Young techs: Many kids have endured clumsy, complex science and electronics kits through the years. Snap Circuits is the modern and elegant version, with modules that snap together to make all sorts of fun, from radios to doorbells to launching a flying rotor. Color-coded parts and simple manuals mean children can put things together on their own. Parts pull apart just as easily for other projects. The kits start at about $30. More sophisticated sets include LED readouts, meters, and motors that can keep the challenges growing with the kids. This is one electronics toy that parents are happy to see used for hours.
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Rocking truck: Sometimes kids want a sturdy toy truck to push around, and sometimes they want something more interactive. They get both in the Matchbox Rocky the Robot Truck that sings, dances, and stands to dump a load. The body and wheels are made of durable plastic that's ready for a heavy load or a hard push from an excited toddler. The truck will sit quietly until someone comes near and makes noise. Then it comes to life with banter, jokes or singing. The popular toy is hard to find at its $60 list price, but Amazon resellers have it for about $80.