This year’s hottest toy is the Hatchimal: a furry, interactive penguin-like creature that’s basically what would result if a Furby and a Tamagotchi decided to have a baby. The Hatchimal begins life in a spotted shell, and your child nurtures the inner Draggle or Pengula by tapping, tilting, and touching it. With enough care it hatches and grows up through three stages of life: “baby,” where it rolls and flaps its wings while you watch its color-changing eyes to determine if it’s hungry; “toddler,” where it learns how to walk, talk, and dance; and “kid,” where it plays four games including tag and Simon Says. Kids can’t get enough. So much so that it’s sold-out pretty much everywhere and going for hundreds of dollars through resellers. (We predicted this.) So if you don’t want to spend well over $200 on a toy egg and would rather not camp out at Toys “R” Us in anticipation of the next restock, here are eight other new toys that can provide a similar fix.
Although she’s not shaped like a furry penguin, this updated Cabbage Patch kid still requires a child’s care and attention. You can tickle the bottom of her feet to hear her giggle and talk, her cheeks glow red when she needs medicine, she’ll say things like “yummy!” once you feed her, and even burp after you pat her back. She’ll also play peek-a-boo, and if you connect to the Baby So Real app, there are many more games to activate.
For a non-electronic option, unzip this basketball to transform it into a plush teddy bear. It’s kind of like a hatching egg.
Start off with one cuddly mama dog and unzip her belly to bring three, four or five puppies — it’s a surprise how many you’ll get — into the world. While the mom and most of the babies are stuffed animals, one of those puppies (it’s another surprise which one) is an electronic pup that barks when you squeeze its belly.
Like Hatchimals’ mythical Pengulas and Draggles, Torch is a mythical baby dragon whose favorite food is a toasted marshmallow. He makes his own marshmallow by blowing fire (it’s actually water vapor) that turns the treat from white to a crispy brown. Then place it on Torch’s tongue and he’ll make eating noises and calm down, finally satiated.
This adorable blue-eyed, hypoallergenic pup comes with adoption papers so you can “truly” adopt him and name him whatever your heart desires. Although he won’t grow beyond his baby years, Snuggles still requires all the care of a real puppy. Rub his belly or pat his head and he’ll make satisfied sounds; give him a kiss and he’ll kiss back; put him to sleep on his back and his stomach actually rises and falls.
For the younger toddler there’s Hot Diggity Dancing Mickey. Like the Hatchimal, which has a dance mode, Mickey wiggles, spins and shakes to “Hot Dog” by There Might Be Giants.
Made by the same company behind Hatchimals, the Zoomer Chimp has similarly expressive eyes that (although they’re admittedly a little creepy) will also change colors based on whatever activity he’s up to and respond to user commands. If he sees your hand stretched out in front of him he’ll follow it, he does tricks like flipping and waving his butt in the air while making monkey noises, and he also has a dancing mode.
Furby, an old distant relative of the Hatchimal, slips back on the scene as the Furby Connect, which works alongside an app via Bluetooth. Inside the app, players care for Furby by hatching and nurturing baby Furblings and feeding Furby with a food cannon, while the physical Furby will respond to things happening in the digital world by automatically updating itself with new qualities. If you totally disconnect from the app, Furby will still respond to sound and motion, so you can tickle, pet, hold, and shake Furby to receive multiple responses, feed Furby with your finger, and even talk to it — in Furbish, of course.
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