For as much as you’ve tried to teach your kids to genuinely appreciate every gift they receive (“Wow, new dress socks? Thanks, Grandma!”), you also hate to see them disappointed when a present misses the mark. So, don’t miss. Here are 10 toys that your 8-year-old won’t have to fake being excited about.
In addition to counting steps, the Garmin Vivofit Jr. notes how much the wearer sleeps (or pretends to sleep) and tallies the number of minutes he spends each day not playing Super Smash Brothers. It then reports that “activity” data to a smartphone app. Motivate kids with games where they unlock levels or earn coins (to be redeemed by good old you for agreed-upon rewards), assign chores, and set reminder alarms. When the band beeps/flashes: the wearer knows it’s time to put down Minecraft and stack that firewood IRL.
Nerf Rebelle FocusFire Crossbow
Just like real gun manufacturers, Hasbro also makes a series of weapons aimed at little girls. The whole genderized weapons thing aside, these 2 newest models kick ass: The one-shot Nerf Rebelle Truepoint Blaster has a red-beam “laser” sight and FocusFire Crossbow has a 5-shot spinning drum. Combine it with the new AccuStrike dart that’s designed to actually hit the target and you can’t miss.
Razor Hover Trax 2.0
The Hover Trax 2.0 is the second generation of Razor’s high-tech, self-balancing scooter (fine, “hoverboard“) that can hit 8 mph and ride for up to 60 minutes on a single charge of its 36V lithium-ion battery pack. It’s got fender bumpers, 2 modes (for training and everyday use), and can hold up to 220 pounds — so you can make fun of yourself as you “borrow it” to ride to the office.
An 8-year-old isn’t ready for a Leica just yet. Instead, give them this colorful case. It transforms any old smartphone into a camera with a working shutter button, an easy-to-hold rubber grip, and focus/film advance knobs that don’t actually work but, hey, your kids don’t need to know that. It also comes with activity cards and scavenger hunts designed to get them off the couch and out learning about photography.
3Doodler Start Essentials Pen Set
The 3Doodler looks familiar because it’s designed by the same folks who brought you that original 3D printing pen that turns unrecognizable drawings into unrecognizable sculptures. What makes this one kid-friendly is the proprietary bioplastic thread, which comes out cool and hardens in seconds, so you can touch and shape it without getting burned. Also note, the pen itself has no hot points. Yes, it’s big and chunky, but that just makes it easier to manipulate with fingers that are little and chunky.
A rare word game that is both educational for kids and wildly entertaining for adults, Anaxi is a competitive vocabulary lesson for family game night that uses Venn diagrams — those things you kind of remember from high school. Basically, it’s a timed game where you have to write down words with overlapping qualities. For example, Brown + Furry + Hilarious = Alf. The smarter the answer, the higher the score. Play continues for 5 rounds and whoever possesses the strongest vocabulary wins. Or it is whomever?
Players: 2 – 6
Anki Overdrive is 50-percent slot cars, 50 percent Mario Kart, 100 percent mindblowing. Each app-controlled, intelligent robot car has a unique personality and driving style — plus customizable speed, defenses, and weapons. The new giant Supertrucks are 3 times the size of the original cars and come in 2 models: The Freewheel and the X52. They also feature an exclusive new game mode called Takeover. As you once learned in Days Of Thunder, rubbin’ is racin’.
Go-Ped company has been around since 1997, making those gas-powered scooters the older kids in your neighborhood whipped around on in the cul-de-sac on. Today they make a same sturdy platform, but without the motor. The Know-Ped is stylish, durable, and has the added benefit of a foldable handlebar. Tell them they can think about upgrading when they start to grow a bad teenage mustache.
I Am Elemental Female Action Figures
The most subversive element of these action figures isn’t that they’re all female and designed with realistic body proportions. Rather, it’s the subtle shift from “characters with superpowers” to “characters as superpowers,” which erases a gap between the kid and the toy (not to mention kid and gender), and encourages them to embody what each figure represents — things like bravery, honesty, and persistence. So, the birthday kid gets a lesson in self-confidence and a toy that will be perfectly comfortable kicking Boba Fett’s ass while riding a Transformer.
PowerUp FPV Paper Airplane VR Drone
The PowerUp FPV is a collaboration with Parrot, leaders in smartphone-connected devices and consumer drones, to deliver “the first-ever paper airplane drone with a live streaming camera.” Setup is as simple as folding your plane, snapping on the lightweight, microchip-powered carbon fiber propeller, rudder, and camera, and then setting it free. Teach them the “selfie takeoff” so your grumpy ass can still complain about the kids these days while acknowledging there’s a new paper king of the skies.