Category Archives: Toys

The Royal Baby



With the world going ga-ga (or goo-goo) over the Royal baby, it’s inevitable that memorabilia and souvenirs will start appearing in short order. However I was somewhat surprised that my first promotional email, received just a scant two hours after the announcement, was not a medallion or plate but a toy from The Early Learning Centre, a children’s store. Check out this commemorative set, the HappyLand Royal Baby Set.

HappyLand Royal Baby Set

Congratulations to the ELC’s marketing team for their rapid response to the happy event.

 


The My Learning Table by D-Redshop



My Learning TableD-Redshop introduced their newest learning device for children, the My Learning Table. They took the idea of the old fashion learning table by Fisher Price and brought it into the twenty-first century. The table works in conjunction with the My Learning App available on the iPad which goes in the middle of the table. The My Learning App has different games to play depending on the learning level of the child. Each game helps the child to learn something like the alphabet, numbers, color matching, eye-hand coordination and more. It is based on the award system. The idea is to integrated touch with physical interaction. Children learn while have fun at the same time. The My Learn Mini is similar to the My Learning Table, expect that the mini is separate from the tablet. Great for times and circumstances when the My Learn Table is not practicable. It works with the My Learning Mini App on the iPad.

The My Learning Table should be available for around $100.00 at various retail stores. D-redshop the maker of the Learning Table is looking for developers to develop apps for the My Learning suite. Further information about developing for the My Learning suit is available contacting D-Redshop.

Interview by Andy McCaskey of SDR News and RV News Net and Daniel J. Lewis of the The Noodle.mx Network and the Audacity to Podcast

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Sphero Meets Sharky the Beaver



Sphero LogoGNC first saw Sphero at CES last year and it’s a really cool toy: a rugged waterproof ball controlled from a smartphone or tablet. So what has Sphero been up to in the past year…Todd and Don find out from Ian Bernstein, CTO Founder.

While the  hardware is unchanged from last year, Sphero has grown the number and type of companion apps from around 5 apps to over 20 with several produced by third parties. New on the scene is a mixed reality app which uses the tablet or smartphone’s camera to track Sphero and overlay Sharky the Beaver on the device’s screen. It’s particularly fun as the real-world interaction with Sphero creates a relationship with the cartoon character which makes it that bit more believable.

Sphero works with both iOS and Android devices, and retails for around $130. Lots of fun and there’s an SDK if you feel like rolling your own (sorry!)

Interview by Don Baine, the Gadget Professor and Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

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Parrot AR.Drone 2.0



Parrot AR.DroneRemote control vehicles are fun and remote control aircraft doubly so. Imagine then how much fun a remote control quadricopter is, especially when it’s controlled by wifi from your smartphone. Todd takes flying lessons from Parrot’s Julian.

The Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 is an update of the original AR.Drone, with the main difference being an HD camera on the drone which streams video footage of the flight back to the device so the operator can see what the Drone is seeing. The AR.Drone 2.0 is controlled via wifi from either an Apple or Android  tablet/smartphone.

There’s some pretty sophisticated technology in the AR.Drone. For example, it has a downward-facing camera that the Drone uses to track motion over the ground. On a windy day, the Drone can hold position over a spot by using this camera to detect wind-blown motion and then compensate for it. Very clever and cool.

The AR.Drone is pricey enough but not unaffordable at $299. Available now from good retailers worldwide.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central and Daniel Lewis of The Audacity Podcast for the TechPodcast Network.


Combat Creatures Attacknid at CES



Combat Creatures' AttacknidThe mechanised carnage and wanton destruction of Battlebots and Robot Wars is great fun but you need some serious robotics chops to build that level of machine. The Attacknid is an affordable toy alternative from from Combat Creatures – Andy McCaskey finds out more.

The Attacknid is a remote-controlled insect-like robot with a modular gun that fires discs or balls. The premise is simple…you and a friend (or friends) control the robots, shooting at each other’s machine. Three hits to the “battle brain” of the robot and it’s dead. Lots of fun and I can imagine this will be a great Christmas present.

Available in the UK now and will be coming to the USA in the fall for around $100.

Interview by Andy McCaskey of SDR News for the Tech Podcast Network.

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Space Invaders



Wind up Space InvadersSpace Invaders marched into the arcades in 1978, making the pixellated alien an instant classic, daa-da-ing his way backwards and forwards across the screen. Designed by Tomohiro Nishikado, Space Invaders brought video games to a worldwide audience.

The National Media Museum in Bradford, England, is offering a range of Space Invader-themed novelty items that would make great stocking fillers for old and young geeks alike. There’s an ice cube tray full of Space Invaders (£6), a Space Invaders-themed iPhone cover (£6), a pocket Space Invaders game (£8) and a wind-up Space Invader (£8). With the 80s being particular in vogue at the moment, anything Space Invaders is undoubtedly cool.

Space Invader Ice TraySpace Invader iPhone Cover

Somewhat bizarrely, you can’t order these on-line and you have to actually phone up to place an order. It’s probably taking the retro experience a bit too far but there you go. Order from the Museum Shop to beat the Christmas rush on 01274 203448 for our UK readers.

While reviewing the Museum of Media’s website (vainly looking for the on-line store), I also discovered that the Museum has a Videogame Archive, dedicated to consoles long forgotten such as the Nintendo Famicom. There’s also an Internet and Home Computing collection, with several items looking very familiar, including a BBC Microcomputer.

Worth a quick browse on-line or a real-world visit if you are in the neighbourhood.


CarBot : An RC Car You Control With Your Phone



CarBot is the world’s first micro-robotic toy that you can control with your iOS or Android device. It is made by Desk Pets International. To make CarBot go, you must get a free downloadable app and a SmartPhone adapter (which is included with the purchase of a CarBot). The adapter plugs into your iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch or Android device. The micro-robotic car has a built-in battery. It also has a USB flip down charger.

There are several different ways to play with CarBot. You can navigate it through a maze, or you can find a way for it to get around obstacles. Race your CarBot against your friend’s or sibling’s CarBot. It is also possible for two CarBots to battle each other.

Desk Pets International has been named an International CES Innovations 2013 Design and Engineering Awards Honoree for CarBot. You can check out CarBot in person if you attend CES 2013. Desk Pet’s CarBot will be on display in The Venetian at the 2013 International CES, from January 8, 2013, through January 11, 2013. The event takes place in Las Vegas, Nevada.

All Honorees of the International CES Innovations 2013 Design and Engineering Awards will also be displayed at CES Unveiled: The Official Press Event of the International CES. You can see CarBot in the South Seas Ballroom C at Mandalay Bay on January 6, 2013, from 4:00 p.m. through 7:00 p.m.

Image by Desk Pets International


Powered Bodyboard



Design Icon out of Kowloon, Hong Kong, has created this great concept for a powered bodyboard. Driven by three electrically-powered propellers, the board’s deck has embedded solar cells to extend the battery life, while adjustable buoyancy lets the board both ride the waves and go completely submerged. I want one.

Design Icon Bodyboard Concept

Design Icon Bodyboard Concept Deck

Design Icon Bodyboard Concept

Design Icon Bodyboard Concept Snorkeller

All images courtesy of Design Icon.

 


GoPro Hero3 Black Edition



GoPro have announced the latest addition to their lineup of action cameras, the Hero3 Black Edition and it’s some camera. Capable of 4k video recording, albeit at 12 fps, and 60 fps at 1080p, this captures adrenalin-fuelled action in all its glory. Other features include burst modes, time-lapse, wi-fi video preview and a wi-fi controller.

GoPro Hero3

 

If you want to show off your extreme adventures, this is the camera to have. It’s pricey enough at $399 (£379) and there are lesser models at $299 (£279) and $199 (£179) for the silver and white variants respectively. As expected, there’s a range of accessories for attaching cameras to machines, helmets, bodies and other sporting equipment. The Black Edition will be out in November.

To show off the features of the Hero3, GoPro commissioned this film which was shot entirely with a Hero3. It’s stunning.

“Mermaids!” says my daughter.

 


Rubik’s Cube Speaker



Geeks of a certain age will undoubtedly remember when the Rubik’s Cube craze (or Magic Cube as it was originally known) spread through school playgrounds in the early 1980s. Building on the current popularity of all things retro, this Rubik’s Cube Speaker will bring back memories of success or frustration depending on whether you were able to solve the puzzle or not.

Rubik's Cube Speaker

The Cube speaker uses the USB connector for power and the 3.5 mm jack for the audio, so there’s no batteries or power adaptor required. Unsurprisingly the speaker is NOT a functioning Rubik’s Cube but you can try and impress your friends by saying that you solved it…until they spot the cables.

Available from the Science Museum Shop (and other online retailers) for £20.