Summer is nearly upon us, and if you have kids, you know that means coming up with activities to keep them from getting bored. Cool tech toys that keep their brains and bodies active can help keep them occupied between the swim lessons, away camp and other activities. We tapped retail expert Rebecca Lehmann of Brad’s Deals for some toys that are sure to impress your wired kids this summer so you’ll never have to hear those words “I’m boooored!” Here are her techy picks.
1. Cozmo by Anki
The robotics startup that stole the show at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in 2013 is back, this time with Cozmo, a “real-life robot like you’ve only seen in the movies,” Anki’s site says. Use the app to check Cozmo’s Daily Goals, a list of recommended activities for keeping him healthy and energized. The more you hang out, the more skills Cozmo learns — and the more he wants to play, which kids will love, Lehmann said. (Cozmo will send you a message if you leave the Cozmo App open so it doesn’t drain the battery.) Cozmo is available at various retailers starting at about $180.
2. Hatchimals by Spin Master
The toy that took the holidays by storm is still available, and popular as ever. Like Cozmo, Hatchimals “learn and evolve as you interact with them,” said Lehmann, specifically by requiring your kids’ touch in order to hatch. Kids can teach these colorful furry creatures to walk, talk, dance and play, and engage them by listening to their heartbeat, tapping and more. Hatchimals are available starting at about $55 at Target, Walmart and Kmart, as well as sites like Amazon and the children’s entertainment company Spin Master.
3. Love2Learn Elmo by Playskool
The cuddly toy responsible for Black Friday madness all those years ago has gotten an upgrade. Now the beloved Sesame Street character encourages little ones’ daily routines, like cleaning after themselves and brushing their teeth. Clap Elmo’s hands to learn all about numbers, letters, colors and shapes, or play games to see his real-time responses. Parents can also program Elmo with an app, said Lehmann, which is available on select Apple and Android devices. Playskool’s Love2Learn Elmo is available on Amazon, starting at about $32.
4. PlayStation VR by Nintendo
Sony’s new, long-awaited headset has moved hundreds of thousands of units, according to PlayStation executive Jim Ryan, and for good reason: Virtual reality is hot. Though not every gamer’s convinced the PSVR is a must-buy gift, it’s still an affordable foray into virtual reality, even at around $400 on Amazon. From the funny (“Job Simulator”) to the scary (“Until Dawn: Rush of Blood”), these games will keep your kids busy.
5. Nerf N-Strike Elite TerraScout Remote Control Drone Blaster
“There’s a whole new crop of toy drones,” Lehmann said, noting Nerf’s ultra high-tech N-Strike Elite TerraScout Remote Control Drone Blaster. Priced at a cool $249.99 on Toys R Us, the toy lets kids record the fun in photos and videos, command remote-controlled dart blasts and use the controller to adjust the angle of the blaster. There’s also a live video feed for viewing out-of-sight targets because this blaster takes dart-launching seriously.
Tips for Spending on Toys
With some toys costing hundreds of dollars, some parents may be wondering how they’ll pay for them without going into debt — should they opt to use layaway, savings, low-interest credit cards or something else? No matter what you do, you’ll want to make sure you don’t hurt your budget. (You can see where your credit currently stands by viewing two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com.) You may also want to take a look at these 13 ways to save at Babies R Us if you plan to shop there.
Beyond that, parents may want to ensure the toys are safe for their kids to begin with. For recall information and other news on potentially dangerous products, you can visit the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission.