Pinkfong's Baby Shark swam into the hearts of kids and parents everywhere. These Baby Shark toys don't just look like the shark family, they sing and swim just like the original characters.
This was one of the hottest crazes 10 years ago. Then, it brought a new level of play to battle-action toys. Now, it's back on its 10th anniversary with an all-new version that works better, plays better, and is backed by a new animated series.
Barbie celebrates her 60th birthday this year (she's obviously had some work done). There are a lot of anniversary dolls to choose from, but this line celebrates some of Barbie's most memorable careers and proves to girls that they can be anything.
If you've ever spent hours blowing up balloons, relax and catch your breath. Zuru innovated water balloon fights, and now its new party solution is yet another game-changer for kids and parents.
Call us old school, but decades later and we still can't get enough of the OG genie played by Robin Williams. The new film might be a live-action, but this is a toy that brings back the cartoon classic character to delight fans old and new with jokes and wish granting.
Part of the appeal of L.O.L. Surprise! is the rarity of the characters and the chase. Not only does this set feature one of only a few boy L.O.L. Surprise! dolls, but it's a limited-edition Amazon exclusive. While you immediately know what characters you get with this set, there's, as per usual, lots more surprises to unveil.
This LEGO Marvel Avengers Endgame building set is a perfect launchpad to spur kids' imaginations. Kids can pretend to defeat Thanos and play out the action as seen in the new movie. We especially love that the superheroes come as scaled minifigures (check out Ant-Man!).
If your kids/you are Fortnite-obsessed, you are going to need to stock up on these blasters. These replicas bring the weapons from the FPS game off-screen for a true #FortniteIRL experience. Need we say more?
This cuddly version of the crime-solving Pokémon is just plain adorable. The fact that it also features the voice of Ryan Reynolds, just like in the film, is what will win fans over. Who doesn't want to fight crime with their own Detective Pikachu?
Today's kids don't want to be doctors, firefighters, or teachers. They want to be toy reviewers—just like Ryan from Ryan ToysReview (and now Nickelodeon!). These toy lines let kids pretend to be Ryan unboxing their own mega eggs and crafting all the characters.
The Lion King is getting an update this summer, and with Béyonce on hand, you know it's going to be a summer movie event. That said, Simba is still the leading lion, and Just Play's version comes to life in cute plush form. It talks, moves its head and mouth, and, of course, is workin' on its roar.
As one of the OG Disney/Pixar Toy Story characters, Buzz is a character that today's moms and dads grew up with and continues to be a fan-favorite amongst adventure-seeking kids. With Buzz's astronaut helmet, kids can feel like their favorite space-age adventure-seeking hero, fully equip with all his bells and whistles.
Did you know that there are more than 160,000 toys on the market in the U.S. at any given time? That's a lot of toys! They range from the simplest collectibles and impulse toys to the most sophisticated electronic marvels.
At TTPM, we see more than 10,000 new toys every year. The process starts a year or more before our lists are revealed and the toys hit the shelves. Our teams attend Toy Fairs in the U.S. and overseas, and we visit with toy companies, getting exclusive backstage peeks at toys that are in development. Over the next months, we follow the progress of these toys as they get ready to come to market, and we review them almost as soon as they come off the assembly line.
We also spend a lot of time in toy stores—not a bad gig when you think about it. It's important to see what finally makes it to the shelves, the many ways a toy may be changed from when we saw a prototype and get an early sense of what's selling. The fact of the matter is, not every toy makes the cut. As with many industries, many more ideas are developed than ever to get to the toy shelves. Along the way, manufacturers may find things are too expensive to make, a great idea in the design studio may not appeal to kids, or retailers just may not want to take a chance on it.
Even for the toys that do make it through the process, it's not always clear sailing. There are a lot of things for parents to choose from, and in many cases kids are the ones who can make or break a toy. As we always say, it can be challenging to be in a business where your success or failure depends on what a kids wants at any given time.
Then, too, every kid is different. Over the years, we've seen again and again that every child has a different play style, as unique as his or her personality. Kids also never play with just one thing. When we've interviewed kids about what they like to play with, more often than not, they'll talk about toys in many different merchandise categories—from action figures to games and almost every category of toys they play with.
As quickly as kids tastes change, so too do the toys. We continue to see more and more technology introduced into toys, allowing them to do things that are surprising in their sophistication. While those innovations are amazing to parents and grandparents, those that are successful have one thing in common: good play.
The process of selecting toys for the TTPM Most Wanted lists takes months. Our editorial team reviews the toys. We take them out of the box, assemble and play with them. We talk to retailers and, of course, track trends in the culture from play to entertainment to fashion and more.
Here are some of the key criteria we use in making those tough choices:
- Is it New? Generally we only consider new toys introduced in the last year, or those that have been revised and updated. Many toys do come back every few years, often with innovations that make them new and newsworthy.
- Is it On-Trend? Does it reflect some part of kid culture, whether entertainment, play pattern or category? The toy industry is constantly changing, and keeping up with it is an ongoing challenge for toymakers.
- Is it a Good Toy? It is well made? Does it perform as advertised?
- Is it Available? Can people actually buy the toy?
- Do Kids Know About It? A good toy has to be well-marketed, which is part of the equation. But are they talking about it. Does a toy have that thing called "buzz?" Even if it's just getting off the ground, what's the early read on kids' reactions.
- Is it Fun? This is probably the most important criterion. Of course, what's fun for a preschooler is not the same as what's fun for an 8-year-old, so we look at these.
Over the years we've also learned that this is a lot more an art than a science, as with anything that has such an element of fashion involved. At the end of the day, our lists are a snapshot of a moment in play time—a sense of what's inspiring imaginations and letters to Santa.
And, most importantly, one thing we always say is that no list will ever encompass the wonderfully diverse nature of the toy business—or every kid. The best thing that parents and toy buyers can ever do is know the kids that they're buying for, what excites them and stimulates their imaginations. As we say every time we announce a list, "The hot toy is only hot if it's hot for your kid."
So, check out the lists, get playing, and be sure to come back often to see our latest toy reviews.