Editors' pick: Originally published Nov. 11.
The holiday countdown clock has started and the frenzied search to find that perfect gift for that child in your life has begun. Toys are a holiday delight for children (and adults) of all ages, but understanding which type of toy for the individual is what often baffles the gift giver. Some children love to sit quietly and snuggle a plush toy, whereas others want a toy that entices their inner adventurer. Before you buy, keep the child's age in mind as some toys are inappropriate or possibly pose a choking hazard for the very young. Also, have an idea about what types of toys the child enjoys, while keeping a budget in mind.
To compile this list, we picked out a few from TTPM's Most Wanted list as well as some of our favorites among the just launched holiday toys.
For those who like to cuddle and snuggle
It's no secret that a stuffed animal provides comfort and love to children of all ages, however 21st century plush toys do more than sit on a shelf, staring blankly into space. In fact, a number of stuffed toys are interactive and responsive to commands and reactions, which greatly enhance the user's experience. When looking for an interactive plus toy consider what you hope to accomplish with the toy--are you looking for a toy that provides a transitional experience, such as what it might be like to own a dog or something that's going to provide interest and fun? One "test drive" pup that responds to touch and interaction is Hasbro's Joy for All Golden Pup. Snuggle and cuddle with this battery operated toy, while built in sensors respond to motion and touch. The pup even responds to vocal commands, which makes this toy ideal not only for children but as a companion for a grandparent or an elderly individual in your life.
Another test drive puppy to consider, especially for younger children is the Little Live Pet Snuggles My Dream Puppy. The toy comes with adoption papers, along with 35 adorable sound effects so kids can really take ownership of their new puppy. Feeding, playing and snuggling the pup to sleep are a priority to this battery operated, interactive toy, which is ideal for kids ages 4 and up.
Caring for a stuffed toy is another way to teach a child how to care for not only a pet but even how to treat a new sibling. Nurturing play that allows the child to feed and care for the toy can be found with the FurReal Friends Torch, My Blazn' Dragon. Dragon owners care, feed and clean their pet as it makes gurgled dragon sounds in response to his care. This toy is also battery operated and delivers 50 different responses to touch.
Toys for kids who never want to come inside
Some kids would rather be outside than cuddling a plush toy, which means you need to be on your outdoor interaction game. Toys that promote outdoor play including team-based toys, target blasters and exploration kits allow the adventuresome child to enhance his or her imagination while getting a little fresh air. Does your child love to play manhunt or enjoy the concept of paintball without the pain? The Nerf Mega Mastodon delivers everything your child will want and more. One of the most powerful blasters on the market, the Nerf Mega Mastodon fires 24 mega Nerf darts at least 100 feet thanks to its battery power and sophisticated construction. This blaster is a little large and heavy so a better choice for children ages 8 and up.
For older kids looking more of a nimble experience, check out the Nerf Rival Khaos MXVI-4000 Team Blue. Perfect for teens and adults, this blaster holds 40 rounds that shoot 100 feet per second. Great to give as a pair or in multiples as it promotes team play and competition.
Outdoor play doesn't always involve shooting and wild competition. A great way to get the kids out of the house can be as simple as making and sailing a paper airplane. A gift that jacks up the typical fold and fly paper plane is the SkyPaper High Velocity PPL-1 Paper Plane Launcher. You still make the planes, following directions for precision, but this launcher allows your aerial creation to soar up to 100 feet. A great toy for nearly any age because loading the launcher is easy, pull the trigger and your plane is airborne.
Tech toys that come to life
Not all tech toys are cold and mechanical and you can find the perfect tech toy that will show your child a little love. In fact, Furby Connect combines a stuffed toy with technology for a real live interactive experience. The plush toy is connected to the Furby gaming app so as your child plays the game, the toy responds in real life. When your Furby is awake, he can deliver 1,000 phrases and responds to touch and sound thanks to the multitude of sensors pulsing throughout your plush toy. Gift givers note, this toy requires four AA batteries and you can choose from four vibrant colors.
While the Furby is meant for fun, love and cuddling, the Cozmo from Anki functions like a robot companion that plays games and challenges your child's intellect. Cozmo can even pick up blocks, stack them and then knock them over. He even greets each day with a new set of tasks and energy points so games and interaction never gets stale.
For big and little kids who like to kick it old school
While tech toys may brighten some kids' day, others find their joy in toys from days gone by. Retro toys are hot right now and many of the old fan favorites are coming back on the market. Although Play-Doh is still a beloved toy for by today's standards, some of the older sets bring delight and excitement to both adults and kids alike. Hasbro's Play-Doh Doctor Drill n' Fill is make-believe dentistry at its finest. Each classic set comes with a mustache-clad "patient" ready to receive a set of braces, have a check up or a cavity filled. As the dentist in residence you can also just brush your patient's teeth. Play-Doh is always an appropriate toy for children ages 3 and up and this set comes with dental implements and two 2-ounce cans of Play-Doh.
As you walk down memory lane and are looking for an awesome, board game for some old-fashioned fun, check out Gnip Gnop -- the game that lets players ping pong back and forth. This two player game is the perfect way to pass the time during a rainy afternoon, with the object of transferring your balls over to the other player's receptacle under the clear plastic covering. Easy for kids as young as age 6 to play, Gnip Gnop will be a fan favorite for the entire family.
Fun activities for kids who love to create and engage
Sometimes finding the right toy for the active mind and hands can be a challenge. Arts and craft toys are popular with keeping busy bodies engaged, but sometimes a simple puzzle or activity book doesn't cut it. If you want to take your gift giving game up a notch, consider the Build-A-Bear Workshop Stuffing Station. This toy allows you to recreate the experience at Build-a-Bear retail stores at home and each set comes with two 8 inch bears, clothing, accessories and stuffing station. This toy requires adult assistance but provides a wonderful opportunity for family interaction.
For a more one-on-one type interactive toy, Playskool's Love2Learn Elmo brings one of your child's favorite friends home. This cuddly, familiar preschool toy interacts with your child, delivering 350 responses, sings 10 songs, laughs and plays games along with the Love2Learn Elmo app. A great toy for younger kids who are ready to learn.
For kids who love TV, Movie and Character Toys
We recommend playing this game on Delta Children's Paw Patrol Table and Chair Set with Storage. It's the perfect gift for kids who love to do fun activities such as drawing, coloring and tinkering with playsets. Save on your holiday budget by giving this to your favorite twins (or pair of kids), ages 3 to 6.
The built-in storage underneath the table is ideal for keeping small toys such as the Paw Patrol Chase and Rubble Character Walkie Talkies from eKids. The walkie talkies are great for kids who love to imagine they're tackling a high-stakes mission just like the rescue dogs in the famous animated television series.
Fans of Star Wars movies have a ton of toys to choose from this holiday season. Some of the most sought after from Hasbro include the Bladebuilder Spin-Action Lightsaber and the Interactech Imperial Stormtrooper figure. The latter uses a motion sensor to respond to specific movements and produces battle sound effects when equipped with the blaster accessory.
Silly characters like Playskool's Mr. Potato Head are always a holiday favorite, especially among younger kids. Mix and match funny parts from Mr. Potato Head and Mrs. Potato Head Magic and Mash Pack to transform the beloved creatures into out-of-this world taters. The Mrs. Potato Head set comes with a unicorn horn, wings and magic wand, so let your kids' imaginations run wild!
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