- MSRP: $89.00
Probably named after Thomas Edison, the Edison V2.0 Robot is an affordable, all-in-one robot that is branded as the means for teaching kids robotics. While none of us here at YBMW are qualified to mold young minds, what we can say is that it gave us excellent first-hand experience learning and tinkering with robotics! Edison itself comes fully loaded with six pre-programmed robot activities set by barcodes and is programmable via EdWare/EdPy/EdBlocks (a Python based language and software). While you can’t write code for it to exterminate the human race, it does make more traditional CLI (command line interface) text-based programming fun and easy as it comes with examples and help guides. With EdWare/EdPy/EdBlocks, we were essentially learning the real life Python programming language and we can see this being a gateway tool to becoming an engineer. Aside from all the software and teaching material it provides for free to immerse kids into the world of robotics, it also comes with an ever-expanding suite of free software applications. Best of all, Edison is designed as a modular robotics system which means it is compatible with LEGO bricks! So perhaps you could turn it into a Terminator after all.
Get yours today at: Edison
- MSRP: $79.99-$99.99
Questionable name aside on first glance, SmartGurlz has all the right intentions. Created seemingly as a necessity to find the right balance between being both fun and educational, SmartGurlz is the world’s first self-balancing coding robot for girls. Its mission is to inspire the women creators of tomorrow by teaching young girls how to not only code, but to nurture their interest in STEM related subjects. The lack of proper female representation in the STEM world has been a hot bed topic in 2017 and something we at YBMW also very much care about and support. So it brings us tremendous pride to be able to recommend SmartGurlz, a toy that lets young girls who still want to play with dolls but to also have an opportunity to learn coding. Each SmartGurlz comes with a doll, there are 5 to choose from, and a self-balancing Segway like ride they call a Siggy Robot. The Siggy Robot can be driven around on your mobile device and is also compatible with most 11’ inch dolls such as Mattel’s Barbies or DC Comics Super Hero Girls. The dolls themselves are nicely designed with a bit of a modern anime look, but there’s nothing technical there. All of it lies within the Siggy Robot, which connects via smartphone or tablet and can be programmed through the SugarCoded app featuring drag and drop interfaces and self-directed tutorials (AKA “missions”). You’re able to learn loop patterns and basic algorithms and not have to worry about writing a single line of code! This form of accessibility makes play time and learning fun and digestible to young minds. We can’t think of any reason why any parent wouldn’t want to turn their children to SmartGurlz rather than basic Barbie, the original #DNB.
Get yours today at: SmartGurlz
- MSRP: $112.99-$149.99
Meccano-Erector M.A.X Robotic Interactive Toy with Artificial Intelligence
Who has two clamps and is controllable via voice command? My new robot BFF M.A.X of course! Recommended for budding engineers and creators 10 and up, MeccaBrain’s M.A.X is an educational 12” robotics toy that combines both artificial intelligence with customizable programming. That means no two robots are the same! Designed as a starter S.T.E.M robotics platform, M.A.X immerses kids in “intellectually stimulating play, drawing on their knowledge of science, technology, engineering and math.” What this really means is that M.A.X has a built-in gaming platform that allows you to play trivia games. If you’re tired of that, M.A.X can even tell you jokes. M.A.X operates either voice command or by control via a free smartphone app. While M.A.X is capable of formulating “facial” expressions and has workable clamps, it is unfortunately not sentient enough to grab me a beer. Alas, at the end of the day he’s more toy than a Transformer. That’s not disappointing by any means since M.A.X is extremely fun and it fulfills my lifelong dream of always wanting a robot companion. Be forewarned, however, some assembly is required. You can easily spend a day figuring out how to assemble him and getting him functioning. Hey, if assembling a robot was easy we’d all be robot scientists!
Get yours today at: Meccano Engineering & Robotics
- MSRP: $99.99
SainSmart Instabots Upright Rover Kit
The SainSmart InstaBots Upright Rover is a fully customizable open hardware kit for Andurino fans and curious robot engineers. While they market it as something that’s fun for both beginners and experts, we’d say the truth lies somewhere in between. After all, we’re bloggers not fictional robotic experts like Dr. Light! Make no mistake this is a “toy” in name only and what the kit can actually become is limited only to one’s imagination. The InstaBots Upright Rover Kit comes with easy-to-follow visual instructions, 2 Arduino boards, 2 joysticks that you’ll need to piece together to control the robot, a mini LCD screen and a bunch of wires and whatjamacallits. What the Upright Rover Kit essentially provides is a robot capable of being remotely controlled or self-balancing. There isn’t much outside of this, but when combined with personal projects or other products from the Instabots line you could probably build yourself a self-aware robot where its sole purpose in life is to serve you butter. This makes a great gift for any wannabe Rick Sanchez tinkerers or those who are interested in robotics and want a self-contained project that is both affordable and built on the Andurino platform. If you ever get tired of a self-balancing robot, as it no longer pleases you and your fickle ways, you can always disassemble and recycle it to something else.
Get yours today at: SAINSMART
- MSRP: $7.99+
Tangle Fidget And Therapy Toy
In a world where we’re used to fidget toys just being spinners, There’s the Tangle, a completely different kind of toy that not only kills the time, but actually has some theraputic value. The Tangle is a ring of plastic pieces, each facing different directions, so you can never complete a circle. Instead, you instinctively keep moving them around as they wiggle and change direction in your hands. It’s fun, but it’s also almost meditative. Interestingly, we’ve also found that they have theraputic value. There are several different colors and styles of the Tangle. There’s even one that has different textures on the pieces, but the important thing is that they are actually good for your hands. Using the Tangle get the blood flowing in your hands and it helps strengthen your fingers. This is great for everyone from video gamers and artists to people who have had injuries and need to rehab the muscles in their hand.
Get yours today at: Amazon
- MSRP: $36.99
Gears! Gears! Gears!’s Robot Factory Building Set
Learning Resources’ Robot Factory Building Set is a fun and colorful toy set for parents who are interested in fostering and developing their children’s problem solving, spatial relationship, visual processing and eye-hand coordination skills. Although it’s marketed as a Robot factory, there are no robotics involved. But instead you have LEGO like pieces and series of gears that can be randomly interjoin to create a “factory” for your robots, which are really nothing more than cute colorful plastic molds. While there are instructions, it’s really up to ones’ imagination to determine how their robot factory ends up and the combinations are nearly endless as the set comes with 80 pieces that includes interlocking bases, gears, connectors, handle, robots, cranes and stickers. This is a great toy for really young children and works extremely well with LEGOs and other toys to create fantastical factories and headquarters/lairs for hours of playtime!
Get yours today at: Learning Resource
- MSRP: $99.99
Mayka Tape Building Block Tape
If you’ve got a kid, or a grown-up who loves to play with a certain brand ot building block that has spawned several movies and whose toys usually cost far more than little rectangles of plastic should, Mayka Tape is a stocking stuffer gift that’s perfect for them. Mayka tape is a re-stickable base surface that works with most brands of building block toys. They let you build up walls, around corners, on an angle. Basically, they add a whole new dimension to your building block toy experience. That’s what makes it not only a great toy for adults, but for kids looking to explore the boundaries of their imagination. Not everything in the world happens on a right angle. We also loved that you can cut Mayka Tape to fit the spaces we needed. Not only is this something we couldn’t have done with the rigid plastic base pieces of another brand you know of… but it’s affordable enough that you can make the cut without feeling like you are breaking the bank.
Get yours today at: Amazon
- MSRP: $39.99 per bundle
Utopia 4D+ Augmented & Virtual Reality Bundles
Who here remembers Wildlife Treasury? They were these awesome educational collectibles cards from the late 80s and early 90s that you could get in the mail each month that taught you all about various wildlife animals. While Wildlife Treasury may have gone the way of the dinosaurs, Utopia 360°’s got your back with their 4D+ Augmented & Virtual Reality Bundles! Collect and learn all about zoo animals, dinosaurs and even space with their digital 4D+ bundles (each sold separately!). Each 4D+ Augmented and Virtual Reality bundle comes with a Utopia 360° VR headset, augmented reality flashcards and a designated app full of immersive features such as taking space station tours to virtually feeding zoo animals. The bundles are compatible with any smartphones and tablets and work effortlessly so that even a child left alone can navigate his or her own learning adventure. The bundles are all a little different and they feature different immersive features. If I had to rate them in terms of play, education and fun factor the winner would most likely be the Animal Zoo bundle, with the coolest bundle being the Dinosaurs and Space somewhere in between. Although I would highly encourage anyone to pick up all three, especially those who want to relive the glory nostalgic days of Wildlife Treasury.
Get yours today at: Utopia 360°