NEW YORK CITY — Amazon’s Alexa is making its debut in the children’s toy room later this year, and I’m not too sure how I feel about it. KidKraft is taking a bet parents will be less hesitant when they get a look at the 2-in-1 Alexa Kitchen and Market, a 360-degree playset powered by a voice assistant and one of the best toys of the upcoming year.
The $299 2-in-1 Alexa Kitchen and Market debuted at Toy Fair 2020 and is powered by RFID sensors and, of course, Alexa. When kids trifle with the collection of accessories, Alexa walks them through recipes, helps make shopping lists, plays guessing games and provides a healthy dose of puns.
By bringing the play pattern of kitchen sets into a voice-driven toy, KidKraft is offering a liaison between children and AI.
On one hand, it’s a screen-free, interactive experience. Kids will enjoy the set’s details, and the two-sided setup fosters playtime with friends or siblings. Plus your child won’t be able to control smart home devices, ask Alexa the weather, or do anything else with their voice while the kitchen set’s skill is in use.
But there are a few concerns that a toy of this budding breed creates. I can’t help but question the social implications of making Alexa a child’s on-demand playmate. Speaking to Alexa often requires a bossy dialect and could cause kids to expect to get whatever they want when they ask.
When I was a kid I had a second-hand kitchen set with broken parts and chipped paint and loved it dearly. I used my imagination for recipes, and it’s all I needed.
The 2-in-1 Alexa Kitchen and Market is a massive deviation from the idyllic, uncomplicated playtime of the past, but it also seems also inevitable. As Alexa becomes a household name, it's expected every member of a home will know how to use it.
KidKraft’s 2-in-1 Alexa Kitchen and Market is coming in late 2020 and will cost $299. That price doesn’t include an Echo speaker, but I’d recommend pairing it with an Echo Dot Kids Edition.