Attention parents and grandparents: You better watch out, because Santa's probably going to need some help filling his sleigh this holiday season. Toy experts are predicting that gift-givers will shop for both familiar and not-so-familiar requests. From toy pets, to movie sagas, to classic American Girl dolls, these items will delight children of all ages.
The newest -- and possibly most difficult to find -- toys will likely be Scruff-A-Luvs by Moose Toys. Each little adoptable stuffed pet dog, cat or rabbit comes in a box as a matted ball of fur with only its bright eyes showing. Once kids wash, blow-dry and style the hair, their new pet is revealed in all its glory. Each pet comes with a grooming brush, a collar with a nametag and an adoption certificate. The Scruff-A-Luv will teach your little ones to care for creatures.
For young dinosaur lovers, Hasbro's furReal Munchin' Rex is a soft gift that readily accepts hugs. He comes with a bottle, a broccoli treat and a special cookie. Offer him something to eat and he'll react with one of almost three dozen sound-and-motion combinations. Keep the food coming and he'll entertain kids for hours. This little dino is a lovable handful.
Unicorns are hot this year, and the WowWee Fingerlings unicorns will be on many wish lists. Gigi is a white unicorn complete with a lovely rainbow tail and mane. Like her predecessors, last year's wildly popular Fingerlings monkeys, she hugs a child's finger and responds to touch, motion and noise. Christopher Byrne, content director of Toys, Tots, Pets and More, has noted that WowWee is well-known for "incorporating play and electronics" that kids "really respond to."
This year, Hot Wheels is celebrating its 50th anniversary, points out Chris Down, senior vice president and global brand general manager of Hot Wheels. This year's new Hot Wheels City system is a good pick for the youngest Hot Wheels fans. He says it's a system that allows for "push-around" play and some "crash-and-bash" action that little drivers will love. Older kids will enjoy the Hot Wheels Augmoto, a smart-device-controlled track set that uses augmented reality and adds unprecedented control to the Hot Wheel racing experience.
Kids who love to build and Lego fans will be hoping for a "Star Wars" kit under their tree. Anakin's Jedi Starfighter features retractable landing gear, an opening minifigure cockpit, space for R2-D2, an Anakin Skywalker minifigure, an R2-D2 figure and more. The Republic Fighter Tank, featured in "The Clone Wars" TV show, has two elevating guns with stud shooters, hidden wheels for a hover look, rear ammo storage, two minifigures and two droid figures. With these models and others, your young Padawan will be excited to blast off into the "Star Wars" galaxy.
American Girl is expecting the American Girl 2018 Girl of the Year, Luciana Vega, to fulfill many lucky children's Christmas wishes. Luciana dreams of being the first person on Mars, according to Susan Jevens, associate manager of public relations at American Girl. "American Girl worked with NASA, and a task force of advisers -- including scientists and astronauts," she says. "Luciana shows what it can mean to be a girl of strong character today, where creative thinking, collaboration and STEM literacy provide opportunities for meaningful growth and development.
"Additionally, American Girl's Truly Me contemporary 18-inch doll lines offers an array of outfits, activity books and accessories that speak to girls' interests and individuality, building confidence as they learn -- and learn about themselves -- through imaginative play," says Jevens. "This holiday season, we've introduced several new items in the Truly Me line, including a remote-control car, fun game night-themed accessories, matching girl and doll holiday outfits and more."
Finally, chilly winter evenings and weekends are great times for families to stay inside and enjoy game time. Board games are increasing in popularity again, and Byrne isn't surprised. "Cast your mind back to the 1960s when Marvin Glass created games like Mousetrap and Crazy Clock and many others that dazzled the Baby Boomers," he says. Their grandchildren are now "discovering how fun these silly and simple games can be." Popular board games this year are Hasbro's Don't Step In It, which challenges blindfolded players to avoid stepping in puppy droppings. This game also comes in (no big surprise here) a unicorn edition. Spin Master's Soggy Doggy, an award-winning game, promises clean family fun and comes with an interactive dog toy. Just a keep a towel nearby, because you might get wet!
Toys and games let children's imaginations soar and create priceless family memories. Now that you have the inside scoop, head to Amazon or your nearest toy retailer quickly before these hot-ticket items sell out.