Daily Planet’s Ziya Tong and Dan Riskin pick their top toys of 2017

Like Christmas arriving every year so does Daily Planet‘s celebrated and super-fun “High-Tech Toys” week. Airing next Monday to Friday at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT on Discovery, all five days spotlight the outrageous, mind-blowing and exciting gadgets and gear of the year.

Sure, Mattel’s Justice League Batmobile, JABii extendable boxing gloves and Blueye underwater drone all sound awesome, but how do they rank with Daily Planet co-hosts Ziya Tong and Dan Riskin? And what are Ziya and Dan’s other favourite toys of 2017? With just 24 days left to shop, get moving on snagging these gems!

Ziya Tong
Justice League™ Ultimate Justice League™ Remote Control Batmobile™
We have all sorts of gearhead goodies on “High Tech Toys” this year, and one thing I can tell you for sure is I’ve never seen a toy with so many trademark titles in the name. ;) This RC car is also a serious upgrade from the ones I used to play with as a kid. It’s smoking, and I mean that literally. The car has an oil-based vape to mimic real smoke coming from the exhaust, as well as a camera that films and records Batman’s view from inside the driver’s seat. “Holy Remote Control Robot” indeed, Robin!

Qoobo
One of the flat-out weirdest toys that we have on the show this year is called Qoobo, and the nicest way to put this, is to say that it looks like a decapitated cat – or a cushion with a tail – take your pick. Created by a Japanese robot company, the Qoobo will wag its tail depending on how you pet it. The slower you stroke it, the slower it moves, and if you stroke it quickly then its tail wags with a faster speed. I’m curious to see what happens if you pet the Qoobo near a real cat; if it will just ignore it, or attack it?

CHiP
We don’t just have robotic cats, we also have robotic dogs on Santa’s wish list this year. CHiP is certainly not off the ‘ole block. He’s a robot that comes with a smart band, meaning his personality will change based on the feedback that you give him. He also does some fun tricks. If you say “Hey Chip,” he will bark back, and if you say “Let’s play,” he will run off and fetch a ball. The best part about CHiP is you don’t have to walk him when it’s raining. OK, and also, he apparently does yoga. I bet your dog can’t do yoga.

JABii
Is it just me, or do all the toys have super-weird names this year? Anyhow, JABii is one that certainly fits what it is. Developed by a Danish inventor it’s a super-fun boxing toy, that stretches out a boxing glove kind of like what you’d see in an Inspector Gadget cartoon. The best part is, if you do get punched in the head, JABii doesn’t hurt. The springs inside disperse a lot of the force of the punch, so you won’t accidentally knock your friend out while you’re playing. I’ve tried it and I’ve gotta tell you, it’s also quite the work out.

Fret Zealot
For a little musical merriment over the holiday season, we have a high-tech toy that will teach you how to play the guitar. I love this idea. Basically, you attach LED strips on to your guitar’s fret and connect it to the app on your phone via Bluetooth. Then, you can go through the app’s library of music and pick your favourite song. The frets light up and you follow the lights and strum along. There’s rock, blues, folk music and more. With a little practice, you’ll be a rock god in no time … or at least you’ll get the chords right when playing “Kumbaya.”

Dan Riskin
The Batband
I’m a sucker for anything named after a bat, but this seems kind of cool even beyond that. It’s a band that goes around the back of your head to work like headphones. The wonderful part is that they don’t go over your ears at all. They send sounds to your cochlea by vibrating your braincase – bone conduction. The idea is that you can therefore still hear what’s going on around you, even while listening to your music or phone call. So what if you look a little like Jordie LaForge with his visor on backwards?

The Otamatone
Musical instruments always become a favourite for us in the studio, and we’ve seen a few, but this one stands apart. It’s like an electronic stress ball with a neck on it like a guitar. It sounds a little like a Theremin, and it’s kind of cute, to boot. I wonder how Ziya will feel about me soloing on it for a few hours each day this week?

The Litterbot
This is absolutely something most cat owners would kill to own. Imagine a machine that does the kitty litter totally automatically so you never have to? It just lights up when you need to change the bag at the bottom. As a bonus, your cat gets to poop in an egg-like shell that totally looks like the one that Darth Vader sits in.

The Rezvani Tank
May you never need a bulletproof tank of an SUV. May you only ever use this as a way to show off that you have money to burn ($150,000 US for the base model, double that for the 500 HP, V-8 version). But should you need such a vehicle, you can’t really beat the Rezvani Tank. Run-flat tires, bulletproof windshield, a Kevlar-wrapped gas tank for added protection … you can even drop tacks out the back and make a smoke screen. Your commute just got a lot more interesting.

The Nixie Tube Clock
This is a truly beautiful piece of engineering. Let’s be honest, you don’t really need a clock. Your phone is in your pocket. You may even be wearing a smartwatch. But if you want to feel warm and fuzzy while you find out what time it is, this is what you want. This custom-built clock has a set of six tubes, each filled with glowing mercury-neon lights that can run through the 10 digits. As the day goes by, this beaut flickers through it with you. It’s accurate thanks to Internet connectivity, too. All the benefits of living in the future – with all the style of living in the past.

Daily Planet‘s “High-Tech Toys” week airs Monday to Friday at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT on Discovery.

Image courtesy of Bell Media.

Greg David
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Greg David

Prior to becoming a television critic and owner of TV, Eh?, Greg David was a critic for TV Guide Canada, the country's most trusted source for TV news. He has interviewed television actors, actresses and behind-the-scenes folks from hundreds of television series from Canada, the U.S. and internationally. He is a podcaster, public speaker, weekly radio guest and educator, and past member of the Television Critics Association.
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