Toy Lab

Electronic toys: What’s hot in 2022

Sophisticated electronics not only for children
With a hand sketch to your own pixicade app video game. © BitOGenius

By Peter Pernsteiner

The Terrawheel, a remote-controlled single axle vehicle, can even turn at lightning speed when stationary © Hong Kong Alpha Group
The Terrawheel, a remote-controlled single axle vehicle, can even turn at lightning speed when stationary © Hong Kong Alpha Group

Up until now, moving robots have been a quite rare sight in children’s rooms, and the ones you could find usually moved on three wheels. Now, things are gathering momentum. The Hong Kong Alpha Group has produced a highly manoeuvrable remote-controlled vehicle that moves and balances on just one axle. The “Terrawheel” is a small hoverboard with a rider figure standing on it and LED lights at both its ends. It is electronically stabilised by gyro sensors and has two individually motorised wheels on its axis at the model’s centre of gravity. These can even turn in opposite directions if need be, enabling pirouettes and other pre-programmed stunts. (Hong Hong Alpha Group)

Robot competition

The two robots competing against each other are controlled by hand gestures. © Silverlit
The two robots competing against each other are controlled by hand gestures. © Silverlit

"Robo Street Kombat” from Silverlit also promises some exciting action for children’s rooms. With this toy, two children from the age of 5 can compete in a remote-controlled robot competition. The self-propelled robots with motorised rotating tool platforms are each equipped with two of the six tools included in the set. The robots are operated via optical sensors on their backs, which recognise hand gestures made by their drivers. This way, six different hand movements are recognised. The competition is supported by amusing sound effects from the robots’ loudspeakers. (Silverlit)

James the Spy Bot is an individually programmable play robot. © Blue Rocket Toys
James the Spy Bot is an individually programmable play robot. © Blue Rocket Toys

“James, the Spy Bot” from the Xtrem Bots family from Blue Rocket Toys moves at a more leisurely pace. Among other things, he can dance and be programmed with up to 50 action steps from more than 20 basic functions. He can be controlled by clapping in different ways and can also record and play back speech. Also, his eyes light up in different colours depending on which function is active. (Blue Rocket Toys)

Programming is now child’s play

Individually motorised wheels make the programmable driving robot, intended for children age 5 and up, very manoeuvrable. © Fischertechnik
Individually motorised wheels make the programmable driving robot, intended for children age 5 and up, very manoeuvrable. © Fischertechnik

With the Fischertechnik robot construction kit “Early Coding”, children as young as 5 years old can gain their first programming skills through play. The kids build three amusingly designed vehicles and can, among other things, complete a custom obstacle course. The robot routes are programmed using child-friendly function icons on a tablet or smartphone. For this to work, the robot communicates with the app via Bluetooth, which can also be used as a remote control to control the driving robot. The 60 mm wide and 120 mm long vehicle chassis has two individually controllable motors on its sides. The axles on which the large wheels are attached can be rotated at different speeds not only for cornering, but can also be turned in opposite directions. This allows the 120 mm wide robot to turn on the spot (Fischertechnik)

Create your own video games

With a hand-drawn sketch and the Pixicade app, children can create their own jump-and-run video game. © BitOGenius
With a hand-drawn sketch and the Pixicade app, children can create their own jump-and-run video game. © BitOGenius

A tablet also forms the basis for the “Pixicade Mobile Game Maker” from BitOGenius. It is designed to enable children aged 10 and up to design small video games for tablet computers. First, the kids have to sketch a game world on the special drawing pad provided. Using predefined colours, children draw their desired environment, walls, stairs, moving objects, the game objective, and the game character. Opponents and obstacles, as well as gravity effects, for example, can also be taken into account on the playing field. Then, the hand-drawn sketch just needs to be scanned in using the smartphone camera and Pixicade app. Shortly afterwards, the small game designers get to play their very own jump-and-run game. The games can also be shared worldwide via the app community. (BitOGenius Inc)

Autonomous driving in miniature

With the CarMotion system, you can even drive the 1:87 scale lorries in reverse. © Viessmann Model Technology
With the CarMotion system, you can even drive the 1:87 scale lorries in reverse. © Viessmann Model Technology

Model railroad accessories manufacturer Viessmann has presented a small realistic play world for adults. Here, trucks on a scale of 1:87 drive completely autonomously. The paths of the less than 10 cm long battery-powered vehicles of the “CarMotion” system are predefined by a magnetic strip embedded in the roadway, which ensures precise steering of the front axle. The smallest possible road radius is just 7.5 cm. Magnetic arms with a servo motor enable road junctions and stopping bays to be built. Infrared receivers at the front of the vehicle ensure automatic distance control to any models ahead and are also used to change vehicle parameters via an infrared hand-held remote control. The individually programmable vehicles have various switchable light functions including turn signals, brake lights, high beams, interior lighting, reversing lights, and rotating beacons. Lorry trailers can also be realistically lit up using a small coupler with a 5-pin socket. A Hall sensor in the vehicle floor detects the polarity of one to three mini magnets embedded one behind the other in the road, which define stopping points or trigger vehicle speed changes, for example. The CarMotion vehicles can also be used on systems from other manufacturers, such as the Faller Car System. (Viessmann Modelltechnik)

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