One of the biggest trends this year for kids? Tech gadgets specifically designed for the younger set that go beyond tablets and hand-held games. "We've seen technology work its way into our kids' play things more and more over the last few years," said Laurie Schact, a Toy Insider Mom based on Long Island. "These toys are forward thinking and incorporate the latest in digital play, creativity and innovation."
Hexbug Vex Robotics
Just like VEX IQ, a system being used for STEM programs and elementary and middle school competitions, the Hexbug Vex Robotics kits allow you to construct your own robotic creature; ages 8 and older; $69.99 at toysrus.com.
The Innotab Max from VTech is a seven-inch Android tablet that comes preloaded with 18 learning apps. The Wi-Fi capability lets kids explore online games, videos and websites that have been pre-selected by VTech; ages 4 and older; $99.99 at target.com.
Elektrokidz from WowWee are music-inspired figurines whose hair dances to the beat of the music. Six Elektrokidz come with their own stylized shades and hair movement; ages 6 and older. More information: http://bit.ly/1NbeRBo Find the best price: http://bit.ly/1MXcZb8
Skylanders Trap Team
Portal Masters will seek out and defeat the most wanted villains, pulling them out of the game and into living rooms by capturing them in new magical traps with the Skylanders Trap Team from Activision Publishing. Kids can also hear the villains inside the Traps, an innovation that truly brings life to toys; ages 6 and older; $74.99 at toysrus.com.
The nabi Jr. Nick Jr. from Nickelodeon is a learning tablet that kids can play, read and watch with their favorite Nick Jr. characters including Dora the Explorer, Team Umizoomi, Bubble Guppies and more. The tablet features 16GB storage, a 5-inch, high-resolution touch screen and rotating front and back camera; ages 1 and older; $140 at target.com.
Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes 2.0
The latest from Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes 2.0 edition from Disney Interactive features more than 20 new interactive figures and an enhanced Toy Box so players can customize in-game characters. The starter pack includes the video game, three Marvel Super Heroes Figures (Iron Man, Thor and Black Widow), a Disney Infinity base and more; ages 9 and older; $74.99 at toysrus.com.
Zoomer Dino - Boomer
Kids can play with Zoomer Dino - Boomer from Spin Master in autonomous mode via the sensors in his nose, or pick up the control pod to send him on an attack. He shows his moods through his color changing eyes and can even bust a move; ages 5 and older; $79.99 at toysrus.com.
With the Kidizoom Smartwatch from VTech, kids can take photos and videos and use the touchscreen to get creative with photo effects, frames and filters. It includes an alarm, a voice recorder and four learning games, with more available for download; ages 4 and older; $59.99 at vtechkids.com.
By holding the amiibo from Nintendo over your Wii U GamePad, you'll open up new experiences within each corresponding game. There are 10 different Amiibo figures that will be available for Super Smash Bros., Mario Kart 8, Yoshi's Woolly World and more; ages 6 and older; $13.99 at amazon.com.
The LeapBand from LeapFrog is an activity tracker that gets kids moving with 50 different activities and challenges. The more kids move, the more they can unlock, including games, challenges and virtual rewards for their on-screen pet; ages 4 and older; $39.99 at toysrus.com.
The Kurio Xtreme from Techno Source is a 7-inch Wi-Fi-enabled Android tablet that includes10 Kurio Motion games, the first body motion games on a tablet. It also comes loaded with e-books, music, apps and kid-safe social content, including email; ages 6 and older; $129.99 at toysrus.com.
With the Sky Viper Camera Drone from Skyrocket Toys, kids can take bird’s-eye-view photos from 100 feet in the air. The high-tech, hobby grade, four-blade R/C copter also features a built-in camera that can record up to 30 minutes of video with 180-degree adjustable viewing; ages 12 and older; $79.99 at toysrus.com.
The LeapTV from LeapFrog features a unique transforming controller that can configure from a traditional controller style into a motion and LED pointer controller. It also features a motion-sensing camera so children can “magically” appear in the game and explore activities like dance and martial arts. LeapTV also helps boost skills across reading, mathematics, science and problem-solving with more than 100 games; ages 3 and older; $149.99 at toysrus.com.
Crayola Virtual Design Pro Fashion Collection
Using the Crayola Virtual Design Pro Fashion Collection, kids can draw a design in the sketchbook within the silhouette of a fashion model and bring it to life on a smart device with the app. Then they can showcase their designs in a fashion show on a virtual runway; ages 6 and older; $29.99 at amazon.com.
Clip the ATC GeckoHD from Oregon Scientific, a wide-view digital camera anywhere on your body and capture dancing at parties, exploring with friends or screaming down a roller coaster. With the waterproof casing, you can capture video at the pool or beach, too; ages 5 and older;$45 at oregonscientific.com.
Nerf N-strike Elite Nerf Cam Ecs-12 Blaster
The Nerf N-strike Elite Nerf Cam Ecs-12 Blaster from Hasbro is a motorized blaster that fires a steady stream of darts up to 85 feet. With the built-in camera, kids can record and store up to 100 minutes of video or take up to 2,000 photos; ages 9 and older; $79.99 at toysrus.com.
Disney Magical World
Nintendo's Disney Magical World features dozens of Disney characters that can be customized with hundreds of Disney-themed outfits and accessories and more; rated "E" for Everyone; $26.99 at bestbuy.com.
MiP (short for Mobile Inverted Pendulum) from WowWee is an interactive robot able to navigate its surroundings while controlled by hand movements; ages 8 and up; $99.99 at target.com.
Lego Fusion Town Master
With the Lego Fusion Town Master from the Lego Group, kids can create restaurants, shops, fire stations and more with real Lego bricks on the special Lego Fusion baseplate, then bring the structure to life on a smart device with the Lego Fusion Town Master app; ages 7 and older; $34.99 at toysrus.com.
Air Hogs RollerCopter
Smash, crash and roll with the Air Hogs RollerCopter from Spin Master. This remote-controlled helicopter enables pilots to roll along the ground, up walls and even along the ceiling. The protective cage allows the helicopter to take serious bumps and keep on going; $39.99 at target.com.
The LeapReader System from LeapFrog is an interactive reader that can teach kids to read and write with audible pronunciations and guided letter strokes; ages 4 and older; $39.99 at toysrus.com.
A two-in-one digital camera and projector, the ShowCam from Playskool makes it easy for kids to click and show their pictures using the instant projection. Push the Silly button and choose from a variety of silly stamps, instant stories and fun animations, all with silly sound effects. It holds up to 1,000 images and a USB port, making it easy to save, print and email your little ones' images; ages 3 and older; $59.99 at hasbrotoyshop.com.
Gabby from Spin Master features touch sensor glasses that function as her eyes and can interact with her chocolate cupcake, eye shadow palette and her puppy, Sprinkles; ages 4 and older; $79.99. More information: http://bit.ly/1kGsHQR; Find the best price: http://bit.ly/1iOfW5E
Kids can play their favorite tunes, dance and chat with the intuitive DiscoRobo by Tosy. He features 56 dance moves, funny facial expressions that change as he dances and sound effects (such as beat box, drum beats and hand claps); ages 5 and older; $39.99 at toysrus.com.
Toy Fi Teddy
The Toy Fi Teddy from Dragon-I Toys uses Toy-Fi technology to enable this plush bear to communicate with mobile devices. Friends and family can send messages from their mobile devices to their child's Toy-Fi Teddy; ages 3 and older; $29.99 at toysrus.com.