Give a child a R/C controller, and he or she will be occupied for hours, steering or flying whatever device it is around the room or outside. Give a child an iPhone and chances are your contacts will end up being deleted, you’ll be left with 350 pictures of the inside of your little boy or girl’s mouth, and your phone will soon self destruct—but, that’s about to change.

There’s no denying that it’s now essentially encrypted in children’s nature to be intrigued by new technology at increasingly younger ages—and let’s face it, most of the time they get the hang of it a lot quicker than adults. But instead of parents discouraging their children from toying around with iPhones, iPads, and tablets (because they’re of course not toys, they’re high-tech adult equipment that are soo not used for playing Candy Crush), they can instead support a productive way to use such devices with these awesome toys.

I was first introduced to Orbotix’s Sphero 2.0 when someone in the office put it on my desk and said, “Here, play with this.” I looked at the box a little confused wondering what it was, and as I starSP0SPHERO003ted to read the instructions (very helpful to figuring out how toys work), I realized that this was, hands down, one of the coolest toys I’ve ever played with. It’s simply a ball, not a fancy monster truck with huge wheels and the ability to smash into the wall, crumble into pieces, and put itself back together all while singing jingle bells—or something like that. But, it’s a robotic ball with an engine and it’s really, really fast and controlled by your phone. You just download the Sphero app on your iPhone, iPad, iTouch, or android device and using a Bluetooth connection your device transforms into a control that propels Sphero at speeds up to seven feet per second across the room and off ramps. The driving accuracy really impressed me because I do tend to be a little spazzy with toys like these, but it was actually easy to maneuver the toy around bends and turns and what not. Sphero 2.0 also lights up in a variety of neon colors which looks as spectacular as it is to play. There are also a ton of other apps available to engage Sphero in a variety of games.

Another iPhone-powered toy is Silverlit’s Mercedes SLS AMG. This cool whip is another twist on the traditional remote controller, utilizing interactive Bluetooth controlled R/C that allows any i-Device to control the car’s speed and steering. Like Sphero 2.0, you download the free app, turning your device into a sleek, easy-to-use remote. The best thing about this luxury sports car is that it also doubles as a high-tech speaker system, allowing you to stream music directly from your device’s iTunes library. You can literally hear the bass in your songs as the sound booms through the speakers actually making the car vibrate.

FlutterbyeYounger kids who can do without a touch screen phone for at least a few years are also due for an R/C upgrade. With Flutterbye Fairies girls will be amazed at how they magically fly simply by the palm of their hands—no need for a remote control here. These beautiful fairies, from Spin Master, are available in pink and purple and their glittering wings glide them gracefully through the air.

Photographer David Chickering Stylist Alphonse Neri
Another favorite of mine is the Disney Planes Wing Control Dusty Crophopper, from Mattel. Most kids are used to controlling an airplane with joysticks on a control, but with this plane they become the fliers. By holding his wings (one in each hand), your child can bank left and right with the plane like he or she is really flying, and Dusty will match every move. He even has more than 40 sounds and phrases that he says from the movie.

For more commentary from Deanna, 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!