While toys like Barbie and Lego have been popular for generations, many youngsters these days prefer technological toys.
These are not only enjoyable for playtime but some can unconsciously teach children valuable skills, according to Prima Toys. And they are the trend for the coming festive season.
The southern Africa toy and game distributor’s managing director, John Jordaan, said some technological toys, such as those associated with robotics, were teaching children sequencing, which is basic computer training.
“Children are learning these skills without even knowing it,” he said.
“Ten to 15 years ago only IT people had these skills.”
Technological toys might be considered expensive in comparison with their counterparts, but they are often educational and a popular choice for both boys and girls.
An example is the Teksta 360 Puppy, a robotic dog which comes in both blue and pink. It responds to voice, movements, lights and sounds through a built-in artificial intelligence program. It also communicates its emotions with barks, whines and changes in eye patterns.
Other top technological toys are huggable robotic pets called Fingerlings, miniature interactive robot PokiBots which can move, spin, dance and talk, and Robo Chameleon, which shoots out its tongue to snap up “food”. Boys and girls still prefer to choose their own toys, Jordaan said, with girls “more picky” as they enjoyed playing with a variety of toys, while boys were “more simple” in their choices.
According to Prima Toys, one of the top toys for girls is the LOL Surprise, which has become a phenomenon across the globe. This ball-like item offers five to seven layers of surprises.
Toy enthusiast Chiquita Patrizi, who addressed the event, said these toys were so popular they are often sold out in the country and in the world. “Children are even unwrapping them in the stores as soon as they are bought,” she said.
Other top toys for girls include miniature grocery items collectibles, Shopkins, a retro toy; Baby Secrets, another collectibles range that identifies if the character is a boy or a girl when it’s bathed in water; and Pikmi Pops and Cake Pops, which also offers a surprise element.
Meanwhile, Benjamin Tennyson, who moonlights as Ben 10, a TV series superhero with special powers, is the top toy brand for boys.
Others include the Big Hero 6 range based on the animated superhero series of that name, and Treasure X, a toy that engages the senses as children scratch, dig and unearth “lost bounty”.