2019’s Trending Tech Toys
The 116th North American International Toy Fair this year unveiled 100,000-plus brand-new toys – among them an array of cool new tech toys for kids (and kids at heart). Held in New York City, the event showcased everything from interactive plush to electronic toys that teach STEM concepts, all of which will be rolling out through to the 2019 holidays.
“U.S. sales of tech-infused toys continue to grow, thanks to fantastic innovation and a strong consumer appetite for wow-factor gifts that don’t break the bank,” said Adrienne Appell, senior director of strategic communications at The Toy Association, which produces the annual Toy Fair. “Sales are being driven by the latest trends in youth electronics, including ‘magical’ toys that reveal hidden features and screenless tech toys that promote social and interactive play.”
According to The NPD Group, the youth electronics super-category saw a one percent boost in sales in 2018. The Kidizoom Smartwatch DX Assortment from VTech, a durable wearable that allows kids to take photos, record videos, and learn to tell time, was last year’s top-selling toy in the category.
What’s in store for the balance of this year? Read on for sampling of new and upcoming tech toys.
Toys that incorporate the latest technology without the use of (or connection to) screens allow kids to use their imaginations and engage in face-to-face interactions with friends as they play.
Myla the Magical Unicorn (Vtech) is a colorful, robotic unicorn toy that glitters with lights as she talks, sings, and teaches kids about color combinations in a fun way. Kids use the magic brush to choose a color from the butterfly palette and magically apply the color to Myla’s eyes, wings, and horn to decorate her in a variety of colors and practice color combinations. The included microphone allows kids to sing a duet with Myla.
Pets Alive Boppi The Booty Shakin’ Llama (ZURU) is an interactive plush toy that dances to three songs with unique ‘twerking’ and ‘head-spinning’ moves. In addition to Boppi, ZURU’s new Pets Alive line will include Magical Unicorn, Cute Scootin’ Hamster, Adorable Angel Fish, Magical Mermaid and Tiny Turtle.
Carpool Karaoke, the Mic (The Singing Machine) is based on the popular segment from The Late Late Show With James Corden. Fans can transform any car into a true Carpool Karaoke experience with the wireless, handheld microphone that connects to their car through the radio or via AUX cord and broadcasts their voice over the car’s speakers. The mic also connects to phones via Bluetooth and can stream songs from the music library or an app.
Tech Meets Retro
From old-school games to educational toys, these classic playthings will strike a chord with nostalgic parents.
Speak & Spell (Basic Fun) is back! One of the earliest computerized learning systems from the 1970s and ’80s, Speak & Spell was the first educational toy designed to help children learn to spell over 200 commonly misspelled words using a speech synthesizer. With multiple play modes and challenge levels, a new generation of kids will be able to use it to have fun and learn at the same time.
Tilt – Rubiks and Tetris (Super Impulse) are handheld electronic video games controlled by motion. To play Rubik’s Tilt, tilt the device in the direction you want to turn the cube. In Tetris Tilt, control the falling “tetrominoes” by moving left or right, and tilt the device forward or backward to increase and decrease the drop speed.
Pictionary Air (Mattel) offers families a brand-new way to play the classic game of Pictionary. Players use an oversized light-up pen to “draw” their word in the air. The pen simultaneously casts the player’s drawing in real-time onto a TV or mobile device screen for all the players to see.
UglyDolls Feature Sounds Moxy Plush Figure (Hasbro, Inc.) is part of a new line that coincides with the UglyDolls movie hitting theaters in May. The first series of plush UglyDolls was released in 2001 and was a runaway success. Now, the stuffed characters are interactive; kids can simply give Moxy a squeeze to activate more than 30 sounds and phrases. Fans can also head over to the UglyDolls Factory, an online tool to create their own unique UglyDolls characters.
Collectibles with a Twist
With the help of innovative technology, collectibles are transformed into characters for kids to interact with, trade, and display.
Pixie Belles (WowWee) are fully interactive creatures that react to touch, motion, and sound, and feature unique interchangeable tails that double as bracelets, keychains, and scrunchies. Kids will know their Pixie Belle’s mood based on the color of its horn and can have a dance party with six different dances. Talking out loud or clapping will activate the Pixie Belles and have them spin on demand.
Pomsies Lumies (Skyrocket) are interactive, unicorn-like pets that turn into any color. Kids can simply place the pet on an object and it will magically absorb that object’s color and shine brightly. Lumies are “nurtured” through color absorption (more colors mean a happier pet). Pets include games like Memory and Whack-A-Mole and feature a Music Mode.
Next-Gen STEM Toys
Toys that teach kids to build, code, program, and learn a variety of STEM subjects aren’t just educational – they’re also fun, especially when they incorporate tech features.
Botzees (Pai Technology) are coding robots that kids have to first create using 150 pieces and two motors. The completed bots can spin and roll and have an object-recognition sensor. The free app enables drag-and-drop movement programming, gives each bot creation its own personality, and features 30 interactive AR puzzle adventures to navigate the Botzees through.
Artie 3000 The Coding Robot (Educational Insights) is a Wi-Fi-enabled drawing robot that makes coding easy to learn. Kids simply write a custom code and Artie will draw whatever is coded on any sheet of paper. The toy also comes with pre-programmed designs, shapes, and games.
LeapBuilders ABC Smart House (LeapFrog) allows toddlers to build an interactive learning home using more than 60 pieces, including “smart blocks” that make 40 different sounds and phrases. This teaches the alphabet, phonics, sorting, colors and more.
LEGO Hidden Side (The LEGO Group) is an augmented reality-enhanced LEGO play theme where kids must turn a haunted world back to normal, one ghost at a time. The line includes a series of eight “haunted” building sets full of functionality and secret surprises. Activating the bespoke AR app developed together with the theme brings the models to life, revealing a hidden world of interactive mysteries and challenges to solve.
To spot the latest trends in toys, games, and youth entertainment products, visit The Toy Association’s 117th North American International Toy Fair, taking place February 22 to 25, 2020 in New York City, and visit www.ToyFairNY.com to learn more.