Holidays are the time of the year that you carry the most anticipation for. Whether it is finally let your hair down for the year, or prepare to ring in the new year, begin new relationships or go for fun shopping – this season is simply unbeatable.

As a toy review specialist who gets to review toys all round the year, I thought I will do a fun exercise and round up some great toys of 2017 that I came across!

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Age Group: Babies and Toddlers 

1. “NogginStik Developmental Light-Up Rattle” by SmartNoggin

The 'NogginStik' by SmartNoggin
The ‘NogginStik’ by SmartNoggin lights up in three different colors.

The “NogginStik Developmental Light-Up Rattle” by SmartNoggin Toys is the winner of the esteemed Oppenheim Platinum Toy Awards for a reason: it is easily the best rattle on the market today. Featuring gorgeously vibrant LED lights in red, green, and blue, as well as pleasing rattling sounds, a textured handle, and an unbreakable mirrored bottom, this toy is truly a cut above all other rattles. The NogginStik Developmental Light-up Rattle helps to stimulate a baby’s eyes and encourage visual tracking. Like every other item from this incredible startup company, the rattle comes with “A Parent Guide To Baby’s Milestones” which discusses how the first three years of a baby’s life are a period of incredible growth and development which are critical to achieving milestones. It is an absolute must-have for parents of infants. Price: $19.99.

 

Cubs and Calves Books
Cubs and Calves is a company that creates soft “Quiet Books.”

2. Entire “Cubs and Calves” Quiet Books Line

One of the best producers of “quiet books” (soft fabric books intended for babies and young readers), Cubs and Calves spares no expense or attention to detail with their books. Although each book is expensive (easily over $40) they are durable, unique, entirely safe, and very long lasting. Hence, they are worth every penny. These books essentially double as games. The fabric books open up page by page and reveal colorful (mostly wordless) playsets that appeal to children of all ages. Due to the largely text-less nature of the books, they can be enjoyed by children all over the world. The books are hand-crafted using high-quality materials and all of them can be ordered online and shipped worldwide. Essentially, Cubs and Calves is on a mission to create these books as fun developmental/learning tools that can be shared with children all across the globe and both their mission and their items are well-worth paying attention to.

Read interview with the founder here: Priya Ravishankar : Leading A Not-So-Quiet Revolution For A Quiet Book For Toddlers

3. “Lucky Ducks Game” by Pressman Toy

“Lucky Ducks” by Pressman Toys is an adorable game for children

The "Lucky Ducks"game
“Lucky Ducks” is a fun game for small children.

around the age of three. “Lucky Ducks” is a cheerfully colored game that features a rotating “board” that resembles a lake and twelve adorable yellow ducks. There are four sides to the board, each containing a unique shape and color (a red circle, a blue star, a green triangle, and a purple square). After you place the ducks on the board facing clockwise, press the orange button at the center of the board. The board then starts to spin and the ducks seem to “swim” around it in tune to cute “quacking” sound effects. The object of the game is to collect all three ducks that suit the color/shape that you are sitting in front of, before another player can collect all of their ducks. It’s simple, adorable, and an entirely perfect gift for small children that adults will enjoy playing with them. Price:  $24.99.

 

 

The 3-in-1 Trampoline
The “The 3-in-1 Trampoline/Ball-Pit” by smarTrike.

4. “3-in-1 Trampoline/Ball-Pit” by smarTrike

Easily the top pick for the one-to-five age range, this incredibly designed item easily transforms from a trampoline into a ball-pit and even comes with forty-two balls in seven colors (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, and pink). Ideal for both boys and girls, it can handle up to fifty-five pounds but is only for one child to use at a time. The trampoline feature comes with an optional “safety bar” that can be used for older children to hold onto as they bounce. Compact despite its width, the item can be folded down flat to fit under a bed for storage purposes. Retailing for only $99.99, it promotes exercise and will undoubtedly provide hours of fun for any child who weighs less than 55 pounds.

 

 

Top Five Toys for Boys

Batman VRSE
The “Batman” version of VRSE.
  1. “VRSE” by VRSE

Augmented reality is becoming more and more infused with play as virtual systemsbecome increasingly like-like. VRSE is one tech-savvy gaming system that uses augmented and virtual reality technology to immerse players in specific worlds and locations. There are currently two versions of the VRSE and both are highly entertaining: “Batman” and “Jurassic Park.” VRSE features a headset and goggles that completely immerse users in the 360-degree worlds. It is a truly unforgettable and awe-inspiring experience that will captivate kids…and might fascinate their parents equally. Price:  $59.99.

 

2. “Mouth Guard Challenge” by Find It Games 

The "Mouthguard Challenge"
The “Mouthguard Challenge” is a funny game for older kids, teens, and adults.

A hilarious game that is suitable for people of all ages, “Mouth Guard” was invented by the son of gameshow host Howie Mandell. Inspired by a trip to the dentist’s office, the game prompts people to try and say phrases while wearing a “mouth guard” that makes talking difficult…and funny. Clearly, spit will fly and the gross-out quality of that alone is enough to make this a particularly desirable item for boys ages seven and up. It retails for $14.99.

 

 

Teddy Ruxpin
The latest version of Teddy Ruxpin is very interactive.

3. “Teddy Ruxpin” by Wicked Cool Toys

Teddy Ruxpin was one of the hottest toys of the 1980s and he has returned in the 21st century with cutely life-like eyes (thanks to LED technology) that are capable of dozens of expressions, many stories to tell, lots of songs to sing, and lessons to teach. Moreover, thanks to chatbot technology, Teddy can now answer questions and learn children’s personal preferences. Teddy can also convey emotions and his mouth moves when he talks. Essentially, this toy is so emotive that it is hard to consider it an inanimate object. Teddy Ruxpin also comes with an app that features more stories, games, and features that help to strengthen the bond that children will develop with this toy. Although ideal for girls too, this toy will also certainly appeal to young boys as well…a remarkable feat for a stuffed animal that retails for $99.99.

4. “Magic Tracks Mega Set” by Magic Tracks

Magic Tracks
“Magic Tracks” are a fun cars-and-tracks set that glow in the dark and respond to blacklights.

The Magic Tracks Mega Set is a 360-piece car and track set that is easy to assemble. It also glows-in-the-dark and responds to black-lights. The flexible set enables kids to build twisting roads and then race the two (included) cars along the speedway…one a police car and the other a race car. Road signs, a bridge, palm trees, and some sticker decals are also included for added fun. Intended for children ages three and older, the set is completely compatible with other “Magic Tracks” kits. It retails for $39.99 and will undoubtedly keep kids creatively entertained for many, many hours.

 

 

 

 

Air Warriors Motorized Mech 20 Blaster
The “Air Warriors Motorized Mech 20 Blaster” is an excellent present for little boys.

5. “Buzz Bee Toys Air Warriors Motorized Mech 20 Blaster” by ALEX Brands

One of the coolest “dart blasters” on the market, the Air Warriors Motorized Mech 20 Blaster by the Buzz Bee branch of ALEX Brands features a motorized automatic rotating barrel for rapid-fire dart blasting, an extendable shoulder stock, and twenty soft foam suction darts that blasts up to thirty feet. It requires three AA batteries and it recommended for children ages six and up. It retails for $19.99, which is a remarkable bargain considering its size.

 

Top 5 Toys for Girls

  1. “Shimmering Seashell Castle” by VTech 

    Shimmering Seashell Castle
    The “Shimmering Seashell Castle” is a fabulous mermaid-themed toy.

The “Shimmering Seashell Castle” by VTech, intended for girls ages one to five, is a marvelous undersea castle is whimsically designed and decorated in vibrantly colored hues that seem to speak of the sea: an aqua castle, a pink coral-like rooftop, a gentle pink base, and dashes of purple, green, and pink make this a truly lovely playset to behold. There are also many charming details etched into the surface of the set such as imagery of seaweed, starfish, seas shells, and pebbles. As part of Vtech’s popular “Go! Go! Smart Friends” series, the castle features a character in the form of a mermaid (who is cleverly named “Pearl”) and her pet dolphin and seahorse who can also be moved around the castle. The castle lights up spectacularly and emits enchanting sound effects when Pearl is placed on any one of the three “MagicPoint” locations on the set. As is typical of “Smart Friends,” Pearl also speaks sentences when she is placed on these locations. The playset also comes with a lot of fun movable features such as a swing, a “slide along” element where–when you pull a crab figurine from one side of the set to the other–Pearl can be made to “dance,” a “carousel” press-and-release feature, and a slide that Pearl can slide down. The pure number of features it comes with is incredible and will undoubtedly amuse children for hours on end. Price: $39.99.

Sweetlings
“Sweetlings” are a fun new DIY-themed line.

2. “Sweetlings” by ALEX Toys

One of the newest and coolest offerings in the “Do-It-Yourself” craze, Sweetlings by ALEX Toys is a series of dessert figurines that are decorated via pastel-colored “icing” which is actually a sculpt-able and air-drying form of clay. After “icing” the desserts, girls are encouraged to further decorate them with glitter, beads, and trinkets that come in the sets. Sweetlings includes a whole range of characters with unique personalities. The most expensive set in the line is the “DIY Sweetlings Sprinkle Shop Gold Sparkle ShimmerlingCraft Kit” which retails for $34.99 (simpler models in the series can sell for as little as $5) and comes with three characters, lots of decorations, a lazy Susan for easy rotation, a variety of frosting tips, a tweezer, a glitter sprinkler, and a storage box for all the accessories and instructions. Sweetlings will certainly appeal to crafty girls who are over the age of three.

Peppy Pets Unicorn
“Peppy Pets” released a unicorn character for the 2017 holiday season.

3. “Peppy Pets Walking Unicorn” by TPF Toys

Peppy Pets are a fun throwback to classic toys: they do not require any screens, batteries, or technology to work. Instead, Peppy Pets are simply spring-infused stuffed toys that walk–or rather bounce–along behind children as they pull them on a leash. The toys are well-designed so they can run along with quickly-moving children, turn their heads, wiggle their bodies/tails, and seemingly convey personalities. Initially released as a series of puppies in 2016, a unicorn model was released in 2017 and its pink-and-purple hair, blue horn, and large eyes render it enchantingly adorable and certainly something.

 

 

 

Fingerlings
“Fingerlings” are cute and life-like monkeys that can hang from kid’s fingers.

4. “Fingerlings” by WowWee

Fingerlings are a series of life-like monkeys (and one unicorn) that can hang on your finger, backpack, locker, or even around the house (like on plants) and swivel their heads, swing by their tails, blow kisses, open and close their eyes, make “monkey babble” sounds, and are infused with sensors so they know when they are being pet or held upside-down. These toys are incredibly life-like and each unique color comes with its own name and personality. Retailing for only $17.99, these toys are intended to be collectibles. Moreover, when you have collected several of them, clap your hands twice and they will all “sing” together.

 

 

 

5. “Glimmies” by Just Play

Glimmies
“Glimmies” are a beautiful new line of illuminated figurines.

Glimmies are arguably the most interesting line of figurines released in 2017. Small, cute, and compact, the Glimmies literally “shine” since they are designed with tiny LED lights in multiple colors. Glimmies range in price from $5.99 (for a single Glimmy) to $17.99 (for a playset/house called a “Glimtern” or a “Glimhouse)”. Considered to be tiny “star creatures,” the Glimmies are highly collectable and automatically light-up when they are placed in a dark space…including in-between children’s hands. These 2.5’ inch figurines are intended for children ages three and over and they will appeal to any fans of fantasy or whimsy.

Also Read: Social And Emotional Intelligence: Why I Won’t Worry About How Smart My Child Is And Worry About This Instead

Top 5 Toys for Tweens and Teens

  1. “Stikbot Movie Sets” by Zing

    Stikbot Movie Sets
    Stikbot Movie Sets are fantastic editions to the Stikbot line.

Stop Motion Animation is a form of animation created using frame-by-frame photography. In 2015, a startup toy company called Zing released a line of colorful and fully posable “Stikbot” figurines–with sticky suction-cup feet hands and feet–that are meant to be used to create stop-motion animation. The brand also released a free-to-download app that enables people to easily make and share videos. Hence, through social media, they have grown their company and done much to promote the creativity that stop-motion animation manifests in people of all ages. In 2017, Zing truly stepped up their game by releasing two “Stikbot Movie Sets.” One is a pirate ship and the other is a farm. Both compact cardboard sets feature “two sided” elements (for example, the farm can be played with in either a green “spring” format or an orange “fall” format), two Stikbot characters, and many, many fun elements like trees, cars, boats, gold coins, treasure, fruits, vegetables, a barn, and even a ship! These sets are so extremely popular because they nurture creativity and retail for only $19.99.

BB-8 Hero Droid
The “BB-8 Hero Droid” acts like the character from “Star Wars” and is about the same size too.

2. BB-8 Hero Droid by Spin Master

“BB-8 Hero Droid” is an incredible robot. Like R2-D2, the orange-and-white hued BB-8 does not speak words but he still manages to perfectly convey his emotions through gestures, clicking noises, and blinking lights. The BB-8 Hero Droid toy by Spin Master stands a total of 19 inches tall which makes it on par to what a real BB-8 robot would stand. It is equipped with voice and sound responses, and a motion sensor. The robot responds to multiple voice commands (like “Come here!” and “Stormtroopers!”) and can be programmed to automatically follow anyone who is holding the controller. Moreover, using the controller, anyone can turn the BB-8 360-degrees. There are two parts of the BB-8, the body and the head, and both must be charged up separately (the body via a regular wall plug and the head via a USB cable). When fully charged, the head attaches to the body and makes an “airplane take-off” sound. At that point, the BB-8 is ready to be played with for hours on end. He retails for $229.99.

 3. “STEMosaur” by Elemental Path

Stemosaur
“Stemosaur” is a fantastic toy that teaches children about coding, AI, and more.

“STEMosaur” is an extremely advanced plaything by Elemental Path, the innovative and cutting-edge startup company behind the “CogniToy Dino” which rocked the toy world in 2016 and 2017. “STEMosaur” is a far more advanced version of the Dino model—one which encourages STEM skills by allowing children to construct the toy and actually create their own content through an innovative coding panel. The company’s patented software contains a number of filters that encourage kid-friendly answers and restrict bad content, such as profanity. Parents can also use the toy’s Parent Panel to receive insights into how their children are interacting with and learning from STEMosaur—such as in key subjects like science, math, grammar and more. Most importantly, this toy uses chatbot technology to answer questions, have conversations, and it can even learn things about the specific person whom it is conversing with. Although it can be suitable for young children, this ever-updating-and-improving toy is a remarkable feat of science that will also be adored by older kids, tweens, teens, and adults alike. It retails for $120.

Stuff Happens
“Stuff Happens” is a hilarious game that adults will enjoy as much as older children and teens.

4. “Stuff Happens” by Goliath Games

Hands down, the funniest card game for teens and adults, “Stuff Happens” by Goliath Games deals out cards that are plagued with misfortune. Every player gets a series of cards with unfortunate events, problematic circumstances, and other mishaps printed on them. From getting attacked by bees to somehow receiving third-degree burns, every “Stuff Happens” card has a ranking system–befittingly called a “Misery Index”–that rates the level of awfulness from 1 to 100. Every player must try to match the “Misery Index” (essentially, the card they think contains the worse misfortune) and whoever comes closest to the actual score wins the card. The first player to collect all ten cards wins. It is also worth noting that simply sitting back and reading these cards out loud (while observing the ill-fated stick-figures depicted on each one) is enough to induce hysterical laughter. The game retails for $19.99.

5. “Who’s the Dude?” by Identity Games

Who's The Dude?
“Who’s The Dude?” is a hilarious take on the classic game of charades…it also involves an inflatable doll known as “The Dude.”

An insanely hilarious spin on the classic game of charades, “Who’s the Dude?” involves a nearly-life-sized inflatable doll known as “The Dude.” Wearing shorts, a tank top, a head band, socks, and a pair of sunglasses, the doll bears more than a passing resemblance to the famed “Dude” of “The Big Lebowski.” The game–which is intended for people ages sixteen and older–centers on the premise of classic charades with a twist…essentially, you have to perform whatever action the card says with the inflatable “Dude” serving as your acting partner! At each turn, a player and “The Dude” must perform as many charades as they can within forty-five seconds. The game comes with 440 cards and is intended for three to eight players, which makes it an ideal party game. There is also an app to download that includes more fun features. This must-have game retails for approximately $24.99.

Bonus: A Gift For Parents

‘Motion Lamp Wireless Speaker’ by the Sharper Image

Motion Lamp Wireless Speaker
The “Motion Lamp Wireless Speaker” is a lava lamp with Bluetooth technology.

While children might get the majority of toys on Christmas day, the “Motion Lamp Wireless Speaker” is an ideal present for parents…and it will also amuse children, as well. A throwback to the fads of the 1960s and 1970s, the “motion lamp” is actually a lava lamp (available in green/blue, pink/purple, or orange/yellow) that is infused with a Bluetooth-activated speaker. As soon as you plug it in and flip the switch on, the speaker only needs to sync with your phone or tablet and will them start streaming to the room. The sound quality is crystal-clear and the lava lamp works like a hypnotic charm one it has about an hour to heat up. For $35, this item is highly recommended for anyone who enjoys playing music in their homes.

Read More: Kaleidoscope 360: Review of an emotional intelligence assessment tool for children and young adults

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Meagan Meehan

Meagan J. Meehan is a published author, poet, cartoonist, and produced playwright. She pens columns for the Great South Bay Magazine, Blasting News, and Entertainment Vine. She is also a stop-motion animator and an award-winning abstract artist. Meagan holds a BA in English Literature and a MA in Communication. She is also an animal advocate and a fledging toy and game designer.
Meagan is a contributing editor to Kidskintha writing on Toys, Games, Entertainment, and other topics that are happy and fun!

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