Time to return to the classroom and practice your programming skills.
It has been quite a while since I last took a look at one of Orbotix’s Sphero robotic creatures. If memory serves me correct that product was Ollie who made its appearance back in 2014. In the intervening period Orbotix has made a movement towards a more educational stance with its robotic development. A result of this is the appearance of the Sphero Edu brand that includes the SPRK+ product.
You may have heard of the expression “Talk to the hand” but are you as familiar with “Beware the finger!?
Described as the first-ever line of animatronical collectible toys, the WowWee developed Fingerlings® recently won the 2018 Collectible Toy of the Year and the overall Toy of the year awards. Now more bite has been put into the product with the arrival of an UNTAMED™ element/ for the intrepid dinosaur collector to partake Joining the original gang of Fingerlings, featuring the baby monkeys, unicorns, sloths and glitter monkeys, are the UNTAMED Raptors.
Dipping into a bag of goodies, I came across a product from Leap Frog.
It is a simple question – just what is the condition of your fridge? I should make clear that I am referring to the outside of the fridge rather than its actual contents stored within. Probably, like many including myself, the door of your fridge will be decorated with an assortment of magnetic knick-knacks that you have collected, or been presented with for various reasons, over the passage of time.
Having looked in the past at a couple of other offerings from Sphero I was keen to add this smallest offering from Sphero to the list. It is a small round object that is controlled by an App that you can even learn to code to make it go through routines.
The Sphero Mini is a 4cm ball that has no connections at all it is simply a round ball. It is weighted on the inside and without power if it is moved around it will always roll to that one spot. There are three simple instructions on the inside cover of its small box. The two parts of the ball twist apart to enable you to charge it and that process will let you link it to a mobile App and then it is no longer simply a round ball.
I asked to look at this - solely on price - as most camera carrying Drones are not cheap – I am thinking three figures – but this offering is less than £20. In fact only just over a year ago similar items were well into the middle hundreds.
I looked at one very small drone last year that was suitable for children, yes suitable for children as it had blades that were fully protected and was very easy to hover. This unit is larger and will either need parental supervision or children of an older age as it needs to have more ability to fly it – yes even I could fly it – and the blades although plastic could do damage. It is circular and a maximum of 32cm across and up to 5cm tall with its camera attached.
Having recently told you about CUE also a fun coding solution for older children here I regress slightly to tell you about an offering for children from six years upwards. This one is called DOT, again a Robot for the child to control.
Remembering how easy CUE was to extract from the box left me somewhat frustrated that the same system was not used here and sadly although I took time to remove DOT without ripping the cardboard apart I doubt I will ever get it back in place. DOT is 11cm across, 7.5cm from back to front and 9cm tall, it is a basic ball shape with extensions either side and on the base.
Often the time between product request and its arrival is extended as was the case here so when the box arrived I first thought – before I opened it – that it was a speaker and even when I opened it I was unsure, removal from the box did not require destruction, already a plus point with me.
If you imagine three balls in a triangle with another on top of them you have the shape each is round at approximately 8cm, the two front units have grooved wheels and the rear one just a small steering option. The top unit lights up, revolves and has both the power of speech and hearing. To remove from the box move two catches apart and then find a flat place to put CUE down as it goes through a quite amusing configuration routine, after that everything works with Bluetooth via an App.
This was one of five things that I requested from one of the range of Christmas In July events. I was told they would go on sale in September however at the time of writing in October this is the only one of their units to arrive with me.
This is a quite light remote control car that can travel across a solid floor or with a change of a setting on it up walls or for that matter across ceilings. The car is 13x8x4.5cm and weighs only 57 grams. It is charged from the rear by the supplied 60cm yellow USB lead. The control box is 14x7x5cm and is powered by six ‘AA’ batteries (not supplied) it weighs 234grams; all dimensions given both for the car and control unit are maximum figures.
The main problem for most with a drone is C O N T R O L and here this is easy, I first saw a prototype demonstrated at the annual Toy Fair last January and here it is in October just in time to appear on your kids Xmas nag list.
Before you stop reading saying ‘this person is crazy’ my dexterity at ‘three score and ten plus’ is far less than the average young child but I have flown this round my kitchen and hall without damaging anything. The blades of the drone are inside a protective frame and yes if it has a direct hit on something on the edge of a shelf it may knock it off but the drone itself is light that is why this is an indoor unit.
All kids love cartoons, any parent will have to watch the child’s favourite over and over again. When the child is a little older then this torch and projector in one unit may just remove the need for the child to require a nightlight in their room.
This Disney themed torch and projector is 11.5cm tall and at the front end circular at 3cm, add another centimetre when you insert one of the three provided Disney image reels of images. Each reel has eight images and while I am the world’s most anti health and safety instructions person here some care might be required for the very young who seem to like eating anything, these plastic reels are 3cm across and .3cm thick.
It is story time as Violet makes a return to the Leapfrog range of learning tools for young children.
Originally making an appearance with My Pal Violet, the cuddly soft toy, named Violet, makes a return with this next Leapfrog product. Entitled Read With Me Violet, this particular offering, from the Leapfrog range of educational learning tools, is aimed at the 2 – 5 year age group. As its title might suggest, this product has been developed to help introduce the child to books, print, comprehension and early vocabulary.
Violet in colour and Violet by name, this soft toy from Leapfrog is customisable.
My Pal Violet is a soft toy with a customisable centre aimed at the 6 – 36 month age range. As part of the Leapfrog range of educational toys for the younger members of the family, Violet, in her white and Violet fur, cries out to be picked up and cuddled. However this cuddly creature, with dimensions of 308 x 270 x 190 mm (H x W x D) has more to offer than just tactile sensations as is explained in the accompanying Quick Start Guide.
With a choice of activities, Melody the Turtle has been developed to help young children.
Melody is a turtle. She is also the central component of a Leapfrog product. As befitting her role in the product, her name forms part of the title which is Melody the Musical Turtle. Aimed at the 2+ year age group, Melody sets out to help the young child develop the core learning skills of number, colour recognition and memory skills.
While coffee is fast overtaking as the nation’s favourite hot beverage, let us not forget the old favourite and style of tea drinking.
With all the necessary tasks about the home completed, it is time to sit back and enjoy the traditional English tea party. And what better way to indulge this important act with younger family members than with the Musical Rainbow Tea Party product. As part of the Leapfrog “learn as you play” range of products, the Musical Rainbow Tae Party is targeted at the 1 – 3 years age group but I am sure they will not mind older members of the family taking part.
Described as the exciting Tick Tock, beat the clock challenge, this Leapfrog product is aimed at the 3 – 6 year age group.
Leaping Letters from Leapfrog is an alphabet game that is aimed at the 3 – 6 age group. The product has been designed to cover the core learning skills of the Alphabet, matching skills and fine motor skills. The Leaping Letters product consists of 29 game pieces. Central to this game, based on alphabet letters, is a plastic 3D tray element.
Having purchased a LeapFrog tablet for your child, you might be interested in card sets designed for use with the LeapPad tablet.
Adding to its portfolio of apps for its LeapPad range of tablet devices for young children, LeapFrog has developed its Imagicard products. Currently there are three titles making up this series. These offerings are entitled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Letter Factory Adventure and Paw Patrol – To the Rescue.
Designed specifically for young children, the LeapPad takes a walled-garden approach to the access and content available to its users.
As the combination that makes up its title of LeapPad and Platinum might indicate, this particular LeapFrog product is the company’s top-of-the-range tablet aimed at the younger members of the family. In fact LeapFrog has pitched this tablet, with its collection of facilities that include WiFi connectivity, built-in stylus, front and rear cameras and a rechargeable battery, at the 3 – 9 year age group.
A battery powered scooter as sold by Halfords in the UK was for me anyway the most interesting thing I viewed at the Halfords Christmas Show held in London in September, so I asked to see one and this is what I was sent to review.
It should be easy to assemble using the supplied Allen Key and a mid-sized Philips screw driver (not supplied), while will pester you for one this is for them, the stated age is 8 plus and I would suggest that this is the correct age or even older. This is not a light unit and it is only steerable by leaning left or right, as children need a helmet to ride a bicycle they should also need one for this as the battery gives a good speed boost and the brake is only on the rear wheel.
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.