Buying for boys this holiday season? There are two pieces of good news: 1) Industry experts have done the research on what’s hot for you, and 2) There is no single must-have-for-all hot toy.
“It’s really what’s ‘hot’ for the child, about what the child is interested in,” said Adrienne Appell, a toy trends specialist at the Toy Industry Association (TIA).
The organization’s 2015 Toy of the Year finalists — split into multiple categories, including Boy Toy of the Year — were announced this fall. The lists include an array of products, from brands like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to robotics. Classics, as well, “can definitely be hot toys,” Appell added.
Parents and grandparents gravitate toward what they played with in childhood, and there are twists on classics, such as Ninja Turtles stylized like the movie rather than the original comic book characters from the 80s.
As for the robots, Appell said, “a robotic dinosaur this year can do a lot cooler things than a robotic one 10 years ago and at a much lower price point.”
A major trend influencing the TTPM Most Wanted List of toys this holiday season, compiled by experts for the site (which features toy reviews and live price comparisons), is that brands are hot. The Ninja Turtles and “Frozen” dominate.
“‘Frozen’ is still on fire,” said Appell, noting that pop culture influences on hot holiday toys are common and that “Frozen” isn’t a girls-only franchise.
Other hot toys from popular brands include Minecraft (Series 2), Paw Patrol (for the preschool set), Skylanders Trap Team and items from “The LEGO Movie.” TIA’s Boy Toy list includes Disney Planes: Fire & Rescue Fire Blastin’ Dusty Crophopper, and Marvel Super Hero Mashers (which allow a kid to, say, use Captain America’s body with Spiderman arms and Incredible Hulk legs).
Two items called out by TTPM as popular activity and building toys that the TIA also sees as big this year are Crayola Paint Maker (for kids craving their own customized colors) and Hot Wheels Airbrush Auto Design (which includes three airbrush pens, stencils and a car to decorate).
Adults aren’t the only ones into the wearable technology trend. TTPM and the TIA both include the LeapBand by LeapFrog physical activity tracker on their lists. And TTPM highlights the VTech Kidizoom SmartWatch, with 50-plus clock face designs and smartphone-like features such as photos, videos and games.
Active, on-the-move boys have myriad options this year. Recognized by both TTPM and the TIA is the Hot Wheels Street Hawk Remote Control Flying Car, which works when grounded but is capable of performing aerial maneuvers and can fly up to 200 feet in the air. TTPM lists the Nerf-N-Strike Mega Thunder Bow Blaster, while the TIA includes the Nerf Rebelle Dolphina Bow. Both organizations highlight Zoomer Dino, who can be trained to dance, chase, chomp and roar (just don’t pull his tail!).
TIA’s experts also favored the Max Tow Truck, a 15-inch, 7-pound mighty vehicle designed to pull up to 200 pounds.
Late shoppers who may not be able to find exact items on the hot toy lists need not fret, said Appell. “A lot of times retailers will get stock and replenish, so call and check online.”
Although so many of the top toys sound familiar, there is always something new and exciting. Appell explained, “One of the toys always seems to top the toys from the year before — just when we think they can’t get more fun and more creative.”
Hot Toy Lists Online
• View and vote for the Toy Industry Association’s full list of 83 finalists for the 2015 Toy of the Year Awards at toyawards.org, through Jan. 11. Winners will be announced in February.
• See what 27 items were selected for the 2014 TTPM Most Wanted List of toys that were expected to be most in-demand this holiday season, at ttpm.com.
Where the toys are
• Age of Reason, 19 Post Road, West, Westport; 203-226-8199
• Blinn’s, 50 Unquowa Pl., Fairfield;
• Darien Toy Box, 1064 Post Road, Darien;
• Joggen Your Noggin, 292 Elm St., Monroe; 203-459-9677
• New Canaan Toy Store, 94 Park St.,
New Canaan; 203-966-2424
• Original Toy Company, 230 Woodmont Road, Milford; 203-876-7877
• Smart Kids’ Toys, 17 East Elm, Greenwich;
• Snip Snaps of Shelton Square, 884 Bridgeport Ave.; 203-225-7627
• Stamford Toys, 970 High Ridge Road, Stamford; 203-322-7786
• Toy Chest, 101 Main St., New Canaan;
• Toy Chest, 21 River Road, Wilton;
• Yellow Moon Toy Co., 2268 Black Rock Tpke., Fairfield; 203-330-0620