Drones, Foam and Mario Karts: the Best of London Toy Fair 2015

By Spencer Hart on at

Last week we headed out west (a bit) to check out the London Toy Fair or, as we like to call it: The Funnest Place on Earth. (And yes, "funnest" is a word – when you're regressing to primary-school age, everything's a word.)

But with more than 280 manufacturers, ranging from international mega-firms to tiny, bitty start-ups, Olympia became like one massive, oversized toy shop. Well, a massive, oversized toy shop that had its contents emptied and stored in a train station.

But we endeavoured to march straight past the stuffed bears and Barbie dolls – well, most of them – and made a bee-line to the tech-filled toys of the future. So here's what to buy "for the kids" this year…

1.) The Trick Drone: Revell Rayvore

If 2014 was the Year of the Drones, 2015 is set to be… the Year of the Drones II: Drone Harder. But while we're still finding many a laugh with the DJI Phantoms, one of the most exciting drones we found was this fast and stable little entry-level number, which is capable of more than the odd mid-air stunt.

The best bit? Its indestructibility -- we saw the thing trampled on and flown into walls, only to rise up again from the plastic ashes.

Price: £59.99
Release date: February 2015

2.) The Battle Upgrade: Nerf N-Strike Modulus

We love Nerf Guns at Giz, perhaps too much, and the cat-terrorising toy maker has upped its game with the Modulus ECS-10 blaster. As the name suggests, this is the Project Ara of shooting foam in people's face as it has a completely modular design, allowing kids to customise their weapon with a number of attachments. It's pretty much Call of Duty's pick ten system in Nerf form/foam.

So you – or your opponent, if you're tight and like losing – have the option to add a precision scope, stock with integrated clip storage, dual-rail barrel, drop-down grip, banana clip and tactical rails.

Price: £49.99
Release date: Autumn 2015

3.) The Make-Your-Own Robot: Meccano Meccanoid G15 KS

The Meccanoid, despite the rather intimidating name, is an adorable personal robot
that children aged 5-14 should be able to build/help you build. It features the latest metal Meccano parts – hence the name – and is build on an easy-to-use open-source robotic building platform.

Of course, like everything nowadays, it's controllable via an app, but the robot also features a 'Mecca Brain' and voice-recognition software, so it can tell jokes, initiate conversations, play games and presumably tell you when you suck at said games.

Price: £265
Release date: August 2015

4.) The Build-Your-Own Weapon: K'nex K-Force

With customisable toy guns and assemblage projects clearly all the rage this year, K-Force is your one-stop shop for on-trend toy buying. It's a completely customisable range of blasters that are capable of firing foam darts up to 75 feet and pack a surprising punch (we took one in the chest in the name of testing).

But isn't it great when toy companies – any companies – listen to what their customers want? In this case K'nex found a lot of children were searching online for "how to make a gun from K'nex". And like that… their slightly scary kiddie prayers were answered.

Price: From £14.99
Release date: TBC

5.) The Motion Fighter: Teenage Mutant Ninja Battroborgs

Ninja Turtles are cool again, but it's 2015, so children no longer need to smash their toys together to simulate fighting -- instead they can control them with precision katana controllers. Or, in other words: a motion-sensing overhaul of these old guys.

So yes, the controllers act just like a Wii remote, with your stabbing and slashing movements trying to get all eight AA batteries in the damn thing mimicked by the characters in the battle arena.

Price: £49.99
Release date: Available Now

6.) The AR Tamagotchi: Animin

Animin is an augmented-reality mobile game-cum-tamagotchi that brings a digital pet to life using a smartphone or tablet's camera. The aim of the game is to care for your Animin – no, really care for it, guys – and play a range of nicely designed games with your new little friend.

Like the 3DS, PS Vita and various other devices before that, this super-imposes the little guy on your desktop. Presumably when Hololens is a product we can actually buy, our entire flats could be riddled with these things, so time to get some practice in a contained environment.

Price: App is free to download; the full version, along with a game card, costs £4.99
Release date: Available Now

7.) The Nexus Animals: Little Live Pets

Continuing the pet theme, with a dash of robotics (another big trend this year), was Teksta Newborns and Little Live Pets. We were particularly taken with the latter's Turtle (above), who will happily swim his cartoony frame around a water tank and then walk on land like a genuine transformer.

The benefits to robotic pets are clear: you don't need to clean up after them, it doesn't matter if you forget to feed them, if they die you can simply replace the battery, and all the time you feel just a little bit more like Deckard in Blade Runner.

Price: £17.99
Release date: Autumn 2015

8.) Smart Magic for Smart Devices: Marvin's iMagic

Moving a ball around in a cup and shuffling a deck of cards is all well and good, but we now live in a time where you can turn your telly on using your voice (if you say the right words, at the right speed, pitch and volume), so what's more magical? Not you, Paul McKenna, that's who.

Marvin's iMagic is trying to bring magic tricks into the 21st century, with an app that aids you on your journey to become a knock-off Harry Potter next Christmas. The starter pack includes augmented reality (there are those words again) playing cards and X-ray dice, perfect for the high-tech magician.

Price: TBC
Release date: Autumn 2015

9.) The Flying Spy Cam: Extreme Fliers Micro Drone 3.0

Yep, another one, but bear with us: this one's smaller and more expensive than the other one, but these are both actually good things. It means it's faster, more agile and more durable.

Plus, it can do more, with an optional camera attachment packing the smallest motorised gimbal we've ever seen and the ability to stream back video which can be viewed on Google Cardboard. Did we mention it was British-made too? No? Well, there you go.

Price: £99
Release date: Late 2015

10.) The GoPro for Kids: VTech Kidizoom Fun Cam

The VTech Kidizoom Fun Cam is a rugged action camera – no surprise there. However, this one's for children, meaning its big and not-too-pricey with unfiddly buttons and an uber-reinforced case with waterproof cover. There's not a word anywhere on megapixel-count but it comes with expandable microSD memory and, of course, a variety of mounts and waterproof cases. Expect hilarious videos of other people's six-year-olds falling off skateboards to follow – and use them as advance notice of peeved other parents.

Price: £49.99

Release date: Available Now.

11.) The Real-Life Mario Kart: Razor Crazy Cart XL

We loved the Razor Crazy Cart, a small electric ride-on that can be drifted like a Mario kart. Our only problem with it? Stuffing our overly large bodies and long limbs into the frame – it was a pain, literally. Luckily for all of us big kids, Razor (not to be confused with PC gaming bods Razer) has announced an enlarged version named the XL. It's capable of reaching 17mph and should be just as much fun as the original.

Price: £799.99
Release Date: TBC