Lego Mindstorms EV3
While Lego Boost is great for younger kids, preteens and teens will appreciate the power and versatility of the company's Mindstorm EV3. The community support for Mindstorms is tremendous, because it is the most popular and well-established robot kit around.
The EV3 kit comes with the parts to build 17 different types of robot. You can also create your own custom designs. It comes with color, touch and infrared sensors, along with three different motors, all of which connect to Lego blocks.
You can control Mindstorms robots using the included remote control or an app on your mobile device. There's also programming software that runs on a PC or Mac.
Robolink CoDrone Pro
Great for older kids and adults who want to learn and have fun, the RoboLink CoDrone pro gives you a powerful drone and the pieces you need to create a controller for it. The controller is built with an Arduino board, the same kind that grownup hobbyists and electronic builders use. So, if you want to program the CoDrone, you use real, text-based Arduino language. Just like a pro.
For $50 less, you can get the CoDrone Lite, which comes without the controller. It uses a simple block-based language on your phone, and is appropriate for younger kids.
OWI Robotic ARM Edge
One of the most fun things you can do with a robot is make it pick things up. OWI's kit builds an articulating arm with five different motors to control its angle and grip. After the 3-to-5-hour build, you'll be able to move the robot using a wired controller with different joysticks for each joint.
UBTech Jimu Inventor Kit
The big kahuna of UBTech's half-dozen Jimu sets, the Inventor Kit features the parts to build six different robotic animals, including an elephant, a giraffe and a rhino. If you like the BuilderBot but want something even more extensive and expensive, this kit is for you.