14 Toys So Amazingly Cool That You’ll Want to Keep Them For Yourself

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  • Author: Tim Moynihan. Tim Moynihan Gear
  • Date of Publication: 11.23.16. 11.23.16
  • Time of Publication: 7:00 am. 7:00 am

14 Amazing Toys You’ll Want to Keep For Yourself

The coolest toys lie at the crossroads of old-school and new-school. It’s a crowded intersection as Hot Wheels, Barbie, piggy banks, and footballs go high-tech. Kids these days play with blocks that teach them how to code, drones made out of Lego bricks, and Star Wars droids that work like your favorites in the movies. Picking an awesome toy for a lucky kid is easy. What’s hard is surrendering one long enough for them to play with it.

01

Modarri Cars

How do you make the venerable toy car even better? First, make it modular. Modarri’s chassis and dope rims are interchangeable, letting kids create their own designs. Second, require some assembly with a little screwdriver. And third, add suspension. Driving these little cars around with your finger in the driver’s seat is a blast. $19 and up.

Credit: Modarri

How do you make the venerable toy car even better? First, make it modular. Modarri’s chassis and dope rims are interchangeable, letting kids create their own designs. Second, require some assembly with a little screwdriver. And third, add suspension. Driving these little cars around with your finger in the driver's seat is a blast. $19 and up.

02

Wilson X Connected Football (Junior Size)

Imagination is a good thing, but Wilson’s sensor-packed football keeps it in check with a built-in ref. The ball connects to an iOS app via Bluetooth to track throwing speed, distance, and how tight your spiral is. For backyard two-minute drills, it gets even better: Game mode features play-by-play by announcer Gus Johnson, and the sensors are smart enough to gauge completions and dropped passes. $200.

Credit: Wilson

Imagination is a good thing, but Wilson’s sensor-packed football keeps it in check with a built-in ref. The ball connects to an iOS app via Bluetooth to track throwing speed, distance, and how tight your spiral is. For backyard two-minute drills, it gets even better: Game mode features play-by-play by announcer Gus Johnson, and the sensors are smart enough to gauge completions and dropped passes. $200.

03

Osmo Coding

Osmo has spent a few years finding ways of making an iPad more than just another screen. With a clip-on mirror attachment, the company’s games use the iPad camera and computer vision to help real toys and drawings interact with onscreen objects. In Coding, kids snap together blocks to make a digital monster perform actions. It’s a first crack at programming for the Kindergarten set. $49, plus $79 for the Osmo Starter Kit.

Credit: OSMO

Osmo has spent a few years finding ways of making an iPad more than just another screen. With a clip-on mirror attachment, the company’s games use the iPad camera and computer vision to help real toys and drawings interact with onscreen objects. In Coding, kids snap together blocks to make a digital monster perform actions. It’s a first crack at programming for the Kindergarten set. $49, plus $79 for the Osmo Starter Kit.

04

Cubetto

Think of Cubetto as Osmo Coding without the iPad. Children as young as 3 can program a little wooden box of a robot using tiles that correspond to simple actions. To make the bot roll forward, turn left, and turn right, kids place the corresponding colored block in the wooden control board, press a button, and watch it scoot along. They’ll be running NASA in no time. $225.

Credit: Primo

Think of Cubetto as Osmo Coding without the iPad. Children as young as 3 can program a little wooden box of a robot using tiles that correspond to simple actions. To make the bot roll forward, turn left, and turn right, kids place the corresponding colored block in the wooden control board, press a button, and watch it scoot along. They’ll be running NASA in no time. $225.

05

Nintendo NES Classic Edition

Finally, your vast knowledge of hidden coin smorgasbords in Super Mario Bros. 3 can help bridge the generation gap! Nintendo’s eight-bit emulator features 30 classic games, and it looks like a tiny version of the original console. One gripe: The throwback controllers have really short cords. Second gripe: good luck finding one. And don’t spoil Metroid’s surprise ending, OK? $60.

Credit: Nintento

Finally, your vast knowledge of hidden coin smorgasbords in Super Mario Bros. 3 can help bridge the generation gap! Nintendo’s eight-bit emulator features 30 classic games, and it looks like a tiny version of the original console. One gripe: The throwback controllers have really short cords. Second gripe: good luck finding one. And don’t spoil Metroid’s surprise ending, OK? $60.

06

Sphero Battle-Worn BB-8 with Force Band

This was the hot gift last year, but a souped-up edition adds new tricks. Kids can now control BB-8 with the Force! The Force Band ($80) motion-sensing wearable drives the droid via twists of the wrist and works with other Sphero bots, too. BB-8’s paint job is scuffed up, showing the little baller has been to the school of hard knocks. And kids can write or run code for BB-8 with the SPRK+ app. $200.

Credit: Lucasfilm

This was the hot gift last year, but a souped-up edition adds new tricks. Kids can now control BB-8 with the Force! The Force Band ($80) motion-sensing wearable drives the droid via twists of the wrist and works with other Sphero bots, too. BB-8’s paint job is scuffed up, showing the little baller has been to the school of hard knocks. And kids can write or run code for BB-8 with the SPRK+ app. $200.

07

Barbie Hello Dreamhouse

Is this voice-controlled Barbie Dreamhouse a toy, or a blueprint for the future of smart homes? Maybe it’s both: By speaking commands to the Wi-Fi-connected abode, kids can open and close the door, turn the oven on, make the elevator move, and turn the stairs into a slide (We totally want that in our smart home). “Hello Dreamhouse” brings it to life, and kids customize sounds and actions in an app. $300.

Credit: Matell

Is this voice-controlled Barbie Dreamhouse a toy, or a blueprint for the future of smart homes? Maybe it's both: By speaking commands to the Wi-Fi-connected abode, kids can open and close the door, turn the oven on, make the elevator move, and turn the stairs into a slide (We totally want that in our smart home). “Hello Dreamhouse” brings it to life, and kids customize sounds and actions in an app. $300.

08

Anki Cozmo

With its expressive (and blinking) OLED eyes, animated arm movements, and droid-like sound effects, Cozmo seems more human than other robot toys. It’s smarter, too. Cozmo recognizes your face with its built-in camera and forms its own opinion of you. It learns your name, challenges you to games, and throws a tiny fit when it loses. $180.

Credit: Anki

With its expressive (and blinking) OLED eyes, animated arm movements, and droid-like sound effects, Cozmo seems more human than other robot toys. It’s smarter, too. Cozmo recognizes your face with its built-in camera and forms its own opinion of you. It learns your name, challenges you to games, and throws a tiny fit when it loses. $180.

09

Flybrix

You’ve mastered the art of not stepping on Legos with bare feet, and now you must duck and dodge them as they fly through the sky. Flybrix kits use everyone’s favorite interlocking bricks to create flying machines. Along with motors, props, and batteries, the included flight boards are loaded with sensors. Fly your creations with an app or an R/C remote; post-crash reassembly is a snap. $190 and up.

Credit: Lego

You've mastered the art of not stepping on Legos with bare feet, and now you must duck and dodge them as they fly through the sky. Flybrix kits use everyone’s favorite interlocking bricks to create flying machines. Along with motors, props, and batteries, the included flight boards are loaded with sensors. Fly your creations with an app or an R/C remote; post-crash reassembly is a snap. $190 and up.

10

Hot Wheels AI

Hot Wheels’ first autonomous cars are bigger (and plastickier) than slot cars, but they’re also smarter. The starter pack features two cars, two controllers, and 20 track mats. Sensors under each chassis read a pattern printed on each mat to stay on the road, where you can compete against an A.I.-driven car. But you can also drive these whips around like normal R/C cars, increasing your ROI. $100.

Credit: Hotwheels

Hot Wheels’ first autonomous cars are bigger (and plastickier) than slot cars, but they’re also smarter. The starter pack features two cars, two controllers, and 20 track mats. Sensors under each chassis read a pattern printed on each mat to stay on the road, where you can compete against an A.I.-driven car. But you can also drive these whips around like normal R/C cars, increasing your ROI. $100.

11

Littlebits Gizmos and Gadgets 2nd Edition

If your kids are too old to code with blocks, maybe they’re ready to build gear of their own. Littlebits’ DIY gadgets kit sports a slew of sensors, servo motors, screws, and other modular components that snap together magnetically. The open-ended Frankenstein lab lets kids build Bluetooth-controlled vehicles, desk fans, and crawling robots. $200.

Credit: Littlebits

If your kids are too old to code with blocks, maybe they’re ready to build gear of their own. Littlebits’ DIY gadgets kit sports a slew of sensors, servo motors, screws, and other modular components that snap together magnetically. The open-ended Frankenstein lab lets kids build Bluetooth-controlled vehicles, desk fans, and crawling robots. $200.

12

Nerf N-Strike Elite Terrascout Remote Control Drone Blaster

This tank-like Nerf drone redefines the sneak attack. First, you load the generous 18-dart clip. Second, use the remote control to maneuver it from the safety of your pillow fort. And third, use the live video feed—it streams from the drone to the controller—to see your enemies’ faces as you ambush them. Er, as your kid ambushes them. Because of course you’re buying this for your kid. $200.

Credit: Hasbro

This tank-like Nerf drone redefines the sneak attack. First, you load the generous 18-dart clip. Second, use the remote control to maneuver it from the safety of your pillow fort. And third, use the live video feed---it streams from the drone to the controller---to see your enemies' faces as you ambush them. Er, as your kid ambushes them. Because of course you're buying this for your kid. $200.

13

Wiggy Piggy Bank

What small child doesn’t love chores and financial responsibility? OK, that’s a tough sell, but this Bluetooth bank makes such things fun. It doesn’t actually have a coin slot: Kids set savings targets in an app, see a feed of chores (and report-card goals) that’ll help them reach those targets, and get a Venmo-like IOU feed from their parents. Every time there’s an incoming money-making task, the pig lights up and hollers. $60 plus shipping.

Credit: WiggyApp

What small child doesn’t love chores and financial responsibility? OK, that’s a tough sell, but this Bluetooth bank makes such things fun. It doesn't actually have a coin slot: Kids set savings targets in an app, see a feed of chores (and report-card goals) that’ll help them reach those targets, and get a Venmo-like IOU feed from their parents. Every time there’s an incoming money-making task, the pig lights up and hollers. $60 plus shipping.

14

Star Wars Rogue One Rapid Fire Imperial AT-ACT Playset

Back in the early ’80s, if you didn’t own an AT-AT playset, childhood was a political cagematch to be pals with someone who did. The stakes are higher for kids today. This similar quadruped walker from Rogue One has a removable cargo hopper. Big whoop, who cares about that, because it also walks on its own, comes with an evil R2-D2, and shoots Nerf missiles out of its face. <3 <3 ILU AT-ACT PLAYSET <3 <3 $300.

Credit: Hasbro

Back in the early '80s, if you didn't own an AT-AT playset, childhood was a political cagematch to be pals with someone who did. The stakes are higher for kids today. This similar quadruped walker from Rogue One has a removable cargo hopper. Big whoop, who cares about that, because it also walks on its own, comes with an evil R2-D2, and shoots Nerf missiles out of its face. <3 <3 ILU AT-ACT PLAYSET <3 <3 $300.

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