Toys that talk, tablets that “grow up” with your kid and robots you build (and then order around) — yep, this holiday is shaping up to be the techiest ever for kids. And if you think you’ve seen it all before, just wait. The technologies fueling this year’s offerings are finally ready for prime time. That means dolls that can have lifelike conversations, toys to play with both in real life and virtually and building kits that turn kids onto STEM concepts. Most of these picks are pretty pricey, but if you’re willing to shell out the cash, you’re likely to merit a giant “thank you” in return.
1. Fisher-Price Smart Toy Bear or Monkey
Some call it cute, some call it creepy; but whatever you call it, interactive toys are the big new thing. This plush, huggable animal talks to kids and comes with activity cards to encourage play and help with everyday activities such as brushing teeth and going to bed. (Fisher-Price, $90)
2. LeapFrog Epic
Lots of parents love LeapFrog devices for the worry-free educational content and strong parental controls. The complaint has always been that kids age out of an expensive toy pretty quickly. The Epic aims to extend the life of the kiddie tablet with more customization, including the ability to unlock a full Web browser. (LeapFrog, $120)