Last year, by the time we realized that Hatchimals were the hottest thing to hit the market since Cronuts, we were too late. They were already all sold-out and going for double and triple the price on eBay. The only advice we could properly share was about all the similar toys that were still available (and some expert-recommended favorites for 1-, 2-, 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds).
We were not going to let that happen this year. So over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been hitting up local toy fairs and scoping out the scene. It turns out that most new-edition holiday toys are first released in the beginning of October. That means they’re just about all available right now. Below, I’ve collected a comprehensive list of what you should be looking out for, and what you should probably just go ahead and buy right now (even though it’s crazy early), so you don’t end up calling every Toys ’R’ Us in the tristate area for a goddamned sparkly egg.
So we’ll start with Hatchimals, since I’m still not over how popular those became. Today, a day Spin Master has proclaimed Hatchimal Day, the company has announced their follow-up plan. It’s called Hatchimals Surprise, and the surprise is that inside the egg there will be twins. As your child watches them hatch and then grow from baby to toddler to kid, the twins also respond and interact with one another, telling secrets between themselves, playing games, and dancing. Your kid is going to want this. This is going to sell out. I know it seems crazy early for holiday shopping, but seriously don’t wait.
We’ve written about squishies, the new fidget spinner, before. We prophesied their rise. And after going to two toy fairs in the past three weeks, I can confidently say that we were right. These things are everywhere. It was like every other booth was showing some sort of cute, satisfyingly squishy object. The most important of these, though, are from a company named Orb whose product is called Soft’n Slo Squishies. The people over at Orb first found squishies in Japan about two years ago and brought some home to play with. They just had them lying around the office. Then, over the last few months, they started noticing squishies popping up all over YouTube and Instagram. It was then that they rushed to get their squishies to market, and they say they were some of the first to release squishies here in America.
Orb’s newest line of Halloween-themed Gross Squishies came out this week, and they’ll continue to release new products as we get closer to the holidays. These are collectibles, so one will never be enough, and it’s really all about completing the set. Keep an eye out for new releases. And just a heads-up: This cinnamon roll is already sold out at certain retailers.
Squish-Dee-Lish by Jakks toys is another popular squishies brand. They also make a Shopkins version of squishies. Double whammy.
There are also Kawaii Squeezies. These are food items, like s’mores and hamburgers, but with faces. And finally, Smooshy Mushy’s are really cute and tiny, and they won’t be available until the end of October.
Moving on from squishable items, we have Fingerlings, which are essentially interactive baby monkeys that sit on your fingers or pencils. They launched in August and have been flying off the shelves. The monkeys giggle when you pet them, turn their heads, blink, and make noises. They’ll also respond when you blow kisses at them. These Fingerlings come in six different colors and Toys ’R’ Us has an exclusive on the single unicorn version.
Last year, we told you about Torch, a cute, interactive dragon who would toast his own marshmallow using his very convenient fire-breathing mouth. This year, there’s Tyler, a baby tiger, who’ll playfully pounce and nuzzle when you pet him. His favorite chew toy is a rubber chicken.
For the craftier kids, there are now Oonies, which are little sticky balloons you inflate and then attach to each other. Each box of Oonies also comes with add-ons — like connectors, pellets, and eyes — so that you can create jungle animals out of your sticky balloons and then make long chains of those animals.
For a bigger bubble to play with, there’s Super Wubble, which blew up on YouTube over the last year, collecting millions of views. Really. There are videos that have been watched over 7 million times of people playing with these giant bubble balloons. It’s basically a huge bubble, but it plays like a ball: You can bounce it, sit on it, try to pop it. It’s fun and it’s got a cool texture (all the rage this toy season), and though it really shouldn’t pop, if it does, the company will send you a new one at a discount.
The newest and best Mickey Mouse–related item is the Mickey Transforming Roadster Racer. First, what you need to know about this is that a show called Mickey and the Roadster Racers is the new Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Second, this is a remote-control car that transforms from a regular-looking car into a souped-up racing car.
This is a robot named Max. First, you build Max out of Meccano parts. Then, Max asks you questions about yourself and what you like. Max learns to interact with you based on those very specific things, and because each child is unique, no two Maxs are alike.
If you haven’t had enough of building your own toys yet, there’s Lego Boost. With this, you can create five different robotic creations. Each creation then connects to an iPad where you line up different directives, like a computer code, to tell the robot where to move, how to nod its head, and what to do with its arms. The goal is to become familiar with coding and how it works, while playing with a cool robot.
One of the coolest toys I tried out in the last couple of weeks was called Lightseekers, another half-IRL, half-iPad game. What you buy is a Lightseeker action figure. There are a few options, but they all look like some sort of mix between a dinosaur, Terminator, and Avatar. You hold this figure in front of your iPad video game, and a matching figure shows up on the iPad screen. When you move the figure IRL, it also moves on the screen to avoid obstacles, collect coins, and race to the end of each level.
Luvabeau and Luvabella are babies with hundreds of lifelike expressions and interactive responses, like the ability to say over a hundred different words. They’re kind of creepy-looking, but kids love the way these dolls laugh when they’re tickled and fall asleep when they’re rocked.
Just this week, Shopkins released its biggest play set to date. It’s called the Shoppies Super Mall, and if you already have a zillion little Shopkins and are looking for a place where they can all go shopping together, this is your answer.
A SoundMoovz looks like a kids’ fitness band, but it’s actually a device that senses when you move your arms and legs and creates a specific beat and song based on your flailing, each body part controlling a specific sound. No need to squeeze a drum set into the living room anymore.
It’s prime time to buy a Nintendo Switch. And if you’re more into the classics, following last year’s mania surrounding the rereleased NES Classic, Nintendo is going ahead and rereleasing the SNES Classic (that’s the Super Nintendo console). It’ll come stored with about 20 games, but there hasn’t been an official release date yet. Keep your eyes out for this one. It’s sure to sell out almost instantly.
Merge is an augmented-reality video game that was just released in August. You hold your phone up in front of the cube (or put your phone in a VR-like headset and look at the cube), and the boring plastic box becomes a whole new world of games, challenges, and activities to play with. Very futuristic. Very cool.
If you’re into crafts, but not all the related handiwork, there’s Digiloom, a digital loom. You design friendship bracelets and necklaces on a computer program and then send that information over to the loom. Press a single button, and then just sit back to watch as the loom weaves together your very own bracelet designs. As someone with poor crafting skills, I would easily buy this.
And if you’re just looking for the hottest new drone, it’s the Sky Viper v2450 GPS drone, which is lightweight, safe for beginners, and has an autofocusing technology that allows the drone to focus and get an even better picture mid-flight.
I walked by the KD Games table at one of the shows and had to stop because of how fun I thought this game looked. In Balloon Bot Battle, two anthropomorphic balloons enter a boxing ring and punch each other until one pops. It’s like the classic Rock ’Em Sock ’Em Robots, but with balloons. It’s also one of the rare new games that doesn’t include an iPad or computer.
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