Top 10 Robot Kits

  1. Lego Mindstorms EV3
  2. Thames and Komos Robotics Smart Machines
  3. Little bits Star Wars Droid
  4. OWI Dodeca 12 in 1 Solar Hydraulic Kit
  5. Arduino Starter Kit
  6. Think Gizmos Ingenious Machines Construction Crew
  7. Lego Boost
  8. OWI Robotic Arm Edge
  9. Hexbug Vex IQ Robotics Construction Kit
  10. 4M Tin Can

Our top ten list of the best robot toy kits available include a selection of programmable, non-programmable and remote controlled builds. Although fun, they are all educational and help to develop STEM skills. When reviewing we consider:

  • How educational the robot kit is and the skills that it develops

  • Entertainment and enjoyment value

  • Functionality and features

  • The number of different builds available

  • Ability of continuous skill progression

  • Quality of the toy

  • Value for money

#1 Lego Mindstorms EV3

Programmable Robots

Amazon’s Customer Ratings: 4.5 stars        (640 Customer Reviews)

  • Pick me for the best at teaching all aspects of robotics

Lego Mindstorms are fantastic robot kits that both beginners and advanced builders can create impressive robots with. They are powerful and very flexible with the ability to create five different robots.

The robot is controlled using the free EV3 Programmer App and a tablet/smart phone. The interface is an easy drag and drop that teaches beginner coding skills. This will enable you to program your robot to walk, talk and interact. Once familiar with these skills you can then create complicated projects using the advanced programming features.

Lego Mindstorms are ideal for not only teaching all aspects of building robots but also for learning programming skills. Their flexibility make it ideal as a long term robot that enables one to continually grow and improve one’s skills.

Age: 10 to 15 yrs +
No of toys createable: 5
Programmable:
Autonomous: To a degree
Remote control: Via tablet or phone
Tablet or Phone: Required as well as WiFi / Bluetooth and EV3 app
Parental guidance: Yes depending on age and skill
Batteries: 2 x AAA required
Ability to grow: App gets updated

Pros:

  • Able to use third party code language so can programme to an advanced level

  • Very interactive and develops a wide range of skills

Cons:

  • Expensive

Click to see Mindstorms EV3

#2 Thames and Kosmos Robotics Smart Machines Rovers and Vehicles

Thames and Kosmos Robotics Smart machines

Amazon’s Customer Ratings: 4.0 stars        (601 Customer Reviews)

  • Pick me for the best value introduction to robotics

The Smart Machines kit is a good all round introduction to robotics. The kit contains building pieces to create 8 different motorised machines focusing on wheeled robots. Once constructed you can connect them via Bluetooth 4 and control them using your smart device.

The App gives you an introduction into programming as you can write your own programs as well as use the 8 pre-loaded programs. Coding is done using a simple visual drag and drop platform.

The machines also use an ultrasonic sensor which sends out waves which is then communicated back to the App. This helps avoid obstacles and aids the App with control.

Age: 8 to 14 yrs
No of toys createable:  Creates 8 machines
Programmable: Basic introduction to programming
Autonomous: A little
Remote control: Via tablet or phone
Tablet or Phone: Required as well as Bluetooth 4
Parental guidance: Yes. Required for younger children
Batteries: 3 x AA required
Ability to grow: To an extent

Pros:

  • Introduction to programming

  • Good value all round kit

Cons:

  • Not the build quality of Lego. Some pieces are hard to snap together especially for younger kids

Click to see Robotics Smart Machines

#3 Little Bits Star Wars Droid

Little Bits Star Wars Droid

Amazon’s Customer Ratings: 4.1 stars        (415 Customer Reviews)

  • Pick me for inspiring the most creative robot builds

Little bits Star Wars droid is an award winning fun robot kit for beginner builders that inspires invention and creativity.

The droid comprises electronic blocks that snap together and perform different functions. These can be reconfigured and customized to transform the original R2 unit into any droid you can imagine. One can even customize the droid using household items to create your own personal droid. The possibilities are endless and only limited by creativity.

Once built the free droid inventor app enables the droid to function and there are 22 preprogrammed missions available. This teaches kids how to control electronics with code however at this stage there is no ability to write your own programs.

The droid comes with 20 sounds from the Star Wars film and is compatible with other Little Bits kits.

Age: 8 yrs +
No of toys creatable: 1 but customizable with your imagination
Programmable: This may change with future Apps
Autonomous: Has preprogrammed missions
Remote control: Via tablet or phone
Tablet or Phone: Required and Bluetooth
Parental guidance: No
Batteries: 2 C batteries included
Ability to grow: Limited to when App gets updated

Pros:

  • Great fun to build and inspires creativity

  • Great 3D video instructions

  • Easy enough for kids to assemble with the app instructions

Cons:

  • Does not really teach coding as there is no ability to write your own programs

  • Build instructions are in the app so you need a device and know how to down load the app before you begin

  • There are Bluetooth compatibility issues if you do not use a compatible device. Compatible devices are: iPhone (iOS 10.0 or later) or Android (kitkat 4.4 or later with Bluetooth 4.0 or later and an accelerometer)

Click to see Star Wars Droid

#4 OWI Dodeca 12 in 1 Solar Hydraulic Robot Kit

OWI Dodeca 12 in 1 Solar Hydraulic Robot Kit

Amazon’s Customer Ratings: 4.0 stars        (2 Customer Reviews)

  • Pick me for the best alternative energy powered robots

OWi Dodeca 12 in 1 is a highly educational and award winning STEM kIt that introduces children to alternative energy. The kit contains 230 pieces which enables 12 different forms to be created including vehicles and animals. Gear boxes and hydraulics are utilized for smooth movements.

Once the machines are complete they are operated via solar power. Each machine contains a solar panel which upon activation by the sun powers the motors and drives the hydraulic transmission. The solar panel can also be powered by a 50 watt halogen light if no sun is available.

A fun kit that will have children engaged for hours.

Age: 9 yrs +
No of toys createable: 12
Programmable:
Autonomous: Solar powered
Remote control:
Tablet or Phone: Not required
Parental guidance: Yes depending on age and skill
Batteries: Solar powered
Ability to grow: Each design increases in build difficulty

Pros:

  • A great introduction to renewable energy robotics

  • Highly educational as well as fun and engaging

  • Great value for money

Cons:

  • Solar panel needs a bright sunny day to work unless using halogen lights

Click to see 12 in 1 Solar Hydraulic Kit

#5 Arduino Starter Kit

Arduino Starter Kit

Amazon’s Customer Ratings: 4.6 stars        (720 Customer Reviews)

Arduino Starter Kit
  • Pick me for those serious about learning robotics

For those serious about learning robotics, the Arduino starter kit is a great introduction to electronics and programming. This kit provides an open-source prototyping platform and contains everything you need to get started.

The guidebook features 15 different projects which build upon each other taking the user from a complete beginner to a professional level.

Age: 12 yrs +
No of toys createable: 15 projects suggested but limitless with imagination
Programmable: Yes C/C++ language
Autonomous: Yes
Remote control:
Tablet or computer: Required to download software onto micro-processor
Parental guidance: Yes depending on age and skill
Batteries: No battery included. Comes with USB cable and 9V battery snap.
Ability to grow: To professional level

Pros:

  • No soldering required

  • High quality product

  • Great support and help available

  • Great projects suggested

Cons:

  • Expensive. Can buy individual items cheaper if you’re experienced

  • Doesn’t include screws for set up!

Click to see Arduino Starter Kit