As the Strategist’s resident toy expert, I have spent years talking to dozens of experts, walking for miles at toy fairs, and testing everything from the latest board games to the squishiest stuffed animals. All this toy immersion has been a lot of fun, and it’s helped me stay on top of the best toys for all ages and every budget. With all this expertise under my belt, it was time to create our own Strategist Toy Store: a one-stop shop filled to the brim with the best open-ended toys for toddlers, the instant camera that every tween has on their wish list, and the audio players that let little kids listen to podcasts and books without ever picking up a phone.
Everything you’ll see in the meticulously curated aisles below has been selected from our archive of expertly vetted toy recommendations, built with the help of hundreds of cool parents, child-development experts, trend forecasters, and real-life kids. Many of the toys have also been rigorously tested by the children of our writers and editors (mine included) to make sure nothing on this list will gather dust in your playroom. And because no two kids (or parents) are the same, we’ve included a diverse mix of the Strategist’s greatest hits, from minimalist wooden toys that double as art objects to the sometimes garish and gross toys that drive children wild. (Like a classic toy store, we’ve organized these toys by category, but if you’d prefer to see a breakdown by age, click here.)