5 of the best supercharged toys

These tech-packed 21st century updates on classic toy themes will take your playtime to a whole new level

Lego Unimog U400 £155

The real-life Mercedes-Benz Unimog is one of the toughest, most adaptable vehicles on Earth – and it's Lego sibling isn't far behind. The ultimate expression of the uber-sophisticated Technic range, the Power Function-equipped Unimog U400 matches the best scale models for complexity, but beats them hands down for playability. It includes a hydraulic articulated crane plus working steering, suspension and transmission, and you can even rework its crane into a snow plough if the mood takes you. We'd stick with what you see here though: it really is rather good.

The original – Lego Car Chassis 853, 1977

Steerable front wheels, a four-cylinder engine with moving pistons, two-speed gearbox... the 853 had it all. Except body work.

Hot Wheels Video Racer £40

Be honest: when you used to play with cars, you always imagined yourself at the wheel of your favourite motor. Well now you can be (kind of). Thanks to its built-in VGA camera and teeny LCD display screen, the Video Racer lets you review your carefully constructed trick-track stunts in real-time on its screen. Or, if your eyesight's not that good, you might prefer to view it on your computer via USB. The set also includes a mounting adaptor, so you can secure the camera to your bike, and there's recording capacity for about 12 minutes of video. Which, let's face it, is enough for anyone.

The original – Hot Wheels Sizzlers, 1970

With their miniature built-in motors and rechargeable batteries, Sizzlers were enough to make '70s kids giddy with excitement.

Dension SmartRacer 200euros

Conventional RC cars not geeky enough for you? Then try the SmartRacer for size. At first glance it resembles most modern RC Truggies (or truck/buggy hybrids). It's fairly small, at 1:16th scale (most rivals are 1:10th), yet it still features 4WD, plus performance-enhancing tech such as oil-filled dampers and a brushless motor. More interestingly, it uses a combination of Wi-Fi plus a USB camera to provide iPhone-based remote control, complete with a car's-eye view of the world on the screen, plus touch-or motion-based steering. Now that really is geeky.

The original – Tamiya Sand Scorcher, 1979

Ultra-detailed and ridiculously good fun, the iconic Sand Scorcher inspired the whole 1980s RC craze.

Scalextric Digital Platinum Set £500

Winning a Scalextric race used to be simple: hit the first corner in the lead, find a consistent speed, then stay there. This set rewrites all those rules, allowing up to six cars to race simultaneously on a two-lane track. You can even change lanes at key points on the track – so, overtaking opportunities ahoy. This, plus the accuracy of the set's Digital Powerbase lap counter, means you can find yourself driving like a tactically inclined Le Mans 24-Hour racer, rather than the flat-out attack-attack-attack loony we all know you actually are.

The original – Scalextric Vanwall, 1960

The first Scalextric cars were metal-bodied, but the move to plastic sparked an explosion in demand.

Nerf Vortex Nitron Blaster £45

Remember having to shout 'bang bang, you're dead'? Yes, and we remember when Yahoo was bigger than Google, too. How quaint. The Nerf Vortex Nitron Blaster is a toy gun for the 21st century. Battery powered and able to hit targets 50ft away, its basic (but fairly effective) top-sight lets you acquire your target with stealth and ease. Then, once you've found something worth shooting at, you can saturate it with fully automatic fire using your complement of 20 Nerf Vortex disc-type rounds, the entire clip being discharged in seconds. Eat that, water pistol boy.

The original – Nerf Arrowstorm, 1993

Nerf's second weapon, it featured a rotating semi-automatic mechanism and six-arrow capacity. Blam!

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