Throwing coding into toys is a trend that's gone full-force over the last year or so, and Hasbro isn't letting up.
Two new spins on coding robots in 2017 include Belle from "Beauty and the Beast," and a little hairless puppy with a transparent torso called FurReal Proto Max. Both were demonstrated at this week's New York Toy Fair preview, and are arriving later this year. They're signs of an industry that might continue to be shifting from app-connected toys to... app-connected coding toys.
FurReal Makers Proto Max is the puppy you might wish you had on the set of a cyberpunk film: it looks like a prop from "AI" or "."
The Proto Max can be assembled from a few pieces, then connected to iOS or Android devices and personality-programmed with 400 sounds, 100 eye animations and customized routines.
I saw it do a few tricks and spin around during our demo at Hasbro's pre-Toy Fair event, and it seemed pretty charming during my very brief time with it.
Unlike other FurReal toys, the Proto Max doesn't have any hair. It has more of a Furby feel than a living, breathing puppy. Also, it has wheels. But its depth of customization looks promising. It arrives this fall for $120, and is aimed at kids 6 and up. (UK and Australian details weren't announced, but that price converts to about £100 or AU$160.)
Across the room at Hasbro's busy demo space, Disney Princess: Dance Code Belle incorporates block coding concepts on its companion app, but applies those to a dancing doll. For younger kids, the Belle doll has a connect-the-dots game mode instead of using coding concepts. Alternatively, Belle can just be a fun dancing doll, working apart from its app functions, more as a dancing Disney robot toy.
Dance Code Belle is aimed at kids 5 and up, and costs the same $120 as Proto Max. It comes with seven songs and 100 phrases on-board. Belle was wired up for the demo, but the final version of her will be wireless when she arrives later this year.