This time of year is always really busy with Toy Fairs and product announcements for the toy industry. This year the London Toy Fair and The Bett (British Education Training and Technology) Show took place in the same week.
Based in the UK, Tech Age Kids went along to visit both events in London. In this post we will highlight all the amazing kid and family tech products we saw at London Toy Fair. Many products are only due to hit to store from Spring 2017 and onward. (The Bett Show Roundup is coming soon.)
The London Toy Fair is noticeably smaller than others and often companies hold off on their big announcements for either Spielwarenmesse in Nuremburg, Germany or the New York Toy Fair which is taking place next month.
This year, we went on the last day of the London Toy Fair. It was much quieter and we got a chance to speak to many inventors and companies. It was also great to see friends and people we've backed on Kickstarter in the Green House area, namely, Simbrix and Beasts of Balance. We've seen lots of new robots, developments of AR in toys and books, and drones for children. Our list is in no particular order.
SpinmasterSpinmaster showed two new exciting robots, the Meccaspider and M.A.X. Both robots are significantly smaller than Meccanoid, but still buildable and programmable. Both will operate with an app via bluetooth and it looks like M.A.X. also sports some AI technology. If you're looking for a buildable Meccano robot that's not going to take 6 hours to build (our experience with building Meccanoid) then this could just be the robot for your family. The Meccaspider also had a function to shoot venom - how cool!
Also from Spinmaster are the new Airhogs with AR. A 5ft play mat transform the real world into a virtual world, where you can race your cars using a mobile app. It looks like there will be single and multipacks available. There's also the new DR1 microdrone with auto-stabilising technology, making it much easier for young people to fly drones. These products will be available from August 2017.
We also got to see Hatchimals, who won Toy of the Year in the Toy Industry Awards. They are cute and entertaining little birds, that need nurturing to hatch out of an egg.
(Unfortunately we were not able to take any photos!)
MardlesMardles is launching a series of five books which come to life using AR technology. The illustrations are beautiful and the stories are written in rhyme. The books make great bedtime stories with or without the added AR technology!
ArckitWe finally had the pleasure of meeting the team from Arckit and have a hands-on play with the Arckit set. We love everything about it and really excited to see the company embrace the maker kid market. Design thinking is an essential part of preparing kids for the future and Arckit brings a new form of making to kids. We're looking forward to add some tech to the Arckit sets! Watch this space. Update: See our ArcKit review.
ClementoniClementoni had two new programmable robots that caught our eye. DOC is a programmable robot that comes with a play mat, instruction cards and game mode, for young kids. It doesn't require a tablet and looks and feels really robust.
EnginoEngino really gets gender neutrality. Their products come in a range of colours appealing to boys and girls. They do however have a range, Inventor Girl, specifically targeted at getting more girls interested in STEM. We were interested in their new STEM Heroes kits which are small STEM inspired building kits. When you collect three kits in a series, you can build a bigger model - a bit like LEGO Mixels.
The buildable and programmable Robotics Kits come either with or without bluetooth connectivity. They are developed for teaching robotics programmaing to primary and secondary school ages. The kit comes with an impressive app to help build and programme the various robotic models. There is a lot of scope for creativity and Engino wants to encourage kids to build their own creations.
Engino also launched a new building toy for little kids, called Qzoids. They are very similar in form and function as the classic Engino build kits, but much easier to build and pull apart. Engino kits come with excellent STEM material, including fascinating information about historical characters. We love that!
Thames and KosmosThames and Kosmos announced 12 new board games at the show. The Egyptian building games called Imhotep, looked really interesting for logical thinking and strategy skills. It's aimed at 10+ for 2 - 4 players.
We were pleased to see the Geckobot in action, it's finally being realised here in the UK. It's an impressive piece of engineering.
We also looked at their new robotics kit - the Robotics Workshop, which comes with motors and build pieces to construct a robotic arm. The kit is programmable using a Blockly style coding platform.
WowWeeWe were able to see some of WowWee's new offerings, including the little red Elmoji robot developed with Sesame Street.
They have a range of new puppies, called Chippies which look like smaller versions of Chip and works with a remote control. The new Fingerlings, are plastic monkeys with fur hair on their heads, which wrap around your finger and respond to you stroking them.
3Doodler StartWe reviewed 3Doodler Start last year and absolutely love it. It was really exciting to see their 3 new activity kits - Robotics, Product Design and Architecture. Each activity kit will come either with or without the 3Doodler Start pen. The robotics kit will include a motor to make your creature move.
Learning ResourcesLearning Resources make fantastic toys for the education and home education market. They won Best New Toy in the STEM category for the Playground Engineering and Design Building Set. It comes with activity cards with challenges for kids to solve. Kids are introduced to a variety of engineering and design concepts.
Bladez ToysBladez Toys have partnered with Hot Wheels to create a Hot Wheels mini drone, Quad Racerz, which works on the Hot Wheels tracks. It's a great invention for families who already own a lot of Hot Wheels track, but kids have grown out of playing with their toy cars! This car will fly off the track. Like Hot Wheels cars, these RC Quad Racerz will be available in collectible packs. (No photos allowed)
Lottie DollsWe love Lottie dolls, because they look like children, doing every day kid-kinda things. Lottie dolls also inspire kids to dream big and this year they launched a new dress-up set for Lottie - the Spacesuit! The company responded to the market following Lottie's travels into space with Tim Peake.
SimbrixIt was brilliant to catch up with Assim from Simbrix. The two-dimensional pixel building blocks are still top in our craft activity kits for kids. They are launching some new kits this year, so keep following us to hear the latest. Did you know you can get individual colour packs if you're running out of specific colours for your designs?
Beasts of BalanceSensibe Object, was showing off their fabulous game, Beasts of Balance. It was a great honour to meet co-founder Alex, and get some inside news on upcoming developments for the game. Our lips are sealed and we can't wait to share the exciting news in the coming months. Do check out our review of the Beast of Balance game, it is currently our top family "board" game!
HubelinoHubelino caught my eye, as they make a LEGO Duplo compatible marble run. Made in Germany, the marble run construction kits come either including building blocks or without. If, like our family, you have a ton of LEGO Duplo blocks, the Hubelino marble run is a brilliant add-on toy. My kids still love building with Duplo and making marble runs, I can't think of a better combination!
JumbooJumboo are 3D paper craft kits made in India. There are loads of different themes, from making paper flowers to crafting moving vehicles. The kits come with all the materials needed, including glue, to make the models. We loved the Merry Go Round and Ferris Wheel kits, both with mechanical moving parts! These kits, could potentially work really well with an electronics kit, to make some tech-craft!
StikbotStikbot is expanding the range with pets and accessories. We love the Zanimation Studio and reviewed it last year. The add-ons will definitely be popular and expand the possibilities in animation creation.
SeedlingSeedling is a brand we love and looks like they are bringing their tech range to the UK. We love the Marble Run kit which works with VR technology and been available in the US since before Christmas. They also have a cardboard VR viewer and headphones kit you can customise.
KurioKurio is launching new colours for their popular kids smartwatch range. We definitely prefer the new colours, white, black and purple! Kurio is a brand building smart devices for kids ranging from smartwatches to tablets and hybrid laptops. It runs off an Andriod platform and you can access apps via Google Play. It comes with built in parent controls and proprietary software. The Kurio Smart runs Windows and Microsoft Office, it is a 2 in 1 device as the keyboard unclips, you can then use it as a tablet.
Gesturebotics AuraAt the end of the day we met Dr Pramod Abichandani from LocoRobo, focused on building solutions to teach kids coding and robotics. They developed Gesturebotics Aura a gesture controlled flying robot. He kindly gave us a demonstration where he used a glove to control the movements of a mini drone encased in a plastic cage. Gesturebotics Aura is set to be available from Autumn / Winter 2017 and aimed at teens and up.
Highlights from previous Toy Fairs: