Providing comfort prior to sleep and a light show for entertainment is the next product.
Aimed at the younger members of the family, this next product combines a night light with the ability to project images on an available wall or ceiling. Designed by Philips and manufactured in China, the product is aptly named the 2-in-1 Projector and Night Light. Shaped like an upside down ice-cream cone, this night light projector has dimensions of 115 x 115 x 118mm (L x W x H). The night light element forms the base of the unit with the projector positioned on top of the unit.
These days young children know all about Dinosaurs even probably before they can read, I have to assume that the Miposaur was one of these but my childhood was a long time ago and while we were slightly more advanced than wooden toys the Dinosaur was not in our repertoire.
While I doubt that the real thing had a ball this one certainly does and he/she plays with it, he/she also has a wheel that moves it around, which it my historical knowledge is correct was yet to be invented. However this is a very interesting toy that like the child who will play with it has moods, and your child – like you – has to live with them. It is 39cm long, 15cm from the base of the wheel to the shoulder and 19cm wide.
REV stands for Robotic Enhanced Vehicles and while in this context they are toys – clever toys – we see more and more robotic items in today’s world an early example is the robotic vacuum cleaner that has been around for a while, turning to cars there are currently many worldwide tests of driverless cars.
Toys through the ages were made to mimic the real world, has the wheel turned 180 degrees so that the real world mimic’s toys? Here you have a pair of low slung sports cars that are quite detailed and substantial they weigh 387grams with the required 4x‘AA’ batteries (not supplied) inserted. They can be used individually or they can race against each other. The extra games in the App allow the child to invent as well as enjoy. They are 17x10x4.
If this dancing toy with unruly hair does not persuade your child to get a decent hair style I am not sure what will do so. This however should keep the youngster amused for a while and any busy parent knows that this is gold.
A worrying trend is that there are six slightly different versions all do something slightly different in the way the ‘hair moves’ so at the age range aimed at, the possibility is that pester power is large on the scene.
In my personal dim and distant past I can just about remember using a device called a stereoscope. To my young eyes it was a thing of wonder as it converted a pair of slightly different 2D photos into a 3D scene with depth. Now with digital images and computerised devices the younger generation look for something extra.
Today’s young generation require a more immersive experience to hold their attention. Offering to provide this experience is the View-Master product from Mattel. This particular product is based on a Virtual Reality headset that Mattel feels will take the young child (7+) on a virtual and augmented reality adventure as they are transported around the world and beyond.
It is time to clear the floor and make room for battle to commence as you take on both artificial Intelligent and human opponents in various contests.
R.E.V. is not a mistyped reference to the condition known as Rapid Eye Movement or a 1980’s American Rock Band. It does stand for Robotic Enhanced Vehicle. This is a remote controlled, battery driven vehicle developed by the well respected toy manufacturer WowWee. The company has released a battle pack which consists of two R.E.V. units. One unit is coloured black while the other is white so that they are easily distinguishable when competing against each other.
Going to the Planetarium is an expensive experience, buying a telescope is also expensive, looking at the stars with a naked eye requires a clear night that probably means a cold night you also need to be clear of light pollution. This product works indoors whenever you want.
First you need to download the Universe2Go App from the Android Store and start the App. Setting it up to work with your phone will take a while as your phone needs to fit inside the frame. When you get it this is covered by several pieces of foam to cover the whole area if you are using say a 5inch SmartPhone most will need to be removed piece by piece and probably just leave one thin strip to hold your phone in place.
Noted for its expertise in the development of educational devices for young children, LeapFrog has come up with the LeapFrog Epic. This product is an Android-based tablet aimed at children in the three to nine year old age group.
Encased with a LeapFrog green bumper, the hardware element of this product is a tablet with a 7-inch capacitive touch-screen. The screen has a resolution of 1024 x 600. While this resolution should be fine for the targeted audience, it was noticeable that viewing angles were fairly restrictive. This would certainly cut down on the opportunity for groups of children to gather round this device as a child shares the LeapFrog experience with friends.
Described as the Future of Prehistoric, the MiPosaur Robot has been developed by WowWee. As the prehistoric reference might provide a clue, the MiPosaur is a mechanical dinosaur designed in the style of a miniature T-Rex with its default stance being that of a begging position. This powered and controllable dinosaur is aimed as being suitable for those aged eight years and older.
Releasing the MiPosaur Robot from the packaging, a task that can be a little time consuming due to the presence of a fair amount of sticky tape, reveals a kit consisting of the MiPosaur robot, with a height of 24cm and measuring 38cm from the nose to the tip of its tail, and a Trackball with a diameter of 8cm. A Quick Start Guide and User Manuals in English, French and Spanish are included.
This version of Sphero goes far beyond what the previous version could do and that was be controlled by an App to move around, if you were good then you could just about control it, if not it controlled you. Here you teach it.
The Sphero supplied here is transparent so you can see its inner workings. Anyone from 5 upwards can learn as well as teach Sphero. But just like the majority of teachers they also learn from their students so it’s a two way street. Understand Sphero and in a weird way Sphero will understand you. So what does SPRK stand for, Schools, Parents, Robots, Kids so in one way or another I think that covers most of us. The box contains what it modestly calls a ‘Genius Kit’.
Orbotix labs latest creation Ollie arrived with me a little late for Christmas but anyone with money to spare should still consider Ollie as he can do things that Sphero and Sphero 2 could not, sometimes he even has a mind of his own.
Ollie is round and 12cm long and is 8cm across. As with the majority of recent remote control items you need either iOS or Android to control him. When you remove him from his box you need to attach his tyres and then his wheel trims, easy to do and the steps required are explained in a full colour fold out sheet. Next download the appropriate App from either the IOS or Android store. There is a provided Micro USB to USB lead that you charge Ollie with. Once charged away you go.
Continuing the MiniDrones are coming theme, this next product has more of a tank feel as it travels around and over obstacles.
Whenever the subject of Sumo comes up, my thoughts immediately go towards the full-contact wrestling sport so popular in Japan. Two very large and over-weight men try to push each other off a combat mat. Just looking at these man-mountain combatants gives you the impression that they could well be lacking in one particular skill level – that of jumping. However there is one Sumo that does have this skill and that is the appropriately named Jumping Sumo.
The MiniDrones are coming. Leading the aerial force is the subject of this next review.
Like many others, I am not the biggest fan of spiders but in this case I am willing to make an exception. The arachnid in question is of the mechanical type and belongs to the Parrot family of MiniDrones which could well be invading our homes over the coming months. This particular model is the Rolling Spider which combines the ability to travel over various surfaces, including walls and ceilings, plus take to the air in a kind of futuristic helicopter mode.
And who, you may ask is Ollie? And what is he about?
Let me introduce you to Ollie. This fun creature is a close cousin of Sphero and Sphero 2. Like his cousins, Ollie was developed in the Orbotix labs under the watchful eye of its co-creator Ian Bernstein who feels that this tubular creation should be regarded as the complete adrenaline junkie that is never happier than when charging about under some sort of control emanating from the user’s mobile device.
This next product has been designed as a container to turn a smartphone into a more appealing educational tool.
In the past I have reviewed a number of soft toys designed to pets. This list includes a Dragon’s Den bear (it had a tape recorder built into its stomach), cats, dog, penguin and a parrot. Now I can add the Ubooly which, unlike the other pets mentioned, is of a breed previously unknown to the public at large. So perhaps a few words of explanation would be beneficial.
These days kids seem to be using such devices before they can walk. So the age level suggested seem almost pointless to mention. The only mention on the box is a circular road sign with a picture of a young person and a red line. The age beside it is 0-3. 4+ is mentioned on the side of the box, at four most children know far more.
I was on a bus the other day and a baby in a pram was given a smartphone by its mother and it immediately started pushing the screen, I was the wrong side to see what it was doing but as the baby – about 6-9 months -seemed happy it was not I assume the first time it had seen it. At 285grams I would consider this seven inch offering too big for a child that age but at 3 years – or maybe a lot less – I am sure some of the games and other items would engage.
A rather large remote controlled car that some children may find difficult to stop their parents using, it is stated at 8+. The Second a reaction testing device designed for children or almost any age and even those of pre-school seem to love trying it.
This is a 1:18 scale car that works by remote control on the 2.4GHz band. It is 29cm from back to front and 14cm wide at the rear wheels, the maximum height is 9cm. It weights 550 grams. Apart from the car you also get a rather large remote, a charger unit for the cars battery and a plastic coin that allows you to turn the screw on the battery bay to remove it for charging.
First a game that most will know from paper versions Wordsearch, here a version on themes. Second something intended for those of an age group that I represent the over 55s and this has a serious theme of what you can immediately remember.
This is a rather nice board game for two to four players, stated to be age 8 upwards. It is based on those found in puzzle books, here however no pen or pencil is required. Wordsearch as in the puzzle book version is normally a single player game. Here it is for two, three or four and often the younger players find the words quicker.
Lego has been around for a long time, I seem to remember that originally there was one shape of brick and possibly just a single colour. Now things are very different and this set here is a case in point to produce a specific object.
I am old enough to remember time before Lego when the only construction toy was Meccano and you constructed most things from within your head. Now you have sets with a specific purpose and although some of the bricks are still the basic shapes a lot of them are specific to the task of constructing your Super Hero.
Assuming their Christmas money is not already spent here are two more candidates. First the i-Hog a flying pig, who said there were no such things. Second for those a little older a vertical jigsaw from Ravensburger of the Eiffel Tower.
While ‘Flying Pigs’ on a Saturday night may not be rare for some members of the community they are hopefully not normal for the 10+ age group that this toy is aimed at. In fact during my tests even younger than that enjoyed flying it. From tail fin to the front of the double rotor is 25cm, the pig – complete with flying goggles – is 15cm from head to tail and 4.5cm wide. The overall height to the top of the rotors is 13cm and its weight is only 71 grams.