Top toys for grandchildren this week include some timeless classics – Furby and Cabbage Patch Kids to name but two – and some brand new additions to the burgeoning children’s tech market too. From the VTech InnoTab “learning app tablet” to Tatty Teddy’s Story Time, the watchword for kids’ toys at the moment is “interactivity”.
The InnoTab is aimed at kids between the ages of 4 and 9. It’s intended to be a learning tool that makes discovery fun, often with the aid of characters and environments that grandchildren love. Learning cartridges, which are purchased separately, aim to promote creativity and learning through stories, adventure games and puzzles.
Tatty Teddy is one of a number of interactive plush toys designed by the Me To You company. You’ll have seen his brothers and sisters in card and gift shops for years (they’re the grey ones with sewn-on patches) – but you’ll never have seen a bear quite like this before. Equipped with voice response software, Tatty Teddy sneezes, moves and laughs to illustrate key points in the bedtime storybook he comes with.
Talking of voice recognition: Furby is back. The robotic Gremlin now has a whole new array of looks and features, and no longer simply mimics things you say to it: now, Furby learns as its owner plays with it. According to Hasbro, every Furby starts out life with the same “personality” – as the owner tickles it, “feeds” it, hugs it and interacts with it, the personality changes. Owners can unlock hidden voices and personas by stumbling on magic combinations of play behaviour too.
Monster High is still hugely popular, and there are several ranges of toys and accessories to go with the craze. Toys, fashion packs for the toys, and the massively successful Create-a-Monster pack, which lets fans build their own scarily cool pal using a range of parts and pieces, are in high demand by grandchildren who love the show. All Monster High toys contain small parts and are not suitable for children below the age of 4.
An old tale gets a new twist in Jake and the Neverland Pirates – the latest Disney offering to hit home with the kiddiewinks. Jake and his pals roam the high seas in their Pirate Ship – Bucky – looking for fun and adventure: and old-guard toy manufacturer Fisher Price has come up with a range of Jake and the Neverland Pirates toys. The good ship Bucky is the hottest of the lot. When you push it, it sings a rollicking pirate song – and features the show’s lead characters, plus some awesome surprises for anyone trying to board without authorisation!
It doesn’t all have to be about the latest craze of course. Sometimes the gifts that really hit home are the ones that pass on a hobby from grandparent to grandchild. A pair of binoculars, for example, or even an annual membership in an ornithological society or an astronomer’s club. Remember grandchildren are hugely adventurous, given the chance. A well-placed gift can spark a lifelong passion.