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Holiday toy rankings demystified

Sarah Walker Caron is an award winning journalist, freelance writer and editor. She lives a happy life in Maine with her two children, where they love to hike, visit the beaches and have lots of silly fun. Check out her food blog at Sara...

Which toy is tops?

Every year, list after list after list of the "Best Toys of (insert year)" is published preaching the praises of methodologies, prestige and longevity. But which list is most reliable? And what's really going to be hot this Christmas?

Which toy is tops?It's way too soon to be thinking about decking the halls or singing Christmas carols. Yet, the people who create the best toys lists are already done or nearly done. That's because for toy makers and merchants, planning, ordering and organizing happens well in advance so that everything can be on the shelves come holiday time.

Aren't sure which list to trust?

Most trusted

As with everything, there is a pecking order for the most trusted holiday gift lists.

With so many lists out there, "toy lists tend to be considered the most influential and important due to their recognition and strong reputation by consumers, the media, and the toy industry as well as their commitment to serving parents' interests," said Andrew Wagar of the toy maker Spin Master. Wagar says that the top five most trusted lists are: Time to Play by Jim Silver, Toy Wishes, Family Fun Toy of the Year, National Parenting Center and Toy Trips by Marianne Szymanski.

Szymanski has teamed up with Amazon this year, providing them with exclusive blog content, her lists and more.
"Marianne offers an impartial perspective and authoritative voice to parents looking to find the best and safest toys for their kids," said Sarah Wood, director of the Amazon.com Toy store.

For the non-parent

Whoever you are, you can know what's the coolest for gifting this holiday season. Whether your nana, mom's best friend of baby's favorite auntie, there are sites to help you look, choose and buy (online or in the store). Among the sources like this is Savvy Aunty, who has some great holiday gift selections.

Store lists

Toy-driven companies like KB Toys and Toys R Us try to steer buying with their annual lists and toy books.

At KB Toys, some of the favorites this year are Radio Control Grand Canyon Express Train Set, Light 'n Sound Kitchen Center Playset, and Light 'n Sound Kitchen Center Playset. "We are truly excited about this year's toy offerings. Some of the biggest trends this year are television and movie inspired merchandise plus role play and musical instrument" said Andy Bailen in a statement, CEO of KB Toys.

At Toys R Us, the annual Toy Book, which will hit mailboxes this weekend, has 80 pages of toys to choose from -- the most ever. "Our Biggest Toy Book ever offers the best and broadest assortment of toys and games for kids to choose from, exclusive products that can't be found anywhere else and great values to fit the budget of any gift-giver this holiday season," said Greg Ahearn, Senior Vice President, Marketing and eCommerce, Toys"R"Us, U.S, in a statement.

So what's cool?

Who knows what the hottest toy will be this year. Perhaps Wii will kick everything else's butt again. But here are some cool toys that look like they could be a lot of fun. (Please note, SheKnows hasn't tested these items -- these mentions are purely on spec.)

ZinkoTec: ZinkoTec is like Lincoln Logs on environmentally friendly steroids. Actually, these eco-friendly building materials can be used by kids age three or kids up to preteen years. Basically, they are a weather-proof foam that can withstand wear and tear.

U-Command Wall-E Toy Robot: SortPrice said that among their most searched toys is the U-Command Wall-E Toy Robot, a spinoff toy from the movie last summer.

Cabbage Patch Dolls: The original Cabbage Patch dolls are back on the shelves in honor of their 25th anniversary. Wonder if there will be as big a run on them as last time? I've already picked up mine.

Air Hogs Zero Gravity Micro: Family Fun Magazine, which has a track record of choosing some of the best and brightest toys, thinks the Air Hogs Zero Gravity Micro will be the hottest toy this year.

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