Best Tech Toys to Look Out For in 2014
We've come a long way since Lincoln Logs and Etch-a-Sketches. Kids toys are becoming just as high-tech as the gadgets that Mom and Dad carry around, and our time at Toy Fair 2014 proved the high-tech trend won't be slowing down anytime soon. Products like the Nerf Cam Gun put a technological twist on a toy that kids know and love, while the latest gizmos from LittleBits and Modular Robotics make any child feel like an expert engineer. It's going to be quite the plugged-in year for kids, so here are seven hot tech-toys to look out for in 2014.
Nerf Cam Gun ECS-12
Are you or your child the type to sneak up on friends with a surprise Nerf attack? Thanks to the Nerf Cam ECS-12 gun, you can record your exploits. This brand-new blaster mounts a 0.3-MP camera on top of a 12-round Nerf assault rifle, allowing you to capture your best foamy firefights in first person. With its built-in 4GB SD card for transferring content, we expect to see lots of kids uploading their most heated battles when the $79 shooter launches this fall.
More: Nerf Cam Gun Hands-On
MaKey MaKey Creation Kit
Any tech toy that can play piano using a set of bananas is worth a second look. MaKey MaKey is an open-ended creation kit that connects your PC with any object of your choice. Whether they want to control their own computers with a Play-Doh structure or play Dance Dance Revolution using a few pieces of cardboard, little people can accomplish their goals using this $49 kit and very little technical know-how.
Beamz by Flo
While its name sounds like a very obvious riff on Beats by Dre headphones, Beamz by Flo is actually a neat music console that lets you remix popular tracks without actually scratching records. When connected to an iPad, iPhone or PC with the Beamz app, this $250 accessory allows you to make sounds by simply passing your fingers through one of four infrared beams. Beamz is designed to automatically play the right notes for you, so you'll have a good experience whether you're a pro DJ or just want to flail your arms around to make some music.
TheO SmartBall Jr. and SmartDisk
Kids have been playing with balls forever, but Physical Apps has reinvented the classic foam toy for tech-savvy tykes. The $35 SmartBall Jr. puts a soft, orange sphere around your smartphone, allowing your little one to play such games as Bowling and Hot Potato without doing any harm to your handset. The upcoming SmartDisk (launching at an estimated $50) takes a similar approach for tablets, turning your slate into a soft tabletop toy that can be used for maze and trivia games.
LittleBits Synth Kit
Music and imagination often go hand-in-hand for children, and the littleBits Synth Kit encourages both by allowing your kids to build their own instruments. The $159 set includes modular pieces that can be combined with other littleBits sets, so you can build a basic rectangular synth or go all out and whip up a keytar. It only takes a few button presses to get some wild synth sounds going, and the kit connects to any pair of speakers or headphones for all-night jam sessions.
Hero Portal Gaming Console
If you're looking for a more affordable version of popular toy-based games like "Disney Infinity" and "Skylanders," the Jakks Pacific Hero Portal comes ready to play for just $39. This budget console comes in three variations based on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, DC super heroes and Power Rangers, each with its own brand-specific action figures that turn into in-game characters once placed on the portal. This low-cost console has some blockbuster franchises behind it, so don't be surprised to see it pick up some steam after it launches in August 2014.
More: Hero Portal Hands-On
Modular Robotics Moss and Cubelets
Many modern robotics toys make building advanced robots as simple as playing with LEGOs, and Modular Robotics' latest lines are no exception. The company's Cubelets collection (kits starting at $159) consists of interlocking cubes that can respond to light, sound and heat without any wiring, allowing you to make basic structures that can move around on their own. Moss kits (launching this April for $149) use small, spherical magnets for easy construction, allowing you to create lifelike robots that you can control with a variety of Moss apps for iOS and Android.
More: Top Tech Toys for Kids
- PS4 vs. Xbox One: Which Console Is The Best?
- Kids Tablets to Buy (or Avoid)
- 25 Best Kindle Fire HDX Apps