New toys that will make grown-ups jealous debut at New York Toy Fair

PHOTOS: JONATHAN TAKIFF / DAILY NEWS STAFF VTech KidiZoom Smart Watch: The first of its kind.
PHOTOS: JONATHAN TAKIFF / DAILY NEWS STAFF VTech KidiZoom Smart Watch: The first of its kind.
Posted: February 21, 2014

AT THE RECENT American International Toy Fair in New York, Gizmo Guy found playthings so profoundly juiced with tech magic he longed to be a kid again.

MAKE-IT-YOURSELF TOYS: The concept has gotten a major rethink. Industry leader Hasbro announced the first kid-oriented (and reasonably priced, we hope) 3-D printer, a programmable device that spits plastic goop in precise layers to build a play-ready object. Expect it by Christmas.

Hasbro's venture partner is printer maker 3D Systems, which just bought a toy modeling company with rights to "Star Wars," "Harry Potter" and "Hobbit" collectibles.

Can't wait? Rival 3-D printer maker MakerBot was at Toy Fair showing nonbranded fantasy figures, model planes and such.

Downloadable (makerbot.com) digital programming files are cheap - 99 cents per toy. But MakerBot's Wi-Fi or USB connected Replicator Mini Desktop 3D printer sells for $1,375 - Ouch! - and a spool of meltable plastic thread to make a set of playthings costs $20 to $50.

The LittleBits line offers a different kind of DIY toy production with electronic modules that snap together to make working circuits and gadgets. LB's new Synth Kit ($160) fashions an offbeat "guitar."

WATCH THIS: Kidtronics specialist VTech is jumping into the "wearable tech" craze with its KidiZoom Smart Watch, the first smart watch for ages 5 and up.

The new smart watch won't relay caller ID and text messages like a Pebble or Samsung Galaxy Gear wrist computer. But it is useful as an audio recorder and has a side-mount camera for still photos and videos.

The 1.4-inch color touch screen plays built-in games. And of course, it functions as a watch with switchable analog/digital "faces." Coming by year's end for about $50.

ZOOM ZOOM: South Korean brands Hyundai and Kia are gunning for the luxury car market. In the world of highly indulgent, ride-on kiddie cars, Korean maker Henes is so far ahead of the competition, there isn't any.

Steering soon to the U.S. at $500 and up, Henes' battery powered Broon ride-ons evoke the sleek and sporty designs of a Lexus convertible or Range Rover. Under the (switchable) shell is a seriously crafted (aluminum alloy) motor and transmission, gas shocks and electronic discs brakes.

Pimp Junior's Broon with leather seats, built-in stereo system, functioning control buttons (LED lights, door locks) and a dashboard display that doubles as an Android tablet.

"You can use it indoors, all year round, not just outdoors on sunny days," said Henes' David Kim.

FYI: Parents can control a kid's driving with speed settings and a wireless remote.

If it passes U.S. muster, under-90 pounders may also get to climb aboard the Dareway standing ride from Famosa, an under $200 variation on a Segway.

More a micro-car person?

Educational toy maker Thames & Kosmos is introducing the latest in autonomous driving tech with its Smart Car Robotics kit ($129). Steer the model via Bluetooth on an iOS phone or tablet.

New to Mattel's Hot Wheels line are its tallest ever, gravity-defying looping track, plus some very cool trick play "gags" and the Airbrush Auto Shop to spray-paint custom flames and stripes on the rides.


Blog: philly.com/GizmoGuy

Online: ph.ly/Tech

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