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From a virtual reality activity band for kids to robots a toddler can program on their own, toy companies big and small are stepping up their game in a major way this year. Over 1,000 play professionals gathered at New York Toy Fair 2017 last weekend to show off their newest creations and man, they did not disappoint.
If you’re already wondering what you’ll be waiting in line to buy this Black Friday, look no further. Here are some of the coolest STEM toys of 2017.
The Cubetto from PRIMO Toys is an easy, Montessori-approved way for kids as young as 3 years old to learn how to code — without a screen! The friendly wooden robot comes with an illustrated map and storybook to combine coding skills with imaginative play. By using the interface board and coding blocks, children can program the Cubetto to move through the map as they wish.
The Cubetto is available on PrimoToys.com for $225
Lux Blox are a whole new way to build. Created by husband-and-wife duo Michael and Heather Acerra, Lux Blox’s unique snap-and-lock hinge system is inspired by nature and allows builders to create structures that flex, twist, and turn. And bonus? This family-owned start-up manufactures all their products right here in the U.S.A.
Lux Blox are available on LuxBlox.com starting at $29.99
If you couldn’t already tell, 2017 is clearly the year of the robot. Kids ages 7+ will be going nuts for the LEGO® Boost line, which allows them to build and program robots they can bring to life through an easy-to-use coding app. The set includes building instructions for five different models: Vernie the Robot, Frankie the Cat, the Guitar 4000, the Multi-Tool Rover 4, and the Autobuilder. Best of all, each one offers different coding options and the ability to add voice recordings to personalize each experience.
LEGO® Boost will be available in late 2017 for $159.99
One of the coolest things LEGO® has unveiled this year isn’t even a toy — it’s LEGO® Life, an app-based safe social network for kids under 13 to share their LEGO® creations. The app allows kids to “express their creativity, share their LEGO® creations, interact with LEGO® characters, and inspire one another,” according to a press release from the company. The idea is to give kids a safe way to interact with one another by challenging them to keep creating and encouraging socialization in an otherwise solitary pastime. Other features include: exclusive content, building challenges, and a custom LEGO® emoji keyboard.
LEGO® Life is available for free in the App Store and Google Play
K’NEX Thrill Rides
The K’NEX Thrill Rides line has expanded to include working roller coasters and even a ferris wheel. Kids ages 7+ can spend days bringing these amusement parks to life in eye-catching ways.
K’NEX Thrill Rides are available on knex.com starting at $34.99
Ocean Pets is a virtual aquarium by Pai Technology that comes with mess-free putty for kids to design their own fish. They can then scan the fish using a phone or tablet and watch it come to life with 3D Augmented Reality. But that’s not all: they can also name their fish and care for them while learning fun facts about the ocean life.
Ocean Pets is available for purchase on Amazon for $29.99
The PaiBand by Pai Technology is like a FitBit for kids — but way cooler and a whole lot more fun. The activity band pairs with the PaiBand Move — City Run app so that kids can control their character by their own movements in real life, gaining points as they run, jump, and play. Parents can ensure their safety by setting distance monitors so they don’t wander too far, and they can even set alarms to limit playtime, remind them to come in for dinner, or take medication.
The PaiBand will be available in April 2017 for $69.99
The PaiKodee by Pai Technology is the first kids’ robot that supports augmented reality, coding, and construction play. Using their phone or tablet, kids ages 4+ can learn basic coding techniques to control the robot’s movements. They can also personalize the robot by changing the emoji on its screen and recording funny sounds for the robot to repeat.
PaiKodee will be available in fall 2017 for $199.99
Dance Code Belle Doll
With the upcoming premiere of Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast fast approaching, everyone will be falling in love with Belle all over again in 2017. So why celebrate with just a basic doll? The Dance Code Belle doll is a magical way for children ages 5+ to bring the iconic Disney princess to life using an interactive and story-driven app that introduces kids to early coding techniques. Using the app, kids can choreograph dance sequences for their Belle doll — and watch her perform them right before their eyes!
The Dance Code Belle doll will be available in fall 2017 at most major toy retailers and on HasbroToyShop.com for $119.99
Furreal Makers Proto Max
If your kids are begging for a dog and it’s just not in the cards for you, the Furreal Makers Proto Max by Hasbro might be the next best thing (or can at least buy you some time). This animatronic pup teaches basic coding and nurturing skills to kids ages 6+. By using Bluetooth technology, kids can program the dog’s personality and assign behavioral responses through the app. With over 400 sound and 100 eye animations to choose from, the options are almost limitless. Kids can also play a variety of interactive games on the app, including a virtual game of fetch.
The Furreal Makers Proto Max will be available in fall 2017 for $119.99
Created by two moms, Wonderhood is a new take on the traditional doll house that combines construction with storytelling and imaginative play. Kids ages 5+ clip together illustrated plastic panels to create one of two themes: Wonderhood Grand Hotel or Wonderhood Corner Shops. (Later this year, the company will also be adding the Wonderhood Town House and Wonderhood Pet Place to the collection.) Once assembled, kids can act out adventures with figurines. Each set comes with an activity journal that introduces kids to the all-female cast of characters including Chelsea, a budding architect, and Emmie, a food scientist.
Project Mc2 H2O Nail Science & Crayon Makeup Kits
Project Mc2 is the first S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics)-based girl’s franchise that includes experiment sets and dolls, inspired by the original series on Netflix. The franchise encourages girls to explore S.T.E.A.M subjects with female characters that excel in construction, art, science, chemistry, and more. The kit allows kids ages 6+ to create one-of-a-kind nail designs using hydrographic printing. By combining water and different colored nail polishes, kids can create their own unique marble designs.
The Project Mc2 Crayon Makeup Science Kit allows kids ages 6+ to use cosmetic chemistry to learn the science behind creating their own makeup. By combining melted crayons, coconut oil, and any additional flavors you want, you can make blush, lipstick, and more.More On