Fast forward: Hi-tech toys - Inspector gadget

They've taught you how to set the video, now let your kids show you how these work

Martin Skegg,Michael Oliveira-Salac
Saturday 12 December 1998 00:02

Attentive parents are always on the lookout for ways to give their offspring that extra advantage in life. Providing extra reading lessons or driving the hockey team around in the people mover all helps, but if you want your child to get the hang of our technologically obsessed society then give them hands-on experience from an early age. There are gizmos specially for toddlers and pre-adolescents, many of them with built-in educational functions, but of course they will be just as interested in how much fun they can have with them.

Clockwise from above

Walkie-talkie phones Two walkie-talkies that look like mobiles so junior can run around cutting deals just like mum and dad. Up to 100m range and Morse code facility. Age five plus, pounds 14.99 from Argos. Enquiries 0870 600 3030.

Little Tikes mini cassette player Easy-to-use cassette player with brightly coloured headphones, built-in speaker and PVC bumpers to provide protection should it happen to get thrown across the room. Age three to six, pounds 19.97 from Toys R Us. Enquiries 0800 496 0700.

Talkboy Tic Talker Digital watch with a record/playback function (up to six seconds), sound effects and a voice changer. Listen out for the cuckoo alarm clock. Age seven plus, pounds 17.75 from Index. Enquiries 0345 444 444.

VTech Master Videopainter Encourage latent artistic talent - just connect to the TV and use it as a canvas to create pictures. Features 14 colours, different brush effects, drawing tools and editing functions. Age five plus, pounds 59.99 from Hamleys, 188-196 Regent Street, London W1, 0171-734 3161.

Systema CD Mate Save your hi-fi and let the kids run riot with their own cute-looking portable CD player. There's even a microphone so they can sing along. Age five plus, pounds 69.99 from Argos. Details as before.

Bluetech "Girl FM" Data Bank With FM Radio Something to help the young socialite keep track of all those engagements. There is a scheduler, phone book, FM radio and a secret password to keep out nosy brothers. Age eight plus, pounds 24.99 from Argos. Details as before.

VTech Power Pad Plus Not quite the laptop it appears, but a powerful learning aid with English, maths and logic activities none the less. There's also a word processor with spell check facility (isn't that cheating?) and a printer port. Expandable with extra software cartridges. Age nine plus, pounds 89.99 from Hamleys. Details as before.

Penz Drummin' Nifty looking pen that makes six different sounds when moved around. For budding Ringo Starrs everywhere. Age eight plus, pounds 5.97 from Toys R Us. Details as before.

Talkboy Cassette Recorder Hand-held cassette player with retractable microphone for recording anything that catches their fancy. They can then play the sounds back through the modulator and alter them. Age seven plus, pounds 21.75 from Index. Details as before

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