This smaller, less expensive version of Sphero's awesome rolling robot ball is perfect for kids, pets, and even a bit of coding (it works with Sphero's EDU app).
The phone-connected robotic R2 is the most realistic Star Wars toy replica we've ever seen. It rolls, it beeps, it even shakes and falls down. The Sphero app has some games and a "watch along with the movie" mode, if you're screening the films ahead of "The Last Jedi."
Lego's more accessible coding kit and playset includes hundreds bricks and instructions to make multiple robots and toys out of the box: a rolling robot, a cat, an electric guitar, and even a mini-factory. The iOS/Android app's packed with other things to try.
The best game console of 2017 already has a lot of great games: Mario Kart 8, Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and Super Mario Odyssey. And its controllers allow lots of on-the-go two-player games on the small screen.
Super Mario Odyssey
If you already have a Nintendo Switch, Super Mario Odyssey is the absolute must-get game of the year. Full of secrets and challenges, it'll keep you playing until next holiday.
Super Nintendo Classic Edition
Nintendo's newest must-have retro game console is a tiny version of the 16-bit Super NES. It's fantastic. All the games are great. But it's already hard to find.
Nintendo 2DS XL
Don't forget about Nintendo's 3DS. The 2DS XL is an affordable great way to play hundreds of fantastic Nintendo handheld games going back to the DS. It's no Switch, but you can't beat its library.
The best-value Nintendo handheld is the 2DS. It isn't foldable, but it costs about half the price and plays almost every Nintendo 3DS and DS game.
Apple iPad 2017
The best iPad value right now. It costs a bit more than the now-discontinued iPad Mini 2, but it's also faster. It's not only a great iPad for kids, it's a fine iPad to keep around the home.
Amazon Fire 8 HD Kids Edition
Amazon's kid-targeted version of its affordable 8-inch tablet comes with 32GB of storage, a drop-protective case, a year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited access to apps and games, and a two-year replacement warranty.
Amazon Fire HD 10 2017
Amazon's step-up 10-inch tablet is great for a larger screen. It feels more like a cheaper alternative to an iPad.
Teddy Ruxpin returns
Were you that Teddy Ruxpin fan? Feel like passing the love on to a kid...or is it too much? Teddy is pretty animated, but his eyes are a little weird.
Anki Overdrive: Fast & Furious Edition
Anki's fast AI-controlled race cars have been around for a few years. The Fast & Furious version just adds a lot more design to its cars. It's almost like having mini Vin Diesel.
The cute little Cozmo debuted last year: it's a little remote-control robot with facial recognition that plays games with three blocks. It's also codable thanks to a new app update.
Are you a board game obsessive? Looney Labs' massive box set, Pyramid Arcade, is a kit to play 22 games and invent dozens more. The difficulty ranges from easy to surprisingly complicated. And it's a great kit to invent your own game ideas, too.
Raspberry Pi 3
You can buy kits and books to teach your kid to do great things with a super-affordable computer, thanks to incredibly affordable products like Raspberry Pi. The Pi 3 arrived last year, but there are lots of cases, accessories and add-ons to try. And you might get a kick out of playing around with it, too.
Sphero Ultimate Lightning McQueen
This isn't cheap, but Sphero's awesome detailed Cars 3 toy feels like a piece of animatronics come to life.
First off: go buy a real physical book at a local bookstore for someone as a gift. But also, our favorite e-reader is Amazon's frequently-on-sale Kindle Paperwhite. It's got backlighting for reading at night. It doesn't play games. This is all about reading.