The Robots Under Your Tree

Here’s a gift guide for fans of robots, whether they’re young or not-quite-young—including, of course, the engineers who love them.
  • robots, toy robots, educational toys, educational kits, robot kits

    Every engineer loves robots. The infatuation likely began at an early age. In many cases, it was love of robots that prompted an interest in engineering. Here are some robots that engineers of all ages will love.

    Some of these are inexpensive—$15 to $20—while others are on the pricy side (up to $500). In addition, some of these robots are just for fun while others, such as the window cleaner, earn their keep.

  • robots, toy robots, educational toys, educational kits, robot kits

    4M Table Top Robot Science Kit

    The 4M Table Top Robot is a hands-on science kit that teaches the basics of robotics to kids 8 and up by constructing a working robot crab. When activated, the robot crab scuttles under its own power and changes direction when it encounters an obstacle. Place it on a tabletop and watch it perform acrobatic tricks. No special tools or knowledge required. Tthe kit contains detailed instructions and all the necessary parts. 4M educational toys cover a wide range of educational subjects and include science kits, arts and crafts kits, robotics kits, and more. Price: $14.95. (Image source: 4M)

  • robots, toy robots, educational toys, educational kits, robot kits

    littleBits Droid Inventor Kit

    According to littleBits, the littleBits Droid Inventor Kit is deceptively simple. It includes just a few components including a driving and steering motor as well as a proximity sensor and a wireless unit that connects to your phone. The kit comes with a plastic R2-D2 body that includes removable legs and head along with stickers that let you choose between red or blue R2 units. White stickers let your kids color their own robot. Price: $74.95. (Image source: littleBits)

  • robots, toy robots, educational toys, educational kits, robot kits

    Lego BOOST – Build a Robot and Learn to Code

    With Lego BOOST Creative Toolbox, users 7 and older can learn the basics of coding, engineering, and robotics. The toolbox includes five available models. You can download the free app and you’re ready to go. From the same kit, you can build the following: Vernie the Robot—a moving, talking robot; the M.T.R.4 (Multi-Tooled Rover 4)—a robust, versatile rover with four different tool attachments including a spring-loaded shooter; the Guitar4000—a musical instrument with pitch bend and sound effects; Frankie the Cat—an interactive robot pet that plays, purrs, and expresses its mood; or the AutoBuilder—an automated production line that builds miniature Lego models. Price $159.99. (Image source: Lego)

  • robots, toy robots, educational toys, educational kits, robot kits

    Vector Robot Now Talks to Amazon’s Alexa

    Anki's Vector home robot has arrived just in time for the holidays. Anki promises a significant update that will arrive over the air (OTA). The release will include an opt-in Amazon Alexa integration with Vector. Triggered by the standard “Alexa” command, the feature will enable Vector owners to tap into an ever-growing number of skills, including setting reminders, calling a Lyft, adding items to their Amazon shopping carts, controlling smart home devices like lights, speakers, and thermostats, and more. Price $174.99. (Image source: Anki)

  • robot

    This Robot Loves Cleaning Windows

    For adult "kids," check out the WINBOT X—the Roomba for windows. A new world of window cleaning has arrived from Ecovacs Robotics. The WINBOT X is a free-moving, adaptable, intelligent appliance that attaches to your glass and travels the surface until, according to Ecovacs, every inch is spotless. Price $99 to $499. (Image source: Ecovacs Robotics)

  • robots, toy robots, educational toys, educational kits, robot kits

    VEX Boxing Bots

    The VEX Boxing Bots from Hexbug are made from snap-together pieces. These smart-tech, self-stabilizing fighters are ready to throw down. Using the VEX Pilot App, you and a friend can control the robots' every action. Deliver swift uppercuts and jabs to your opponent! Put your skills to the test as you take on a friend wielding their very own Boxing Bot. Maneuver your player to achieve the winning hit. The VEX Balancing Boxing Bots 2-Pack by Hexbug is compliant with CPSIA standards. Price $149.95. (Image source: Hexbug)

  • robots, toy robots, educational toys, educational kits, robot kits

    MiBro: the Personal Prank Bot

    Really Rad Robots’ MiBro by Moose Toys is a “personal prank bot” that is clearly designed for 8-year-old boys who like spying on their sisters and performing other such shenanigans.

    This tiny mobile robot can be controlled remotely as well as deliver objects. It comes with 50 functions and sound effects. Price $39.99. (Image source: Moose Toys)

  • robots, toy robots, educational toys, educational kits, robot kits

    A Boxer with Personality

    Boxer is an interactive robot that has a lively personality with moods that evolve over time. The system includes game cards, a ball accessory, remote control, gesture, sound, and touch controls, and an app. Price $79.99. (Image source: SpinMaster)

  • robots, toy robots, educational toys, educational kits, robot kits

    Sky Viper High-Flying Robot

    The Sky Viper Journey Pro Video Drone by Sky Rocket is a drone model that includes built-in GPS to provide an autonomous flight experience. This means the drone can maintain its coordinates while hovering without drifting away. Its positional awareness means you can “Return to Home,” which lets the drone return to its launch spot at the touch of a button. You can stream and record HD video with the drone, and it includes a follow-me-mode for action enthusiasts. Price: 59.99 to $99.99. (Image source: Sky Rocket)

  • robots, toy robots, educational toys, educational kits, robot kits

    Anki Cozmo, an Educational Toy Robot for Kids

    Anki’s Cozmo is a robot with a one-of-a-kind personality that evolves as you spend time with it. Anki says it will nudge you to play and keep you constantly surprised. It has a beginner-friendly interface designed as an educational robot for kids to learn to create code. Anki claims it’s easier than you’d think and tougher than it looks. Cozmo by Anki requires a compatible iOS or Android device. Price: $139.99. (Image source: Anki)

Rob Spiegel has covered automation and control for 17 years, 15 of them for Design News . Other topics he has covered include supply chain technology, alternative energy, and cyber security. For 10 years, he was owner and publisher of the food magazine Chile Pepper.


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