Drone Barbie takes on Minecraft Ghasts in battle for the skies

Drones are finding a new place for themselves in people's homes, and shaking up the toy market in the process

Drones have had a hard time of late. If they’re not interfering with air traffic they are dealing out death and destruction or just flying off and getting lost.

At this year’s New York Toy Fair there was a fresh take on how drones could offer a more positive contribution.

The first new trend was to combine the high-tech flying gadget with popular brands. Even Barbie got a look in, with her Starlight Adventure R/C drone.

Standing in hover boarding pose, as she is in the movie, this uses a hidden quadcopter to magically fly Barbie around the house. It sounds a little odd, but is actually a lot of fun.

After some practice, and a few crashes we were able to take Barbie to places she’d never been before.

Along similar lines is the Minecraft Ghast drone. This takes the floating ghost character from Minecraft games as inspiration for a hovering toy.

The controller is styled in Minecraft bricks and looks great. Again a bit of practice is required but once mastered the drone Ghast offers hours of entertainment – well, until the battery runs out at least.

The second toy-drone trend was to up the tech quotient. Adding more technology into the mix is the Skylanders Viper Hover Racer. This makes the flying of the drone easy with child friendly features.

Best of all is an auto take-off and hover mode that lets kids practice more easily. The drone can then be used in a series of video-game inspired missions with progress displayed on a smartphone app.

By placing special beacons around the room (or out in the garden) you can create a virtual track to race around. The app records your fastest time and lets you upgrade the performance of the drone between missions.

There is a co-operative two player mode where one person taps the screen to take down virtual missiles while the other player completes the mission.

Of the three, Hover Racer looks best placed to revolutionise the drone toy market. Provided it delivers on the prototype’s promise it could well be the must-have toy later this year.

Certainly there is a lot of investment in drones as toys, both in making the tech work better and combining it with big brands.

Drone Barbie takes on Minecraft Ghasts in battle for the skies