Each year we reach out to toy trend experts to get a sneak peek at their lists of the hottest, most covetable toys ahead of the holiday season. (A quick preview for those who can’t wait: because this year is the 25th anniversary of Pokémon, toys that feature Pikachu, Charizard, Mewtwo, or Squirtle will be extremely popular.) Instead of praying to the inventory gods last minute, we want you to have a head start on finding the animatronic Labradoodles, tiny collectible grocery items, and magical steaming cauldrons that kids will be clamoring for this holiday season.
Last year we advocated for shopping early because of pandemic-related shipping delays. Well, this year the experts suggest stocking up even sooner. (In fact, our pick for the hottest holiday toy — the Magic Mixies Cauldron — is already sold out at Amazon, Target, and Walmart. Your best bet for buying it is on eBay, where it’s two times the suggested retail price.) That’s why Adrienne Appel, SVP of marketing communications at The Toy Association says, “Because of the ongoing impact of supply-chain disruptions hindering toymakers this year, we don’t think there is necessarily going to be one stand-out toy like in years past. Instead, the hot toys will be the ones that are actually in stock. It might be tempting to wait on those annual Thanksgiving weekend sales but this is not the year to do that.” We know it still feels far away, but if you see something your kid might want to unwrap in December, your best bet is to buy it right now — and find a good place to hide it. And of course, to help you find the best stuff that isn’t sold out, we’ll be checking stock regularly and updating this article often.
For more great gift options, we also have guides for kids of all ages, including 1-year-olds, 2-year-olds, 3-year-olds, 4-year-olds, 5-year-olds, 6-year-olds, 7-year-olds, 8-year-olds, and 9-year-olds.
Byrne says the Make It Real Color Fusion Nail Polish Maker is something parents should buy soon before it sells out. It lets kids create up to 200 custom shades of water-based, non-toxic nail polish and comes with styling tools and instructions for different kinds of nail art. To create custom polish, kids can pick a color from the included recipe book or download an app that matches colors to your favorite sneakers, your best friend’s sweater, or the nail polish of one of your favorite celebs. “It tells you exactly how many pumps of each base polish you need to match almost any color,” says Byrne.
At nearly three feet tall, this transforming Batman playset would be a very exciting toy to unwrap — and Mierzejewski says she and the rest of her team at the Toy Insider fell in love with it the moment they saw it. When closed, it looks like a giant Batman action figure. Open it up and you’ll find a multi-level interactive Bat Cave with a functioning elevator and jail for super villains. “It’s packed with imaginative play, making it a great fit for all kids from preschool up through grade schoolers. Plus, multiple kids can play with it at the same time, so it provides a lot of play value for the price point,” Mierzejewski says.
Beyblades have been really popular among the elementary-school set for a while now and a less elaborate set is featured in our toy gift guide for 8-year-olds. They’re basically fierce-looking spinning tops that kids shoot at each other via a zip-cord launcher to see whose top will survive the battle. While any Beyblade toy would make an exciting gift for the right kid, Mierzejewski says that this Beyblade battle stadium with a central rotating panel is the one that is going to sell out fastest. “This is a super popular line already, but I really love this new upgrade with the motor vortex disc that redirects the tops randomly and makes every battle more interesting,” she says.
According to Appell and Mierzejewski, anything Pokémon is at risk of selling out this holiday season. “In addition to the Pokémon cards being near impossible to get, there’s a bunch of new Pokémon products coming out for the 25th anniversary. My advice is anything that you see with Pokemon on it, you should buy as soon as you see it. Because it’s just so hot right now,” says Mierzejewski. Both she and Appell recommend buying a new Pokémon battle deck bundle like this one because they come with two card decks so you have everything you need to face off with a friend. Each deck includes one special Pokémon, two foil cards, two large metallic coins, single-player play mats, reference cards, damage counters, a guide to upgrading your decks, and a code card for the Pokémon trading card game online.
As we’ve seen over the past four years, the blind box collectibles trend is alive and well. This year, instead of miniature fashion dolls that unbox their own accessories, the hottest collectible toy is a set of plastic balls filled with charming miniature replicas of supermarket products. Both Byrne and Mierzejewski say that these toys have already started to sell out. “It makes sense because kids love miniature things and they love shopping,” says Byrne. There are little dove shampoo bottles, tiny Laughing Cow cheese, and mini Kool-Aid containers, among many others. If you’re wondering what kids do with these tiny pantry staples, Mierzejewski says that the unboxing reveal is still super popular all over social media, plus they are fun to display, trade with friends, and use as props for Barbie and other similar-size dolls.
A newer toy trend we heard about from Byrne and Appell is audio for kids, specifically this padded speaker (and Strategist favorite) called a Toniebox. Each Toniebox comes with a couple of well-known figures like Elsa from Frozen, Peppa Pig, and Chase from Paw Patrol. When you place the figure on top of the box it initiates a story that kids can listen to but also engage with. And some of the stories have even been done with LaVar Burton. “You know how podcasts are huge for adults? This kind of children’s audio has been really, really big for kids. It really fosters imagination, creativity, seeing things in your mind’s eye and building the skills of listening,” says Byrne.
If your kid has been asking for a pet dog but you’re not ready for the responsibility, Mierzejewski recommends this highly anticipated interactive Labradoodle named Moji. “He’s got a really animated face and responds to kids’ voices and touch with more than 150 reactions,” she says. In addition to voice and touch commands, Moji has a smart collar with a color screen that displays different animated emojis to communicate what he’s thinking. For example if he’s hungry, that’ll show up on his collar and kids will know that it’s time to feed him.
Paw Patrol continues to captivate kids, and the recent release of the Paw Patrol movie was unsurprisingly a huge success, earning over a hundred million dollars globally so far. There are a ton of Paw Patrol–themed toys, but Byrne says that the Ultimate City Transforming Tower, which is featured in the movie, is going to definitely sell out. The three-foot-tall tower comes with six pup toy figures, a Chase cruiser, and a mini clip-on backpack. You can launch pups down the ramp, push the buttons for sounds and lights, and send pups up to the command center via the tower elevator.
CoComelon is a YouTube TV show for preschoolers that has views in the billions and lots of spinoff toys you can buy. According to Byrne this interactive doll inspired by the show’s main character, JJ, is going to be the first of all the CoComelon toys to sell out. Along with singing three different songs that kids will recognize from the series, JJ eats his peas and giggles when you press his tummy.
Editor’s note: The JJ Doll is set to be released on November 22, but you can preorder it now .
Though it’s no longer a new phenomenon, LOL Surprise Dolls are still incredibly popular and highly collectible among kids ages 5 and up. You may think it’s just another doll, but Byrne says collecting things like LOL Surprise can provide important social interaction and belonging for kids. “What’s significant about collectibles is that they are different enough so that kids can express their own individuality, but at the same time they are all part of the LOL Surprise world. Yes they’re connecting around a doll, but the wonderful thing is they’re connecting,” he says.
Toy expert Chris Byrne, who goes by the name The Toy Guy, and Ali Mierzejewski, editor in chief of The Toy Insider, say that this interactive toy is going to be one of the biggest hits of the season. It comes with a variety of powders and potions that bubble, change color, and steam when mixed in the cauldron with water. You also get a light up magic wand to help you perform a series of magic spells that culminate in the appearance of your very own Mixie (a plush creature that lights up and reacts to different commands). “It’s an absolutely incredible experience for kids,” says Mierzejewski, noting that they can repeat the process over and over again with their friends and even put different things into the secret compartment of the cauldron and then magically reveal them. As we explained, this is already sold out everywhere — but if you’re committed, you can buy it on eBay.
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