Toys sure have gotten smarter since I was a kid.
When I was a lad, the fanciest toy I owned was some kind of radio hijacking dohicky. Don’t ask me what it was called or who made it, because I haven’t the foggiest. What I do remember, though, was that I could use it to broadcast my voice onto almost any radio frequency. I’d use it while my Dad was listening to the radio and tell him aliens were invading. Of course, the range on that thing was trash, so he’d usually see me hiding around the corner, but it was fun nonetheless. By today’s standards, though, such a toy would be quaint at best. Whenever I see commercials for new toys on TV (in the rare instance I’m watching TV), it’s always a little jarring how smart they’ve become. New toys have associated apps and AR tech and all sorts of things I’m not entirely sure children would understand. It’s all pretty dang cool, though. Here’s a few standouts.
Hot Wheels id Smart Track Kit
No matter how much time passes, kids’ll never get tired of little cars doing loop-de-loops. Now, though, in addition to loop-de-loops, Hot Wheels tracks can apparently scan and ID the cars, as well as link them to a companion app to complete challenges and measure stats. I don’t care what its standing is, I’d definitely use that shark car all the time.
Nintendo Labo Toy-Con 04 VR Kit-Switch Kit
Show me a kid who doesn’t love messing with cardboard boxes. You can’t do it. While its price point is a bit heavy, Nintendo’s Labo kits for the Switch have all sorts of imagination-fueling applications, even more so now that they have VR functionality. Build it, program it, play it. Just don’t get it wet.
Okay, not gonna lie, this thing creeps me right the heck out. It’s like Teddy Ruxpin times twelve. But it is quite an impressive toy nonetheless; it’s got over a hundred unique functions and movements, responding in real time to all sorts of stimulus. It’s also got a night mode that puts it to sleep and plays lullabies, which is good for younger kids. Just… don’t look directly at it.
Boxer Interactive A.I. Robot Toy
One thing I always wanted when I was a kid was a robotic best friend. Just a little buddy to make cute boopy sounds and roll around on the floor. This little dude is pretty much that in an adorably square package. Boxer does tricks, plays games, and can express a range of emotions. Don’t worry, when the robot uprising comes, he’ll stick up for you.