high-tech, intelligent vehicles with built-in computers and visual sensors make sure you stay on track even during the most legendary battle moments. Players can earn points in-game and customize their Supercars with upgrades. Kids can also go head-to-head with friends or step up their game against elite AI Commanders and their crews to become the champion of the Anki Overdrive tournament.
That’s right: Even the crafty toy companies are getting in on the high-tech fun! Crayola’s Color Alive line lets kids draw with special crayons on the included notebook, snap a pic with their smartdevice, and bring their drawings to life. The coolest product in the line is the Easy Animation Studio, which uses the same technology, but also includes a motion-capture mannequin so that kids can use the app to quickly create their own animated videos. So cool!
VTech’s adorable line of Go! Go! Smart Wheels for preschoolers gets an upgrade with added R/C vehicles. All the educational SmartPoint technology is the same, but now kids can race cars around the track with a remote control. The controller is so easy to use, with only two big, bright buttons—one to go forward, one to go backward—and the track features fun stunts and hills to keep kids engaged. Plus, the whole entire play set, complete with one car and control, retails for only $59.99 (Parents can also purchase additional cars so kids can run two at once on the track).
Sky Rover Voice Command Helicopter (Auldey Toys)
If you feel the need… the need for speed, then grab your aviators, your leather jacket, and this awesome helicopter from Auldey toys. By putting on the headset, you can speak commands such as “Take off,” “Go left,” and “U-Turn” and the helicopter will follow suit. It also does fun tricks such as “Smart Hover” and “Dancing in the Air.”
IO Hawk (IO Hawk)
We were really excited to stumble across this beautiful piece of technology at Toy Fair this year. This high-tech ride is reminiscent of a handlebar-less Segway mixed with magic (or really cool tech, for those who fully understand science and things). Basically, you just stand on it, relax, and think about which direction you’d like to move in, and off you go. You kind of subconsciously control it with your body movements, which is super cool to see and just about the best party trick out there. The retail price on this puppy is high—around $1,800—but we imagine the reaction to riding one of these down the busy streets of Manhattan is probably priceless.
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!