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Ages & Stages

Everything old is new again this holiday season. From Pokémon to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, nostalgia may cause some parents to want to play with the toys they purchase for their kids. Here a breakdown of what’s hot this Christmas by age.

preschool

Toddlers

learning centerParents will want to choose gifts that are not only safe, but age and developmentally appropriate for their older infants and toddlers. Good choices for kids this age are toys they can pretend play with, such as dolls, puppets, and toy vehicles; toys they can build with, like blocks; or toys they can practice using their muscles with, such as balls. Since they are learning to move and are pretty busy right now, popular toys on Santa’s gift list also include the Laugh & Learn Crawl Around Learning Center by Fisher Price and Little Tikes’ Light 'n Go 3-in-1 Activity Walker.

Preschoolers

pokemonThanks to the popularity of Pokémon Go, anything Pokémon is surely to be on your preschooler’s wish list. These toys could include Pokémon action figures (such as the Pokémon Z-Ring Set), trading cards and plush toys. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Talk to Me Mikey is also trendy right now among this age group; the interactive toy says 100 phrases and responds to ten voice commands and movement. Fisher-Price’s Think & Learn Code-a-Pillar, meanwhile, encourages preschoolers to arrange its easy-to-connect segments in endless combinations, sending the caterpillar off in different directions each time. For the girls, you still can’t go wrong with Disney princess dolls, My Little Pony or Barbie.

schoolage

School Age

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle action figures and sets, Hot Wheels, Paw Patrol toys, Fur Real Friends, and Shopkins tiny collectibles are all a hit for the younger elementary school set. Furby is also making a comeback this year, while the toy of the season for this age range will be Hatchimals, interactive toys that start out as eggs, allowing children to wait and watch as they hatch to reveal a bird-like animal inside. Hatchimals appeal to both boys and girls.

hot wheels“For the younger age range, the popular products will most likely be Legos, especially the Star Wars ones, since the new movie will be out in December,” predicts Michael Dayton, director of marketing and public relations for HobbyTown USA Fredericksburg.

“Hot Wheels are always popular, and also slot car sets. Most parents remember having slot car sets when they were young kids—slot cars have been around for years and have hardly changed—so it's a gift that they can relate to with their kids.”

The older elementary school age group may lean more toward electronics and board games. Try the Leapfrog Leap Pad Platinum tablet, which links children to various safe websites with the option of purchasing thousands of extra games; board games like the hilarious Pie Face; or Speak Out, a mouthpiece challenge game.

teen tween

Tweens & Teens

“Middle school to college-aged kids are the group that has the newest toys and hobbies,” shares Dayton. “One newly popular product is Gundam models. These are Japanese plastic model kits that do not require glue or paint; they just pop together. Another popular product that is growing nationwide is Arduino Robotics kits. These are kits that you build, download computer codes or write your own, and create different robots that perform different tasks. It teaches kids how circuit boards work, how to do computer coding, how different sensors work, and a lot more.”

quadcopterRemote control cars, hoverboards and video games will remain big with the older kids, as well as drone products such as the NERF N-Strike Elite TerraScout RC Drone Blaster or the Sky Viper V2400 HD Streaming Drone with FPV Headset.

“The drone industry exploded two years ago but the shift this holiday season is for the FPV quadcopters,” Dayton says. “FPV stands for first person view, so the pilot can see what the quad sees in real time, basically like a real life video game.”

No matter what you decide to invest in for your child, “Search for something that isn't a one-time use gift,” Dayton suggests. “Pick something that your child can grow on, or customize later down the road, or can use with friends. Then that can turn a simple gift into a new skill, hobby or relationship.”

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