Janny Holsheimer

Engaging toys

A list of innovative toys

What does it take to create a good toy? All toys which do live up to health standards. A toy is perfect, when it is exciting, engaging, offers playful learning, brings people together and is open ended.


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Here are a few examples of successful, modern toys:

Wii - Nintendo

product description: The games console “Wii” is no longer controlled just with the buttons and controllers of a control unit connected to the console. E.g. to swing the virtual tennis racket here, you must swing back your arm and strike. An infrared interface converts the controller movement and controls the virtual players accordingly.
experience: The play concept of Wii tends to encourage playing PC games in groups instead of alone. In addition, the product not only appeals to player types with an affinity to PCs, but also to new age groups – a real lifestyle theme.

Mindstorms NXT - LEGO

product description: Super exciting technology: The LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT building set offers numerous possibilities for building and programming a robot designed to the child’s own ideas and wishes. The first LEGO robot can be assembled and programmed within only 30 minutes. New technical features and more even more powerful sensors are also specially intended as an attraction for experienced robot builders. The sensors enable the robot to react automatically to sound, light and movement. The "brain" of the new system is the NXT chip, an autonomous 32-bit LEGO microprocessor, which can be programmed using a PC, or, for the first time ever, a Mac. A real innovation: The use of Bluetooth technology means the robot, which can be designed as animal, vehicle or machine, can even be controlled remotely, e.g. from a mobile phone or PDA
experience: It is very easy for the child to get into the programming and it learns along the way how to do more complex stuff by alltering and recreating. Kids learn by doing and are engaged for many, many hours. It is a toy which attracts from young age to grown ups.

Furby - Tiger

description: A Furby is an electronic toy, more specifically, a robot. The main reason that many people liked them was their apparent "intelligence" and learning ability as they developed their language skills. Furbys can communicate with one another via a heart-shaped infrared port. Furbys start out speaking entirely Furbish, a language with short words, simple syllables, and various other sounds, but are programmed to speak less and less Furbish and more and more English as they "grow".
experience: Furby surprises. When you think it becomes boring, because you think you can predict its behaviour its starts to speak or sing what has been never heard before and than it catches your fully intention again. It is very humoristic and makes you laugh.

Tamagotchi - Bandai

description: The Tamagotchi is a handheld digital pet created in 1996 by Aki Maita and sold by Bandai. The Tamagotchi is housed in a small and simple egg-shaped computer. Three buttons (A, B, and C) allow the user to select and perform an activity, including: Feeding the Tamagotchi a piece of food or a snack, playing games with the Tamagotchi, cleaning up a Tamagotchi's waste, checking its age, discipline, hunger, weight, happiness and other statistics….
experience: A small and simple tech toy to take care of and taking care is one of the major plays girls like at a certain age. If it has not been treated right it can die.

V.Smile - V-tech

description: In the Category Learning the V.Smile Learning Game System from V-tech creates a new link between playing and learning for 3- to 8-year-olds. It uses the great affinity of the TV set for this target group in an original way and guides children back to classic themes like letters, words, numbers, shapes, colours and general knowledge. The decisive factor in the rating was the V.Smile Pocket, which makes learning by playing mobile and can be used anywhere. The display has a picture of good quality. All games for the V.Smile console are compatible with the portable version, which makes this system unique.
experience: Kids are thrilled by using it while at the same time they learn in playful manner. The learning aspect touches the speech development, logical thinking and the cognitive development.

Network - Brio

description: BRIO is popular and internationally known for the classic wooden railway system, which was created over 40 years ago. But as time moved on - so did BRIO, by reinventing the classic railway. They created the Network. A railway system based on the metaphor for the construction of a computer. The Network-world consists of ordinary wooden railway tracks and funky, small characters that live inside your computer.
experience: Wooden material includes now funky technology. The cute characters and design touches the emotion. It is very humoristic and appealing to parents and kids.