Toy Stores – Top Toys

Many stores such as Walmart, Amazon and Target release their annual list of hot toys for the holiday shopping season.  The stores themselves are not just guessing – they have the ability to predict the hot toys based on early buying patterns, such as for birthdays and other holidays.  So you have to take these lists seriously if you want to make sure your kids find the top toys waiting for them this year.

We  took a look at various store-based toy lists and we’ve picked out some products that we think will rise to the top of many kids’ wish lists.

LEGO Ninjago Building Kit

LEGO Ninjago Green Mech

LEGO Ninjago Green Mech

The latest LEGO movie Ninjago extends the popular dragon-based characters from the Ninja series.  This Ninjago Green Ninja Mech building kit has a fantastic 544 pieces and it puts kids right into the middle of the action.  This large figure sports a minifigure cockpit, articulated snapping jaws, posable body, and a wheel-activated swooshing tail.

The kit include four additional mini-figures The Green Ninja, Wu, Garmadon and Charlie, as well as an array of weapons.

We really like these LEGO building kits that kids can actually play with, rather than static kits that you pretty much put on a shelf and stare at.

K’NEX Thrill Rides Web Weaver Roller Coaster Building Set

K’NEX Thrill Ride Roller Coaster Kit

There are over 430 pieces in this exciting K’NEX Thrill Rides Roller Coaster building set.  After you receive the satisfaction of completing your build you then get to actually run the air-powered car around the track.  This looks like a really fun set similar to other K’NEX building sets such as the giant Ferris Wheel.

LEGO Boost Creative Toolbox – Building and Coding

LEGO Creative Toolbox

With the LEGO Boost Creative Toolbox you and your child can build one of five multi-functional robots and control them with the easy-to-use coding blocks on your tablet.  LEGO has come a long way into creating a robotic building set that combines technology education with the fun of building and reaching the final creation.  

This set is recommended for ages 7-12 years old.

Nickelodeon – Paw Patrol – My Size Lookout Tower

Nickelodeon – Paw Patrol – My Size Lookout Tower

The Nickelodeon Paw Patrol Lookout Tower is more than two and a half feet tall and features interactive lights and authentic sounds. Hear each character’s signature phrase with the press of a button.   There is also a rotating periscope and a central elevators that takes the mini-figures up and down.  And finally there are vehicle launchers along the base – ready for some exciting fun.

This set is recommended for ages 3 and up.

Lulu Jr. My Comic Book Making Kit

My Comic Book Building Kit

Enough with the high-tech toys and building kits.  This is the very unique My Comic Book Making Kit. Okay yes – it is technically a building kit, but in this case it gives you various tools to help you create your very own 18-page full-color comic book.  This kit will boost your child’s creativity and give them a sense of self-esteem when they’ve completed their book.

Recommended for ages 6 and up.

 

Disclaimer: This post may contain Affiliate links. Prices may change at any time. Do your own research before purchasing.

New Hatchimals Versions

Unless you were living under a rock in 2016 you should know about the smash toy hit known as Hatchimals, those cute little interactive toys that would hatch and mature as they are played with.  The problem was they sold out almost immediately after release and they were nearly impossible to find all the way through Christmas.

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Original Hatchimals – 2016

But now Spin Master, the company behind the craze, is release two new versions of their Hatchimals.  They are not available yet, but will likely hit stores in a few months.

The first is Hatchimals Glitter (priced at $59.99 each), which enhances the original Hatchimals concept with some sparkle. The new creatures’ names are “Sparkly Pengualas” and “Shimmering Draggles”, both of which sport sparkling fur, new sounds, songs and games. Hatchimals Glitter will hit stores in July.

Also new are Hatchimals Colleggtibles, which will hit stores in May.  The are smaller versions of the the original Hatchimals – mini plastic creatures that live inside a mini egg with a large purple heart on it.  These are self-hatching like the original version – kids have to help hatch their Colleggtibles by rubbing their hearts until they changes from purple to pink, which means it’s ready to hatch.  Manually crack open the egg and hidden inside are mystical animal-inspired creatures with glittery wings.

The first line of Colleggtibles will have 70 creatures, including severak limited editions. The Hatchimals Colleggtibles will be sold in packs ($2.99 for a single and $9.99 for a 4-pack).

Disclaimer: This post may contain Affiliate links. Prices may change at any time. Do your own research before purchasing.

Black Friday 2016 – Tips and Tricks

Although Black Friday does not hold the same punch it had just a few years ago, it is still the official kick-off to the Christmas shopping season. Retailers are holding pre-Black Friday sales starting a week or even more before Thanksgiving. For example Costco started their sales on Nov 18 this year. Also, there are many retailers that are opening their doors Thanksgiving evening, a good 12 hours before they used to open. All of this has (thankfully) reduced the craziness and stress of heading out for Black Friday shopping, although it is now interfering with the Thanksgiving holiday.

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But there is some good news – many retailers have publicly come out and announced that they will be closed for Thanksgiving, and some are closed even for Black Friday. This benefits primarily their employees who are not forced to work when they should be spending quality time with their family.

So what kind of Black Friday shopper are you? Maybe you are intense, maybe you are just casual. Or maybe you couldn’t be bothered. Also, are you primarily and Online shopper, constantly scanning various websites for sales and deals? Or do you like getting out there in person, hitting the malls and navigating the crowds? Whatever kind of shopper you are you may benefit from our suggestions here.

Black Friday Planning

Every Black Friday shopper should start planning about a week ahead. This planning should include:

  • Putting together a comprehensive gift list
  • Putting together a Wish List for yourself
  • Note which items might be in very high demand, based on information found on various sites such as Hot Toy Guide. This may influence what price you are willing to pay right now, and whether you should risk waiting for a better price later on.
  • Finding out the schedules of the stores you plan to visit in person. You certainly don’t want to show up to a closed store.
  • Planning your shopping schedule, by coordinating with your family and friends. Don’t forget to leave extra time for snack or meals, and for the inevitable waiting in lines.
  • Taking note of the regular prices of some of the key items on your list, and setting some price targets for them as well.
  • Regular visiting of “hot deal” websites
  • Check out the newspaper ads on Thanksgiving day (and before). Play close attention to any restrictions and limits placed on the hottest in-store deals. Often a store has a very small number of the hottest items for sale at the best prices.

Toy Shopping on Black Friday

FurReal Friends Bootsie

Toys and electronics are historically two of most targeted and frenetic areas of Black Friday buying, and for the whole Christmas season as well. When the little ones insist that they want a particular toy, some parents will stop at nothing to fulfill their wishes. Sometimes that spills overs into the what we see on some news reports where people go crazy grabbing and shoving in order to get their hands on the hottest items in the store.

So we have a couple of suggestions to make your toy buying go a little more smoothly:

1. Be willing to buy early and to pay a little more

Is it really worth it to fight the crowds, and to risk coming away without that targeted toy just to save a few dollars? Why not just check out the prices now (before Thanksgiving) and buy at least a few items on your list, just to have the peace of mind that you are part-way through your shopping list.

2. Know what’s Hot

Cozmo Robot

Keep an eye on the hot toys, as found on our Most Wished For Toy List, our Top Ten Toy List, and many other pages on this site. For those Hot toys, watch out for special deals and grab them when you think the price is right. If you wait until December you may find the toys are impossible to get, or you’ll have to pay higher prices from 3rd party re-sellers, such as on Ebay or some shady character on Craigslist.

3. Impress by Being Up to Date

Parents often buy toys which are past their prime. There’s nothing worse that finding out that what you bought makes you look old and out of touch. If you want to impress Tweens and Teenagers you really should try to focus on the “in” products, especially related to electronics, and to entertainment (movies, TV shows, and music). So if you’re not sure what to buy that 13-year old, ask around and try to find out what kids that age might like.

Good Luck with your Christmas shopping!!!

Disclaimer: This post may contain Affiliate links. Prices may change at any time. Do your own research before purchasing.

Hatchimal Alternatives

hatchimalsAs expected Hatchimals have turned out to be the hottest and hardest-to-find toy this Christmas season.  What is surprising is that they have completely sold out in early November and prices are sky-high (through 3rd-party sellers).  We don’t know when there will be more supply to satisfy the demand, but in the meantime if you would rather spend something like $40-$60 for a reasonable replacement toy, rather than spending $150 and up for a Hatchimal then we have some ideas for you to consider.

FurReal Friends – Interactive Animals

FurReal Friends Torch

FurReal Friends Torch

FurReal Friends has a few different animals that your child can interact with rather than just hold.  For example the FurReal Friends Torch, My Blazin’ Dragon responds to touch with 50+ sound and motion combinations. Fill his tank with water and he breathes flame-colored mist (and burps).  He also give fun responses when you touch his nose.

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FurReal Friends Bootsie

FurReal Friends Bootsie

There’s also FurReal Friends Bootsie – a playful cat that looks and acts just like a real kitty. Wave at her or tap her mouth with included treat for fun expressions.  Pet her head to discover her current mood.

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Little Live Pets

llpets-snuggles

Little Live Pets – Snuggles

Another alternative to Hatchimals is Little Live Pets.  First up is the Little Live Pets Snuggles My Dream Puppy.  This is a fun little interactive puppy that responds to hugging and feeding.  It is a very soft animal and kids seems to love it.

The only possible issue with this toy is reported quality issues.  If you absolutely must get this toy do so with the expectation that it might not work properly and might need to be replaced.

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Peppy Pets Dog

Peppey Pets Toy Dog

Peppy Pets Toy Dog

The Peppy Pets Kid Powered Dog can be a nice cuddly companion for little kids.  The dog is soft and can perform tricks like flipping.   The pet is not battery powered – it flips using the tug of the leash.  So it is not as advanced as the more technological interactive pets but it can be a fun friend for a younger child.

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Disclaimer: This post may contain Affiliate links. Prices may change at any time. Do your own research before purchasing.