Tech toys for Generation Y

Tech toys for Generation Y

GIZMO GAMES In this digital generation, can toys be left behind? A few things that can add fun and meaning to your child’s growing up years

Junior needs toys, but not those old playthings anymore. You can’t really see her holding a placid mechanical thingie while adults go tapping their touchscreens, can you? So, we sample a few this week.

The Furby, Moon in My Room and Monopoly Electronic Banking: new-age games for e-age children

THE LEAP PAD – R11,999

The other day a one-year-old in the US bought a car while playing on his father’s touchscreen device. E-commerce is that easy, but you are shopping for trouble when your kid does it.

You can try the the Leap Pad as a compromise device. Designed for children, it is far behind the iPad and its clones, but is child-proof, sturdy and and a good learning device.

It is not quite cheap and you can actually buy a full-fledged Android tablet for that money, but has its virtues.

For one, it is armed with enough multimedia features to keep your child engrossed. Secondly, no grown-up stuff can find its way into this tablet. It simply won’t allow it. Then, the 5” screen is ideal for children’s fingers, and also has a stylus as well.

The Leap Pad runs on 4 AA- sized batteries and has a camera, games and about 100 apps that improve school skills such as reading, phonics, maths, art and music. It can handle a bit of punishment, compared to conventional tablet devices.

FURBY – R3,799

Kids love pets. But they need cleaning up, can threaten valuable home goods and can cause pain when they die. So how about a robot toy that solves these issues? In Furby (you may recall them from the movie in the late 1990s), you have an electron- ic toy that has rubber ears that wiggle to and fro, and eyes made of LCDs with backlight that glow and convey expression. The body is made of thick faux fur of the cuddly kind so inviting to kids. And it sure has a realistic yawn that make the ears go back.

The cute Furby has no control buttons, but there are capacitive sensors inside its tummy, sides, back and top of the head. So you can tickle, shake, tap its head…and it speaks Furbish in response.

Want to understand that The Leap Pad appears expensive, but has its advantages lingo? You can use the Furby app on a smartphone to dig into the fuzzy meanings of the furry robot. The best part: the more time you spend with your Furby, the more it learns and develops a “personality”.

MOON IN MY ROOM – R2499

US authorities are said to be planning a national park on the Moon. While we wait, your kid can make do with Moon In My Room. Just insert the batteries in the device, drill a hole on the ceiling or a wall, and hang the moon. No wiring needed.

It comes with a bundled remote control that you can use to go to various solar phases. The built-in lights ensure that the glow is uniform and it looks like a real moon, and the 3D-textured surface feels like the real thing.

If you are worried about battery costs, don’t: it shuts off automatically after 30 minutes of uninterrupted running. Undecided on which phase of the moon you want? Set it up to auto and it will take you through all the 12.

MONOPOLY ELECTRONIC BANKING R1,499

Remember Monopoly, the oldworld board game that promised to make us all billionaires in land assets and hotels and occasionally landed us in jail? We set up industries, made buildings, collected cards —and played with lots of fake paper currency.

The game is now grown up: enter Monopoly Electronic Banking. The game and the rules remain the same, but it now ships with plastic bank cards that store the money, and a plastic card reader: swipe the card and you can collect gifts, buy hotels and cars, and store the millions that you make on Monopoly. It’s still all about money, honey.