With Halloween behind us and Thanksgiving around the corner, the holidays are on the horizon. While your kids are pouring over glossy catalogs, transfixed by YouTube unboxing videos, and listening carefully to a friend share details about their new favorite toy, The Toy Association has been busy compiling the hottest holiday toys for their annual Toy of the Year (TOTY) awards program, including finalists to be named the top Tech Toy of the Year.
About The Toy Association and Toy of the Year Awards
The Toy Association was founded in 1916 as a not-for-profit trade association that represents businesses that design, produce, license, and deliver toys and youth entertainment products for kids of all ages. Every year TOTY serves as the “Oscars of the Toy Industry” where one toy in each category is selected as the top toy or games of the year.
This year I’m excited to be collaborating with The Toy Association to reveal this year’s Tech Toy of the Year nominees. Toys nominated in the category of Tech Toy of the Year are physical toys that are electronic or interact with a smartphone, tablet, or gaming device.
Tech Toy of the Year Toy of the Year Award Nominees!
We live in an age of technology and while there’s no shortage of STEM and tech toys, these seven finalists represent the best of the best. Below you will find toys that inspire creativity and critical thinking while teaching skills like programming through play that are this year’s finalists in the category of Tech Toy of the Year.
Over the past couple weeks my family has spent some time playing with each of these six finalists, one of which will be crowned as this year’s Tech Toy of the Year! They’re all incredible and I need your input about which one you think should be the winner!
These seven finalists were selected by a nomination committee of 25 industry experts but now the voting opens up for consumer feedback which is where you come in! I need you to cast your ballot for your favorite at ToyAwards.org! It’s not an easy job given the incredible list of finalists but I’m excited to hear which one you like the best!
Circuit Cubes by Tenka Labs ($59.99)
Early this year I was introduced to Circuit Cubes at CES and was immediately drawn to them because they’re different from other STEM toys that I had seen on the market as of last January. Developed by two longtime educators, Circuit Cubes are as easy to use as other products out there but unlike others, they can stack in every direction. Cubes like the battery, motor, and LED cube can be stacked horizontally and vertically.
They also integrate with LEGOs, as well as household items, like old toys or recyclable materials you have around the house, making kids think about incorporating other items as part of the building process. I also love that the unique transparent design lets kids see the connections being made when they light an LED, power a motor, or activate a switch, so they can understand the action and reaction to grasp the basics of electronics and STEM through play.
We received the Whacky Wheels Kit to review. This kit includes everything you need to get started with suggested projects and templates for creating an underwater rover, space rover, parade float, monster truck, as well as a vehicle of your own design.
Three different sets of Circuit Cubes are currently available and include Whacky Wheels, Bright Lights, and Smart Art. For more information about Circuit Cubes, visit the Tenka Labs website. Circuit Cubes are designed for ages 8-12 and sets are $59.95 each from Amazon.
Cast your vote for Circuit Cubes as this year’s Tech Toy of the Year.
Cue by Wonder Workshop ($199.95)
Meet Cue the Cleverbot. This darling robot isn’t just another cute robot toy, it’s clever and advanced! It features a witty attitude that tweens will love and is full of surprises that go beyond buzzing and beeping- it’s personal, intelligent, and can communicate in interactive ways unlike any other robot on the market thanks to tech features such as:
- User programmable LEDs and buttons that allow you to customize your experience
- Infrared (IR) receivers and transmitters which enable Cue to find and interact with other robots and IR beacons
- Dual motors and potentiometers. Yes, potentiometers and yes, I had to look up what they are! Potentiometers are a three-terminal resistor with a sliding or rotating contact that forms an adjustable voltage divider and they work with dual motors to support Cue’s head pan and tilt with accurate positioning.
- 3 proximity sensors to detect objects at left, right, and back from multiple distances
- Real time Bluetooth that connects quickly and easily to iOS and Android smartphones and tablets
- 3 microphones and speakers for real time voice triangulation and personalized recording and playback
- 3 processors and sensor fusion to manage complex interactions among actuators and sensors such as the accelerometer, gyroscope, and wheel encoders
- 2 powered wheels and encoders that navigate quickly and precisely across almost any surface
Cast your vote for Cue as this year’s Tech Toy of the Year.
LEGO® BOOST Creative Toolbox by LEGO Systems, Inc. ($159.99)
LEGO® BOOST was another CES find that I was excited to see come out this summer because it’s a great toy for kids who love LEGOs and learn best through hands-on play. LEGO® BOOST Creative Toolbox contains 847 LEGO pieces for kids to build and code one of 5 multi-functional robots and control them with coding blocks through a free easy-to-use tablet app that will feature icon-based drag and drop coding.
Interactive, motorized robots, models and creations with distance, color and tilt sensor technologies are possible to create with LEGO BOOST. The list of multi-functional models and creations you can create include:
- 10” tall Vernie the Robot that dances, cracks jokes and farts
- 6” tall Frankie the Cat interactive pet that plays, purrs, and expresses its mood
- M.T.R.4 (4” high, 9” long and 5” wide) which is a robust and versatile rover that features four different tool attachments, including a spring loaded shooter
- Guitar4000 (1” high, 16” long and 5” wide.) musical instrument that teaches pitch bend and other sound effects
- Autobuilder (10” high, 7” long and 6” wide) that is an automated production line that actually builds miniature LEGO models.
Each toy is more challenging build than previous ones and unlike other LEGO sets, a tablet is required to build and play with LEGO BOOST. But once you start building, you can add on your existing LEGOs.
Cast your vote for LEGO BOOST Creative Toolbox as this year’s Tech Toy of the Year.
Piper Computer Kit ($299)
Have a kid who is a natural Maker who loves to build? Piper Computer Kit is perfect for budding engineers with an interest in computer science! This build-your-own computer kit enables kids to build, code, and tap into their imaginations right out of the box to teaches relevant STEM skills.
While it might be intimidating to open a box that contains laser cut parts, wires, and other computer components, take a deep breath because the enclosed Piper Blueprint walks kids through each step of building their computer. The directions are easy to follow and well laid out and teach technology basics, electronics, and coding. Lots of skills are involved in the building process and this makes Piper hands on learning at its best!
Once Piper is built, they can use buttons, wires, and breadboards to navigate obstacles, over come challenges, and create games. Their mission is to save the world by playing a damaged robot named Pip who needs some systems fixed. As they get help from PiperBot, kids will learn how to add on to their hardware with wiring, sensors, and more. They also receive instant feedback that makes learning fun.
Cast your vote for Piper Computer Kit as this year’s Tech Toy of the Year.
Robotics Workshop by Thames & Kosmos ($174.99)
For tweens that want to learn to build and program robots, Thames & Kosmos Robotics Workshop Kit is a complete engineering system that allows kids to build an ultrasound robot that can avoid obstacles. The 96 page manual may seem a bit daunting at first but the full-color guide features step-by-step building instructions that feature easy to follow instructions and illustrations to build ten different robots.
The teacher in me loves how the robotics curriculum starts out with instructions for building simple robots and gets progressively harder. Kids learn how the sensors can be used to control the robots and use their knowledge to build ultrasound robot that can avoid obstacles, a drawing robot, and a touch sensor robot. The next set of robots are more complex and have multiple functions, such as a ball-shooting robot, a crawling robot, and a grabbing robot. One of the last robot builds is a robotic arm that can pick up objects, a butler robot, a robot that will turn toward a light source, and a cool scorpion robot. After mastering the robotic models in the instructions, kids have the tools and knowledge you need to go on and build and program your own amazing robotic creations.
The robots can be controlled directly in realtime and programmed to perform series of commands using an easy-to-use, free downloadable app on iOS or Android® tablets and Windows PCs. The mobile app wirelessly connects to the core controller using a Bluetooth low energy connection. The PC app connects to the core controller via a USB cable. The app uses the open source visual block programming library Google Blockly to make coding fast and easy to understand. A 64-page, full-color manual features step-by-step illustrated building instructions and instructions explaining how to program and operate all of the robot models.
Cast your vote for Robotics Workshop as this year’s Tech Toy of the Year.
SoundMoovz Musical Bands by Cra-Z-Art ($69.99)
Parents concerned about passive time with technology will love SoundMoovz’s Musical Bands, a motion-activated electronic device that plays music and special effects as you move. Moving, dancing, and creating help you create unique musical beats through the Bluetooth bands that connect to the app on your mobile device.
SoundMoovz are easy for kids ages 8+ to use: Simply power it on for pairing, download the free app, choose over 400 sounds, and start to move! The product comes with two bands that users wear on their wrists or ankles to enable the device. SoundMoovz can also be connected to a speaker for a bigger sound. Different modes include Musical, Instrumental, Robot, Karate and more!
Cast your vote for SoundMoovz as this year’s Tech Toy of the Year.
Batman or Jurassic World VRSE Sets by Skyrocket ($59.99)
Earlier this year when I visited YouTube Headquarters, I got to try virtual reality gaming which took gaming to a whole different level so I was really excited to find VRSE on the list of Top Tech Toys. VRSE’s Batman or Jurassic World sets immerse you right in the game for action that puts you in the center of Isla Nublar or Gotham City.
The Jurassic World VRSE game allows you to explore Isla Nublar with the game-themed motion controller that is necessary to fend off ravenous Velociraptors in the jungle or get you to the Visitor’s Center before the T-Rex does.
The game is pure fun as players are challenged to complete the mission and make it to the rendezvous point before being devoured by the island’s carnivores. The Jurassic World set include the virtual reality headset, motion game controller, and the Jurassic World stun baton controller attachment.
If you’ve ever wanted to be Batman, now is your chance! The Batman VRSE set immerses you in the shadowy world of Gotham City where your task is to stop the Joker from carrying out his latest evil schemes. With the VR headset as your portal into Gotham City, you’ll need to sharpen your skills at Wayne Tech and stalk your enemies through the dark streets.
The game’s batarang can be used to take down the henchmen or if you prefer hand to hand combat, you can engage your enemies with the Batman-themed controller to help save the day.
Cast your vote for VRSE as this year’s Tech Toy of the Year.
Which toy deserves to be Tech Toy of the Year? Cast your vote!
After you vote for your top pick for Tech Toy of the Year, vote on favorite toys across the other 16 categories to help determine the finalists HERE.
How Toy of the Year Award Nominees Are Selected
Members of the nominating committee rank the nominations based on the following criteria:
- Creativity and Originality
- Design and Quality
- Excellence of Product
- Marketing and Promotion
Nominated products must be available at retail in the United States on or before November 3, 2017 and have been introduced to the marketplace within the last two years. Winners will be announced in February 2018.
Enter to Win VRSE Batman Set or a set of SoundMoovz Bands !
The Toy Association has provided me with a SoundMoovz Musical Bands and a VRSE Batman set to give away on the blog! Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter to win these Tech Toy of the Year nominees and good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
If you happen to be in New York City, be sure to stop by Play Fair! Play Fair attendees can check out the TOTY nominations and cast votes in person this Saturday, November 4 and Sunday, November 5 that will bring dozens of the toy and family entertainment brands together for a weekend for parents, kids, and anyone who is a kid at heart! For more information and tickets, visit PlayFairNY.com.
2017 Holiday Gift Guides
Age Appropriate Gift Guides:
Specialty Gift Guides:
- STEM Gifts for All Ages (preK-teen)
- Best Subscription Boxes
- Gadget Lovers
- Frequent Fliers
- 9 Gifts that Make it Easy for Families to Give Back
- Gifts for Teachers (from the perspective of a former teacher, with input from current teachers)
Product was provided from The Toy Association free of charge to facilitate this post. No compensation was received for this post or hosting the giveaway. All opinions are my own.