Best Robotic Toys

Updated June 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
Bottom Line
Pros
Cons
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

5 Models Considered
1 Experts Interviewed
124 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best robotic toys

Last Updated June 2019

While classic toys like Mr. Potato Head and Play-Doh are still popular with kids, there’s a new kind of toy in town that’s taking the kids’ world by storm: robotic toys. Robotic toys can be automated or programmed – some even have built-in artificial intelligence – and in most cases they give kids the opportunity to develop planning skills or interact with a virtual companion.

The robotic toy market is incredibly diverse, with toys ranging from app-controlled robot animals to robots on wheels that can tell you how they’re feeling. Whether you’re in the market for a robotic toy for a toddler or high schooler, there are dozens of solid options available, so long as you know what features to look out for and what gimmicks to avoid.

But that’s what you’ve got us for, so read on for everything you need to know – and a few recommendations – to pick out the right robotic toys for the youngster in your life!

Check the age appropriateness of a robotic toy. Some are made for older kids and can have parts that are dangerous for young children.

Key considerations

Before you fall in love with a specific robotic toy, use these three questions to narrow down your search:

  • Do you want a kit for building a robotic toy or a toy that’s already assembled?

Many robotic toys are actually kits, so there’s a decent amount of assembly required. That can be great for making a toy fun for longer – kids can set them up in a variety of fun different ways – but it’s often not as much fun for younger children. Before you start shopping, decide which kind is most appropriate for the kid you’re buying it for.

  • Do you want a robotic toy for play, learning, or both?

Many robotic toys are designed specifically to be learning tools for kids. For example, some robotic toys are made to help kids learn to code, and that means that the child can use simple programming in an app to make the robotic toy perform a task, such as “move five feet ahead, then turn around and come back.” By contrast, other toys are decidedly not educational. These are more for entertaining kids with lights and noise. Others have both play and learning features. Consider ahead of time what you want the child to get out of the robotic toy and make your purchase accordingly.

  • How old is the person who will be using the robotic toy the most?

When it comes to robotic toys, it’s important to pay close attention to the intended age range. If you buy a toy that’s too simplistic, it’s not likely to engage your child, but if you buy a young child one that’s made for older kids, your child could end up playing with small, hazardous parts. Play it safe: make sure the robotic toy you buy matches the age of the child you’re shopping for.

Educational fun

The Dash is part of Wonder Workshop’s series of toys designed to teach science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), and it’s perfect for parents who want their kids to learn the basics of coding. With four different apps, kids can program the Dash to go through obstacle courses and engage in unique puzzles even if the kids don’t yet know how to read. If you want to entertain a child who’s six or older with an interactive, educational toy, this is the robotic toy to get.

Robotic toy features

Many robotic toys are unique, but there are a few features across different models that are worth writing home about. Here are our favorite bells and whistles for your next robotic toy:

Companion app: For many robotic toys, it’s all about the app that’s used to control them. With an app, you can do anything from creating custom programs to downloading new games, so app-based robotic toys are generally more fun.

Voice assistant integration: Some robotic toys accept voice commands when you link them to your digital assistant, so if you’ve got an Amazon Alexa or Google Home device in your house, look into getting a robotic toy that’s compatible, and then teach your child the unique commands he or she can use to control the robotic toy!

Learning games: Many robotic toys claim to be educational simply on the basis of the assembly required, while others include built-in games for teaching your child things like numbers, letters, shapes, and colors. Read the fine print when it comes to what qualifies as “educational,” and if you’ve got a young learner in your home, consider getting a toy that can help your child develop specific skills.

Gesture sense: Some robotic toys can be controlled by gestures, so all you have to do to activate specific commands is wave at them. If you’ve got a toddler who’s still learning to control their own movement, or you simply prefer the ease of motion controls, look into robotic toys that support gesture controls.

EXPERT TIP

Many robotic toys have small parts or additional pieces for specific activities, and you don’t want to lose any of them. Buy a storage bin or two so you can keep all the parts together.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

If you’re a fan of LEGO bricks and you want a robotic toy, look into LEGO Mindstorms kits. These sets let kids build robots out of LEGO bricks and even customize them with LEGO pieces they already own.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

Some robotic toys benefit from firmware updates, which can both fix existing issues and add new features. Before you buy a robotic toy, see if the manufacturer has a strong history of providing firmware updates.


Staff  | BestReviews

Robotic toy prices

Inexpensive

The most affordable robotic toys typically cost between $15 and $50. Toys in this price range are fairly basic – they can handle a few simple tasks, but that’s about it. If you’re looking for a novelty robotic toy, or you want to explore robotic toys without breaking the bank, you can find a starter model in this price range.

Mid-range

If you’re willing to spend between $50 and $150, you’ll find the best values in robotic toys. If you’re looking for a robot for teaching your kid the basics of coding, or if you just want a robotic toy that has enough different activities to keep your child entertained for hours, you don’t need to spend more than this.

Expensive

Some robotic toys can cost as much as $300. The most expensive robotic toys are pretty intense robot-building kits designed for older kids. Robotic toys in this price range can be programmed for advanced functionality and often inspire kids to learn the basics of mechanical engineering and even build their own robots.

Repurpose a soda can

The Tin Can Robot is both a robotic toy, and an environmentally friendly novelty – just add your own soda can and you’ve got a robot with a silly walk. It’s perfect for older kids exploring an interest in robotics or grown-ups who want a conversation piece at the office.

Tips

  • Read reviews for a toy’s companion smartphone apps. Once you’ve narrowed down your search, read the app reviews to get a sense of what other users like and don’t like about using them. If you’re looking into robotic toys with smartphone apps, it’s important to do your homework ahead of time – in some cases, great toys can be marred by poor app experiences, and in others, mediocre-seeming toys can be a lot more fun than they look!

  • Enable parental controls ahead of time. If your child will be using the robotic toy with a smartphone or tablet, enable parental controls on your devices first. It’s easy to just hand a smartphone to a child to let them play with their robotic toy, but if you’re giving a child a device with internet access, it’s important to secure it first. Start by enabling the parental controls available in your device’s Settings app, and for further protection, consider a web-filtering service for parents.

  • Find the volume controls before giving the toy to your child. If you buy a robot that plays music or makes noises, learn where the volume controls are before you let your child play with it. Stop headaches before they start: figure out how to turn down the volume on every robotic toy you buy. When you know where the controls are, it’s easier to get a toy to a reasonable volume level.

Other products we considered

Boxer is an interactive robot that focuses on fun – it can play up to 26 included games, function as a remote-controlled car, and even display emotions to let you know how it’s feeling. Download the app and Boxer gets even more powerful with additional games and features. It’ll even follow you around the house! We also love the Educational Insights Design & Drill Robot. It’s one of the few available robotic toys that’s perfect for toddlers and preschool learners. With a focus on improving fine motor skills, the robot works with a kid-friendly screwdriver, and it even includes stickers for decorating fun.

Once you’ve purchased a robotic toy, look for online forums and related websites where users post their ideas and experiments. In many cases, there are endless new things to try with the robot.

FAQ

Q. How long do the batteries usually last in robotic toys?

A. It depends on the toy, but in general, most robotic toys can last for four to six hours on a single charge. As you’re shopping, check to see how each model you’re considering is powered. Some use batteries you can replace while others have an internal battery that must be recharged.

Q. Do all robotic toys require smartphone apps to use?

A. Not every robotic toy has a companion app, but most do. Companion apps are particularly useful for robots because kids can use visual indicators to program them.

Q. If a robotic toy has WiFi, can my child access the internet with it?

A. Some robotic toys have onboard WiFi so they can be controlled by smartphones on your network. In these cases, they can receive commands from other devices and check for firmware updates periodically from the manufacturer, but they can’t access websites or web services. In other words, with robotic toys, you don’t have to worry about your child visiting parts of the web they’re not allowed to.

The team that worked on this review
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    Alvina
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    Editorial Director
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