Best tech toys 2018: Connected toys, robots and more

By reviews / 1. December 2018

For many, the days of just building a spaceship out of Lego or playing a game of Monopoly are long gone.

Today, kids want interactive tech toys that are powered by an app or that connect to the internet. They want animals that learn and grow as you play with them, or robots that will answer back.

And thankfully, toy manufacturers are happy to oblige. There are plenty of different tech toys to suit all ages this year – maybe even yourself.

We’ve battled through the numerous toy events this year, played and tested a range of crazy and sometimes scary toys, to bring you a list of the best tech toys.


View offer on Amazon US | Amazon UK

Bringing traditional play to iOS, Osmo creates a number of interactive games that use an iPad as the gaming board, while also using the tablet’s on board camera to see what you are doing. Games include Coding Jam, which uses physical coding blocks to solve on screen puzzles, and even gives your child the opportunity to manage a pizza shop, which encourages maths. Osmo also offers simpler, but still very clever learning apps, like drawing, basic maths and English.

Harry Potter Kano Coding Kit

View offer on Amazon US | Amazon UK

With this coding kit, Harry Potter fans can follow step-by-step instructions to build a wand, which includes a gyroscope, accelerometer, and magnetometer so that it can track location, speed, and the position of a hand. The sensors allow the wand to detect the motions of spells in the Harry Potter world, and then kids can use the wand to do Harry Potter-related challenges inside the Kano app.

Play Impossible Gameball

View offer on Amazon US | Apple UK

 The Play Impossible Gameball is an active game system that gets you moving that connects to an iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV and then changes you in a number of mini games that emphasise hand-eye coordination, agility and creative thinking. The ball can be charged for an hour’s worth of play in 20-seconds and you can add a second ball for even more fun. 

Beasts of Balance

Buy Beasts of Balance at Amazon UK, at Apple US or at Apple UK

It’s a stacking game that uses an iPad, iPhone, or Apple TV app to help give it an extra dimension and marries brilliantly traditional gaming with a technological twist. The end result is great fun as you not only challenge of balancing the numerous array of beautifully crafted animals on the included scales, but as you do so seeing what creatures you can create by adding different counters and animals. Anyone for a Hogtopus? Yes, that’s a beast that’s half warthog half octopus if were wondering. The game ends when you can’t stack anymore.  

Furreal Roarin’ Tyler

Buy Furreal Roarin’ Tyler on Amazon US | Amazon UK

Roar at Roarin’ Tyler79.99) and he’ll answer back. The cute, fluffy tiger cub comes with 100 different sound and motion combinations and reacts to all manner of touches and noises. If that wasn’t enough to interest you, the tiger cub can also move his eyes, ears, head, mouth and tail. Hasbro even throws in a toy chicken so he won’t try to eat your TV remote control.

Fisher-Price Teach ‘n Tag Movi

Buy Fisher-Price Teach ‘n Tag Movi on Amazon US | Amazon UK

This mini robot, designed for kids aged three and over, has a trio of modes of play: Alpha Fun Actions, Think & Move Shapes and Learn & Play Games31.99). There are also six interactive games designed to develop critical thinking. Thankfully not powerful enough to take over the world, a la Skynet, Movi has two wheels allowing it to zip around the living room with ease as it barks orders at your kid. It’s like a polite, robot version of the drill instructor in Full Metal Jacket.

LeapStart Interactive Learning System for Active Minds

Buy LeapStart Interactive Learning System for Active Minds on Amazon US | Amazon UK

The LeapStart Learning System42.97) now supports nursery to year one kids, enabling them to get to grips with reading and playing activity games too. Parents are encouraged to buy a range of story books, in which their child can tap their way through with the interactive pen sounding things out as they play. Traditional but with a technology twist in a good way.

Laser X

Buy Laser X on Amazon US | Amazon UK

A revamp of the old laser tag games people played in the late eighties early nineties, Laser X34.99) comes with two laser guns and blast receivers that tell you when you’ve been hit. The guns work in sunlight and darkness and up to a range of 60 metres. The aim of the game? Don’t get shot and shoot your opponent instead. Simple.


Buy Luvabella on Amazon US | Amazon UK

This very life-like baby doll will need feeding, putting to sleep and tickling if you are to get along. While that’s the same with most dolls, the difference here with Luvabella79.99) is the true-to-life facial expressions that will have you thinking she’s real – rather worryingly. She’ll even play peek-a-boo.

Hatchimals Surprise

Buy Hatchimals Surprise on Amazon US | Amazon UK

Following the huge success of the original Hatchimals,  Hatchimals Surprise44.99) this year’s offering from Spin Master. The surprise? You get two little critters keen to break out of the shell rather than just the one. The aim of the toy is to nurture each Hatchimal with love in order to help it hatch. When they do come into the brave new world, the owner must help them progress from baby to toddler to kid.  The twins, as they are known, can recognise one another, share secrets, play games and dance.

Anki Cozmo

Buy Anki Cozmo on Amazon US | Amazon UK

A cute Wall-e-like robot, Cozmo129.99) is powered by AI and runs via a compatible iOS, Android or Kindle Fire device. It comes with three interactive “power cubes” and promises to charm his way into your life regardless of your age. As you would expect, there is a heavy emphasis towards coding, but it’s not all boring homework. You can also upgrade his treads to a range of different colours and there is a collector’s edition model if you are really looking to stand out from the crowd.

Sphero Mini

Buy Sphero Mini on Amazon US | Amazon UK

Sphero Mini49.99) is a miniaturised version of the original app-enabled robot toy, only even smaller. The size of ping pong ball, you can control it with different modes in the Sphero Mini app, or you can just use your face thanks to a new feature called Face Drive. This uses your facial expressions to steer the ball.

Sphero Mini sports a little gyroscope, accelerometer and LED lights, as well as colourful, interchangeable shells. It uses Micro USB charging and gives you about one-hour of play after an hour of full charging. It also comes with three mini traffic cones and six mini bowling pins for different games.  

Little Bits R2-D2

Buy Little Bits R2-D2 on Amazon US | Amazon UK

Using LittleBits’ electronic blocks technology and the free Droid Inventor app, kids big and small will be able to teach their R2 Unite robot new tricks and take it on more than 16 missions across the Star Wars universe. Kids can even level-up their inventor expertise and reconfigure their droid to give it new skills, allowing it to be controlled by The Force or similar. The Droid inventor Kit78.74) comes with everything kids need to create and customise their R2 Unite straight out of the box. 

Sphero R2-D2 

Buy Sphero R2-D2 on Amazon US | Amazon UK

Sphero’s take on Artoo features the Droid’s signature front and rear LED lights which are fully functional, an integrated speaker that beeps and boops, and even a third leg that extends when it roams around your house. Sadly, there is no hologram mode yet on the Sphero R2-D269.99), but like BB-9E and BB-8, Artoo will be able to talk to other Droids and watch the movies with you, beeping at the exciting points. There’s also an AR mode that will allow you to drive around the Millennium Falcon. 

Boxer AI robot

Buy Boxer on Amazon US | Amazon UK

Spin Master had a slew of new tech toys on display, but Boxer stood out from the rest. Not only is he diminutive and hand-sized, but he can pull of impressive tricks with a personality usually associated with larger and more expensive toys.

He has an expressive dot-matrix face that offers expressions and interactions with the player. He can detect movement in front of him and respond to it in a variety of ways. Following fingers or kicking a small ball around are just the tip of the iceberg. A range of cards can be scanned to set him playing a wide variety of games. Best of all you dont need a smartphone to play with him. 

Makeblock Neuron Explorer Kit

Buy Makeblock Neuron Explorer Kit on Amazon UK

Think Nintendo Labo but for iOS and you’ll be on the right lines, except rather than just cardboard the Makeblock Neuron Explorer kit179.99) comes with a number of sensors and motors to help you build things like a piano or guitar.  The Neuron apps helps kids develop basic logical thinking as they learn to code and you can download Apple’s Swift Playgrounds app on iPad and subscribe toNeuronto unlock more than 30 lessons and activities to build, create and code giving it much more life beyond the instructions in the box. 

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