Smart toys for kids that parents will love too

Smart toys for kids that parents will love too

As Christmas approaches, tech expert Andy Robertson looks for the best tech toys of the year that offer more than just plastic entertainment.

Toys used to be toys and video games used to be video games. These days, however, it can be difficult to tell them apart. Children enjoy playing in many ways with whatever technology is available to them, and toy manufacturers have responded by creating experiences that combine the two.

A few years ago this was dominated by strong brand products that added an app or interaction to a classic toy. This was fun for a while, but they lacked the longevity that could justify higher prices.

More recently, we’ve seen products that not only provide play experiences to ignite children’s imaginations, but do so in ways that fully integrate digital interactions and physical toys.

These are toys that not only translate physical play into digital or virtual spaces, but create new experiences that are not possible without the included technology. This means that the game can evolve over time as the application and technology are updated over the Internet to create what we might call service-based gaming.

Mario Kart Live: Smart toys for kids that parents will love too

A racing experience that combines the physical with the virtual

Rating: PEGI 3 +
Release Date: 10/16/2020
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Genres: Action, Creative, Physically Active, Racing and Sports
Developer: Velan Ventures

A short preview of Mario Kart Live showing how he combines the real and virtual world in the game

This is a racing experience that combines the physical with the virtual. Race Mario Karts with real remote control, but use your Nintendo Switch to control them. Each kart has a camera so you can drive around the house in first person perspective. This creates an enhanced racing experience. Receive a projectile in the game and your kart stops for a moment. Or levels with crosswinds affect your remote control car in the real world.


Lego hidden side: Smart toys for kids that parents will love too

Lego sets that have more to offer than traditional construction and play.

Rating : PEGI 3+
Release Date : 08/18/2019
Platforms : Android and iOS
Genres : Creative, Narrative, Physically Active, Puzzle and Shooter
Developer : Lego

Explanatory video of Lego Hidden Side sets

It uses the associated app, but in a deeper way than you might expect. Scanning the built children unlocks a variety of narratives and games on the phone. Use the camera to search for clues and hidden treasures around your creation. Sometimes you have to put a certain block or character somewhere. Or at other times you have to spin a Lego wheel. Your reward for discovering this is in the app, which adds new challenges over time as the game updates.



A mix of real craftable toys and fun accessible mobile games.

Rating: PEGI 3 +
Release Date: 11/08/2019
platforms: Android and iOS
Genres: Action, Physically active, Puzzle, Racing and Shooter
Developer: BandaiNamcoUK

Watch a full review of the game to see how it works
Show video transcript 

Tori Combine comes with toys that you place on a play surface to control the spaceships and catapults in the game. Children can also create and color their own cardboard versions of the toys and use them to control play.

The novelty is that as you move the toys on the gamepad, they exactly match the movement of the game. Add to this making your own colors on versions of these toys that also work on the pad, and this is a magical and unusual experience.


Balance beast

Beautifully sculpted game pieces that interact with your iPad to create creatures in a magical land

baby turtles Date: 11/01/2016
Platforms: Android and iOS
Genres: Physically active and puzzle
Developer: Sensitive object

Beast of Balance Overview Trailer Explaining the Game

You place a toy creature on the pedestal and it appears in the game. Balance another creature on top of the first to join it. Then different elements can migrate and evolve animals to get more points. Players work together to get the highest score. If the tower falls, you have a limited time to balance it again. There is also a competitive mode in which players balance animals to fight each other.


Lego super mario

A series of Lego sets designed to make different levels in the style of Mario.

Classification: PEGI 3 +
Date of Publication: 08/01/2020
platforms: Android and iOS
Genres: Physically active and platform
Developer: Lego

Lego Super Mario Game Trailer

The Starter Set comes with a large interactive Mario figure that is then used to test the levels you do. The figure “sees” and reacts to the different types of blocks under it, so it knows if it is a coin, fire, ignition, and so on.

After building the levels that come with the sets, you can combine the different elements to create your own. Then you can compete with friends and family to see who can finish with the most coins in the shortest time. The smart thing is, the Mario figure tracks everything for you.


Anki Overdrive

Bring futuristic battle races to life.

Classification: PEGI 3 +
Date of Publication: 05/28/2010
Platforms: Android and iOS
Genres: Physically active and competitive

Anki Overdrive Overview Trailer Explaining the Game

This smart toy has been around for a while. Over the years, it has evolved to introduce new challenges, characters, and cars. The basic premise is that you join the track to design a circuit and then compete with the computer-controlled smart cars using your smartphone. This means that it is fun to be alone and with up to three other people.

The company that created the toy has changed hands, so currently the sets are really inexpensive. As long as you avoid Fast N Furious outfits that aren’t compatible with the new company, this is a really good value and a great smart toy that now has a bright future.


Here kitty

A real world hide and seek game that you play by hiding your phone

Rating: Not yet rated by PEGI
Release Date: 05/04/2020
platforms: iOS
Genres: Action, physically active and puzzle

Here kitty! example of family play

It’s from the same team behind Heads Up. It’s an interesting tech toy, as the smartphone becomes both the technology and the game.

When the child calls or approaches, the phone makes cat noises to give them clues to find it. When found, the phone plays a melody and tells them how long it took and offers a fun fact. There are different cats and animals that you can select to hide. It’s a great way to have fun around the house while adding a video game touch to the game.

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