By Anna Fader
Hot Wheels Apptivity
It’s hard to imagine improving on a time-honored classic like Hot Wheels. But now, with the help of a free app from iTunes, Special Edition Hot Wheels cars can turn your iPad into an action-packed racetrack that takes kids 4 and up on a fast-paced virtual adventure.
The danger, of course, is that Dad may start hogging this nifty, hands-on driving game. So be sure to remind him that kids his age can get behind the wheel of a real Hot Wheels classic: the 2013 Camaro Hot Wheels Special Edition—after all, who wouldn’t choose the reality over the toy? Just wait until he test drives the 2014 Camaro Spring Special Edition, available in 2LT and 2SS Coupe or Convertible models!
Solar Car Science Kit
A few different companies make science kits that kids can use to build their own solar-powered cars, and learn how solar panels turn sun energy into electricity in the process. Creativity, remote control, science, green energy—what’s not to love?
Brace yourself, because every other toy in the house is about to be neglected. Romo is a tread-wheeled robot that turns an iPhone or iPod Touch into a fully programmable friend. Kids don’t even realize they’re learning programming skills as they answer a series of “If X then Y” questions to make the robot do whatever their imaginations conjure up—whether it’s making faces, playing hide and seek, or tormenting a sibling. Romo works with most iOS devices and, once programmed via its graphical interface, can zoom from room to room, recognize faces and follow remote-control commands—even from distant iOs devices. This means Dad can give chase when not at home, and Grandma can play peekaboo from another state.
Thames & Kosmos Remote Control Machines Kit
Remember erector sets? Well, you can forget them. Thames and Kosmos lets junior engineers build motorized vehicles and machines, just like Grandpa used to—only now kids get to control them with a wireless remote. But that’s just the beginning. With this high-tech science-minded building kit, your mad scientist can create his or her own Frankencar, to rule over all the other remote-controlled vehicles on the block.
Hot Wheels Video Racer
This high-tech, high-cool little car has a hidden micro camera on board that records footage of its high-speed journeys down plastic racetracks, around loop-de-loops and through the legs of the family dog—giving its owner the sensation of being inside and squinting through that teeny-tiny windshield. But here’s the piece de resistance: With the help of a snap-on case, the car-camera can be attached to other wheeled objects. From bikes to boards, kids can create all manner of adventure videos that they can upload, edit and even orchestrate.
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Anna Fader is the founder and editor-in-chief of Mommy Poppins, the ultimate travel blog for families in New York, Los Angeles, Boston, New Jersey, Long Island and Connecticut.