2016 Holiday Toys

2016 Holiday Toys

We all know what kind of mania a good doorbuster can create. Classic Black Friday madness always includes hordes of people rushing to get their hands on the best deals of the holiday.

Hot holiday toys are the original doorbuster. Toys have long created the hype and fervor of which Black Friday doorbusters can only dream. If a toy’s appeal reaches critical mass, it doesn’t even have to be discounted; as long as it is in-stock, there will be lines, pushing, shoving, and mad dashes for the toy shelves.

G.I. Joe toys taught us that knowing is half the battle, and never is that more true than on Black Friday and throughout the holidays. We’ve combed through the toy catalogs and have compiled our picks for the hottest holiday toys of 2016.

Pokémon My Friend Pikachu (Ages 2-5)

Pokémon My Friend Pikachu

The popularity of Pokémon has never really waned since it first released back in 1996. Between Pokémon Go, the first mobile Pokémon game, and the upcoming Pokémon Sun & Moon video games, no one can deny the resurgence of Pokémania this year. Kids and adults alike are finding a rejuvenated love for Pokémon, and if you’ve got a tiny trainer on your Christmas list, Pokémon My Friend Pikachu will be a welcome addition to the family when unwrapped Christmas morning. Pokémon My Friend Pikachu responds to hugs from your youngster with light up cheeks, ears that wiggle, and he speaks 10 phrases from the Pokémon movies.

Disney Princess Carriage - Walmart Exclusive (Ages 3+)

Disney Princess Carriage

Power Wheels and other battery powered ride-ons have been a Christmas staple for as long as they’ve been on the market. Ever-evolving, these rechargeable speed demons are regularly updated to reflect the dream machines of the youngsters still small enough to fit within their plastic chassis. While diminutive Jeep Wranglers and miniature versions of Knight Industries Two-Thousand were great for boys, the girls were always just stuck with a pink version of the Power Wheels made for boys. When Jeep Wrangler was popular, girls got the pink Barbie branded Jeep Wrangler. Remember that KITT Corvette? Girls got a pink Barbie Corvette. This Disney Princess Carriage, available exclusively from Walmart this holiday season, is sure to be a favorite among the smallest royalty in the land.

Shopkins Happy Places Happy Home (Ages 3+)

Shopkins Happy Places Happy Home

Shopkins is probably not the most absurd toy concept ever to gain massive popularity among kids, but a toy line based entirely around shopping for more toys within the same line is as ridiculous as it is genius. Much in the way that we can’t choose with whom we fall in love, we also cannot choose with which toys our children will become fanatics. Kids on your Christmas list that love Shopkins will no doubt be writing to Santa asking for the Shopkins Happy Places Happy Home playset, which is the only way they’ll get their hands on the exclusive set of Popette and her Puppy Parlor Petkins.

TMNT Talk to Me Mikey (Ages 4+)

TMNT Talk to Me Mikey

What would the holidays be without Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toys to be excited about? This year's must-have toy on the half shell comes in the form of TMNT Talk to Me Mikey from Playmates Toys. Set this fixed-pose Michaelangelo down in front of your youngster for a fun and interactive experience with everyone's favorite pizza-loving turtle. By using voice response and motion sensors, Talk to Me Mikey will talk and interact with your child in a spirit true to the TMNT. Ask Mikey about his hobbies, what he likes about being a turtle, or if he’s hungry, and he’ll give you a variety of responses and even break out into song if asked.

Ravensburger Space Hawk Starter Set (Ages 8+)

Ravensburger Space Hawk Starter Set

Space Hawk from Ravensburger harkens back to toys like Captain Power and the Soldiers of Tomorrow, which combined toys and technology to deliver simple but immersive play experiences. Technology has come a long way since then, and Space Hawk uses the power of your Android or iOS smart device to create an augmented reality adventure for your child. Simply download the Space Hawk app and insert your smart device into the fuselage of the ship, and your child will be ready to set off on an intergalactic voyage unlike any other. When your child peers down into the ship, the app uses your smart device’s camera and screen to alter what your child sees, and using specialized cards and accessories, the space battles come to life right in your home.

Exploding Kittens (Ages 7+)

Exploding Kittens

There has been a tabletop game renaissance over the last five or more years, which has opened up a great opportunity for parents. Most tweens and teens are into electronics, smart devices, and other tech gear that make great gifts but can cause isolation from the rest of the family.

What better way to have some fun family time and help connect better with the teenager in your family than with a fun and non-traditional tabletop game? Exploding Kittens is from the hugely popular and Eisner Award nominated webcomic The Oatmeal, and had the most successful crowd funding campaign in Kickstarter history. This simple but fun and intense card game for ages 7 and up delivers laughs while increasing the tension the longer the game takes place. Draw an exploding kitten card and you’re out of the game, unless you can find a way to use it to sabotage another player.

Keep in mind that there are two versions of Exploding Kittens, one good for kids and adults alike and also an NSFW version that is a bit more risqué and is geared towards adults.

Star Wars Rogue One – The Black Series

Star Wars Rogue One – The Black Series

Appearing on our hot toy list for two years in a row (thanks in no small part to consecutive holiday movie releases) is the Star Wars Black Series of toys. This year, an all-new set of highly detailed and highly sought after figures from Hasbro have been released in anticipation of Star Wars Rogue One. Like last year, these figures will satisfy kids and collectors alike with slick packaging, screen accurate details, and each standing about 6-in. tall if you actually open them.

Final Thoughts

Even if you’ve got a bead on the perfect toy for a kid that made Santa’s nice list, the classic dilemma comes up each and every year, and that is when? When do you purchase the toy that absolutely must be under the tree this holiday? You never truly know if the toy you’re after is destined to become this year’s Cabbage Patch Kid, and hot toys generally do not receive a large discount on Black Friday. Make sure to stay vigilant, get that list checked off early, and shop at stores where you’ll be able to get an exchange or refund should the price drop after you purchase.

October 20, 2016
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