Smartwatches/Bands Toys

Moff wristband uses gestures, sound effects to make any object a toy

editors-choiceThe Premise. When it comes to a child’s imagination, any number of common household items can become tools for adventure or props to act out any number of fantasies. For centuries, the imagination has been enough to entertain, but what if there were real-world stimulus to add to the excitement of play?

The Product. The Moff band is a wearable snap bracelet that children can put on when they play make-believe. By syncing up with the Moff app on a tablet or smartphone, different modes can be chosen to simulate specified wrist movements into real-life sound effects for laser guns, sword fights, air guitar, or sports equipment. With Bluetooth support, acceleration and gyro sensors, and powered by a watch battery, the Moff is easy to put on and begin playing with immediately. For the time being, Moff only works with the five most recent generations of iOS devices, but Android compatibility is in the works.

The Pitch.  Moff CEO Akinori Takahagi introduces the Moff in a gentle, playful video that combines hand-drawn animation to represent the imagination and live play to demonstrate what the Moff is capable of. The entire presentation of all Moff’s campaign, from videos to pictures and even the app itself, is generally friendly and easy for children to understand and use as well. Moff is looking for $20,000 to get Bluetooth certification, finish tooling and bulk order the device’s internal components.

The Perks. A $45 pledge is required to get a Moff band for any child or child at heart. All products are expected to ship in July 2014.

The Potential. The Moff band is something that children should be very excited about, helping them bring their imagination into the real world. Having to be tethered to an app on a mobile device hampers the usability somewhat, as children will probably either still want to have a phone nearby to change settings or will be continually pestering parents to change the settings repeatedly. The novelty of these sound effects will be something that enraptures younger users, while those already attending grade school might look elsewhere for something more substantial. Still, children will love the idea of enhancing their play without having to break the action for sound effects.


Curiositoys takes tikes beyond gift boxes and wrapping paper

The Premise. You know how at Christmas or on their birthday, kids often play with the box in which their new toy came and the wrapping paper more than the toy? Although, it does seem that they eventually get around to the toy that came with all of that. Even when parents get a new appliance, the kids will play with the box for days, sometimes even weeks.

The Product. If it’s boxes they want, then The Curiositoys can arrange for boxes to be what they get. The one drawback to the boxes that come with the toys or appliances is that they break down pretty quickly. The Curiositoys are touted as being much more durable, and that they are white encourages kids to tap into their artistic abilities and draw on them…rather than your home’s walls. However, it’s not indicated what materials are used to make The Curiositoys more durable. The toys are also supposed to be environmentally friendly. Items presently a part of the campaign include a small geometric figure, mailbox and curio pod.

The Pitch. The video for the $130,000 campaign makes some interesting claims. The Curiositoys are something of a kid magnet that allows parents to actually have friends over without multiple interruptions because the kids are fully preoccupied with their toy. Don’t video games do that? Oh, right. This gets them out from in front of the TV. Curiositoys is made of recycled materials; it is also supposed to inspire creativity – kind of like those empty boxes in which their digital and electronic toys come.

The Perks. There are a whopping 17 tiers from which backers may choose. The first level that includes a full-size Curiositoy, the Curiositoy Mailbox, is $34. Expected delivery is June 2014. For $68, a backer gets the Curiositoy curio pod and expected delivery of September 2014.

The Potential. Kids who enjoy arts and crafts or who mom and dad just think need some time away from their gadgets will be ideal for this toy. It’s also possible that grade school teachers, preschool teachers, daycares, and faith-based organizations that cater to children may also be interested in these items. Can’t wait? An item that is somewhat similar to the curio pod and  would be the Box Creations Corrugated Play House, which comes with markers.

Cell Phone Accessories Toys

Nubo turns your iPhone into a little animatronic toy

Nubo 0fdfe40a11e00aec27ec850e5147e06d_large[1]It’s alive, master! For those of you who have become bored with your phone in its present state, Nubo has created something of a lively, pocket-sized companion. Three specialized apps and a silicon case named Nubot that looks a bit like a little green pet an alien might find in a Mars gift shop (if there were such thing) all give your phone the personality you’ve probably been longing for it to have. It waves, dances, and can even become moody – just in case you don’t already have enough moody people in your life. For $150 a backer gets a Nubot and estimated delivery of April 2014.

Technology Toys

Skirmos makes futuristic laser tag more like modern warfare

The Premise. In the ’80s, children everywhere were promised that laser tag was the sport of the future. In a sense, that prediction proved true by the number of bachelor parties that involve the game, but aside from a few dedicated arenas and the occasional attempted revival of the home version, it remains criminally uncovered by ESPN.

The Product. In its current state, the Skirmos laser tag rifle looks kind of like an airsoft gun found in Tron. With clear plastic and smart-looking colored LEDs inside, it’s what faces the gun’s user that makes the Skirmos more than just a toy gun. Using Arduino, Skirmos is fully open-source and can be programmed to track any number of stats, create any amount of game modes, and customize the laser tag experience for all players. Inspired by first-prerson shooters like Halo and Call of Duty, the built-in LCD screen can display kills, health points, ammo, and even be used to mark capture points. Players can even design killstreaks that will incentivize tagging multiple opponents without being shot.

The Pitch.  The Skirmos team shows off the gun’s capability in both indoor and outdoor environments, and also shares some visions for what the platform could support after release.  Photos show off different LED colors, and even a sample of what programming for the Skirmos will be like. The project needs $60,000 for manufacturing and design. Additionally, multiple stretch goals are in place starting at muzzle flash LEDs and more game types at the $100,000 level. Later add-ons include force feedback, RGB LEDs, accelerometers, and smartphone integration.

The Perks. Pledging $99 will result in a single Skirmos rifle arriving around the same time as the holiday season, setting the stage for an arctic battle. Higher tiers are available mostly for ordering the guns in sets of two or four.

The Potential. Skirmos offers an alternative to other combat sports that has a comparatively low entry cost considering what it can do. The only cheaper alternative might be NERF, and while they have a similarly shaped model in the upcoming N-Strike Elite NERF Cam ECS-12 Blaster, the only feature that gun offers is a camera with superimposed cross-hairs and the option to record battles. Skirmos could be the thing that revives laser tag yet again and creates memorable get-togethers with friends, assuming they can be convinced to buy their own.

Kids/Babies Toys Travel

BoosterPalz provides backseat plush comfort for the wee ones

The Premise. Aahhh, yes, the togetherness and memories of family vacations.  And as any experienced road warrior parent knows, the best time to do a road trip with the kids is going to be early evening and into late at night whenever possible. This, of course, significantly reduces the frequency of questions like, “Are we there yet?’ And comments such as, “He’s touching me!” To which she responds, “Well, he keeps flinging his leg (or arm) over to my side!” When they finally fall asleep, it’s generally in the most uncomfortable (but funny) position imaginable.

The Product. So in an effort to make everyone more comfortable, BoosterPalz presents travel pillows for the kids. Your choice of Spotz the Dog, Alli the Cat, or KoKo the Monkey is sure to keep the necks of your little tigers and tigresses from getting cricks in them, while also providing cushioning for their heads when you hit those speed bumps on highway changes. They’ll be kept fast asleep and you will be able to maintain your travel sanity within your vehicle’s walls. The magnetic paws of BoosterPalz allows kids to retain their do-it-myself independence if they choose to attach it to a seat. A convenient front pocket is the perfect storage place for toys, games and snacks, which begs the question: but is it washable? Unfortunately, this excellent question is not clearly answered, but one would hope that the creators of the product considered this since it was their kids who inspired the product.

The Pitch. The video for the $15,000 campaign is rather lengthy in its detail about the pillows, and appears to be something of a family affair, complete with pictures of the kids and a little voiceover input from them here and there. Nevertheless, it clearly explains the product. It’s actually quite amazing how much they were able to find to say about travel pillows for kids. The travel buddies also come in multiple colors, depending on which snuggle critter your child chooses.

The Perks. There are 17 tiers from which backers may choose. The $40 early bird special offers backers their choice of BoosterPal, a water bottle, and includes shipping anywhere in the US. Higher tiers offer more travel critters. Estimated delivery is May 2014.

The Potential. BoosterPalz will most likely be the most beneficial for kids who have outgrown their first car seat and may even appeal to tweens and younger teenagers, depending on their maturity level. There are multiple types of travel pillows for kids available for purchase, though the design and storage pocket set the BoosterPalz apart.

Kids/Babies Toys

Wonki Wands lets kids make monster-sized bubbles

Wonki Wands 2 d058ac7f7bad67b52054746db74bfb74_large[1]It’s funny how taking something old, tweaking it, repackaging it, and remarketing it makes it new. Even in an age of videogames and handheld gadgets, those little jars filled with soap that have those dinky wands for making midget-sized bubbles fascinate. How big can you make it before you break it? For those looking to step up their bubble’s bigness, Wonki Wands boasts of being able to make bubbles up to 40 feet in length. And the wands come in purple, pink, green, sparkle, blue, and copper-black for added affect. For a pledge of at least $24, backers get their choice of wand color and 16 ounces of bubble stuff. The expected delivery date is April 2012, and shipping is free within the US.


Flexure offers a bouncy connector toy

Flexure 64391db0d9501a09d69eaca4eacd442d_large[1]Flexure is designed with the budding engineer, architect and generally creative child in your family in mind. The connectors are made of flexible food-safe silicone, so kids (and perhaps even teens and some adults) can create items that bounce and move if they choose. The dowels are made of natural wood and come in lengths of 3, 5, and 8 inches. So the toy even has educational value in that the dowel lengths are part of the Fibonacci Sequence, which provide a convenient additive relationship such as 3+5=8. Flexure reminds one of another recent crowdfunded construction kit called Strawbees that has even more flexibility in terms of the connector length. The connectors and dowels are connected by just pushing them together — no instructions needed. For a pledge of $35, backers get one complete product, which includes 30 silicone parts (5 of each connecter) and 30 wooden dowels (10 of each length). This is a $5 savings on the anticipated retail price of the product. Expected delivery is June 2014.


Organization Toys

Lenz Frenz wear your kids glasses, store them for safekeeping

LenzFrinzAlthough kids look adorable in glasses, sometimes they can have trouble keeping track of them. Sometimes kids can be nervous about having to wear their glasses, and the Lenz Frenz was designed to give kids a cuddly way to keep track of their eyewear while easing the adjustment to their augmented visage. The soft, plushy toy has a built-in case in the back of the toy, and it also has a design that allows your child’s glasses to be worn on the animal’s face when they’re not wearing them. This is a cute idea that would be great for kids. The creators  have a small size puppy available for $25 and the full-size bear for $45, with expected delivery in May 2014.

Technology Toys

Sabertron lets the foam be with you with illuminated scored swordplay

editors-choiceThe Premise. You may have seen them dressed up like knights or monsters, waging epic battles in your local city park. For years, foam combat enthusiasts and LARPers have been getting together for sparring, but have mostly had to rely on the honor system to determine a winner until now.

The Product.  LevelUp’s Sabertron is a foam sword combat game that is looking to bring 21st century innovation to 16th combat. Beneath the humble foam exterior is a polycarbonate plastic core housing an accelerometer to detect hits, LEDs to display player damage, and a speaker to output the sounds of combat. Five different game types are available and sensitivity settings can be adjusted by the players to even the fight.

The Pitch. The campaign video explains the technology behind the game while backdropped by demonstrations and battles. It also introduces the basic game rules, lay out planned expansion for the line (including body armor and helmets that will open the game up to be played on more than a one-on-one level), and project lead David Lynch explains the project’s genesis. There are also plenty of photos that range from scrapped prototype ideas to future possibilities, a look at the technology inside each sword, and a companion Web site already developed. LevelUp is looking to raise $195,000, which will help it finalize a market-ready design, conduct safety testing, and get the swords ready for store sale. If the project reaches $400,000, the stretch goals decree that the faux swords will be equipped with a rechargeable lithium ion battery that can be charged via MicroUSB.

The Perks. At $99, backers will get a pair of Sabertron swords. The pre-release batch set to ship in August 2014 is already sold out, but backers can still pledge the same amount to get a pair of the medieval-style swords delivered by September. Sci-fi fans can get a pair of illuminated swords in the color of their choice for $125, while a model where colors can be changed on the fly is priced at $199 for a pair.

The Potential. Sabertron is designed to bring laser tag-style uniformity and gamesmanship to foam combat sports. While weekend wizards and warriors might be reluctant to give up the DIY craftsmanship they’ve practiced for so long, this would be a great way to interest new people to try out their various games. Sold in toy stores, this could easily become a high-ticket must-have item for this year’s holiday season.


Strawbees lets kids drink in a versatile construction toy

The Premise. As technology becomes more and more advanced, it is apparent that kids can still have fun with simple toys. Using their active imaginations, children don’t need fancy gadgets to play with. Construction toys remain popular because they present endless possibilities for fun and enjoyment to children.

The Product. Strawbees is a vaguely key-like small connector that acts as a joint between two plastic straws. The connectors can be purchased in several different kits that have numerous pieces in them. Because the straws are so inexpensive and easy to cut, one can create structures with many varied lengths and colors. Also, there’s not much concern about losing the connecting straws since one can pick them up in any supermarket or drug store.

The Pitch. Strawbees’ Kickstarter campaign features a video of the connectors and their attendant drinking conveyances in action, showing the hundreds of ways that it can be used, include attaching Strawbees to large pieces of cardboard or electronics. It’s interesting to see how versatile the system is and that it isn’t only fun for kids, but also useful for adults. The video even features the product being played with by a scholar from MIT. Strawbees’ creators, a.k.a. the Creatables, are hoping to raise $20,000 during their campaign.

The Perks. Strawbees is offering a Try Before You Buy Kit which includes over 40 pieces for only $15. From there, the Maker Kit (100+ pieces) is $25, the Inventor Kit (300+ pieces) is $50 and the Crazy Scientist Kit (800+ pieces and available to sane scientists as well) is $100. A pledge of $600 or more qualifies the backer for the less-than-literally-named Infinite Kit which includes plenty of Strawbees along with the machine and materials needed to make a near limitless number of Strabees structures. The highest reward tier includes the Infinite Kit and a day and a half workshop with one of Strawbees’ creators where he demonstrates the vast array of shapes that Strawbees can produce. Each reward tier, except for the workshop, has an estimated delivery date of April 2014.

The Potential. Crowdfunding has recently facilitated the launch of other recently crowdfunded building systems such as Snaak and CubeCraft. An upcycled variation of the classic Tinkertoy, Strawbees is one of those incredibly simple concepts with a million possibilities. The drinking conveyance-based system may have the edge in terms of versatility, however, and the straws needed to use Strawbees lets creations over a lot of ground without having to use a lot of pieces. One of the few drawbacks of Strawbees is that the straws needed to use it actually aren’t included in any of the kits; this takes a bit away from the out-of-box experience, but this enhances their portability.