Hottest Holiday Toys for 2012

Toy Insider’s Hottest Holiday Toys….we wanted to share with you in this fun video….enjoy!


Continue Reading October 18, 2012 at 3:57 pm 1 comment

Early Hot List for early shopping edge!

Holiday season ‘hot list’ gives early shoppers an edge


Toy Insider’s Hot 20

Infant to 2 years:

Pocoyo Swiggle Traks:  Motorized car crosses flexible racetracks kids can switch into circles, loops and more. (Bandai America, $26.99)

Little People Zoo Talkers: Place an animal on the play set and hear its name and the sound it makes. (Fisher-Price, $39.99)

Let’s Rock! Elmo: Elmo sings, plays tambourine or bangs his drums and can interact with other “Let’s Rock!” instruments the child may play. (Hasbro, $69.99)

Poppin Park Elefun: Drop colored balls into the elephant’s ears and they pop out his trunk or belly. (Playskool, $29.99)

Ages 3 to 5 years: 

LeapPad: Tablet for kids with a camera, video recorder and ability to accept apps, games and e-books. (LeapFrog, $99.99)

Chuggington Interactive Railway: Play set where engines interact with each other and train stops. (Learning Curve, $79.99)

Mini Lalaloopsy Treehouse: Mini Lalaloopsy dolls can climb, swing and play in treehouse. (MGA Entertainment, $39.99)

Plasma Bike: Balance bike with wide wheels for a more stable ride. (PlaSmart, $79.99)

Lazer Stunt Chaser: Project light from the remote control and the car will race after it over a stunt ramp. (Thinkway Toys, $39.99)

Lite Sprites: Kids use a wand to capture color and light and share with sprites and various play sets. (Wowwee, $29.99)

Ages 6 to 8 years:

Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure: Action figures get projected into a video game. (Activision, $59.99 to $69.99).

Angry Birds plush: Stuffed birds and pigs based on the popular app. (Commonwealth Toy and Novelty, $9.99)

Nerf Vortex Proton Blaster: Single-shot blaster hurls a disc long distances. (Hasbro, $17.99)

Radica Fijit Friends: Interactive robotic toy that talks, laughs and dances. (Mattel, $49.99)

Redakai: Trading card game with 3-D and animation effects. (Spin Master, $5.99 and up)

Justin Bieber Rockin’ Tour Bus and Concert Stage: Tour bus turns into a stage with lights and an mp3 dock. Doll not included. (The Bridge Direct, $79.99)

Ages 9 and older:

Alien Conquest: Alien Mothership: Lego UFO with an abducting claw. (Lego, $49.99)

Scene It? Harry Potter: DVD game that encompasses all eight movies. (Screenlife, $29.99)

uDraw with Instant Artist: Tablet that allows you to paint, draw and color at various levels and email your masterpieces. (uDraw Studio, $79.99)

Paper Jamz Pro Series Microphone: Sing to popular songs like a professional thanks to the vocal effects on this microphone. (Wowwee, $29.99)

Published: September 26, 2011
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Think how relaxed you’d be if you wrapped up your toy shopping long before December.

If you can force yourself to think about Christmas before Halloween – and retailers are hoping you can — predictions for which items will be hot for the holidays are starting to come out. And they just might allow you to avoid shortages of the must-have products and long lines in December.

Most retailers are primed and ready for toy shopping time. Toy sales in the United States increased by 2 percent last year to nearly $22 billion, according to market research from the NPD Group, and the holiday season can make up about 40 percent of a toy seller’s annual profit.

For the shopper, the advantage goes to the one who starts early.

The Toy Insider, an annual holiday toy guide, unveiled its “Hot 20” toy list Monday, a peek at the top choices from a larger list available in November.

“I think a lot of these are going to be sold out by Christmas,” said co-publisher Laurie Schacht. “Retailers do not want products sitting on their shelves when the holidays are over. If you see it, you should consider buying it.”

The “Hot 20” has enough to get you started, with suggestions in all price ranges for babies to preteens. You’ll find both Justin Bieber and Harry Potter, a rock ‘n’ roll Elmo, cuddly Angry Birds and even a tablet computer for 4-year-olds. The list flags toys that encourage physical activity, improve technological skills, involve social interaction and develop school readiness.

Several of the Toy Insider’s favorites overlap with a list Toys R Us released last week of the 15 toys it expects to be popular. Both liked the “Let’s Rock!” Elmo, the talking and dancing robotic Radica Fijit Friends and action figures that appear in a video game via a microchip, among others.

The difference between the Toy Insider list and the retailers’, Schacht said, is that the Toy Insider isn’t limited to or driven by what it stocks – it doesn’t sell toys.

“We’re telling parents what we love and what we think their children would love,” said Schacht, a mother of three.

A panel of five toy experts looks through new and updated items throughout the year to pinpoint the best gift options. Cost is a concern, Schacht said, and if a toy is expensive, it has to last.

At $99.99, LeapFrog’s LeapPad carries the highest price of the bunch. But Schacht said testers loved the kiddie tablet for its “stealth learning.” Kids are having so much fun with the toy, they don’t realize how much of an educational factor is built into it, she said.

It has a built-in camera and video recorder and can accept more than 100 games, e-books and apps. The panel could see it lasting from age 4 to 10, because the apps and books get more complex depending on the child’s abilities.

On the cheaper end are the Redaki trading cards, which start at $5.99. In Pokemon style, children can collect Redaki cards and battle, but these cards have three-dimensional and animation effects.

Several items come in under $30. The DVD game “Scene It?” has a Harry Potter edition with clips, trivia and puzzles from the eight movies. The company that made Paper Jamz guitars last year now has a microphone with five vocal effects to improve your singing. And the Pocoyo flexible racetracks and Elefun Busy Ball Popper give the littlest kids ample entertainment.

The full list of 110 recommendations will come out online in November at and in the Nov. 17 issue of “Women’s Day” magazine.

(813) 259-8444.

Follow Courtney Cairns Pastor on Twitter @TBOmom.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.


September 27, 2011 at 5:54 pm Leave a comment


We are certain you will love this…so check it out!!

September 27, 2011 at 5:44 pm Leave a comment

Babies and The Big Toy Book

Baby Stollers, Diaper Bags, Soft Zoo Friends…as we celebrate babies at The Big Toy Book in our private sale community. Stop in, join us, and get great discounts on products that keep your baby warm, cozy, safe and happy.

See you at

Not a member yet, easy to sign up and membership is free at

 The Toy Insider Mom

October 26, 2010 at 5:27 pm Leave a comment

Imaginative Play…

Imaginative Play….the best education you can get!!

Imaginative Play….the complete opposite of a “watch me” toy.  A “watch me” toy is really cool for about 5 minutes…but if it doesn’t offer great interaction, well, you’ve just thrown those dollars right down the drown.

But a toy that inspires the imagination, that is loved for years, that is passed down…now that’s value and that’s learning.  Yes, educational toys are an essential part of play…but don’t underestimate the amount of learning that happens when children learn to create on their own.  There is nothing worse that hearing “I’m bored”…when you know there’s a room full of toys waiting.  So let’s figure out how to make them play.

Let’s start with Buzz because he is such a fine example.  Think about Andy (Toy Story) and how he played with Buzz and Woody….it’s exactly how children should be playing with their toys.  He created a world around them…he loved them and they were a big part of his life.  In fact, his toys were such a big part that all of us “adults” cried during the 3rd movie.  What did you have when you were growing up that inspired the same feeling in you.  For me it was Barbie and Ken…and my Dawn dolls were the little sisters (ok…so who remembers Dawn??). 

My kids loved the Playmobil Victorian Dollhouse (and they had every single piece of it, as well as the circus).  They created all kinds of scenes and changed all the rooms.  Because I was a doll lover…all of my girls received dolls on their birthdays from Madame Alexander and Lee Middleton…so that they could share in my love of dolls.  And love them, they did.  Clothes are lost and hair is tattered…as these dolls were loved to pieces.  My middle daughter has (yes, she is 17 and still has) a collection of Corolle Calin dolls (3 of them) but she named them all Lindsey…and went no where without them.  When she travels now, she does leave them behind (but still in her bed)..and we will see what happens next year when she goes to college. 

Imagination is one of the most important things for our children to develop.  They will learn to be creative, learn to inspire, and have the ability to entertain themselves as well.  They will also have life long memories from their favorite toys that helped them sleep through the night and gave them years of enjoyment.

So let’s start with Toy Story 3 Blast Off Buzz (and all his friends, like talking Woody and talking Jessie).  Kids will spend hours upon hours recreating scenes that they’ve seen in all 3 Toy Story movies…and than create their own.  This collection of toys will be cherished…and not just by the kids, but by the grownups who also love everything Toy Story.  This Buzz has light and sound effects and pops out his wings to fly.  He knows when he’s in “fly mode” and when he’s a space ranger or just a toy!   I’m also a huge Woody Fan, and this talking Woody has “hat technology”….you’ll have to just check this out for yourself, but very cool!

While GoGo My Walking Pup normally wouldn’t fit into this category for me, there is a lot that is very special about this dog.  Before I get into the “cool” aspect, let’s talk about the size, because it’s just right.  And while GoGo is for both genders, it will definitely tug at the heart strings of little girls who want a lap dog (like my nieces who love my real lap dog….but can’t have their own…guess what they are getting for the holidays?)  GoGo is a remote control pup so he can go for walks.  He walks straight ahead and to the right and left…so very easy to control.  And he has touch sensors on his body…touch his head or his sides and he will bark and make doggie sounds that you’re kids will adore.  The best part, if you child forgets to walk or feed GoGo, no problem for you, and GoGo will still love your kidsJ

Thomas and Friends:  Adventure on Misty Island:  I love this preschool building set by Mega Bloks.  As we celebrate the 65th Anniversary of Thomas (wow) and the 25th of Mega, kids will be won over immediately by this play set that they build.  Everything here is buildable, including Thomas and his friends.  What I love most about this set is that it’s not a flat surface build….this set builds up!!  Kids will love the dimension and the fact that they build it.  Once built….imagination can take off.  This provides hours of play that can be shared with parents and friends…but also played alone. 

Thomas is on a “roll” this holiday season with such a big anniversary, so I do need to mention some other great Thomas items, like the Follow Me Thomas.  New technology allows Thomas to follow the beam of light on the floor.  This makes for an easier and very “cool” radio control experience for a child who is 2+. 

Liv Dolls….I love dolls (could you tell by the beginning) and I especially love the Liv collection.  It’s my Nature is an expansion of the line that began last year.  The story is about 4 teenagers and their lives.  Each of the girls in this collection explore nature and all have an online life featuring daily diaries, fashion and webisodes.  Dolls are easy to pose and girls will give these a life of their own.   Children playing with these dolls can imagine themselves living their lives in school, after school, and out in the world.  They can “Liv” in their world because it so closely resembles their own.

Playmobil has always been a favorite of mine.  As I already mentioned, my kids had the Victorian Dollhouse and the circus…and everything that goes with it.  All of this has been handed to my two young nieces who are now getting just as much enjoyment as my own girls did.. Playmobil toys will be passed to generations of children, and the Play Along Puppet Theater is no exception.  Kids will create their own puppet shows and the stage even has sound effects.  This comes with six different figures and changeable scenes, and everything gets stored in the puppet theater.

Star Wars Imperial AT AT for kids 9+.  Creative thinking and imagination does not stop at 7 or 8.  And if you give kids the right “toys” they will continue to build worlds, create and recreate scenes from their favorite movies, and add to the collections.  The AT AT is a dream of a playset…and while geared toward boys, any Star Wars fan (and even those who are not) will flip when they see this (I did).  This playset stands at over two feet high and two feet long.  Its modeled after the Imperial Walkers from the Empire Strikes Back and has multi levels and compartments to hold figures and vehicles.  Lots of sound effects and motion…this is a winner!!

Remember that the best toys for kids of all ages will encourage them to think and to create.  This starts at the earliest stages but will continue with the right choices.  Think about the last time you sat down to play blocks with your child, or build a gingerbread house (I can get lost for hours in a project like that with my kids).  My daughters all garden with me, we create, explore and imagine and whatever it takes to inspire this is all worth while.  Imaginative learning and creative thinking at a young age teaches our children to branch out and reach for the stars.

The Toy Insider Mom

October 20, 2010 at 2:43 pm Leave a comment

October is…….



Did I scare you?   Sorry…

But guess what, today is the first day of October and Halloween is in the air.   There’s no better place to find Halloween than on  The Big Toy Book.  We have the most amazing costumes for you little ones in our Private Sale Community (and of course they are also at the most amazing prices).

Here’s what I love best about Halloween.  Costumes are NOT used once and then discarded…but they go into the dress up bin for ROLE PLAY.    There’s nothing like giving our children to tools to use their imaginations…and that’s what costumes do.  It lets kids be whoever they want to be.  They can be superheros and princesses…even crayons and pets. 

You should be a member of The Big Toy Book Private Sale Community.  Membership is always free.  We will keep you up to date on all our sales and our great prices, and how to earn credits and big toy book dollars for future shopping.

If you don’t see what you want on our Private Sale site, then shop on to find a large assortment of great Halloween fun.

Remember to be safe on Halloween and to remind your children to always say Thanks!

 The Toy Insider Mom

October 1, 2010 at 6:36 pm Leave a comment

Mega Bloks is 25 and right on with cool & smart Tech!!

See how it works on YOU TUBE

Mega Bloks(R) Launches its First-Ever Colorful iPhone and iPad App Toy for Preschoolers
In celebration of Mega Bloks(R)’ 25th birthday, MEGA Brands introduces its first iPhone and iPad application ‘Mega Bloks Playground’, a unique mobile-based toy designed to give younger children a fun and engaging experience.

MONTREAL, Oct. 1 /CNW Telbec/ – From stacking rocks to pieces of wood, the building block may have very well been the first toy ever played with by children, but with the help of MEGA Brands, the building block evolved and children can now create beautiful structures with Mega Bloks(R). Today, the modern child is exposed to a whole world of digital entertainment and MEGA Brands is proud to bring the realms of children’s toys and virtual reality together with the release of their first iPhone and iPad application ‘Mega Bloks Playground.’

“What better way to celebrate 25 years of Mega Bloks, then by taking the founding construction toy to a whole new level for today’s preschoolers with our first-ever iPhone/iPad app,” said Jean Gauvin, Content & Creative Director at MEGA Brands. ”

“It is not unusual for a parent to hand their iPhone or iPad to their child and allow them to play with it”, said Michael Elman Partner and Creative Director at Budge Studios “But not all of these applications are suited for toddlers and preschoolers. With the ‘Mega Bloks Playground’ application, our goal is to create something for children that engages their imagination and creativity. It is not a ‘video game’ by any means, that gives you set goals and sets you up to ‘win’ or ‘lose’. ‘Mega Bloks Playground’ is first and foremost a toy – which puts the control and the adventure back in the mind of the child using it. The goal is pure, engaging, and safe playtime.”

The Toy Insider Mom

October 1, 2010 at 3:31 pm 1 comment

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