There are toys, and then there’s next-level stuff like this. The Lego Mindstorm NXT robot kit is so cutting-edge that you really classify this except as an introduction to a lifetime of Isaac Asimov-style tinkering. The first step in your new obsession is configuring the bot into any number of shapes and sizes. (The pic here is only a reference for those who prefer some kind of humanoid design.) The brain has USB and Bluetooth capability, is Windows and Mac friendly, letting you program the bot with simple commands at first, moving to more complexity as you go. The robot can walk, talk, and interact with its environment. With 577 pieces included, there’s no end to what you can do, including re-building it as a mech-scorpion or a robotic arm. The handy quickstart guide can get you on your way to complete robotics in half an hour. About only thing the Lego Mindstorm NXT won’t do is commit murder in violation of Asimov’s Three Laws.

Buy for $249.00