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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

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

Toy Insider Statement re: Fisher Price Recall

We were disappointed to learn this morning that one of the products on this year’s Hot 20 list – the Little People Wheelies Stand ‘n Play Rampway – was recalled by Fisher-Price. The wheels on the purple and green cars can come off, posing a choking hazard to young children. As a trusted resource for parents, and as parents ourselves, we are deeply committed to recommending toys that are completely safe for children, so we immediately removed the item from our list and replaced it with a wonderful, super-soft and cuddly, age-appropriate toy for ages 0+, Twinkle Twinkle Little Scout, from LeapFrog.

 As industry experts, we know that all toy manufacturers take the issue of safety very seriously. By the time a product reaches our review team, it has gone through a number of rigorous safety tests by the manufacturer to ensure that it meets industry standards. Unfortunately, issues like today’s recall do occasionally occur. Consumers who have purchased the item should immediately take the affected purple and green cars away from children and contact Fisher-Price for free replacement cars. For additional information, contact Fisher-Price at (800) 432-5437 between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. ET Monday through Friday or visit the firm’s website at  For this recall, Fisher Price will send a  shipping label so you can send back the cars and receive a replacement.  Each recall is handled differently, (for the high chairs they will send you a modification kit).  We suggest reaching out directly to them for all your questions.

The Toy Insider Mom and the  Toy Insider Team

September 30, 2010 at 5:05 pm Leave a comment

The Hot 20…and the reasons why!

Yesterday was some Monday!!  It began with me rushing to make my train, stepping on the hem of my pants, and of course ripping it.  So once off the Long Island Railroad, I stopped into the shoe maker at Penn Station and asked for a saftey pin since those pants needed to last me till I got home..and I had a day full of meetings.  So I sat, pinned my hem and stood to discover that I just sat on gum.

It may seem like I was off to a bad Monday….but I thought to myself, “self….our Hot 20 list is breaking today and our team is so excited, so let’s laugh this off”.  Ok, so not exactly funny, as I stood in my office bathroom with ice cubes trying to remove the gum, but what an exciting day it turned into.   The Toy Insider Hot 20 list is out…and the balance of our list is not far behind (we can’t tell you everything yet).

I know it seems like the holidays are so far away, but there are a few key reasons why you see our list so early.  First, retailers do not overstock anymore.  They buy what they truly think they will sell and that’s it.  And the toy manufacturers produce what is ordered. 

 We don’t have a crystal ball when we make our selections,but we look at trends and we work with kids as well as our own Toy Insider team (and we are all parents)  and we believe we know what will sell out quickly (and we tend to be correct).  So if it’s something that is going to top your kids wish list…and you see this item, don’t wait to purchase it, buy it now.  Many items that make the list will be very difficult to find as we get closer to the holidays.  Do remember to make these purchases because they are toys that your kids will love and play with and not just because everyone else has it.  It needs to be right for your child.

And if you do wait, and the item is gone, remember that there’s a good chance it will be back and on shelves in January.  There are often great alternatives, so look, or ask us, as we’d be happyto help.

Below are a  few of the items from our Hot 20 list for The Toy Insider and why I love them!!  Our new web site will be live soon…so I will be back to send you there when we are.  In the meantime, take a look at these items (many are available at and please reach out to get more information and ideas as we move into our favorite time of year.

Hot 20 ….here’s a few of them!

For every toy I talk about, I’ll give you my 3 top reasons for loving it!! 

Paper Jamz:  ages 9+  

1)      The coolest technology, paper thin, stringless, and plays like a real guitar in Freestyle mode, but I can sound awesome in Perfect Play mode!

2)      There’s an entire band that I can create with my Paper Jamz guitar and drums and amp and I can do this for under $65.

3)      I’m A ROCK STAR!!!

TRENDS/SKILLS:  Smart Tech, Music, Price/Value


Zoobles Razoo’s Treehouse Playset:  ages 4+ 

1)      Bakugan for girls….Zoobles spring to life just like Bakugan does…but Zoobles are cute and colorful

2)      Collectible…hundreds of Zoobles to grow my collection with with cool playsets like this one

3)      I can take it anywhere I do, my Zoobles fit in my pocket (and the individual ones are just $5.99, so when kids say “I want more Zoobles”, they can feel empowered by making this purchase with their own money to grow their collection.

TRENDS/SKILLS:  Imaginative Role Play, Price/Value, Social Interaction


V.Reader Animated E-Book System:  3+  

1)      First animated eReader with visuals designed for kids

2)      Tech toy like moms (and dads) and really mimics the look and feel of the adult versions

3)      Encourages Love of Reading (I don’t go anywhere without my kindle…kids will feel the same about their V.Reader!!

TRENDS/SKILLS:  Smart Tech,  School Readiness, Encourages language skills


HexbugNano Habitat Set:  3+ 

1)      Great collectible for boys (and girls will enjoy them too)

2)      No food, cleaning of cage,  or mess/smell (I love this part)

3)      A little science…moves in a very “buglike” way by vibration only

TRENDS/SKILLS:  Smart Tech, Educational, Price/Value, Social Interaction


Furreal Friends GOGO My Walkin Pup   4+ 

1)      My sister’s kids are not allowed a dog, and they desperately want one…I will be the great aunt that delivers this perfect size pup.

2)      No food to buy…no poop to scoop!!

3)      Simply RC so even I can walk GOGO, but with touch technology so that pup responds to touch.

TRENDS/SKILLS:   Smart Tech, Physical (someone has to walk her), Social interaction


Hide-And-Seek JOJO Interactive Bunny  18mos+  

1)      Super smart technology for the youngest kids..they will be amazed.

2)      JOJO finds the carrot (and your child) every time.

3)      JOJO can count sing and talk….and hide and seek is more fun than ever before.

TRENDS/SKILLS:  Smart Tech, Physical, Toddler Development, School Readiness…ok, the list keeps going on this one!________________________________________________________________________

Thomas & Friends:  Adventures on Misty Island    3+

1)      Kids Love Thomas…I love Thomas…Mega makes the most awesome playset for Thomas (#1 preschool building w/#1 preschool brand!)

2)      From the Thomas movie, Misty Island Friends.  Thomas celebrating 65th Anniversary…

3)      Build and Play….build up with ramps….so much fun.  Contruction toys grow with children…and they create their own role play atmosphere.

TRENDS/SKILLS:  role-play, vehicle play, construction and language building skills, so much more…WOW!


Perplexus    6+

1)      You will need one for everyone in the family…and one for the desk in your office

2)      This “labyrinth in a sphere” will provide so many hours of family fun and challenges

3)      This grow with me toy will continue with your entire family for years…our mom bloggers and their families went crazy for this one!!!

TRENDS/SKILLS:  Price/Value, educational, social interaction (for all ages)


Fly with Elmo Ride On   1+

1)      One of baby’s first independent toys…with Elmo, a favorite all the time!

2)      Lots of action to keep baby occupied, lights, sounds, spinning action

3)      Elmo talks in his voice

TRENDS/SKILLS:  Physical and active toy, interactive play, and encourages imaginative play

More to come later this week!!!

The Toy Insider Mom

September 28, 2010 at 1:39 pm Leave a comment

The Toy Insider Hot List

Guitar Gadget, E-Reader for Kids May Prove Top Holiday Gifts

By Ian Thomson – Sep 27, 2010 12:01 AM ET


Guitar Gadget, E-Reader for Kids May Prove Top Holiday Gifts

U.S. toy sales totaled $7.8 billion in the first half of this year, little changed from the same period a year ago, according to NPD Group Inc., a Port Washington-based researcher. Photographer: Tom Starkweather/Bloomberg

Paper Jamz Guitar, which lets children strum to pop music, and an interactive e-reader may be among the best-selling gifts this holiday season as toymakers offer budget-conscious parents lower-priced electronic toys.

WowWee Group Ltd.’s $24.99 guitar, which comes with pre- programmed music and allows users to create their own tunes, and VTech Electronics Ltd.’s V.Reader, an animated e-book priced at $59.99, are among the “Hot 20” chosen by the Toy Insider, a consumer-shopping guide coming out today.

“Three years ago, you’d see lots of $200 to $300 toys,” Jonathan Samet, the Toy Insider’s publisher, said in an interview. “Right now, there’s not one toy on our list that costs more than $60.”

Consumers have cut back on spending amid lingering U.S. unemployment and the economic slump, escalating competition between toymakers including Mattel Inc. and Hasbro Inc. Toymakers typically get at least a third of their annual revenue from the fourth quarter, making it the biggest shopping period of the year.

The fifth annual Toy Insider, featuring 96 toys broken down by age group, will be published in the Nov. 17 issue of Woman’s Day. Further items will be listed on the group’s website. Value- for-money, technology-based items, toys based on popular culture and games that bring the family together will be among the top sellers, Toy Insider said.

Toy Sales

Toy sales may climb as much as 3 percent in the fourth quarter, said Gerrick Johnson, a toy industry analyst at BMO Capital Markets in New York.

“There are more opportunities to buy toys,” Johnson said, citing efforts by Sears Holding Corp. and Toys ‘R’ Us to increase shelf space.

U.S. toy sales totaled $7.8 billion in the first half of this year, little changed from the same period a year ago, according to NPD Group Inc., a Port Washington-based researcher. In 2009, toy sales fell by less than one percent to $21.5 billion, NPD said.

Moody’s Investors Service lowered its outlook on the U.S. retail industry to stable on Sept. 22. It expects holiday sales and margins to be marginally better than last year.

The Toy Insider’s “Hot 20” Toys for the 2010 Holiday Season

0-2 Years: Explore ‘N Grow Musical Gear Center - Playskool Fly
With Elmo Ride-On - Tek Nek Toys Hide-And-Seek Jojo Interactive
Bunny - Silverlit Toys Little People Wheelies Stand ‘N Play
Rampway - Fisher Price

3-5 Years: Furreal Friends Gogo My Walkin’ Pup - Hasbro Hexbug
Nano Habitat Set - Innovation First Sing-A-Ma-Jigs - Mattel
Thomas & Friends: Adventures On Misty Island - Mega Bloks
VReader Animated E-Book System - VTech Zoobles! Razoo’s
Treehouse Playset - Spin Master

6-8 Years: Disney Princess & Me Dolls - Jakks Pacific Loopz -
Mattel Perplexus - Plasmart Scene It? Disney Magical Moments -
Screenlife Spy Net Secret Mission Video Watch - Jakks Pacific
Toy Story 3 Blast-Off Buzz Lightyear - Thinkway Toys

9+ Years: Air Hogs R/C Hawk Eye Video Camera Helicopter - Spin
Master Glee CD Board Game - Cardinal Industries Paper Jamz
Guitar or Drum Set - WowWee Sharper Image U-Video Camera -

Source: The Toy Insider -

To contact the reporter on this story: Ian Thomson in New York at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Robin Ajello at

September 27, 2010 at 9:28 pm Leave a comment

The Toy Insider…HOT 20

The Top 20 Holiday Toys via @thetoyinsider …. Which ones will be on your list?

September 27, 2010 at 9:23 pm Leave a comment

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