VTech has been hacked, like Five Million times!

So, do you have a VTech product? A lot of people do. They certainly make a lot of technology for kids. I probably have a few VTech products in my house. Sadly, it sounds like the Hong Kong company has been hacked.

In fact, the personal information of about 5 million of its customers and their children may have been stolen by hackers. So far, this database includes the names, birthdates, and genders of the children using these VTech gadgets.

Sadly, it includes some adult information like parent names, email addresses, passwords, secret questions and answers for password retrieval, IP addresses, mailing addresses, and password retrieval. This database doesn’t include any credit card numbers, so that is good news.

So what has been done to solve this problem? Well, the company says that it’s contacted al of the affected users by email and has temporarily suspended some of its websites as a precaution.

Hasbro has created this robotic cat, for senior citizens!

I’m sure you’re all familiar with Hasbro, as they own the rights to Transformers, My Little Pony, and they make all the Star Wars and Marvel toys, too. Yeah, they rule when it comes to making products for little kids, and now there is a “toy” for seniors.

Yeah, you know how senior citizens are like loving cats, but the cats get all bad about their litter box? Well, why not get them an artificial cat? That is what the Joy For All line of robotic cats can do.

This robo-kitty has some realistic fur, and it can purr and meow. In other words, it is all the good things of a cat. Hopefully, it is not programmed to just stop purring and then grab your hands with its claws and then bite you like an apple. This is why I don’t have a cat.

If you have someone who might appreciate this gift, it costs about $99.99.


Boogie Board Play n’ Trace

Boogie BoardI have reviewed Boogie Board products before, which is made by Improv Electronics. They have now created a new product known as Play n’ Trace.

The Play n’Trace is a translucent LCD writing surface, which allows the user to trace something onto it. Yes, it is not really made for adults, but for kids.

I am assuming that it will work like the first Boogie Board as you can draw on it, and then hit a button to erase it. Yeah, it doesn’t seem to save the drawing like the 9.7 LCD e-Writer.

I think this might be a terrific gift, particularly a stocking stuffer, assuming that you can fit it in a stocking. It costs about $29.99.

Review of the Ozobot Bit

OzobotThe first time that I saw Ozobot, it was at CES. There was a table with these little things the size of little bugs oozing around on the table. All I could think about was how cute it was. The Ozobot movies through two micro-motors for some serious maneuverability.

As it is, the Ozobot Bit is one of those STEM toys. For those that don’t know, STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, and there are a lot of toys out there that I reviewed before like the LEGO Mindstorms and Makeblock Mbot.

The Ozobot Bit is one of those toys that you can code, because everyone knows that kids like to code. Okay, I might sound a little sarcastic there, but kids that are raised doing coding are definitely more ready for adulthood programming. In the case of Ozobot, it uses Google’s Blockly to create OzoBlockly which is a very simplified visual programming language similar to others like Scratch, Hopscotch, App Inventor, Tynker, and Tickle Apps.

So, you might think that you have to program this using some kind of cable or Bluetooth to program this. That is not the case, as you can load commands into the robot with flashing lights. You can teach it to follow paths along the table that you can make with magic marker, and it will follow whatever colors that you program it with.

What is interesting is that the Ozobot communicates back with blinking lights as well. It is possible to download free apps as well as build some custom maps, and play some games with people.

Okay, there is really no way that I can describe how much that you can do with this, so if you are interested in it, you can find out more about it here. The Ozobot 2.0 is available for about $59.95 on Amazon.

Playmation from Disney and Hasbro

PlaymationDisney and Hasbro have come up with some new toys that involve some electronic fun and active playtime with Playmation. These toys are both wrist accessories and a line of figures.

This Playmation set is an Avengers theme with a wrist-worn Iron Man Repulsor, as well as some Captain America and Red Skull action figures. There is a Power Activator that can bring the figures to life.

Now, here’s how I believe this works. Kids wear these devices and then the voice of JARVIS from the Iron Man and Avengers films and then are encouraged to run, jump, duck, dodge and perform all kinds of active play. I think the play was like Lazer Tag from the eighties.

The Playmation toys can be connected to a free Accompanying AvengersNet app to unlock some new missions as well as locations and characters. You don’t even need a Wi-fi connection.

So far, the Playmation is good for pre-order on July 7th but won’t ship until October for $120. There could be some Star Wars or other Disney properties in the future.


Makeblock MBot Educational Robot Kit

mBotAs someone who has had a lot of experience dealing with LEGO MINDSTORMS, I admire any new device that helps with STEM (Science, Technology, Education, and Mathematics) education. Makeblock has created the mBot, and I had a chance to try it out.

In its own words, the mBot is a “low cost, easy-to-run robot kit for kids to get hands-on experience about graphical programming, electronics, [and] robotics”. As you can see, you can make a cute little robot with it.

In fact, the model that you see in the image looks very similar to the two-wheeled, one roller ball car that version 3.0 of the LEGO MINDSTORMS kit has instructions for. Oddly enough, this particular robot can be built quicker, and programming it is based on an Arduino open source platform. The mBlock drag and drop programming tool works with it, and also Arduino IDE.

The mBot has a lot of cool features like wireless connection via Bluetooth or 2.4 Ghz, and it even comes with a wireless remote. You might notice that there are LEGO people near the model, and even though the website says that it is compatible with LEGO parts, I’m guessing that I have to get pretty creative to get that to work. Perhaps that is the challenge.

If this is something that you are interested in, head on over to the Makeblock site and pay around $74.99 for it.

LEGO Dimensions lets player put their creations in the game

Lego DimensionsJust last month I wrote that Lego was working with Warner Brothers Interactive for some new toys, and it would appear that news of it has come sooner rather than later. I have learned that Warner Brother Interactive and Telltale Games are working on LEGO Dimensions, a toys-to-life structure that allows players to scan LEGO creations and then play with them in the game’s digital world.

If you aren’t familiar with toys-to-life, think Skylanders or Disney Infinity. Sadly, this isn’t a way to create a figure and vehicle out of LEGO that you have at home and scan it in. Yeah, you have to purchase the Starter kit and other sets for figures and vehicles to scan in there.

There is a video after the jump with Joel McHale from Community so you can see what it is like. It looks pretty cool, and I wouldn’t mind my kids and maybe me playing with it.

The Starter Pack will be available for $99.99 for next gen and old gen consoles like the Xbox One, PS4, Wii U, as well as the Xbox 360 and PS3. It will come with a “Toy Pad” to scan with Gandalf, Batman, and Wyldstyle and will hit stores on September 27th.


Lego is working with Warner Brothers Interactive for some new toys

LegoIf you are not into Minecraft or some kind of construction toy, then you might want to see what Lego is doing with their interactive toys. They already have Fusion, which is where the Lego creator makes something that they can make come alive in the virtual world.

Yes, I wish I had written about Fusion, but from what my Source tells me, Warner Brothers Interactive is working together with Lego in order to produce an interactive toy and game that will work similar to Activision’s Skylanders, Nintendo’s Amiibos, as well as the Disney Infinity series.

So, what are we looking at here? Some video game where we put a Lego minifigure on a thing and it is in the game? I hope not, because that is getting old. What if we could put some structure on a scanner and there it would be in the game? That, or we could just build a structure in the game.

Okay, I think there is an issue here. I’m not certain how necessary it is to have to this kind of thing on a game. Perhaps it is just easier not to have this transition, but just build a toy in a virtual world or with building bricks.

You know, I thought this post would go one way, but I thought I would be more positive toward this thing. I guess I’m just too susceptible to Lego.


Jakks Pacific RC Hulk Smash

Hulk toyAs we go into May, there will be more and more hype for Avengers: Age of Ultron. I have no idea if this toy from Jakks Pacific is supposed to represent some scene from the new movie, but it certainly is a very cool toy.

Seriously, not only is it remotely controlled, but it has the Hulk sitting on a Hummer for some wheels. There are stunts like wheelies and spins. In addition to the Hummer ride, the Hulk has some giant arms that can punch and hit with sound effects and the “HULK SMASH” catchphrase.

You should be able to get the RC Hulk Smash for about $70, and something tells me this has the potential to be the next Tickle Me Elmo. We’ll see around the holidays.


Mattel’s View-Master comes back!

ViewmasterAs a kid, I remember playing with View-Master, a way of putting some 3-D images on your face. The old toy had a viewer with a reel with a switch to flick images that were made to be viewed in 3-D.

Mattel recently showed off their newest version of the View-Master, which is essentially a more red and plastic version of the cardboard viewer that debuted at 2014’s I/O conference. This View-Master application can be done on pretty much any VR viewer.

So yes, the View-Master is more of an app that a physical hardware, but the reels are still around. Actually, it is more of a tradition, as you just scan the reel and you will get your images. Apparently, you can get an immersive 360-degree digital experience, so I guess you can spin that View-Master in any direction and see a whole new world of 3D.

I don’t think that the View-Master will be the last of these types of products, and we’ll be seeing more like them in some form. Still, are we looking at a world of 3D that has gone mobile?

Well, you should be able to get it for about $30 when the toy comes out in the fall, just in time for the holidays.