every year, PopSci spends a couple of enjoyable days scouting out the blinkingest, fastest, smartest, most glee-inducing new toys around. Toys, though, ain’t just kids’ stuff. Here are a dozen new tech-savvy toys even grown-ups can love.
Radica MindFlex Duel
Sure, Mindflex was a great step forward in games, tracking your EEG waves through a headband to help you move a ball across the board. But who wants to play a game alone, right? Mattel’s new MindFlex Duel is an upgraded two-player version in which you and a friend race to move the ball across the game board or through an obstacle course. It’s a true battle of wits.
$100 (available August 2011)
Hot Wheels Video Racer
Get the car’s-eye-view from a camera embedded in the hood of these three-inch racecars. Each 1:64 scale car can hold up to 12 minutes of VGA-quality video and has a one-inch LCD on its lower chassis for instant playback — or you can load videos onto a computer to share online.
$60 (available Fall 2011)
Nerf Supersoaker Thunderstorm
Stop wasting precious seconds pumping the air tank on your Supersoaker. Nerf’s new compact water blaster is the first to have a battery-powered motorized pump, so you can soak your “friends” without ever having to stop to reload.
$15 (available Spring 2011)
Last week, the
New York Times showed us the new way Hasbro wants us to play Monopoly, monitored, directed, and controlled by an infrared eye in the center of the board. And that’s cute and all, but the real killer app here is Battleship. In this version think of the “eye” as a satellite looking over the aquatic battlefield, zeroing on both players’ locations, tracking hits and misses, and even sending out a spy plane on occasion. $50 (available Fall 2011)
SpinMaster Redakai Trading Cards
And you thought you knew what a trading card was… This year, SpinMaster is rolling a new, well, spin on card-based role-playing games. Instead of having to track damage, power upgrades, and character status in your head (or on paper), once you stack these cards, they do all that work for you. The base level is your player card (which, by the way, has lenticular 3-D motion), when you get attacked, place the mostly-clear action card on top; the overlay changes the health and appearance of the player. Keep hitting (or stacking) and he’ll eventually get wiped out.
From $6 (available Fall 2011)
SpinMaster Air Hogs Hyperactive
The fastest remote-controlled car of its size, the Hyperactive four-wheeler from Air Hogs zips around at 20 mph (that’s the scale equivalent of a couple hundred mph). The little guy produces enough torque for it to spiral its way to the top of a 10-foot cylinder. And, if your reaction time isn’t quick enough to keep you from up-ending on a wall, its rollbar makes sure it lands upright no matter what.
$50 (available Fall 2011)
BeatBots My Keepon
It’s been a couple years since the Spoon-dancing
Keepon bopped its way through the Internet. Now, the ‘bot, designed originally to help children with autism better interact, can shimmy its adorable way onto your desk. Even better, part of the profits will go to donating similar bots to therapists and researchers. $40 (available August 2011)
Activision Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure
What’s the good of building an in-game character (with a custom suit, powers, tools) if when you go to your friend’s house, it’s all gone. In Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure, a three-inch character plops onto a game pad (connected wirelessly to a Nintendo Wii) and the character pops up on the TV screen — no backing in and out of menus to add or remove players. Each of the 32 avatars has its own onboard memory, so it can carry all its accomplishments and tools from console to console.
$TBD (available Fall 2011)
Lasers have come to board games. In KHET, each player attacks with a class-two laser beam (read: the kind that won’t blind you); the beam reflects off mirrors on one or more sides of the pyramid game pieces; any piece that gets illuminated is considered a hit and gets removed from the board. The goal: to take out your opponent’s Sphinx. The board has as many gameplay options as chess, but, the inventor claims, is as simple to understand as checkers.
Score one for nostalgia. Tetris Link is a tabletop game that merges Tetris and Connect Four. Four players stack colored Tetris pieces into the game grid, scoring points as they connect adjacent squares with one another (and cursing as their opponents block their progress). PS: We were yellow in the pictured demo game!
$20 (available June 2011)
Razor BoGo PogoStick
Typically, the bounce from PoGo sticks comes from a compacted spring in the base. This new jumper from Razor adds a fibrous tension band on the front, which bows outward as you compress the spring. When it recoils, it adds an extra foot or so to your jump.
$90 (available Spring 2011)
Desk Pets TankBot
Set this palm-sized ‘bot on its way on your desk without worrying that it will knock over the coffee cup in its path. When it’s not being controlled by its accompanying iPhone app, the TankBot’s autonomous mode relies on infrared sensors to see and avoid obstacles, so it won’t make a mess of your workspace.
$20 (available June 2011)