TRENDY TOYS FOR TOTS
It's holiday shopping season, and major retailers including Amazon, Target, Walmart, and Toys R Us have released their lists of 2016's hottest toys. The 40 toys rounded up here have popped up on multiple lists and cater to a variety of ages, interests, and budgets. Most are already selling at a substantial discount, and while it may be tempting to wait around for deeper savings, remember that the hottest toys tend to sell out.
Related: Is Black Friday the Best Time to Buy the Year's Most Coveted Toys?
FISHER-PRICE LAUGH & LEARN CRAWL-AROUND LEARNING CENTER
The Crawl Around Learning Center is a recent addition to Fisher-Price's popular Laugh & Learn series and aimed at ages 6 months to 3 years. There are over 20 activities and 150 sounds to teach shapes, body parts, colors, letters, and more. The toy is listed for $50 but already priced at $40 at Target and $38 at Sam's Club.
RAZOR RIPSTIK ELECTRIC CASTER BOARD
A motor powered by a rechargeable battery lets kids hit speeds up to 10 mph on the RipStik Electric caster board. Riders ages 9 and up control their speed with a handheld remote, twisting and carving for up to 40 minutes at a time. The board, which retails for $180, is $150 at Walmart. Cheaper non-electric versions are available too.
SKY VIPER STREAMING DRONE
Kids 12 and up can get a bird's-eye view of the action with the Sky Viper v2400 HD streaming drone, which can capture 360-degree panoramas and stream them live to smartphones or tablets from up to 200 feet away. At only about 13 inches square, it's small enough to fly indoors, too. The drone retails for $130, but Walmart is selling it for $88.
LITTLE TIKES LIGHT 'N GO 3-IN-1 ACTIVITY WALKER
Kids can multitask with the Light 'n Go 3-in-1 Activity Walker, which can be used as a walker and floor toy by babies and an activity table by bigger kids. There are more than 70 activities, songs, and sounds to interest children 9 months to 3 years. The walker lists for $40, but Target is selling it for $34.
FISHER-PRICE BRIGHT BEATS LEARNIN' LIGHTS DANCE MAT
Ideal for new walkers, the Fisher-Price Bright Beats Learnin' Lights Dance Mat offers a way for kids 9 months to 3 years to get their wiggles out. Two interactive modes have songs, colors, light shows, and educational content. The toy is listed for $40 but is selling for less than $22 on Amazon.
Related: 11 Ways to Stretch Your Holiday Budget at Costco, Sam's, and BJ's
VTECH GO GO SMART WHEELS TREASURE MOUNTAIN TRAIN ADVENTURE
Toddlers and preschoolers ages 1 to 5 can watch the motorized cars of the VTech Go Go Smart Wheels Treasure Mountain Train Adventure chug around the track triggering sounds, phrases, and music as they go. The set retails for $55 but is selling for $40 at Toys R Us.
PLAYSKOOL LOVE2LEARN ELMO
It wouldn't be the holidays without a hot Elmo toy. The Playskool Love2Learn Elmo kicks things up a notch by connecting to a smartphone app that lets Elmo "memorize" kids' favorite things, help them learn preselected subjects, and even give them reminders about brushing teeth and eating healthy. This $60 toy for kids 18 months to 4 years is selling for $40 on Amazon.
LITTLE TIKES COOK 'N LEARN SMART KITCHEN
The Little Tikes Cook 'n Learn Smart Kitchen for ages 2 and up integrates with Bluetooth-enabled smartphones and tablets to recognize cooking tools and food, provide "recipes" and music, and guide kids through educational games. There are also cooking sound effects and more than 40 included accessories. While $150 is the list price, Walmart is selling the toy for $112.
SHOPKINS HAPPY PLACES HAPPY HOUSE
Kids find Shopkins adorable, while parents grouse about finding them scattered across the house. The Happy Places Happy House for kids 5 and up offers much-needed Shopkins storage space and comes with seven Petkins, a Popette figure, and decor for one room. Target is selling the $30 toy for $25. Plenty of expansion packs are available, too.
QIXELS 3D MAKER SET
With the Qixels 3D Maker Set, kids 5 and up can build small figures layer by layer, fusing the plastic pixel cubes with water -- and, parents will be glad to note, minimal mess. This kit comes with 600 cubes, and refill packs are available. The $25 toy is $17 on Jet.
LEAPFROG LEAPSTART INTERACTIVE LEARNING SYSTEM
Don't want to hand over that iPad? The LeapStart Interactive Learning System for preschool and pre-kindergarten gives kids ages 2 to 4 an interactive learning experience in a durable, portable package. It's compatible with 16 activity books that kids navigate with a large, easy-to-grip stylus while working on letters, numbers, shapes, and more. The toy retails for $40 but sells at Toys R Us for $30.
LEGO STAR WARS RESISTANCE X-WING FIGHTER
The Resistance X-Wing Fighter is this year's holiday pick for parents who don't want to spend $500 on a Lego Death Star for a little Star Wars fan. This 740-piece set for kids 8 to 14 includes wings that open, three mini-figures, and a BB-8 droid. The $80 toy sells for $69 on Amazon.
HASBRO SPEAK OUT GAME
As if phrases like "He's my stealthy pet ferret named Garrett" aren't funny enough on their own, try saying them while wearing a plastic mouthpiece. Guess enough phrases correctly to win this wholesome, silly game for teens 16 and up (just be sure to wash those mouthpieces once the fun is done). The game retails for more than $30 elsewhere but costs $20 direct from Hasbro.
FISHER-PRICE THINK & LEARN CODE-A-PILLAR
Kids ages 3 to 6 aren't too young to learn about coding, according to Fisher-Price. The Think & Learn Code-a-Pillar encourages preschoolers to connect the toy's segments in different ways to see where it will go. Kids can try to steer the Code-a-Pillar to included targets, while lights and sounds keep things interesting. Target is offering the toy for $39, well below the $50 list price.
FISHER-PRICE THOMAS & FRIENDS TRACKMASTER THOMAS' SKY-HIGH BRIDGE JUMP
TrackMaster Thomas sets are a less expensive, more widely available alternative to classic wooden Thomas trains. The Fisher-Price Thomas & Friends TrackMaster Thomas' Sky-High Bridge Jump for kids 3 and up adds some aerial thrills, propelling engines through the air after a roller-coaster-like drop. Although the toy lists for $100, Fisher-Price has discounted it to $82 online.
NUM NOMS LIP GLOSS TRUCK
With the Num Noms Lip Gloss Truck, kids 3 and up can mix their own lip gloss, add it to the truck's ice-cream machine, and serve it up like their favorite soft serve. It comes with cherry and vanilla lip gloss flavors, a lip gloss base, glitter sprinkles, mixing tools, and more. While the toy retails for $33, Toys R Us is selling it for $28.
BARBIE HELLO DREAMHOUSE
The first Barbie smart house, the Barbie Hello Dreamhouse can be controlled with an app that allows for customizable voice commands and light shows. Built-in sounds are also available for traditionalists. This Dreamhouse plugs into the wall, so it won't eat batteries. This toy retails for $299 but is a bit cheaper on Amazon, and it does come with all the furniture and a motorized elevator.
JUST PLAY LION GUARD TRAINING LAIR PLAYSET
The 3-foot-tall Just Play Lion Guard Training Lair Playset for kids 3 and up includes a ton of interactive features like lights, sounds, working bungee and crossbow launchers, a moveable zip line, a boulder drop, and more. Two Lion Guard play figures (Kion and Janja) are included. Walmart is selling the $60 toy for $40.
MATCHBOX STINKY THE GARBAGE TRUCK
Stinky the Garbage Truck is more than a push toy. It produces more than 90 phrases and sounds and has a "body" that can stand up and even exercise. Jokes and songs are among Stinky's other tricks, and kids ages 3 and up can also use the truck to "eat" and dump small cars or other toys. The Matchbox toy lists for $60, but the Mattel website is selling it for $50 on sale.
ZOOMER PAW PATROL MARSHALL
This year's ultimate toy for Paw Patrol fans is Zoomer Marshall, who can walk, talk, spin, and follow his kid companions. The toy for ages 3 to 5 includes 150 phrases and sounds from the show as well as 80 interactive missions and tricks. It also has spring-loaded cannons that shoot plastic darts. The $69 toy is marked down to $53 at Toys R Us.
DISNEY FROZEN LITTLE KINGDOM ELSA'S MAGICAL RISING CASTLE
Mania for Disney's "Frozen" isn't fading with a sequel to the movie in the works. Elsa's Magical Rising Castle for ages 4 and up can rise with the wave of a hand, growing to over 20 inches tall. There are lights, sounds, and several snap-in accessories. Elsa and Olaf figures are included. The $80 toy is selling for $58 at Walmart.
STAR WARS INTERACTECH IMPERIAL STORMTROOPER
The Star Wars Interactech Imperial Stormtrooper figure has a motion sensor that triggers 65 phrases and sound effects. The toy for ages 4 and up is also compatible with an app that lets toys star in their own movies, complete with laser blasts, explosions, and other special effects. The $30 toy is selling for $23 at Walmart.
FURREAL FRIENDS TORCH, MY BLAZIN' DRAGON
Torch, an interactive baby dragon for kids 4 and up, responds to touch with more than 50 sounds and motions. He comes with a color-changing treat and a water tank that lets him breathe mist -- and burp, to kids' delight. The $80 toy is selling for $59 at Walmart.
Plastic, no-mess Bunchems for ages 4 and up easily stick to each other for endless building possibilities, and the Bunchems Alive set adds a motorized ball to create creatures that wobble and wiggle. The kit includes 300 Bunchems and accessory pieces such as eyes, ears, and wings. The toy sells for $20 at Walmart, down from the $25 list.
VTECH KIDIZOOM SMARTWATCH DX
The latest VTech Kidizoom Smartwatch has 3D clock faces, a calendar, a calculator, and eight new learning and motion games. The watch for kids 4 to 9 still boasts touchscreen technology, memory to take videos and pictures, a splash-proof watch face, and a rechargeable battery. It's selling for $45 on Amazon.
ORBEEZ ULTIMATE SOOTHING SPA
Orbeez start as tiny, hard beads that expand into squishy balls 100 times their original volume. The Ultimate Soothing Spa uses 2,000 of them to massage and soothe the tired feet of kids 5 and up. The $40 list price is reduced to less than $26 at Walmart.
HASBRO PIE FACE GAME
The Pie Face game invites players to take turns cranking the game's handle in the hopes they're not the one who gets a face full of whipped cream. Simple spinner-based gameplay makes this suitable for kids 5 and up. The game retails for $20 but sells for $13 on Amazon.
HOT WHEELS CRISS CROSS CRASH TRACK SET
Four potential crash zones make for exciting play with the Hot Wheels Criss Cross Crash Track Set, which features more than 16 feet of twisting track. The toy for ages 5 and up also has motorized boosters to keep cars moving and several parking spaces. The toy lists for $45 but sells for $36 at Walmart.
SPIN MASTER HATCHIMALS
Hatchimals, which are on nearly every "hot toy" list for this year, are already hard to find (the company website promises more will hit stores in January 2017). A furry creature hatches out of a lifelike egg, but first kids have to play with the egg to help it along. Once hatched, the creature can learn to walk, dance, play games, and even repeat what kids say. The $60 toy for ages 5 to 10 sells for $50 at Target.
OSMO STARTER KIT
The Osmo game system lets iPad addicts use their tablets for games that include hands-on play. The starter kit includes interactive word tile and shape games, but the system also supports games that focus on coding, math, and more for kids 5 to 12. The Osmo Starter Kit sells for $79.
POKÉMON SUN AND MOON VIDEO GAMES
For kids who aren't over Pokémon Go craze, the Sun and Moon games for Nintendo 3Ds include never-before-seen creatures and are compatible with an interactive Z-Ring (sold separately) that lights up, makes sounds, and vibrates during game play. Although the games won't be released until Nov. 18, Amazon pre-guarantees a price of $32 for each, $8 below the $40 list price.
Related: 10 Hot Holiday Gifts and How to Get Them for Less
NERF MODULUS TRI-STRIKE
The Nerf Modulus Tri-Strike for kids 8 and up features three ways to shoot foam darts that can be used separately or combined into one mega blaster. The pieces are also compatible with other toys from the Nerf Modulus line, allowing up to 1,000 different combinations. The toy, which retails for $50, sells for $35 on Amazon.
HASBRO SIMON AIR GAME
The classic Simon game is back, and this time it has touch-free technology that senses players' movements. Kids 8 and up can stretch their memories by repeating the game's color and lights sequences for as long as they can. Simon Air allows for both single- and double-player modes. The toy's $20 retail price is slashed to $15 on Amazon.
Beginning robot lovers ages 8 and up will love Meccano MicroNoids, which are simple enough for kids to build and then program with the push of a button. Available in blue, red, and green, MicroNoids can walk, interact with one another, smash through obstacles, and even dance to a beat. The $40 list price is reduced to $28 on Amazon.
3DOODLER START ESSENTIALS PEN SET
In the age of 3D printing, the 3Doodler Start Essentials Pen Set is a high-tech alternative for artists ages 8 and up who are tired of sketch pads. The quick-hardening plastic strands allow kids to draw in the air or use included stencils for ready-made inspiration. The pen is wireless and charges via an included USB cord. The toy lists for $50 but sells for $45 at Target.
SELFIEMIC MUSIC SET
Budding singers 8 and up will think the SelfieMic Music Set is made for them. The microphone is adapted with a selfie stick and connects to most smartphones (not included). Kids can record themselves grooving to their own songs or belting out well-known hits. They can also add auto-tune and filters to customize their videos. The $25 toy is $17 on Amazon.
MATTEL TYCO TERRA CLIMBER
Remote-control vehicles are always a favorite, but the lizard-like Tyco Terra Climber for kids 8 and up can go where other toys can't, climbing hills, rock piles, and even stairs up to 8 inches tall. It has a rechargeable battery, so it won't deplete your stash of AAs. The $100 Mattel toy is selling for $78 on Amazon.
WOWWEE LUMI GAMING DRONE
Instead of taking video, the Lumi drone for kids 8 and up connects to smartphones and tablets for interactive play. It can perform one-touch flips and tricks and choreographed air shows or even follow the kids who are controlling it. An obstacle-avoidance mode keeps it from bashing walls and furniture indoors. The $80 toy sells for $65 on Amazon.
HOT WHEELS A.I. INTELLIGENT RACE SYSTEM STARTER KIT
The Hot Wheels A.I. Intelligent Race System Starter Kit for kids 8 and up features two A.I. smart cars, which are able to stay on the included track pieces even at blazing speeds and around tight turns. Cars can also be used off track in free-play mode. The $100 toy sells for $81 at Kmart.
LEGO FRIENDS AMUSEMENT PARK ROLLER COASTER BUILDING KIT
An addition to the popular Lego Friends series, the Lego Friends Amusement Park Roller Coaster Building Kit has three main attractions: the coaster, a Ferris wheel, and a drop tower. The 1,124-piece set for kids 8 to 12 also comes with four mini-figures and a light-up coaster car. The kit retails for $100 but sells for $80 on Amazon.