Cozmo by Anki: meet Christmas 2017's hottest toy (already)

AI and robotics experts and Hollywood animators join forces to make game-playing, heart-warming, crate-stacking plastic pal who's fun to be with

Parents: want to know what you'll be fighting other mums and dads in Toys R Us over, or forlornly stalking eBay in the vain hope of finding one at double its RRP, come Christmas time?

Meet Cozmo the robot.

I've seen so many 'intelligent' robotic toys over the years. What fun it is when they immediately walk into a wall and fall over, displaying all the human warmth and charm of a spanner, or Theresa May! 

Cozmo from the geniuses behind Anki Overdrive may finally change all that. 

Put together by a team of 'Ph.D. roboticists, world-class animators, and renowned game developers', it takes a similar approach to Overdrive, using a iOS, Android, and Kindle Fire app to control a real-world toy.

Cozmo, however, has far more self-determination than the cars in Overdrive. He can roam about, getting to know his surroundings, and uses facial recognition to learn about you, too.

He's weirdly obsessed with stacking crates – or 'Power Cubes', if you will – and can also play a range of games – I totally beat him at a crate-based variant on Slapsies. 

What makes this fun as opposed to 'fun' is that Cozmo has a distinct and evolving personality. Animators from Dreamworks and elsewhere have helped make his ostensibly very simple OLED screen face remarkably expressive, and through AI, he's able to express emotions, from joy at seeing a familiar face, to throwing a massive sulk when he loses at Slapsies. 

Via the app, he's even got his own mood-matching musical soundtrack. 

Cozmo was the second-biggest-selling toy in America last 'Holidays' and apparently sold out everywhere. Expect the same when it invades the UK this year.

For those who like to get more educational with their plastic pals, there's also a well-thought-through, free SDK that allows easy access to some extremely powerful functionality, including facial recognition. 

Cozmo goes on sale September 15 for £199.99. It's available to pre-order now, with Cozmo Collector’s Edition in Liquid Metal Finish exclusive to and Argos.

Duncan has been writing about tech for almost 15 years and fitness ever since he became middle aged and realised he could no longer rely solely on his boyish good looks. He used to be on telly loads, but an unfortunate incident put a stop to that, so he now largely contents himself with telling people, "I used to be on the TV, you know."
Pre-lockdown Duncan was widely regarded as the best-dressed man ever to work for T3 – admittedly not saying much. Post-lockdown he is looking forward to wearing clothes other than shorts and hoodies again very soon, assuming he can still fit into them. He currently writes about cycling, fitness tech that isn’t too heavy, and all things kitchen and home related.