Finding the perfect toy for your little one can be a challenge. Every year, it seems like there are endless new innovations and hot items added to the market, which is exciting for kids but can make your decision feel ten times more difficult. And even if you have a good sense of what you’re looking for, whether it’s a tried-and-true staple like a Barbie doll or something more educational like a STEM toy, there are so many variations of each that it’s hard to know which ones they’ll actually appreciate.
Retailers are well aware of the struggle parents go through when picking out a present. And that’s why many, including Amazon, Target and Walmart have dropped “hot toy” lists, revealing their top toy picks for the year. The lists, which can serve as shopping guides, span all age groups and play types. You’ll find some exciting new releases and longtime favorites as well as new takes on last year’s bestsellers.
Here, we’re highlighting some of the top picks from Amazon, Zulily, Macy’s, Target and Walmart as well as selections from the review site Toy Insider. If anything catches your eye, you’re going to want to grab it now — with all of the expected shipping delays and shortages, there’s no telling how long these hot items will stay in stock.
Hot holiday toys from Amazon’s Toys We Love list
Named The Toy Association’s STEAM Toy Of The Year, this kit will help kids learn about hydraulics and robotics — and it’s tons of fun. They’ll assemble the pieces to build the hand and then conduct experiments, picking up objects of different shapes and sizes.
Make art time more fun with this tracing pad. Kids age 6 and up can use the tool to sketch their favorite characters or copy drawings from books and magazines. The light-up board makes it easy to see the lines that they are tracing, even in low-light rooms.
Most puzzles get torn apart as soon as they’re finished. But with this unique 3D globe puzzle, they can keep their hard work on display for years to come. Each of the 540 pieces is numbered to make the process of putting it together easier.
Squeakee The Balloon Dino toy has more than 70 sounds and reactions, so he can do things like roar, dance, stop and even play tug-of-war with his bone squeaker. But if you roar too loud at him or pull his tail, he may pop! Don’t worry, he’ll inflate again when you pump his tail.
If your little one is obsessed with “Rainbow High,” they’ll love driving their dolls around in this color-changing car. Currently the No. 1 new release in Doll Playsets, they can switch between the eight colors to match the car to their doll’s outfits. It can fit two dolls and even has a working steering wheel and seatbelts.
It’s “mail time!” And with this playset, which made both Amazon’s and Macy’s lists this year, kids can pretend to send and receive letters just like Josh and Blue on the show. The set comes with reusable wooden stamps, an envelope, invitations, a memory game and more.
Hot holiday toys from Zulily’s 2021 Toy Index
Kids can recreate scenes from the “Guardians of the Galaxy” movies with this building kit from Lego. It has more than 1,900 pieces, so it’s suitable for kids age 14 and older. Along with the pieces for the ship, they’ll get mini-figures of characters like Star-Lord, Groot, Rocket, Mantis and Thor.
They can take Barbie on some big adventures in this 3-in-1 DreamCamper. Along with the camper, which can transform into a pickup truck, they’ll get a pool, boat, fishing gear, a picnic table and more essentials to help them create the ultimate camping experience for their dolls.
The classic stacking toy from Fisher-Price got a supersized makeover! Little ones can shake and play with the extra large rings and then experiment with lining them up in different ways to create a stack.
Hot holiday toys from Target’s Bullseye’s Top Toys
This Target-exclusive toy is the perfect pick for young “Jurassic Park” fans. The playset comes with action figures depicting Tim Murphy and a T. rex, as well as a Ford Explorer that has rolling wheels and a breakaway roof.
Just like last year, toys featuring The Child from Disney+ series “The Mandalorian” are promising to be some of the most sought-after gifts. This animatronic toy popped up on multiple lists this year. The figure, which is currently available for preorder, comes with four snacking accessories. Place one in his hand and he’ll react with sound effects and animations. Or pat his head three times to activate the Force!
A fun follow-up to the beloved Throw Throw Burrito game, this dodgeball card game is a pick that the whole family can enjoy. Players will collect matching cards to earn points and start avocado wars and duels. It’s fun on its own, but it can also be combined with Throw Throw Burrito to create an epic combo game.
Part panda, part kangaroo, this adorable interactive toy responds to your child’s touch with sounds and movements. Along with the Momma-Roo toy, they’ll get a fun surprise — a Baby-Roo hidden in her pouch! Each toy comes with one of three baby Panda-Roos. They won’t know which one they got until they unbox it!
Given their popularity, experts say that L.O.L Surprise dolls will likely be some of the first toys to sell out. That’s why you’re going to want to grab this popular set while you still can. It made both Target’s and Amazon’s lists this year and comes with more than 70 surprises for kids to unbox. The package doubles as a movie studio, where they can create productions using the 12 included dolls and fun movie-themed accessories.
Kids are obsessed with Popits! and now they can add an extra-large version to their growing collection. They use it on their own or turn it into a game and compete with a friend to see who can pop the most first.
Hot holiday toys from Walmart’s Top Rated by Kids list
Walmart’s list of the hottest toys has been tested and selected by the best toy experts out there — actual kids. This Hot Wheels set was a top pick for kids ages 5 to 7. They can see how many cars they can race on the 28-inch wide track loop at once. If they add one too many, there will be an epic crash!
They’ll love having a set of wheels to ride to school or around the neighborhood. And at just under $40, this scooter is a pretty affordable pick. It has four adjustable height settings, so they can keep using it even after they hit their growth spurt.
When Lulu Achoo isn’t feeling well, her nose and forehead will light up red to let your little one know that she needs some TLC. The doctor’s station will tell them what’s wrong they can nurse their doll back to health. They can play doctor with the accessories which include a stethoscope, charts and a light-up thermometer.
Your house will instantly become the coolest on the block when you set this Bouncesational Bouncer up in your living room or backyard. The bestselling bouncer has a built-in pump, which makes it super easy to inflate. And it can fit up to three kids (up to 188 pounds), making it the ultimate entertainment for playdates or rainy days.
Does your little one love taking photos on your phone? Get them a camera of their own so they can snap pics of fun moments with friends and family. They can view photos on the digital screen and add filters and stickers and then print them out to keep. They can also turn photos into line drawings, which they can color in.
Hot holiday toys from Macy’s and Toys “R” Us Geoffrey’s Hot Toy List
This two-person laser tag game will provide hours of indoor or outdoor fun for kids. It comes with two vests and laser shooters complete with lights and sound effects.
Toys that can be “unboxed” are all the rage, and kids will have nearly as much fun opening up this Polly Pocket set as they will playing with it. It comes with 20 accessories including micro Polly and Lila dolls and life-size 3D glasses. The movie theater setup even has a spot to set up a phone, so they can watch movies and shows with the dolls.
Marshall from “Paw Patrol” is here to save the day in his transforming fire truck! The truck features a ladder, water cannon launcher and rescue net, so kids will be ready to take on any adventure with their new puppy pal.
Play-Doh is a toy that’s stood the test of time. With this playset, kids will use the modeling compound to pretend to create cakes and other baked creations. They’ll watch the “cake” rise before their eyes when they place it in the oven.
Kids are always imitating every move their parents make. And now, they’ll be able to feel like they’re lending a hand on cleaning days. The Good Clean Fun set from Melissa and Doug comes with a variety of cleaning tools, which will inspire them to use their imagination and strengthen their sense of purpose.
Hot holiday toys from Toy Insider’s Holiday Gift Guide
Kids as young as six months old can enjoy this learning bot, which is filled with fun hands-on activities like twist and flip gears, a press-down antenna and more. As they grow, you can switch up the Smart Stages learning levels to match their age and stage.
Based on “Ryan’s World,” a popular YouTube series, this chest is filled with surprises like action figures, a belt, compass, coins and stickers that will help kids gear up for their next great adventure.
Preorder this toy now and it will ship once it’s released on Oct. 1. It’s already the No. 1 bestselling toy in the Plush Interactive Toy Figures category on Amazon, and it’s not hard to see why. Kids can follow the instructions and mix a potion to make their cute new furry friend appear. There are multiple Magic Mixies that they could end up with — they’ll have to complete the spell to find out which one they got.
Remember Tamagotchis? The retro toy has made a big comeback, and kids can get in on the fun with the Tamagotchi Pix. They’ll feed and nurture their virtual pet and play games to keep them happy. This version even has a camera, so they can take pictures with their Tamagotchi.
Still looking for the perfect gift? Be sure to check out Shop TODAY’s 2021 Gift Guide to shop for everyone on your list, including: