Budget drone? App-friendly Fender? Mario riding around your living room? This artful edit of tech toys will keep kids, teens and just about everyone else occupied this winter. We’ve featured a mix of toys and gaming gift ideas for under 10s and young adults with 90% fun and maybe a smidge of education thrown in for good measure. Scroll on for WIRED’s Christmas gift guide to 2020’s best tech toys.
Laser Battle Hunters
Speeds of up to 4.3km/hr may not amount to anything on the M25, but in your living room they can create some serious drama. Not your average remote control toy, Laser Battle Hunters are fully functional radio control vehicles that can forward, reverse and spin at a speedy rate and create some thrilling action. They feature a multi-directional four-wheel driving system, which allows you to drift and manoeuvre from side to side. You can choose from two modes to play – first up is the multi-player R/C combat mode where you can use the built-in infrared cannon to knock out your opponent. If you want to involve more players you can add up to eight at the same time but you’ll have to pay for the extra cars. There’s also an option that turns one Laser Battle Hunter into a moving target that you have to try and blast while it fires at you for a minute. Glorious.
Fender Fullerton Ukulele
Combining the beautiful form of the ukulele with the classic Fender electric shapes, the Fullerton Ukulele makes for a memorable gift. Designed for any ukulele player wanting to inject the spirit of rock and roll into their performance, it can be played plugged or unplugged and teamed with the Fender Play App for inspiration. The Fullerton Ukulele comes in three iconic shapes including Stratocaster, Telecaster or Jazzmaster – with a pickguard, signature finish colour options and 4-in-line headstock that are quintessentially Fender. Pictured here is the Fullerton Strat Uke in a golden Sunburst finish with a Walnut fingerboard.
Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit
For anyone who already owns a Nintendo Switch (£279) or Switch Lite, the Mario Kart Live Home Circuit set brings more adventure to your four walls with a computer game the whole household can enjoy. And while holiday travel is restricted this year, bringing blue oceans and sandy deserts to your living room may be just the tonic. The game lets you drive a kart in the real world using familiar Mario Kart controls plus you can view footage from the kart’s camera, which is directed to your Nintendo Switch or TV screen. Once you buy the home circuit set you can then team it with the Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit software, which is available as a free download from the Nintendo eShop.
LEGO The Mandalorian Bounty Hunter Transport Starship
To fill the time between the turkey meal and the evening cheeseboard, it’s always a great idea to have a LEGO construction on the go. This 75292 set is a decent-sized challenge, inspired by The Mandalorian live-action TV series on Disney+. You can create an armored transport shuttle to carry three LEGO minifigures including the formidable bounty hunter ‘Mando’, the Child (Baby Yoda) and a scout trouper. The shuttle includes a cargo hold with opening sides that double as access ramps and carbonite bounty elements inside. There’s also a dual LEGO minifigure cockpit, spring-loaded shooters and escape pod to contend with. What’s more, there are 1,023 pieces to work your way through, so may patience be with you.
Vecnos IQUI ZTQ01 360 camera
For those who love to TikTok and Snap in between live stints on Insta (sorry, we’ll stop), the Vecnos IQUI ZTQ01 camera makes a great gift. Designed with social media savvy users in mind, it features an impressive ‘quad-lens optical system’ that allows you to capture 360 degree footage of you and everything that surrounds you on its ultra slim 7.1cm wide body. It can shoot 3840×1920 video at 30fps, which can be sent to a dedicated app on your smartphone with one click. Then add effects and share the footage on social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and yes, TikTok.
DJI Ryze Tello
Let’s go fly a drone, up to the highest… height. Featured in our WIRED Recommends guide to the best drones for 2020, the Ryze Tello is a great beginner drone ideal. It gives you up to 13 minutes in flight with a 100 metre range and the ability to capture up to 5MP pictures and 720p resolution video at 4Mbps. This means you have just enough time to check out a location and share footage on social media should you wish. The nifty Tello is light enough to fit in the palm of your hand and has the ability to perform eight different flips in the air, as well as bounce up and down in your hand.
Osmo Coding Starter Kit
With the goal of using tangible pieces to create a hands-on learning experience, Osmo is a bit of a shorthand for educational toys. Simply place your iPad or Amazon Fire HD tablet in a compatible Osmo base and Osmo will scan the table so the physical game pieces – be it to draw, code or spell – will come alive. New for 2020 is the Coding Starter Kit that is aimed at introducing children aged 5-10 to coding. It allows them to connect colourful blocks of code in the physical world to chart on screen and learn coding skills block by block.
Air Hogs Zero Gravity
While it may not seem like the best choice if you’ve just redecorated your walls, the Air Hogs Zero Gravity set is great fun. It features a lightweight, remote control car that can drive on floors, up walls and upside down on the ceiling. Use the laser light beam gun to point at the wall, ceiling or ground and the car will chase the direction of the light. With walls in mind, you may also want to consider the ProjeX Projecting Game Arcade (£50) too, which tests your speed and skill as you blast moving targets – ducks, UFOs, you name it – that it projects onto your wall.
Suitable for both aspiring teen DJs and old-fashioned vinyl nerds, Sony’s PS-LX310BT turntable is a sound choice. You can use it to play Little Drummer Boy with all the rich and punchy bass tones Crosby and Bowie intended. As we note in our best record players WIRED Recommends, its style is effortlessly streamlined, including a pre-set tracking weight for the arm up/down button and a 7 in/12in disc size selector. But it’s the Bluetooth pairing that makes the Sony a particularly enticing buy – it’s quick and simple to wirelessly pair it to speakers, soundbars or headphones. It also features an integrated phono stage so it can be wired to your existing system should you wish.
Senstroke Drum Kit
If we have learnt anything from the year’s most popular kids movie – the glitter-fest that is Trolls World Tour – it’s that music is inside all of us. If you know someone with a particularly good ear for keeping the beat, the Senstroke makes a great gift. Attach the connected sensors to the drumsticks to provide an easy way to play and learn the drums, without the expense or noise of a physical drum set. You can connect to the dedicated iOS, Android and Windows compatible apps via Bluetooth and play on any surface – a table, a book, even a cushion – and the built-in technology reproduces the impact of the drumsticks for a realistic feel.
Garmin Vivofit Jnr 3
With so many batteries to contend with at Christmas we’d like to say that the most enticing thing about the Vivofit Jnr 3 is that the batteries will last up to a year. That however wouldn’t do it justice as the third-get Garmin kids tracker comes with so many more enticing features. Kids can use it to monitor steps, sleep and daily activities and collect rewards. After 60 minutes of activities for instance, they can unlock fun pop quizzes, ‘collectible gems’ and play games.
While it might be slightly gimmicky for dedicated Messi wannabes, the Speed Ball does ramp up some seriously healthy and fun competition amongst friends and family. The talking football has a built-in speed sensor that measures the speed of your kick up to 100kph. Simply place the talking ball on the kick-off base – that is, a garden, hall, field or beach – wait for the countdown and then kick the ball as hard as you can. It will then tell you your speed, cheer you on and even call out rewards just like a coach. Dressing room pep talk not included.
Price: £25 | Smyths Toys
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