Anyone who loved the animated 1980s toy, Teddy Ruxpin, will marvel at the modern version called Ubooly. Slip a smart phone or tablet in the stuffed toy, and the screen becomes an animated face that, through an app, tells stories and jokes and takes children on imaginative adventures. $30–$60.
The Parrot Rolling Spider MiniDrone can fly in all directions, or use its wheels to climb walls, roll across the ceiling and do flips, all controlled by a smartphone app. It flies indoors or out at speeds of up to 11 mph, and beams back images to your phone from a built-in camera. $100.
Roll out the 3.5-by-8.5-foot track, charge up the robot-warrior cars, synch them to your smart phones and let the mayhem begin! Virtual racing becomes a battling reality with the Anki DRIVE Starter Kit, a system of remote-controlled race cars, each with its own set of upgrades and “weapons.” $150 for starter kit.
Children can hone reading and writing skills with a LeapReader Reading and Writing System that looks like an oversized pen. It can be used with special “Tag” books to hear words sounded out and play vocabulary-building games. $40 for starter kit.
Protect planets from interstellar bad guys with a Marvel Guardians of the Galaxy Milano Starship Vehicle. It’s equipped with dual firing missiles, lights and battle sounds. $15.
Build a little, learn a lot. That’s the idea behind the littleBits project kits. Each box is filled with snap-together electronic components (sensors, LEDs, wireless transmitters, switches) and NASA-approved lesson plans to create operational vehicles, toys and life hacks. Prices vary by kit. $189 for the Space Kit, used to make the pictured Mars Rover.
With 498 pieces, two motors and extra gears, the Engino ENG10020 Toy System supplies limitless possibilities for inventing operational vehicles and other moving toys. Comes with remote control designed to work with solar power. $150.
Help your budding electrical engineer learn how circuits work with Thames & Kosmos’ Electronics Advanced Circuits Kit. More than 140 components, from switches to capacitors, snap together to create lights, sounds and plenty of action. $160.
Becky Billingsley is a freelance writer from Myrtle Beach, S.C. Her monthly column also appears in South Carolina Living, the statewide electric co-op magazine of the Palmetto state. Product inclusion on this page does not imply endorsement; product availability and prices are subject to change.