1. Virtual Pets
Tamagotchis, £25, are set to make a huge comeback this year – and they’re packed with more features than ever. The new version has kept the classic 90s look but now includes a short range communication function that allows children to bump Tamagotchis together to send text messages, exchange gifts and even go on a pet date with friends.
VTech’s Kidipet Friends, £21.99, are virtual pets that come compete with a desktop clock mode, alarm and backlit touch screen. You can teach your pet to say your child’s name and they’ll even repeat what they say.
2. Tech dolls
Dolls with integrated technology don’t come any more bizarre than the My Friend Cayla doll from Vivid that can answer all your child’s questions by searching the internet. The doll syncs to a smart device via Bluetooth and, aided by Google’s speech-to-text technology, will recognise a child’s question, search the internet to find the answer and then ‘speak’ the answer back. It’s set to hit stores across the UK in the summer and will cost around £59.99.
VTech’s Little Love – Grow With Me Baby Doll, £29.99, features technology that allows your child to teach it to talk. The more your child talks, the more the baby doll will learn eventually speaking over 100 words and 80 phrases.
3. App game tie-ins
K’nex’s Plants vs Zombies building sets are set to launch in autumn 2014 just in time for Christmas. The construction toys aim to translate the fun from the digital screens to constructing Plants vs Zombies neighbourhoods in their own homes.
Adults and children alike have been utterly absorbed by digital game Minecraft and now Lego is luring these fans back to the real construction world with its new Lego Minecraft play sets. Lego has consulted with Minecraft game lovers to develop the new playsets that are expected later this year. They’ll include creeper, sheep, cow and mine car designs to replicate game play more realistically than ever.
Dragons are having a bit of a moment with the new How to Train Your Dragon 2 set for release in July and the third instalment of the Hobbit expected at the end of this year. Playmobil will release its Ancient Dragon Castle play set in June. It includes all the best ingredients for a dragon adventure: a high tower, secret dragon fort and magical powers.
Meanwhile, we can reveal Lego is still working on its dragon design to complete its upcoming Hobbit Lego sets. We can’t wait to see what Lego comes up with!
5. Tech racing
Finally, technology has also been injected into toy cars to make them more interactive. Playmobil will launch a special-edition Remote-Control Police Car with Camera that allows children to film unsuspecting parents as they drive the car around the house. Brilliant – but watch out!
Scalextrics has launched its Race Control System that allows users to wirelessly create and manage races through the use of a smart phone or tablet. You can record lap times and play pre-set race types using the app. As if Scalextrics wasn’t already competitive enough…