Quirkbot marries straws and brains for childhood fun and games

Strawbees made it so that everyday straws could be connected together to construct all kinds of interesting shapes and forms. Its simplicity stems from its incredibly basic, small structure that is easily understood by all.

Now, another campaign has come along with the intention of expanding the possibilities of Strawbees. The makers behind Quirkbot have created an Arduino microcontroller that can serve as the brains of any Strawbees creation, allowing users to breathe life into them by programming lights, sounds, and motion. Quirkbot is an extremely versatile “toy to make toys,” and as such imagination is the only thing limiting the potential of what comes from the marriage of both. A donation of $63 gets backers the Quirkbot starter kit with one Quirkbot, 10 LED lights, and one Servo motor. The $55,000 campaign is looking to have the product out by August 2015.

An easy to use visual programming interface tries to make Quirkbot accessible to anyone, so that creations like dogs and hula-hooping humanoid figures can be created. Backpack extensions expand on functionality by adding additional sensors, and when it isn’t being used as the centerpiece of a figure, it can be programmed to act as a controller for any game of application. However, these creations are facing an environment filled with imaginative, creative toys all vying for children’s attention, like Snaak and CubeCraft.

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.