"This holiday season, there is not just one single standout hot toy, but rather so many hot toys that highlight a variety of different skills and interests," shares Laurie Schacht, Toy Insider Mom and contributing toy editor at Woman's Day magazine. "Remember to create a well-balanced toy box for your child that includes tech toys for this tech-savvy generation of kids, as well as traditional toys that build and foster developmental skills." Here are some of The Toy Insider's Hot 20 most popular toys for Christmas this year.
Big Hugs Elmo
Elmo has always been lovable, but now he even hugs back when you give him a squeeze! Big Hugs Elmo (Hasbro, $60) is flying off the shelves this holiday season and ready to learn, play and cuddle in a whole new way. Always making the annual most popular toys list, this year's version sings, dances and helps your kiddo learn the ABCs, shapes, numbers and colors in a fun and interactive way. It is filled with more than 50 fun phrases and sounds that make Elmo, well, Elmo!
Twilight Turtle Tunes
While this sleepy-time pal still projects eight real constellations on the ceiling and glows in blue, orange and green, the Twilight Turtle Tunes (Cloud b, $50) also incorporates Bluetooth technology to weave sweet lullabies through your little one's room. Using a free app on your mobile phone, you can choose from a pre-set collection of melodies and sounds or incorporate your own favorite songs into the mix. This hot toy can also be programmed for up to 24 hours of play.
LeapPads are known for their durability, but LeapFrog has stepped it up a notch with its latest tablet for kids, the LeapPad Ultra (LeapFrog, $150). The 7-inch high-resolution screen, Wi-Fi capability and library of e-books, games, learning apps, videos and music guarantee fun. Although this hot toy for Christmas cannot access public Wi-Fi hotspots, the built-in kid-safe browser gives parents peace of mind when your youngsters are going online on a private network at home.
Sofia the First Talking Sofia
It's easy to bring your little girl's favorite Disney cartoon to life with the Sofia the First Talking Sofia and Animal Friends (Mattel, $33)! Hold the animal figures close to Sofia's necklace and hear her chat with her animal friends as her amulet glows. With more than 30 phrases in Sofia's bag of tricks, it's no surprise that this Disney doll is one of the most popular toys for Christmas this year.
The new Disney Infinity (Disney, $75) game lets your child explore the characters and worlds of the Disney franchise with collectibles that have their own gaming experience. With interactive figurines that transport your child's portal into the video game platform of your choice, characters come to life in the game. This new "toy" also offers two ways to play! Kiddos can maneuver through self-contained worlds — each with their own story line — or can build their own world. These figurines also work across gaming systems, like Nintendo Wii to Xbox 360, and from game system to game system.
Barbie Build 'N Play Super Star Stage
While Barbie has had her share of the spotlight, you can bring out her full rock star potential with the Mega Bloks Barbie Build 'N Play Super Star Stage (MegaBloks.com, $60). Constructed from five stage pieces and real concert controls, this two-story stage lets your youngster control the show. Featuring real flashing stage lights and four real songs, Mega Bloks-sized Barbie fashion figures and friends will put on a show your child won't soon forget. Or, let your child choose the music from the radio while the multi-colored lights flash along to the music.
Kurio Touch 4S
Move over iPod Touch, the Kurio iTouch 4S (KurioWorld.com, $100) is stealing the scene with tweens and teens. Based on the Android platform, this handheld gadget lets your youngster play music and games, surf the web and take photos and videos instead of hogging your phone and draining your battery. And, since the web can still be a scary place for kids to roam freely, parents can leave worry behind with parental controls to help you set time limits, manage apps and control internet access.
This holiday, one of the most popular Lego toys for Christmas takes the plastic building bricks way beyond the classic click-n-build model. The Mindstorms EV3 (Lego, $400) combines the flexibility of Lego with electronic technology that allows your youngster create robots that move, talk and even think through a remote control or smartphone. Each set includes instructions to create five robot models, but kids can also create anything their imagination can fathom.
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