Connected Objects Kids/Babies Toys

Roominate rPower lets kids build app-powered toy structures

Building toys are classic playtime tools for children. Not only are they entertaining, but they also help children develop important spatial skills. Now with phones, however, children are more interested in using apps to play.

With the Roominate rPower, kids can build all kinds of things with the blocks that Roominate offers including all kinds of rooms and buildings. Some of the blocks come equipped with wires embedded into them. An accompanying app hooks up with those wired blocks and lets kids control certain elements of each room, including lights, elevators, windmills, and fans.

The Roominate rPower, featured on the hit show Shark Tank, has managed to marry the kinetic fun of building toys and the innovation of apps. Not only can they get a feel for the basics of building a house, but they also experience the joy of seeing it run. For a complete set, backers can donate $95 with estimated delivery in November 2015. Roominate is looking for a funding goal of $45,000 on Kickstarter.


Playpress toys help kids build things, gender neutrality makes it fun for all

Kids love using their imaginations to build fun worlds in which they can play. That’s why building toys are so popular with children. These toys give kids the chance to make their own rules and discover new ways to have fun.

Playpress is one such building kit. This kit features flat pieces that fit together to making buildings and cars. Each set comes with different people too for children to play with. Playpress boasts that it’s gender neutral so it’s fun for all kids to play with. These toys are made from 100% recyclable cardboard.

This product is one of those toys great for younger kids. The materials aren’t harmful and the kits make it easy to build specific things. Those who enjoy Playpress may also want to check out WoodyMac. One Playpress building kit will cost backers a £13 (~$20) donation with estimated delivery in February 2015. This building toy is hoping to raise £7,500 (~$11,300) on Kickstarter.

Connected Objects Toys

RC Brick moves building toys, couples smartphones with fun

Building blocks are the, well, building blocks of spatial learning for children. These toys are not only fun, but also allow kids to be creative while they learn to work with their hands.

RC Brick lets kids combine the fun of building things with the convenience of technology. This product works with most brick toys already on the market. It consists of motorized wheels that can move brick creations around. Using a charging cord, RC Brick plugs into any Apple or Android smartphone. The accompanying app lets the user control the movements of their RC Brick.

While this is a fun product that many kids will enjoy, it’s limited by the cord. RC Brick would do well to experiment with Bluetooth technology in order to make their device wireless. Backers will need to donate £27 (~$40) for the base model for estimated delivery in May 2015. RC Bricks hopes to raise £65,000 (~$97,400) on Kickstarter.


Bildy is a big toy construction kit for teaching STEM skills

Mounting evidence supports the theory that children need to build in order to develop important spatial, cognitive skills. Many toys are designed to hone just those skills, giving kids the tools they need to build boxes and other small structures. The British-made Bildy blows up this concept, using squares and connectors, allowing kids to build large-scale projects like forts or puppet theaters. Each kit features differently designed boards and patterns to build a variety of castles, houses, forts and even rockets. The board can be decorated either with marker or stickers that come with the kits. For the most basic package, backers can donate £35 (~$55) for estimated delivery in April 2015. Bildy hopes raise £8,000 (~$13,000) on Kickstarter.

Bildy is a great toy for younger kids. Not only does it use larger, chunky connectors difficult to swallow, it also comes with preordained sets for building. This way, kids can put together familiar structures that they can play with when assembly is done. WoodyMac features a similar concept of sets for kids to build. However, it lacks the same imagination that Bildy does and only offers houses and shops instead of forts and rockets. Also, Bildy looks easier to play with after construction is completed. Bildy may not be great for kids who like to think outside of the box, but is just the thing for the younger set of future engineers.

Kids/Babies Toys

Kids can build their dream home with WoodyMac

The Premise. Kids love building things. Many building toys are meant to be easily broken down, meaning that mini-buildings made by children aren’t that structurally sound. It’s also been a challenge for toy manufacturers to come up with a decent fastening system for pieces.

The Product. WoodyMac is a building set that uses beechwood and plywood pieces along with magnets to build things with. Different slots and pieces let WoodyMac users create neat-looking miniature buildings. This product offers a choice of kits to make an ice cream stand, supermarket, and a variety of houses. The magnets are powerful and non-toxic, making them safe for young ones. Instructions are not included in each set, so kids must use their imaginations to build.

The Pitch. WoodyMac’s campaign video talks about the need for a toy that’s both boy- and girl-friendly. The rest of the page discusses and displays the various ways each set can be put together and shows how strong the magnets are. Photos of the finished sets let backers see what they’re donating to and how each kit looks upon completions. WoodyMac hopes to raise $20,000 in 32 days on Kickstarter.

The Perks. Each kit has a different cost and comes with two early bird specials. For instance, the Classic House kit costs $75 and $110 at its sale prices and $150 at its regular price. WoodyMac has 33 reward tiers, giving backers plenty of options in their donation levels.

The Potential. Building tools are extremely important in developing spatial skills in young children. Toys like IKOS, Strawbees, XYZ, and Assembly all offer simple ways to build, but require the child’s own imagination in coming up with what to build. While that isn’t a bad thing at all, WoodyMac’s preset kits are great for younger kids who would like a goal in what they’re building. With something to work towards, these kids can better learn building techniques along with the satisfaction of completing a project. All in all, WoodyMac offers a great new connector in the building market, along with a fun activity for kids.

Kids/Babies Toys

XYZ shows that its hip to be square among building toys

The Premise. Children play with toys to learn fundamental skills they will need later in life. Building toys are particularly beneficial for kids, teaching them rules about structure and space. 

The Product. XYZ is a building toy comprised of squares that interlock together at their edges. They come in different colors and are large enough to easily create a life-size structure. Made of a recyclable material, these blocks are not only environmentally friendly, but also extremely strong. Part of the campaign features a creator standing on a four tile block with ease.

The Pitch. The campaign video for XYZ shows a few of the hundreds upon hundreds of ways that the tiles can be used. It shows the versatility of the product featuring smaller structures like laptop platforms or larger products like robots. The rest of the campaign goes into XYZ’s backstory of how the idea was conceived during a university project. This London-made product hopes to raise £30,000 in a 30-day Kickstarter campaign.

The Perks. For an early £20 or regular £25, backers can enjoy the basic cube kit which comes with six tiles. Different tiers offer different amounts of tiles. The Designers pack comes with 50 tiles of different colors for £50 early or £60 regularly. Higher tiers offer tiles that glow in the dark and change color. The highest tier of £500 give backers enough tiles to make a robot. All tiers have estimated delivery set in September 2014.

The Potential. The toy building market has seen numerous products looking for crowd funding recently. These products will either use three-dimensional blocks like CubeCraft and Snaak or will use a series of connectors, such as Strawbees. XYZ is unique in that it uses flat tiles which may not allow for the most elaborate of creations, but does allow for functional objects, such as the laptop stand. It also has potential for making larger structures, allowing children to really let their imaginations run wild in building forts for them to play inside of. All in all, this flatter product offers a new shape to the somewhat crowded toy building market.


Assembly takes kids toys building toys to human scale

AssemblyKids need to play and build with toys in order to learn some important spatial basics about the world around them. Many toys provide these lessons, but do so on a mini scale. Assembly allows children to build with tools that are life-size. It comprises of long wooden sticks that attach with special connectors, giving kids the chance to build structures, forts, or even time capsules in large sizes. For $149, backers will receive 26 connectors and 65 red oak sticks for delivery in November 2014. Assembly hopes to raise $60,000 in a 35-day Kickstarter campaign.


IKOS construction set offers arced pieces, tells other sets to hit the bricks

The Premise. Building toys are, at a first glance, perfect for young children. Somewhere along the way, however, adults began picking them up and using them to create and design new things. They offer kids a way to learn spatial patterns and adults a way to create and experiment with prototypes for their inventions.

The Product. IKOS is a building tool comprised of small pieces that lock together to create new shapes. The pieces are larger than typical building toys and come in different colors. IKOS used a modified geometrical polygon to come up with its design. These building blocks are curved and spherical, unlike most building toys which are typically flat.

The Pitch. The long campaign video shows how the adult mind behind IKOS, Mike Wong, enlisted the help of three high school students to help him create IKOS. His vision was to find a new kind of shape to create with, “How are we supposed to think outside of the box, when that’s all we have to design with?” Wong asks in the video. Despite the fact that two of the three high school students are women, the video boasts that the building tool is great for everyone including girls, hmm. The rest of the campaign shows a few of the million different things that can be made using IKOS pieces. IKOS hopes to raise $21,000 in its 32-day Kickstarter campaign.

The Perks. As with other toy building products we’ve seen the past, IKOS offers different packages for different amounts of donations. The lowest priced Young Innovator package costs $22 and comes with 40 IKOS pieces in two colors. The Innovator package comes with 120 IKOS pieces at an early-bird price of $40 and regular price of $50. Other packages offer up to 2,500 IKOS pieces for keen future or current engineers. All have an estimated delivery date of July 2014.

The Potential. IKOS’s unique quality is that it offers a building block that isn’t flat like other building tools, presenting even more building opportunities to kids, professionals and adults alike. The company hopes to branch out by manufacturing the set using recycled materials which will give it even more of an edge in the future. We’ve seen lots of fun building tools on crowdfunding sites like Strawbees, Snaak and CubeCraft that offer designers the chance to dream up new creations easily. IKOS is a different kind of tool because of its curved shape and breathes new life into the building block market.


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.