I know it seems like school just started and you’re starting to think about that perfect Halloween pumpkin. The toy biz, though, is already in full holiday mode. If you’ve been in a store recently, you’ll see expanded space for toys, new items everywhere and the buzz starting to build for what’s going to be hot. Of course we have our Most Wanted List, and there are a ton of other lists out there. And I know you’re asking: “Do I have to start thinking about this now?”
The simple answer is yes…at least if you think you want some of the hottest toys of the year.
Over the past few years, toymakers and retailers have grown ever more cautious about making too many toys and hoping that things sell through. That means fewer toys may be produced, and if a line or a brand suddenly gets hot, well, there’s just not the time to manufacture and ship more before the holidays. Figuring out how many toys to make and buy is ultimately more an art than a science, and the fate of toys can sometimes ride on the desires of an 8-year-old—and we know how unpredictable that can be. So, while lots of smart people spend lots of time trying to figure this out, there are inevitably surprises along the way.
Add to that that all of the major retailers have created layaway programs this year that will let shoppers reserve toys in advance, so that’s highly likely to mean that some of the most popular toys may sell out by Thanksgiving.
So what can you do? Well, many parents tell us they feel pressured to rush the holiday, and we get that. There’s enough anxiety about the holidays as it is, not only related to toys. Getting kids to talk about what they like and want in a casual way may give you some clues—and you might get some insight into what Skylanders or Doc McStuffins are. You can gamble on layaway, since most programs let you return the toy for a refund minus a small fee, which might be worth it. Similarly, we always advise that if you want something and you see it, buy it. Chances are you’re not going to find a better deal on the hot toys, and many retailers have extended return policies at the holidays, and many stores will also refund the difference if things go on sale within a specific amount of time.
Most importantly, take the lists with a grain of salt. We always say, “the hot toy is only hot if it’s hot for your kid.” That’s why we’ve added hundreds of new toy reviews in the past months as we help you get ready for the holiday.
And, mostly, have fun. Look through our site with your kids. Our goal is to make that entertaining all by itself and give you an idea of what you might expect from any given toy. And try not to think about everything you need to get done in the next 87 days, if you celebrate Christmas. (Okay, you can whack me with the WWE Brawlin’ Buddies for that crack.)
Here’s to your most pleasurable and relaxed holiday season ever!