New York is one resiliant town. We got buried under more than 2 feet of snow, but that didn’t stop the Toy Fair, which opened Sunday, February 12 (blizzard day). I got to the Javits Convention Center on Monday to see whether technology has made any new inroads into the toy industry; with a few notable exceptions (toys from LeapFrog, WowWee, and Hasbro among them) tech-toy pickings have been a mite slim the past few years. Maybe because kids are so glued to their Xboxes and Gameboys…? I get that, but the kid in me wants a bunch of this stuff too. I loved the Floating Ideas levitating globe, at left, from Fascinations, whose motto is “wonders created by physicists.”
I’m a sucker for science toys. Anyway, it’s done with magnets, of course, but it looks like magic. The base has an auto-rotate mechanism, so you can just let your world slowly spin in the air. This belongs on my desk! I was also intrigued by a new robot kit, from Hitec Robotics, a company that’s new to me. The Robonova-1 (right) looks a bit like the WowWee Robosapian but is definitely higher end, at a cool $1,000 for the build-it-youself kit and $1,200 for the prebuilt version. Robonova-1 has no fewer than 16 digital servos, which makes him positively acrobatic. You also get software programming tools so you can create a large variety of remote-controllable behaviors. And he’s got Bluetooth: I know that’ll excite a lot of hobbyists, if they can afford him! I stand corrected; no Bluetooth included.
The ones at the show had it, but only so they could dance together.Other fun stuff: the GameWave game console from Zapit, $99; it comes with 4 wireless controllers, and everyone can play at once. Cool for parties and families. M-Audio’s Piano Wizard, a very cool concept in teaching kids (and others) to play and ultimately to read music. Kid versions of digital cameras, iPod cases, and more, from Sakar. And (software, not a gadget, but so what) Xipster’s stop-motion animation programs, FreeStyle and QuickTake, which let you create little filmic masterpieces really quickly. I’ll be going back for more tomorrow, at the showrooms in the Toy Building. I think I should expense my next pair of snow boots.