Drones

In Pictures: Technology proves big fun at the Nuremberg Toy Fair

In Pictures: Technology proves...
High-tech sights from the 2015 Nuremberg Toy Fair (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
High-tech sights from the 2015 Nuremberg Toy Fair (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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We originally saw the Hot Wheels Darth Vader car at SEMA 2014, but Nuremberg is the first time we see it the cockpit open (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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We originally saw the Hot Wheels Darth Vader car at SEMA 2014, but Nuremberg is the first time we see it the cockpit open (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
The first thing to greet us after walking over from the train station is this life-sized, Star Wars-themed Hot Wheels car (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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The first thing to greet us after walking over from the train station is this life-sized, Star Wars-themed Hot Wheels car (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
Our first look inside the Hot Wheels Darth Vader car (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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Our first look inside the Hot Wheels Darth Vader car (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
No need to push this Hot Wheels; it features a 526-hp LS3 engine (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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No need to push this Hot Wheels; it features a 526-hp LS3 engine (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
The Darth Vader car made appearances at last year's San Diego Comic-Con and Las Vegas SEMA Show before showing up at this year's Nuremberg Toy Fair (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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The Darth Vader car made appearances at last year's San Diego Comic-Con and Las Vegas SEMA Show before showing up at this year's Nuremberg Toy Fair (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
The Bionic Bird was helped to production by a successful Indiegogo campaign (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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The Bionic Bird was helped to production by a successful Indiegogo campaign (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
The Bionic Bird offers a different type of remote controlled flying experience (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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The Bionic Bird offers a different type of remote controlled flying experience (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
French company Opale Paramodels offers drone parachutes and RC paragliders (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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French company Opale Paramodels offers drone parachutes and RC paragliders (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
A full-sized paramotor at Opale's booth (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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A full-sized paramotor at Opale's booth (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
Tamiya shows a prototype of its 1/10-scale RC Unimog 425 ...
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Tamiya shows a prototype of its 1/10-scale RC Unimog 425 ...
... and the real thing (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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... and the real thing (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
A full-blown Unimog is a good way of drawing attention to your remote-controlled vehicle booth (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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A full-blown Unimog is a good way of drawing attention to your remote-controlled vehicle booth (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
Mercedes-Benz Unimog on display at the Tamiya booth (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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Mercedes-Benz Unimog on display at the Tamiya booth (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
A drone takes flight inside DJI's demo area (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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A drone takes flight inside DJI's demo area (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
The DJI Inspire 1 4K drone (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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The DJI Inspire 1 4K drone (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
The DJI Inspire 1 combines high-tech features like carbon fiber construction, 4K filming and retractable landing gear (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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The DJI Inspire 1 combines high-tech features like carbon fiber construction, 4K filming and retractable landing gear (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
DJI Inspire 1 (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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DJI Inspire 1 (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
First Person View (FPV) Blade Nano QX and Vapor at Horizon Hobby (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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First Person View (FPV) Blade Nano QX and Vapor at Horizon Hobby (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
The new Alien X250 quadcopter (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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The new Alien X250 quadcopter (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
Explorer drones from Chinese brand Zero (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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Explorer drones from Chinese brand Zero (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
Ken Block's Hoonigan Ford Fiesta (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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Ken Block's Hoonigan Ford Fiesta (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
Not quite as impressive as the wooden boats we saw at Boot Düsseldorf, but this Aero-naut model is still pretty nice (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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Not quite as impressive as the wooden boats we saw at Boot Düsseldorf, but this Aero-naut model is still pretty nice (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
The PowerRider 360 is like Razor's Crazy Cart for younger children (ages 8+) (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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The PowerRider 360 is like Razor's Crazy Cart for younger children (ages 8+) (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
The PowerRider 360's electric motor pushes young riders to speeds up to 9 mph (14.5 km/h) (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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The PowerRider 360's electric motor pushes young riders to speeds up to 9 mph (14.5 km/h) (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
The new Micro mini2go is a push bike and scooter for young children (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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The new Micro mini2go is a push bike and scooter for young children (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
The versatile mini2go can be pushed by the child, controlled by an adult or transformed into a kick scooter (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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The versatile mini2go can be pushed by the child, controlled by an adult or transformed into a kick scooter (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
It took a minute to get the hang of pedaling the stand-up drivetrain of the Micro PedalFlow, but once I did, I breezed down the aisle of the toy fair (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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It took a minute to get the hang of pedaling the stand-up drivetrain of the Micro PedalFlow, but once I did, I breezed down the aisle of the toy fair (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
Micro Luggage three-wheeled luggage scooter (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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Micro Luggage three-wheeled luggage scooter (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
KHW shows its prototype sand sled (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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KHW shows its prototype sand sled (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
The KHW sled uses a specially designed plastic to glide on sand (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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The KHW sled uses a specially designed plastic to glide on sand (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
The BERG Buzzy Fiat 500 edition (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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The BERG Buzzy Fiat 500 edition (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
Mercedes AMG Petronas hybrid F1 race car (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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Mercedes AMG Petronas hybrid F1 race car (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
Another interesting bicycle innovation, this BERG E-Gran Tour is an electric-assist, pedaled four-wheeler good for the whole family (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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Another interesting bicycle innovation, this BERG E-Gran Tour is an electric-assist, pedaled four-wheeler good for the whole family (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
The E-Gran Tour seats two adults and two children and offers e-assist speeds up to 5.6 mph (9 km/h) with its 500-watt motor (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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The E-Gran Tour seats two adults and two children and offers e-assist speeds up to 5.6 mph (9 km/h) with its 500-watt motor (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
Maverix superhero-themed electric skateboards (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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Maverix superhero-themed electric skateboards (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
Maverix offers a full line of electric-powered skateboards (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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Maverix offers a full line of electric-powered skateboards (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
The relaxed-looking Mobo Shift is billed as the world's first three-wheeled cruiser with reverse function (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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The relaxed-looking Mobo Shift is billed as the world's first three-wheeled cruiser with reverse function (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
Back to the future at the 2015 Nuremberg Toy Fair (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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Back to the future at the 2015 Nuremberg Toy Fair (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
Back to the future at the 2015 Nuremberg Toy Fair (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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Back to the future at the 2015 Nuremberg Toy Fair (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
The Baby Stars-rock2sleep snu:mee combines a baby monitor and music box for infants with an MP3 player designed to be used when the child gets older (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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The Baby Stars-rock2sleep snu:mee combines a baby monitor and music box for infants with an MP3 player designed to be used when the child gets older (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
HexBug micro-robotic creepy-crawly (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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HexBug micro-robotic creepy-crawly (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
The SurfStep in Nuremberg's Trends Gallery (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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The SurfStep in Nuremberg's Trends Gallery (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
The SurfStep uses a skateboard deck-powered rocker drivetrain to send the rider rolling forward (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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The SurfStep uses a skateboard deck-powered rocker drivetrain to send the rider rolling forward (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
SurfStep closeup (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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SurfStep closeup (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
The Silverlit Blu-Bot lets you control facial expressions and movements down to the fingers (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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The Silverlit Blu-Bot lets you control facial expressions and movements down to the fingers (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
The Variobot tibo is a small robotics kit (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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The Variobot tibo is a small robotics kit (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
The Meccanoid is a child-sized robot designed to teach programming and robotics (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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The Meccanoid is a child-sized robot designed to teach programming and robotics (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
This contraption from Germany's Bareinz TischLerei Bau und Mobel Schlosserei is part hamster wheel, part ferris wheel (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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This contraption from Germany's Bareinz TischLerei Bau und Mobel Schlosserei is part hamster wheel, part ferris wheel (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
Wind energy kit at Nuremberg's "Little Scientists" area (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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Wind energy kit at Nuremberg's "Little Scientists" area (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
Mini robots take over the Nuremberg Toy Fair (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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Mini robots take over the Nuremberg Toy Fair (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
Spin Master Zoomer Dinos (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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Spin Master Zoomer Dinos (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
Vtech offers a smartwatch for children (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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Vtech offers a smartwatch for children (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
The colorful Vtech Kidizoom Smartwatchoffers eight functions in one package, including a camera and games (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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The colorful Vtech Kidizoom Smartwatchoffers eight functions in one package, including a camera and games (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
The Highwayfreak Scoot & Ride push bike/scooter wins a 2015 Toy Award (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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The Highwayfreak Scoot & Ride push bike/scooter wins a 2015 Toy Award (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
The Nadin Huber Carlinero is a table, a play cave, a rocker and a slide in one (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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The Nadin Huber Carlinero is a table, a play cave, a rocker and a slide in one (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
The Nadin Huber Carlinero is a table, a play cave, a rocker and a slide in one (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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The Nadin Huber Carlinero is a table, a play cave, a rocker and a slide in one (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
The Nadin Huber Carlinero is a table, a play cave, a rocker and a slide in one (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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The Nadin Huber Carlinero is a table, a play cave, a rocker and a slide in one (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
Roco's Next Generation model railroads combine physical toy trains with virtual games (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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Roco's Next Generation model railroads combine physical toy trains with virtual games (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
Roco's Next Generation model railroads combine physical toy trains with virtual games (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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Roco's Next Generation model railroads combine physical toy trains with virtual games (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
In addition to Roco Next Generation trains, Modelleisenbahn Gruppe also shows a smart car racetrack concept (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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In addition to Roco Next Generation trains, Modelleisenbahn Gruppe also shows a smart car racetrack concept (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
The race cars have built-in cameras, offering POV video (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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The race cars have built-in cameras, offering POV video (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
Osmo uses a simple iPad camera mirror to bring real gameplay into the virtual world (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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Osmo uses a simple iPad camera mirror to bring real gameplay into the virtual world (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
Osmo comes with three games that combine real and virtual play: the Tangram puzzle game, the pong-like Newton game that uses physical objects as rackets, and the Words letter game (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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Osmo comes with three games that combine real and virtual play: the Tangram puzzle game, the pong-like Newton game that uses physical objects as rackets, and the Words letter game (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
We spent a few minutes mesmerized by the Sphero app-controlled ball as it rolled its way around an obstacle course (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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We spent a few minutes mesmerized by the Sphero app-controlled ball as it rolled its way around an obstacle course (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
Ubtech's humanoid robot performs an impressive dance routine (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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Ubtech's humanoid robot performs an impressive dance routine (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
Ubtech's humanoid robot performs an impressive dance routine (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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Ubtech's humanoid robot performs an impressive dance routine (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
The Egoista was originally revealed as part of Lamborghini's 50th anniversary celebration in 2013 (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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The Egoista was originally revealed as part of Lamborghini's 50th anniversary celebration in 2013 (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
The Egoista is the big draw at the booth of MR Collection Models (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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The Egoista is the big draw at the booth of MR Collection Models (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
Unfortunately we missed Lamborghini design chief Filippo Perini, who also made an appearance at MR Collection's booth (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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Unfortunately we missed Lamborghini design chief Filippo Perini, who also made an appearance at MR Collection's booth (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
The Egoista is a single-seat sports car with 600-hp engine (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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The Egoista is a single-seat sports car with 600-hp engine (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
Given that we haven't seen the Egoista at any of the international auto shows we've attended since its debut, we were very surprised (and excited) to see it at a toy fair (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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Given that we haven't seen the Egoista at any of the international auto shows we've attended since its debut, we were very surprised (and excited) to see it at a toy fair (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
MR Collection uses the real Egoista to draw attention to its models (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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MR Collection uses the real Egoista to draw attention to its models (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
Up close and personal with Lamborghini's Egoista (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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Up close and personal with Lamborghini's Egoista (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
Not too different from the Sphero, but aimed at young children 12 months+, the Kick and Drive from Ukraine's Meli Dadi, is a remote controlled ball (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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Not too different from the Sphero, but aimed at young children 12 months+, the Kick and Drive from Ukraine's Meli Dadi, is a remote controlled ball (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
3D printing is another popular tech trend represented at the toy fair by the Bonsai Lab BS Toy (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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3D printing is another popular tech trend represented at the toy fair by the Bonsai Lab BS Toy (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
Israel-based Seebo highlights its smart toy technology with this goofy, video game-integrated stuffed toy (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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Israel-based Seebo highlights its smart toy technology with this goofy, video game-integrated stuffed toy (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
Seebo shows how its smart toy technology brings Mookie Toys' Pebli Town to life with tablet-based stories and gameplay (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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Seebo shows how its smart toy technology brings Mookie Toys' Pebli Town to life with tablet-based stories and gameplay (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
Children can hear different stories by repositioning the Pebli Town workers as prompted (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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Children can hear different stories by repositioning the Pebli Town workers as prompted (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
Micro is working on a scooter with integrated lock (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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Micro is working on a scooter with integrated lock (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
The Micro scooter's lock pulls right out of the handlebars (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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The Micro scooter's lock pulls right out of the handlebars (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
We use this Lego app brick to swat bugs into a goal in the accompanying tablet game (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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We use this Lego app brick to swat bugs into a goal in the accompanying tablet game (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
Not only does this Lego Ultra Agents battleship have an app brick, it has a variety of working guns (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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Not only does this Lego Ultra Agents battleship have an app brick, it has a variety of working guns (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
Lego shows its smart Ultra Agents kits (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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Lego shows its smart Ultra Agents kits (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
Lego shows its smart Ultra Agents kits (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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Lego shows its smart Ultra Agents kits (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
Lego shows its smart Ultra Agents kits (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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Lego shows its smart Ultra Agents kits (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
Lego plans to release the first batch of five Ultra Agent kits in Germany this month, with the rest to follow in August (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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Lego plans to release the first batch of five Ultra Agent kits in Germany this month, with the rest to follow in August (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
Lego shows its smart Ultra Agents kits (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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Lego shows its smart Ultra Agents kits (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
Our last view of the Nuremberg Toy Fair is quite similar to our first, albeit illuminated in the dark and dusted with snow (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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Our last view of the Nuremberg Toy Fair is quite similar to our first, albeit illuminated in the dark and dusted with snow (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
High-tech sights from the 2015 Nuremberg Toy Fair (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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High-tech sights from the 2015 Nuremberg Toy Fair (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
View gallery - 89 images

It might seem strange that Gizmag spent a good chunk of the busy month of January playing with toys at two major toy fairs, London and Nuremberg. The toy segment is following consumer technology closely, though, and many of the same trends that we see at major shows like CES and IFA are also evident at the international toy fairs ... only in smaller, simpler, more child-friendly packages. Proclaimed as the world's biggest toy fair, the Nuremberg Toy Fair ("Spielwarenmesse" in German), which wrapped up earlier this week, gave us a good feel for how toy companies are incorporating the latest technologies, including robotics and connectivity.

Toys get smarter

One of the biggest trends at CES 2015 was ordinary, everyday items getting smart by way of wireless connectivity and control. This proved a major trend at the Nuremberg Toy Fair, too, with smartphone/tablet connectivity adding new dimensions to classic staples like Legos and toy trains.

Roco's Next Generation model railroads combine physical toy trains with virtual games (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
Roco's Next Generation model railroads combine physical toy trains with virtual games (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)

Toy train manufacturer Roco blurs lines between real and digital worlds with its "Next Generation" train set line, which it launched just in time for the 2014 holiday season. Aimed at children ages six to 12, Next Generation capitalizes on this age group's enthusiasm for video games and smart devices by combining physical H0-scale train sets with an iOS/Android app. The app not only allows the child to control the train via smart device, but it also integrates the physical train into virtual games. The games present the child with problems that must be solved using the real-life trains.

In Nuremberg, Roco revealed its global intentions for the line, showing the new "Detective Tom" Next Generation train set in English, Spanish and Mandarin. The set will start at €149 (approx. US$169).

I wasn't much of a train conductor as a kid, but I did spend hours and hours racing mini sports cars on my Tyco racetrack. In looking back, I'm kind of glad my parents didn't let me get video games until I was older because I might not have the great memories of car racing today. Going head to head with my dad after he got home from work right before I went to bed and laughing hysterically when a fellow racer's car went flying off a touchy corner are memories that replay vividly in my mind as if they happened last week.

In addition to Roco Next Generation trains, Modelleisenbahn Gruppe also shows a smart car racetrack concept (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
In addition to Roco Next Generation trains, Modelleisenbahn Gruppe also shows a smart car racetrack concept (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)

Roco's parent company Modelleisenbahn Gruppe also showcased a smart racetrack from Carrera at its stand. The track, which was labeled as a "concept design study," offered smart device control of the slot cars and created a racing game that augmented head-to-head physical racing with virtual gameplay elements. In the middle of racing the car, it pulled over to the pit stop area on the track and the onscreen game prompted me to change the tire. With a few pokes of the touchscreen, the tire was changed and the race car was circling the track once again. It was a fun twist on one of my favorite childhood toys, and I can see how the virtual add-on could help keep today's children engaged and entertained, pulling them back into the real world – at least partially.

Combining physical toys with virtual stories and games isn't a strategy limited to toy vehicles. Each of the eight "Ultra Agents" build sets Lego showed in Nuremberg includes a single "app brick." Not only does the app brick serve as part of the build – vehicles like battleships and helicopters – but it also works with an accompanying smart device, bringing the child into a graphic novel-style story and offering various simpler games and puzzles. By completing missions, players can also open up hidden instructions for physical Lego builds.

Lego shows its smart Ultra Agents kits (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
Lego shows its smart Ultra Agents kits (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)

The Ultra Agents sets will hit the German market in two waves starting this month, with prices ranging between €20 and €90. Some of the kits are already available in the United States, with others set to launch in March.

Robotics brought to life

Robotics gives toymakers another tool in spicing up old childhood classics with new technology. Remember the Meccano set (Erector if you did your childhood building in the US)? Now, the century-old company is advancing far beyond multi-holed struts and bolts to design one of the most advanced toys the world has ever seen. The Meccanoid G15 KS brings robotics and basic programming to life. The build-up, child-sized robot includes articulated movements via a number of integrated servos, along with a voice recognition platform.

The Meccanoid is a child-sized robot designed to teach programming and robotics (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
The Meccanoid is a child-sized robot designed to teach programming and robotics (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)

At Meccano's demonstration, we saw how programming the robot was as simple as moving it and saying something aloud and watching it repeat both the movement and statement. There is also an accompanying app that allows for remote control and mimicking through motion capture, and the whole system is open source, allowing for more advanced programming experimentation as the child progresses. While it looks a lot different than the Meccano (or Erector) set you remember from childhood, it uses the same exact types of components, albeit constructed of durable polycarbonate, allowing the child to break it down and build it back up as something new. The holes are the same size, too, so he or she can even add pieces from dad's old Meccano set in the attic.

Meccano told us that it's about two or three prototypes away from the production version, which it plans to ready by August. It expects pricing to come in around $400 and plans to distribute through mainstream outlets like Toys "R" Us and Target.

The Variobot tibo is a small robotics kit (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
The Variobot tibo is a small robotics kit (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)

For children that might be intimidated by such a large robot (or parents that might be intimidated by its large price), there are also plenty of smaller robotic toys for learning and playing. Variobot showcased its tibo robotic kit, a small, award-winning DIY wheeled robot that uses a series of light sensors to differentiate between light and dark, maneuver around objects, follow light, communicate with other robots via infrared and more. The child can start off with simple designs, then use the kit of circuit boards, motors, resistors, capacitors, LED lights, etc. to make the tibo more advanced and vary its behavior. The kit is available in Germany for around €80.

Drones create a buzz

Drones are really just smarter, more function-packed versions of the RC helicopters that kids fly around the park on sunny weekend afternoons. It was no surprise, therefore, that drones were all over the toy fair. What was a bit of a surprise was just how many toy companies felt compelled to buzz their drones about in transparent "look at me" fashion. A few had netted drone-flying areas, while others just flew them around the walkways in front of their booths. We were able to ignore the incessant buzzing long enough to focus in on a few drones that rose well above the pack, figuratively speaking.

DJI Inspire 1 (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
DJI Inspire 1 (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)

The new Inspire 1 from DJI immediately caught our attention with its black-and-white design, and it held it with a laundry list of high-end features. In a drone world that's still largely 1080p, the 4K/30fps camera sets the Inspire 1 apart. That camera enjoys 360 degrees worth of clean shooting thanks to the carbon fiber arms that lift out of sight at the flick of a switch. The drone also delivers real-time video streaming (720p) and maneuvers as adeptly indoors as out thanks to its Vision Positioning sensor set. Dual-operator mode allows one person to fly the drone and another to operate the camera, giving the operator one more way of getting the perfect footage. The Inspire 1 is available now for $2,899 with a single remote or $3,399 with dual remotes.

The Bionic Bird offers a different type of remote controlled flying experience (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
The Bionic Bird offers a different type of remote controlled flying experience (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)

Another interesting gadget of the sky, the Bionic Bird abandons the familiar heli/quadcopter form for a more natural, bird-mimicking design. It's controlled via an iOS or Android device, and a simple tilt or swipe adjusts movement as desired. The bird only flies for about 7.5 minutes, but the egg-shaped magnetic charger is portable, offering up to 10 charges in the field. It is available for preorder at €99.

New ways to roll down the street

While not typically as high-tech as anything called a robot or drone, the bike and scooter segment is one that is constantly seeing innovation and new designs. Nuremberg proved that such innovation is as common on kid bikes as is it is on bikes aimed at adult commuters and racers. There were numerous interesting bikes and scooters on display, including a few electric models.

We've come across stepper scooters and bikes like the Staircycle and Me-Mover, as well as rocker scooters like the Rockerboard. They all claim some fitness advantages, but not one of them looks as fun as a traditional bike or kick scooter.

The SurfStep in Nuremberg's Trends Gallery (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
The SurfStep in Nuremberg's Trends Gallery (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)

The SurfStep we saw within the Nuremberg Trend Gallery looks like a step-style scooter with enough fun factor to capture a child's imagination. Instead of two separate foot platforms or a single curved teeter, it uses a flat, skateboard-inspired platform to transform a surf-like motion into forward roll up to 15.5 mph (25 km/h). Not only does the rider get some stepper workout benefits, but he or she enjoys a skate-style scooter that can launch into the air and play in the skate park – things one would probably avoid on a big, heavy exercise machine like the ElliptiGO 3C. The scooter isn't as compact as basic kick scooters, but it does fold up for quick carry and transport. It also adjusts in height.

The SurfStep is an old concept that's undergone a recent facelift and reinvigorated marketing push. Originally launched in 2001, the SurfStep was redesigned in 2013 with a reworked frame and brand-new components. It's been showing up at toy fairs, sports shows and in internet videos pretty regularly since last year and is available for preorder at a price of €249.

The versatile mini2go can be pushed by the child, controlled by an adult or transformed into a kick scooter (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
The versatile mini2go can be pushed by the child, controlled by an adult or transformed into a kick scooter (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)

Micro had a number of innovative bike, trike and scooter designs on display, the most prominent of which was its new mini2go trike, a two-in-one design for small children between 18 months and five years old. It starts off as a stable, low-to-ground push trike with an integrated storage bin perfect for toys, snacks and other bring-alongs. The child can push him or herself forward, or an adult can do so with the extendable rear push handle. The bin and seat remove and the handlebar adjusts in height, turning the mini2go into a three-wheeled kick scooter.

Other interesting mobility products at Micro's booth included the latest version of its PedalFlow, a foldable scooter with stand-up pedal drivetrain, and a prototype scooter with built-in lock.

Up close and personal with Lamborghini's Egoista (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
Up close and personal with Lamborghini's Egoista (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)

Take a look in our photo gallery for more high-tech and innovative toys that follow these and other popular trends. While kids were the overwhelming focus of the show, we also saw a few toys for grown-ups, including an unexpected appearance by the one-of-a-kind Lamborghini Egoista, a car we hadn't even seen at major international auto shows.

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