The digital age produced toys that parents would never recognize from their own childhood. While we built robots from K-Nex or in our imaginations, kids today can buy toys featuring advanced robotics suited for ages five on up. Robotics toys are fun, but many of them are also teachers.
A toy today is almost nothing without its corresponding educational app, and these teach kids all kinds of skills from critical thinking to engineering to intermediate level programming. At the same time, robots teach our children, but they are also personable. Some of the more advanced products share personality traits, learn your child’s name and birthday, and sense their presence.
A robotics toy offers hours of fun for children, and many grow with them. But with so many on the market, what are the best robot toys for kids? We reviewed dozens of toys to pick out some of the robot toys that stand out from the rest.
Robots geared for kids are remarkably varied and range from simple toys that roll around your living room to complex robotics. We tried to add a mix of toys to the list to ensure that there are products for light-hearted fun as well as serious educational tools designed for the next generation of scientists.
A product made our list when it offered specs that made it robust and fun but also demonstrated a user experience that was worth the money. Some robot toys are fun for five minutes but quickly grow old even among the most excitable children. We hunted down toys that children are likely to return to again and again.
Our list includes robot toys for children as young as three and kids on their way to middle school. Our diverse product roundup offers both toys and learning tools in no particular order.
Age: Six years and older
Skills: Beginner robotics; imagination
Batteries: Nonstandard batteries (included)
The Zoob BuilderZ ZOOB bot offers children a fun introduction to the world of robotics. Each box comes with 49 pieces, a motor, two wheels, tires, and light-up eyes for kids to put together as they please.There are also instructions for more timid children or those who enjoy a step-by-step guide.
ZOOB differs from other building sets because it actually includes pieces that are essential in robotics and engineering. Kids will learn about gears, joints, and axels as they build their new favorite toy. When they finish, they can play until content or tear it apart and make something else.We like that the Zoob kits are compatible with other versions. You can mix and match pieces to create virtually anything you can think of.
Age: 36 months to 6 years
Skills: Critical thinking skills
Batteries: 4 LR44 batteries (included)
Fisher-Price’s Movi is a little robot who offers three modes of interaction for kids to inspire them to think bigger.Movi is life-like with its 360 degrees of mobility, which gets toddlers and pre-schoolers up and moving. Kids can play six different games including:
Each one works their brains and their bodies as the robot leads them in tactile entertainment. In addition to its ability to move around, Movi also comes with different visual and tactile functions to engage young children. He can make sixty different faces, and he has two light-up buttons that add an extra dimension to gameplay.
Movi offers hours of fun, but you’ll also need space to make the most of it. It’s a basic robot with the battery power to roam, but it has no impact detection and will run into furniture, feet, and any other obstacles in its way. Fisher-Price recommends a five-foot diameter play area, but you need more than that for more than a few minutes of play time.
Even small children notice that the robot gets stuck and can’t break free.The toy is generally pleasant, and it’s easy to put together, but not all the games are suitable for purpose. The tag function is a strange game because the average toddler is much faster than the robot, and the robot has no arms. Kids tend to prefer the Movi Says and Alpha Fun Says games.
Age:36 months to 6 years
Skills: Critical thinking skills
Batteries: 4 LR44 batteries (included)
Wonder Workshop’s Dash Robot is a sweet little robot on wheels that interacts with children and is perfect for schools and home learning.The robot teaches kids to code, but not in the way you might expect. Kids interact with Dash by giving it voice commands, which in turn allows them to explore important aspects of coding like events, sequences, conditions, and loops.
The whole system is open-ended, which allows kids to learn in a way that works best for them.Dash offers hours of learning and play, but you can also extend its use by syncing it with four apps created for the toy.The Wonder App is a pictured-based coding language. Blockly allows children who have mastered the basics to start to tackle advanced concepts through fun puzzles.
The Go App is a sensory app that introduces kids to the lights and sounds offered. Path introduces kids to robotics and coding and is suitable for pre-school and kindergarteners whose journey to literacy is just beginning.Almost every tech and learning award consider Dash an excellent buy. Dash won the following awards:
Will kids really learn about programming and robotics from this little guy? Parents say yes. They love Dash’s personality and think the robot is fun and sturdy. It is also an excellent teacher.
Skills: Coding, robotics, technology, and collaboration
Compatible Devices:iOS, Android, Chrome, Kindle
It’s possible to get very technical with this robot. The sensors included, such as the accelerometer and gyroscope, provide real-time data to the app and create compelling graphs. It allows kids to grasp the meaning of their activities and teaches them graph reading skills.We like Sphero SRPK+ because it’s very durable.
It’s waterproof, scratch-resistant, and uses inductive charging, so you don’t need to worry about broken cords. It does only offer an hour of battery life, so you will need to remember to charge it regularly. Customers report that their children use the robot, but sometimes they sneak in a turn after the kids go to bed. They also say that they started with cheaper robots, but the Sphero toys marked the first time they ever felt like they purchased a real robot.
Age: Five years and over
Batteries: Lithium-ion; 3 AAA batteries
Boomer, the Zoomer Dino, is more of a toy than a learning tool. It is an animated, pre-historic monster that interacts and plays as though it is an animatronic pet. Boomer can detect when your child is nearby and interacting with it and reacts to being touched.The robot gets around on two wheels where the t-rex’s feet would otherwise be.
It stays upright using what the manufacturer calls True Balance Technology, which allows him to spin around and move back and forth at will.Boomer interacts with children two ways. He roars like a dinosaur and his eyes change color to indicate his moods or show that he knows his owner is around.
For example, if you pull Boomer’s tail, his eyes turn red with anger. If you pat him on the nose, his eyes become a cool shade of green to indicate happiness.The box comes with a Zoomer Dino, a control pad, and a USB cable for charging Boomer. Although you can charge the dinosaur through a USB port, you will need batteries for the control pad.
Parents say the toy is fun, particularly for children who love dinosaurs and Jurassic Park. However, other parents say that it gets boring quickly, the battery life is short, and the tail tends to break.
Age: 10 years and older
Skills: Engineering, robotics, programming
Batteries: Lithium-ion 1800 mAh NIMH Battery
Compatibility: iOS or Android
The Meccano MeccaNoid G15 differs from every robot toy on this list because it is the only toy whereby kids build the robot themselves.The package comes with 1,100 pieces and ten motors. When complete, the robot stands at four feet tall and can capture and mimic its master’s motions. It’s a life-size, working, moving robot capable of interacting with users and even express a sense of personality.
Kids can program the robot using three different ways: Learned Intelligent Movement, Motion Capture, or Rag Doll Style. The robot then learns how to move based on what it learns from you.It also interacts with users through its eyes. Its LED eyes can switch between 500 colors to express its sense of humor.Like other toys on the list, you need a smart device to play with the robot.
It’s compatible with iOS and Android, but you must have the Meccanoid app to build and play with the robot.What do we like about MeccaNoid? It’s incredibly versatile. You can build a tall, human-shaped robot or rebuild it into anything you want including bringing it to life as a dog or dinosaur. We also like the advanced voice recognition features, which include 100 pre-programmed commands and the option to record your own commands.The robots also know fun facts, jokes, phrases, and conversation starters.
It can also take on new information and learn your name and birthday.What do parents think? They watch their children carefully and excitedly put the robot together. However, the robot doesn’t do much beyond mirror movements and tell jokes. This is not a surprise because it doesn’t come with the advanced robotics required to transform it into an autonomous robot. Still, some parents note that it is a bit of a let down after the excitement of the build.
Age: 8 years and over
Compatibility: iOS and Android
If there’s one robot toy on this list that you already know about, then it’s Anki Cozmo.Anki Cozmo is a friend, teacher, and a robot that looks like it rolled out of a Pixar movie. Anki is perfect for young children because it comes with a beginner-friendly interface and it offers the durability some other robots skip but is essential for using among little ones.What makes Anki Cozmo different?
Other robots use facial expressions or funny voices, but Anki Cozmo is more advanced. Artificial intelligence allows the robot to recognize its owner and even remember your child’s name. It can even express hundreds of different emotions, and kids have the opportunity to get to know him as they spend more time with him.The robot is emotive, but it’s also whip-smart.
It comes equipped with edge detection, which sets it apart from cheaper robot toys. He also plays many different games like memory match and Keepaway.Kids can also watch Anki explore his world from afar. Explorer Mode allows users to see the world through Anki Cozmo’s eyes through the free app on your phone.How does it teach coding? It shares knowledge in two phases including Sandbox and Constructor.
Sandbox is for beginners, and Constructor offers fun for intermediates.The Code Lab is a place of exploration that allows kids the chance to program their very own Anki Cozmo. They’ll begin coding in Sandbox where they snap together blocks—just like Cozmo’s—to create projects and teach Cozmo simple challenges like sneezing.Advanced learners can then go on to design games with Cozmo and tackle more complex projects.
The big difference between Cozmo and other robots on the market is that Cozmo includes advanced robotics and AI. Because of this, playing with the robot is a transformative experience for kids.Do you love the idea of Anki Cozmo but think you might be too old to enjoy his tricks? The makers of Cozmo made a new toy—Vector—for adults.
Vector is somewhat like an Alexa and comes with an Alexa integration as well as advanced Python-based coding activities.One thing to keep in mind is that Anki Cozmo encourages kids to play and interact with it every day to keep up with their progress. Although this is a critical part of education and STEM learning, some kids (or their parents) might find the idea stressful, particularly if they see it as a toy rather than a learning tool.
Durable robots also tend to be more flexible, which means they offer more applications and remain fun for longer periods.We also recommend looking for robots with expansion opportunities. The use of apps, games, and accessories extends the life of the robot in your child’s imagination, which continues the value of your investment in these increasingly expensive toys.
Be sure to keep an eye out for toys that are personable because they tend to be more interactive.Finally, read reviews religiously. Robot toys still tend to over-sell and under-deliver, and it becomes immediately apparent in reviews.Parents will let you know whether their kids played with the toy for five minutes or five months. They also note practical issues, like whether it works on carpet or if the battery life is a failure.