Remember frantically scanning the store shelves for Cabbage Patch Kids, Tickle Me Elmo and Furbies? How stressful was that!
Well, shoppers beware! Now, with Christmas season 2014 under way, experts like Christopher Byrne and representatives from Mattel/Fisher-Price are once again predicting what toys will be hot this holiday season.
If your child is computer-savvy -- and most kids are -- Mattel's representative recommends the Barbie Fashion Design Maker. "Every parent knows how difficult it is to pull kids away from tech devices these days. So why not strengthen their tech knowledge and supplement it with fun creativity?" The Fashion Design Maker helps fashionistas-in-training create custom designs on printable fabric paper with the use of an app, a tablet or a computer.
At over 50 years old, Barbie continues to "age well" and remains one of the most popular toys ever with girls ages 3 and up. Future hairstylists will love the new Barbie Endless Curls that allows girls to curl Barbie's hair -- sans heat or water -- and adds streaks of color.
Of course, Mattel has released the stunning 2014 Holiday Barbie Doll, who is wearing a gorgeous red gown and has dazzling holiday details.
For girls who like their dolls a little more "freaky," Byrne, who is content director for aNB Media Inc. and is known internationally as the Toy Guy, predicts, "The whole Monster High Freaky Fusions line is going to continue to be hot. The big dollhouse (Monster High Freaky Fusion Catacombs) is going to be a hot ticket item, as are the dolls."
Parents and grandparents of the very young who want to give toys that focus on learning will be excited about Fisher-Price's brand-new Laugh & Learn Smart Stages line. This line of toys evolves with age-appropriate learning content as baby grows. Simply input a child's age for automatic content updates or manually adjust the learning stage with a switch.
This line includes the new Laugh & Learn Stages Chair which is a child-sized seat that knows when baby sits, activating learning songs and phrases when baby stands. The chair offers three levels of play that include fresh songs, phrases and sounds that update to match a little one's age and stage development.
Santa's young friends will also be checking under the tree for their first Thomas & Friends train, which is the My First Thomas and Friends Motion Control Thomas. Kids can control Thomas with the wave of the hand, turning any room into the famous Island of Sodor.
Byrne admits to being a "big kid at heart," as well as a toy expert. That's why he recommends a few "blaster" toys for boys. The Zing Firetek Bow shoots well and "is one of my faves of the year," Byrne says. "It lights up!"
And Nerf lovers won't be disappointed with the Nerf Thunderbow, he adds. "While we are in the blaster category, this one is amazing!" he says. Of course, parents should make sure kids have plenty of room to play with these action-packed toys.
One of the season's hottest toys might just be as popular with parents and grandparents as it will with the kids. Hot Wheels Street Hawks are expected to fly off the shelves as soon as they are stocked, because both boys and men are begging for them. The highly sought-after flying car is both an RC vehicle, which allows the flying car to be steered along the ground, as well as in the air as a plane.
Byrne says the Street Hawk "is incredible" and agrees that dads might be borrowing the toy from their sons. "This toy really is terrific," he says. "It's easy to use, and it brings a big 'wow' when it takes off."
If you haven't already purchased any of these hot toys, Byrne recommends shopping now to assure that you'll be able to put a "Check, got that one!" on your child's Christmas list.